10 Positive Classroom Management Strategies

young school children all smiling and raising their hand for the teacher

For new teachers, successful classroom management can be a learning curve. This blog will offer an in depth look into classroom management strategies for elementary students. Start off on the right foot by using positive strategies from the first day of school to the last. By using positive reinforcement and modeling the behavior you want to see, you can help your students develop into respectful, productive and ethical citizens. 

The classroom management strategies for elementary teachers discussed below can help you set the right tone for your class.

In This Article:

What Are the Challenges of Classroom Management Strategies?

Teachers understand that each day in the classroom brings new challenges, but also new opportunities to help students excel. Many difficult encounters in the classroom can be either prevented or addressed effectively. Some of the most common challenges in classroom management include:

  • Disruptive talking
  • Class clowns
  • Personality clashes that lead to arguments
  • Students who dominate each discussion, which can discourage quieter students from participating
  • Large class sizes that limit individual attention

It’s important for teachers to remember that each student is unique, and sometimes situations beyond the student’s control may lead to rule violations and less desirable behaviors. Sometimes, it’s necessary to explore underlying factors that may be causing an ongoing problem, such as student homelessness, domestic violence, child neglect, poverty, language barriers and undiagnosed learning disabilities.

Top 10 Classroom Management Strategies

Classroom management is a skill developed over time. The more experience you gain in the classroom, the more effective you are likely to become at encouraging students to meet or exceed expectations. However, even if you’re just getting started in your teaching career, you can apply the classroom management strategies listed below.

1. Make Your Expectations Known

On the first day of school, let your students know that you respect each and every one of them and that you expect them to respect you and each other in return. Instead of telling the students about the classroom rules, invite them to have a discussion of what they expect to get out of the class. Contribute your own expectations to the discussion and try to find a way to explain to students how the class may help them in life.

2. Keep Students Accountable for Their Learning

Work with your students in such a way that encourages them take ownership of their own learning. When they feel responsible for what they are supposed to know and be able to do, they are more likely to be fully engaged in the learning experiences that you have designed.

For example, at the beginning of the year, you can have each student prepare an interactive notebook. Every day, at the end of a lesson, they can write about whether they met the lesson’s objectives. That notebook can be a part of the student’s authentic portfolio assessment.

3. Speak at a Normal Volume

Even the best-behaved class will get a little talkative at times. When you’re ready to teach but your students aren’t ready to listen, don’t try to talk over them. Stand in front of the class and smile patiently, making eye contact with the talkers.

After a little while, you’ll likely hear other students shushing the ones that are still talking. A self-regulated classroom is a happier, more productive classroom.

4. Give Positive Feedback to Parents

When students are praised for making a good-faith effort or for doing something well, they tend to put in even more effort in the future. When they’re disciplined, students often feel resentful and they might disengage from the class. Of course, they may need to be held accountable at times, but you can also proactively prevent problematic behavior through positive reinforcement.

Send a few emails or make a few phone calls each week to the parents of students who have demonstrated good behavior and a strong work ethic in your class that week. The parents will undoubtedly let the students know about your compliments.

5. Celebrate Student Accomplishments

Celebrate your students’ accomplishments as a whole by announcing a class pizza, donut party or a trivia game (be sure to check for food allergies first). For instance, at the beginning of the month, you could let your class know that they can enjoy this reward at the end of the month if each of them turns in every homework assignment on time.

6. Nurture Positive Relationships With Each Student

Many teachers must manage large class sizes. This makes it difficult to get to know each student as an individual, but you can still set aside a few minutes here and there.

If, for example, Joan walks into class early, put down your notes and ask if she had a good weekend. If Hector seems down in the dumps, take him aside to privately ask if he’s alright. These mini conversations don’t have anything to do with the curriculum, but for a student to know that a teacher genuinely cares can make all the difference in the world.

7. Classroom Management Strategies for Developing Rules

Young people are accustomed to being told what to do; typically, they do not often have opportunities to establish their own framework of expectations. One way to help empower students to enjoy greater self-agency and to be personally invested in following the rules is to collaborate with them on what those rules are.

Have a discussion with your students at the start of the year or semester. Ask them what they feel are common sense rules that everyone in the class should follow, such as speaking and behaving with respect to all, not speaking out of turn and not interrupting others. Of course, you may need to add some of your own rules to the list, but the key is engaging with students proactively and discussing together as a group why rules are important and what the consequences should be for breaking them.

8. Post the Rules in a Visible Place

Once you’ve agreed upon a set of classroom rules, it’s important to write them down. Post them in a visible place. After posting them on a wall or the chalkboard, go to various places in the classroom and see if the rules are still visible to you. If not, you may need to enlarge the type.

9. Hold Individual Students Accountable for Breaking Rules

Positive classroom management involves not being overly punitive; however, students do need to be held accountable for breaking rules. First, it’s important to hold only individual students accountable for rule violations — not the entire class on the basis of the behavior of one or a few students. This is because it is not fair to punish the entire class for actions that they did not do. These blanket punishments often discourage well-behaved students and may motivate them to behave more poorly.1

Second, teachers should be mindful to avoid overreacting. If a student speaks out of turn, they may need to be reminded of the rules, but may not necessarily need to be sent to detention simply for forgetting to raise their hand.

10. Show Students You Believe in Them for Positive Classroom Management

The most effective classroom management strategies for elementary, middle and high schools involve empowering students in a way that makes them want to follow the rules and do well in class. This necessitates showing students that you believe in their character and ability. Strive to develop a good rapport with each student.

One way to let students know you have faith in them is to provide meaningful recognition for their accomplishments and for demonstrations of good character. You can also work to identify each student’s particular strengths and talents and encourage them to pursue their interests and passions.

Examine Classroom Management Strategies for Elementary School at GCU

Teachers play a critical role in education as they shape future generations. It is a complex and intricate task for teachers to enter a classroom full of students from different backgrounds. Some students may come from more challenging backgrounds with social or emotional traumas, which can lead them to behave in less desirable ways. It is important for teachers to understand this and to utilize positive classroom management strategies for such cases. 

At Grand Canyon University, you can earn your teaching degree with a flexible mix of online and on-campus scheduling options. We offer elementary and secondary degree programs for aspiring teachers. Complete the form on this page to explore our baccalaureate teaching degrees.

1 Rabiger, P. (n.d.). Collective punishment might feel right at the time, but it’s always wrong. Teach Wire Retrieved on May 29, 2024. 

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Education on June 3, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.