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Establishing Control and Coherence in Elementary Classroom Management

Establishing Control and Coherence in Elementary Classroom Management

This post is written by LaTonya Taylor-Rowe, a member of the Edmentum Educator Network. The Network is a professional learning community dedicated to helping educators share ideas, learn from one another, and make genuine peer-to-peer connections.

Close your eyes and envision a classroom where every student is engaged in a guided environment that fosters continuous learning. Can you hear the laughter, meaningful conversations, and music? Can you see an attractive, inviting, and well-organized themed classroom with flexible seating? Can you smell the pine trees, sugar cookies, and firewood? Can you taste buñuelos, Chinese noodles, and stone soup? Interactive, immersive strategies like these can enhance an orderly environment that promotes prosocial student behavior and academic engagement. Let’s take a look into how you can establish control and coherence in your elementary classroom management strategy. 

Organizing Physical Space

Classroom environments vary in size, color, number of students, and furniture, but classroom management strategies can look very similar. One key attribute to maintaining an environment conducive to learning is the arrangement of furniture and storage of supplies. Some teachers elect to have flexible seating that reflects students’ home surroundings. Students feel more relaxed while stationed on yoga balls, sofas, and rugs. If students feel comfortable in their surroundings, they will be more apt to participate in activities with less negative behavior.

When supplies are clearly marked in open or clear containers, students are motivated to work independently with less disruptions. Students are encouraged to gather materials as needed and to return the items to the marked location for the next use. Having a well-organized environment and keeping supplies within easy reach for students promotes independence and responsibility. This type of environment also frees up a teacher to engage in small groups and one-on-one activities without numerous interruptions from students needing items to complete activities.

Establishing a Culture for Learning

Selecting a classroom theme that appeals to students will spur excitement and encourage engaging participation. Students will enter the classroom each week eager to journey through the woods, surf in the ocean, or even explore in a cave as they learn immersed skills. A little John Denver or Mozart playing in the background will maintain a targeted voice level while instruction is being delivered to whole or small groups. Savory sugar cookie smells mimic a bakery, while firewood burning emulates a campground and allures student engagement into classroom themes. Setting the stage is important when commendable behavior is necessary for optimal learning.

Creating an Environment of Respect and Rapport 

Student high fives, heel-toe taps, or gentle hugs are simple ways to greet your students every morning as they enter the classroom. Having a positive interaction upon entry can promote a favorable start to each day. What about a morning meeting around a campfire to review daily events and expectations? Strategies like these help minimize unwanted behaviors and redundant questions. Students can establish daily goals, celebrate hard work, and reflect on progress and receive the support of their classmates and teacher during an intimate setting.

Managing Classroom Behavior

Creating an environment where students understand every action has a positive and negative consequence will ultimately prepare them for the real world. Acknowledging desired behavior with a “smarty pants” ticket or a “scholar dollar” will effectively support positive actions in the classroom. Affirming unwanted behavior with a “behavior contract,” time in the cool-down zone, or one-on-one debrief will assist students with applicable classroom habits.

Managing Classroom Transition

One, two, three, bring it down! Captivating students with rhymes and catchy songs will quickly focus their attention on the current activity. A doorbell can signal time to clean up or stop, look, and listen for further directions. Digital time clocks are visible and appealing to some students as they work to complete tasks within a designated time. The key to classroom transition is consistency. Once students become accustomed to doorbells, chants, and chiming clocks, they will quickly maneuver the classroom routine.

Developing your classroom management strategies is imperative for a well-managed and engaging environment where maximum learning can occur. There are numerous strategies, but the best ones are consistent and designed for your unique students. Students change from year to year, and learning situations change too. Implementing strategies that best fit you and your students will foster a seamless routine and a successful school year!


Interested in more tips to get your elementary classroom ready for the new school year? Check out these seven essential elements that every elementary classroom needs!