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8 creative classroom management ideas to try

Amanda ClarkOctober 4, 2018

Classroom teacher talking to attentive students

Are you looking for some fun classroom management ideas? Thankfully, you can still entertain your middle school or high school students without letting them go buck wild. With a mix of educational technology tools and some simple tweaks to your curriculum, you’ll encourage your students to model positive behaviors in no time.

Here are some classroom management strategies your students will love.

8 ideas for classroom management that make things fun for everyone

The word "fun" written in lego

1. Mix it up with project-based and inquiry learning

Project-based and inquiry learning can improve your classroom management and save some valuable prep time.

Try skipping the lecture and putting together a student project instead. Or ask your kiddos a question, and have them respond thoughtfully in groups. After all, the more they’re engaged, the better they’ll behave… At least most of the time.

2. Start class with an icebreaker

Learning is a lot like running. Just like we need to stretch before hitting the track, our brains also need to warm up before cramming in loads of info.

That’s why icebreakers at the beginning of class can cut down on disciplinary issues. Instead of starting class with a test or lecture, why not begin with a review game of Jeopardy or a short partner review chat?

These simple strategies will not only decrease test anxiety but also improve student’s overall performance. According to Lea Shafer, a writer for the Harvard Graduate School of Education, some icebreakers can even teach social-emotional learning and improve academic scores.

You can also start class by partnering up and engaging in online educational games. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out these incredible student-designed games.

3. Take a break

There’s a reason for half-times in sports — people need breaks. Sure, students are not moving around in the classroom as much as in soccer games (hopefully), but thinking takes muscle work.

Remember the days when you studied for midterms? Eventually, you probably felt like your brain was mush after extended periods. You experienced the Forgetting Curve, which represents how we forget information after long stretches of formal learning. In an article about the concept, “Short Bursts, Not Shortcuts: The Value of Learning Over Time,” Harvard Business noted that students retain more when they learn in short bursts.

When their noggins overflow, some students start to act up and become restless. Before that happens, why not stop teaching for a few minutes and give everyone a breather?

A five-minute brain break may sound like you’re wasting time, but in reality, it’s giving time back. Because after a rest, your students are ready to focus and learn again — and, more importantly, they’re able to better consolidate the things they learned prior to the break.

One of the best tools for breaks is The White Mountain countdown in Classcraft or you can use an online stopwatch. I would load that baby right up on your smartboard and set a time limit. Then, your students would see a five-minute countdown. And they always got a kick out of the fancy time bomb that explodes when the timer hits zero.

4. Cater to all learning levels and offer students more choices

Do you learn best with visuals? Words? Logic? Howard Gardener’s Multiple Intelligence Theory encourages teachers to offer assignments that cater to these varying learning styles: visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, logical-mathematical. You can find a detailed description of each one here.

Teachers can easily engage student’s learning styles by offering choices. Let’s say you’re teaching Romeo and Juliet, and you want your students to complete a recap assignment in class. Try providing options based on learning styles.

For example, an appealing assignment for kids who are kinesthetic and visual learners might be a summarizing skit. An assignment for a linguistic learner could be an essay. And so on.

Implementing the theory of multiple intelligences in your classroom can provide a positive learning environment for all students. It’s definitely one of those classroom management ideas to check out.

5. Have your students make expectation posters

It’s no mystery that your students love to take control, so why not hand over the reins a bit? Students are much more invested if they take part in their learning. And there’s no better way to get your kids involved than to have them create expectation posters.

At the beginning of each school year, simply let your students brainstorm the rules. Yes, this sounds a little scary, but you might be surprised how positively students react — and how reasonable they can be. You could use a backup list to guide them, but students usually cover the basic rules on their own.

After listing the expectations, have your kids make posters and hang them around the classroom. Reminders are essential, and when students help “create” the rules, they might take pride in following them.

6. Sign contracts

After your students brainstorm expectations, you can compile them into a nice little contract that everyone signs. Think of your teaching contract. Having your signature on it makes it more official, right?

Use an app like  Sign Me to collect signatures easily. Students can download the contract and sign it right from their phone then print or email it for referance.

Talk about an easy lesson plan that allows students to use their beloved phones! Maybe everyone will finally do their homework that night.

7. Have reflection spaces for students and teachers

You’ve probably heard of setting up separate spaces for students who need a time out. But what about the teacher? No matter your patience level, there are times when you’ll need a mental break.

I used to have a corner in my learning environment called Clark’s Corner, and whenever the kids were getting out of hand, I would silently walk to that corner. My students knew this was my cool-off space.

For teachers or students, reflection spaces are helpful in learning how to de-escalate and self-regulate feelings and reactions.

8. Don’t be afraid to follow through

Classroom management is one of the toughest parts of teaching. Honestly, it took me a long time to get my class in order, and I had a lot of trial and error before I found these strategies that worked for me.

One of the most powerful classroom management projects I received came from my teaching mentor. Quite simply, he told me to be consistent.

Think about it: if you only enforce a rule for some kids and not for others, your name will surely make the parent’s gossip hour. And if you follow through only once in a while, your students might think that they can get away with anything. So once clear expectations are in place, do your best to stick to them.

Deep down, your students will appreciate that they know what to expect from you. It will get easier to manage your classroom environment the more consistent you are because it will leave little wiggle room. And as much as we love our students, we know that they are practically experts at finding loopholes.

Keep it up!

Behavior management may sound daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It can even be fun! If you are wondering how Classcraft can help, check out our teachers page. I hope this list of creative classroom management projects work for you and that your little rascals tone down the ruckus … a little.

And keep that head up — you’re changing lives out there!

Photo credit: NeONBRAND, rawpixel /

Classroom Management