Classroom Management...Dun, Dun, Dun!!!

Picture me: age 22, bright-eyed, optimistic, smack dab in the middle of the education program at Liberty University.
For one of my elementary education classes, w
e have to prepare a sample lesson. I research, scour the internet, and plan a fabulous (if I do say so, myself) 1st grade lesson on alphabetizing words. I have an engaging set, I make the objectives clear, I do a fun and engaging whole group activity, and then my individual post-assessment is awesome. The whole thing goes off without a hitch: the entire group passed my "exit ticket assessment" and proved they could alphabetize words by the first letter without any trouble. There weren't any kids who didn't get the concept, weren't any boys (or groups of boys) goofing off, and not a single student forgot to raise their hand before speaking and I think to myself, "Teaching...I got this!"

But then I stop to think: of course the lesson went well.
I presented it to a whole room of college-aged education majors. In college, we're told how to prepare to teach, but once we get into a classroom with real students, that's when the fun starts. :) 
Ask any teacher and they'll tell you: teaching is a lot more than just teaching. We are counselors, leaders, character-developers, friends, parents, and role models.

Today's blog post deals with one of the hardest aspects of teaching...classroom management.
Here are some of my top tips that have really saved me lots of time (and stress!) in the classroom and allow me to focus on actually teaching! 
Individual Accountability
 
 At the front of my classroom, I have displayed a 5-station clip chart, travel-themed, of course :)
Each student has a clothespin with their number on it. The clothespins always start each day on "Green - Arrived at the Airport, Ready to Fly." The key to this system is that students can move both up and down all day long - so if they get dropped down to "Flight Delayed" or "Flight Cancelled" there is a still a chance for them to improve their behavior and move back up.
At the end of the day, the color the students are on determines their prize:
If they are on green, they get 1 ticket.
If they are on blue, they get 2 tickets.
If they are on gold, they get 5 tickets!!!
~~~~~~~~~
On the same token, if they end the day on:
Orange = warning, lose 5 minutes of recess
Red = lose whole recess, parent contact

I also created a tracking sheet where the students can fill in the color that they ended the day on, so their parents can track their progress:
I've also included a letter to explain the system to parents:
Everything you need for making this clip chart can be found at my TpT store.
If you've already purchased the clip chart, I have recently added (by request) two more "stops" on the chart:
 This clip chart was sooo motivating for my students. If they start chatting or are off-task, I simply walk over towards the clip chart and instantly the students button their lips, sit up straight, and give me a thumbs-up, begging with their behavior to move up a level :)
 Individual Incentives
At the beginning of the school year, I give my students an envelope and let them decorate it. I tell them that it is their responsibility to keep track of their envelope and the tickets they put inside. When a student answers a difficult question, acts as a role model, helps me or a classmate, or just generally goes above and beyond my expectations, I give them a ticket.

You can get rolls of 2000 very easily - from Wal-Mart, Staples, or the Dollar Store. A roll like this only costs me about $5 and lasts more than half the school year (depending on how generous I am!). Then, whenever students want, they can trade in their tickets for the following prizes:

Team Challenge Competition: 
Each week the students earn tally points for their "team" (table group) for answering questions correctly, being the first group cleaned up, waiting quietly, etc. Teams can also lose points for calling out, being off-task, arguing, disrespectful behavior, etc. On Friday the team with the most points wins either a prize from the treasure box, a No Homework coupon, a Sit-by-a-Friend coupon or a Lunch with Mrs. Lawler coupon. 
*I find the Team Challenge Competition is one of the best motivators for quality work and proper behavior - they are motivated by not only the incentive, but also the positive peer pressure from their group.*
I seat the kids in groups and each table is a designated continent: I printed out the signs, backed them on construction paper, and laminated them. I then put them in cute little picture frame holders I found in the Target $1 Spot.
You can download them for FREE here: 
I also have a desk in my room called "Antarctica"
This is a place where I can send students who need to "Cool Down" because they're arguing with a teammate, getting stressed, or are having trouble concentrating:
You can download the signs for FREE from my TpT store: Continent Table Group Labels
The group labels are also in my Travel-themed MEGA Bundle
Travel Classroom Theme MEGA Bundle

Hop on over to check out other fabulous bloggers' advice on Classroom Management:
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