The Joy of Teaching – An Evan-Moor Blog

Sharing creative ideas and lessons to help children learn

Encouraging Positive Classroom Behavior—Without Raising Your Voice

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shutterstock_216044527At this time in the school year,

students are very excited and we can

all feel a little burned out! Try some of

these classroom tips for effective

teaching for a calmer, quieter learning


Set Students up for Success

  • Giving students clear instructions, including consequences, gives students agency to choose good behavior.
  • Remember to use “I expect” statements. By clearly outlining what the expectations during an activity are, you are letting students know what your standards are.

Nonverbal Communication

I suggest waiting for silence. Stand where all students can see you and wait for students to take notice. If you have a particularly rowdy class, use a hand signal:

  • Quiet Coyote: touch your middle and ring finger to your thumb with index and pinky fingers pointing up.
  • Clap and Count: Clap your hands twice and put one finger up, signaling a first try. Wait a bit, then clap twice and put two fingers up so students who missed the first round can see this is your second attempt. Continue until all students are facing you.

I usually do this to three, but I have used it up to seven in some cases. This signal can also show a class how long you have waited.

Attention Getters

Encourage students to show you they’re ready in appropriate ways. “I say, You do” statements are a great way to get students’ attention without raising your voice. One of my favorites is “Catch a bubble.” When I say “Catch a bubble,” students blow their cheeks out like they have a bubble in their mouth.

Select a few “I say, You do” statements and rotate through those. Too many or new statements can be confusing.

Results They Can SeeBehavior graphic-01

  • Set a group goal for all students to work for. An elementary teacher of mine used a glass jar she had at the front of the classroom. When we were quiet or followed directions as a group, she dropped a few marbles into the jar. When the jar was full, we got a reward as a group, such as an hour of free play at the end of the day.
  • Another visible reward system is the Kindness Board. When students are caught displaying positive behavior, the teacher writes the act down on a sticky note and sticks it on a board. Feel free to use names in this case, so students can claim their positive actions.

For more ideas, see this blog on Nine Tips for Teacher- and Student-Friendly Classroom Management.

How do you keep students on task? Please share your classroom management tips.

Contributing Writer

Karina-photoKarina Ruiz has four years of experience working with children for non-profit after-school programming for K–12 and four years of nanny work. She is currently a volunteer intern and attends California State University, Monterey Bay.

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One Comment

  1. Great tips! I like how they hold the children accountable without creating fear in the learning environment. These work wonders in the classroom!

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