9 Classroom Management Strategies and Ideas Upper Elementary Teachers

9 Classroom Management Strategies and Ideas For Upper Elementary Teachers

Looking for classroom management tips and strategies that work to keep your upper elementary students engaged and thriving? These tried-and-true management strategies are just what you need!

Managing a classroom is the backbone of an effective learning environment, especially with upper elementary students. A well-run classroom boosts academic success and nurtures social and emotional growth. You can create a peaceful and productive space by building strong relationships with your students, fostering a positive classroom community, and establishing clear procedures. Working towards common goals, setting high expectations, using callbacks, implementing voice-level posters, and encouraging kindness are key elements that transform your classroom into a place where every student feels valued and motivated.

Read on to learn practical tips to help you instill a positive sense of community-building classroom management and ensure a supportive and engaging educational experience for all.

What are some classroom management strategies used by the teacher?

1. Build Relationships with Your Students

about me activities for back to school 3rd 4th 5th grade

Building relationships with your students is always the number one way to have a well-run classroom. The old saying that kids will work hard if they like you and think you like them is completely spot on. It is easy to build relationships with students in genuine ways. Building relationships involves showing genuine interest in their lives, creating a supportive and inclusive classroom environment, and establishing consistent communication. 

This can be achieved by engaging in one-on-one conversations, actively listening to their concerns, and celebrating their achievements. Encouraging collaboration through morning meetings and fostering a sense of community helps students feel valued and respected. Maintaining a positive and approachable demeanor and setting clear classroom rules and expectations while being fair cultivates trust and respect, making students more comfortable and open to learning.

One way to build relationships is to get to know your students right from day one! You can have them complete interest inventories, do a variety of ice breakers, and complete "about me" activities to help you get to know them and their interests right from the start of the year! Throughout the year, you can keep in touch with students on a personal level by writing them motivational note cards to celebrate any small accomplishment they have had!

💡Try this pro-teacher tip: Grab these ten "about me" activities, but only use a few during the first few weeks of school. Save the rest, and complete one a month to continue to celebrate each student!

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰About Me Activities

2. Build a Positive Classroom Community

classroom community building bulletin board for back to school

Building a strong classroom community is definitely my jam! There is nothing more important to me than to make my classroom feel like a team and a family. It is easier to manage the classroom when students genuinely care for each other and cheer each other on. Not sure how to get started? I can help! Head to the blog posts below to learn more about how you can build a strong classroom community to help have a well-managed classroom!

💡Read about building community HERE.

💡Read about these community-building picture books HERE.

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰Community Building Bundle

🧰FREE Team Building Posters

3. Have Clear Procedures

back to school procedure slides for management

The best procedure to go over during the first week of school is the procedure of going over all the procedures! I make a joke, but seriously, you can never spend enough time reviewing and practicing the all.of.the.procedures! 

I love to make a slideshow of all of our classroom procedures. This is a great way to teach and practice all of your expectations and procedures for how the classroom runs. Having a procedure slideshow on hand is also great to pull back out when your students need a refresher on your classroom procedures and expectations. We review the information on the slideshow when we return to school after a long break. 

💡Try this pro-teacher tip: Print out the slides to create a book of how your classroom operates. Have your students sign the last page as a class contract. Add this book to your sub bin so that any guest teacher understands how the classroom runs and your procedures. 

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰Procedure Slideshow

4. Work Towards a Common Goal

whole class positive behavior incentive and rewards

I love creating a positive classroom community that celebrates teamwork. While students are certainly responsible for their behavior and choices as individuals, I have found that they make better choices when they work together as a team towards a common goal or reward. That is why I use a simple color challenge behavior system as a quick, easy, and visual way to keep track of the class' behavior as a whole. The kids love it, and I love how simple it is to use. Simply print and grab a crayon!

It is as easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Set up the expectations that you want your students to work towards. It can just be focused on following the classroom rules or on one idea, like working quietly.
  2. Decide on a whole class reward that students earn and can do together.{Like bonus recess or PJ Day}
  3. Print the coloring page and keep track of their amazing behavior!

Each time your students display one of the expectations you decided on, color in a piece on the page. Once the whole page is colored in, the class earns the reward! I have been using this color-tracking behavior plan for the last few years to monitor student behavior, and it works! The kids love working together to get a piece of the coloring page colored in. Remember to be consistent! Consistency is key in keeping students motivated to work together each day.

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰Whole Class Management System

5. Have High Expectations

You have heard it before, and it is true...kids thrive with structure! Kids love to be in an organized and structured classroom with clear expectations and behavior standards. It truly makes students feel safe and valued. So here is your reminder to always expect the best from your students, have high expectations for behavior, and hold students accountable for completing quality work at all times!

 Remember that consistency is key to running a well-managed classroom. When it comes to your classroom rules and expectations: share them, post them, review them often, and hold your students accountable.

9 Classroom Management Strategies and Ideas For Upper Elementary Teachers

6. Have a Call-Back

Having a call-back method is so important! It calls the kids back to you and helps them focus on important directions and expectations. I usually stick to the same three or four all year, but you can mix it up throughout the year based on popular or holiday phrases. If you are just getting started, I suggest trying one of the ideas below. 

This is one of the first things that I teach on the first day of school. You will have to practice it with your students during the first week; after that, it will become automatic for you and your students! If you want to have some fun with this AND include students in the decision-making process, ask them for their ideas! It is a great way for the students to take ownership of their classroom management. If you need some ideas to get started, try these:

Teacher: If you are listening, clap twice!  Students: Clap, Clap

Teacher: Class, class! Students: Yes, yes!

Teacher: 1,2,3 eyes on me! Students: 1,2 eyes on you!

Change it up! You can use trending phrases and seasonal ideas to keep your callbacks exciting and fresh. For example, during the Halloween season we do Hocus Pocus Time to Focus!

7. Voice Level Posters

voice level chart posters upper elementary

Have you tried using voice-level posters? What I especially love about voice-level posters is that they create a sense of respect for other students. We learn at the beginning of the year that we all learn in different ways; some of us need a quiet working environment. Using different voice levels throughout the day ensures that our students get what we need.

Voice Level Charts are easy to use! Simply create four or five levels like this one and have a large clip to identify the level of voice the kids should use for any given activity. The voice expectations change throughout the day, and to show what voice level you expect for any given task, simply move the clip to a different level. 

Once I started displaying a voice level chart in my classroom, I noticed these improvements:

✅Increase in student focus.

✅Increase in students' ability to self-monitor.

✅Increase in positive student behavior with substitutes.

✅We accomplished more each day!

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰Voice Level Chart Posters

8. Always Have Something on Hand

fast finisher coloring activities for upper elementary classrooms

Another way to make sure that your classroom is always managed is by having something for them to do when they finish their work. You do not need a fancy display or fast finisher section in your classroom; you just have to have a clear expectation and something on hand for them to do! In fact, the simpler you keep it, the better!

I use the same three things all year long for students to do when they are done. Sure, I mix it up with fun, critical thinking packs during holidays or with each new season but on a day-to-day basis, the kids in my room know that when they are done with an activity, they must...

✅Check their work.

✅Finish any work that is in their unfinished work folder.

✅Read a book OR complete a coloring activity.

Coloring activities that we love are Doodle Thinkers and Color by Code. They are both engaging ways to keep the kids critically thinking in a well-managed way. Color by Codes are great because students self-correct their work by coloring the image based on the review questions that they are asked. Doodle Thinkers allow the kids to color the images in any way they want and provide visual brainstorming to help students complete the related writing tasks.

I stick to these three things because they are important, do not require extra materials on their desk, and are independent, quiet tasks. This means that the classroom environment stays intact while other students finish their assignments.

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰 Color by Code for the Year

🧰 Doodle Thinkers for the Year

9. Encourage and Promote Kindness

kindness class rules posters for classroom management

It may sound simple, but it is not. I have found that over the past few years, kids have to be taught how to be kind. You must model kindness, call out students when you see them being kind, schedule time in your week to talk about kindness and bring kindness into your morning meeting. 

As with any classroom rule or expectation, remember to hang up your kindness rules and expectations and discuss them so that you can hold students accountable for being kind!

💡Read about how I bring kindness into the classroom HERE.

💡Read about these kindness-themed picture books HERE.

Add this to your classroom management toolbox:

🧰 Kindness Classroom Rules

🧰 Kindness Alphabet and Bulletin Board

By implementing these classroom management strategies, you'll create a thriving environment where your upper elementary students can succeed both academically and emotionally. Building strong relationships, fostering a positive community, and having clear procedures are just the beginning. When you set high expectations, use callbacks, display voice-level posters, and encourage kindness, you're setting the stage for a classroom where every student feels valued and motivated. 

These tried-and-true tips will help you master classroom management, ensuring a supportive and engaging learning experience for your students all year long!

Looking for an easy-to-implement whole-class management system? Head HERE.

whole class positive behavior incentive template upper elmentary

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9 Classroom Management Strategies That Work and Are Easy to Implement

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