Grade K-2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, High School, Professional Development & Resources

Classroom Management: On Herding Cats, Comic Relief, & Preparing for Take Off

filmstrip-of-funny-1753502_1920Classroom management should not be a constant slog of herding cats or nailing Jell-O to a tree. So if getting students to follow process has become a painful joke, it’s time to give your funny bone a whack and wrangle your gaggle of goofballs, scofflaws or daydreamers.

These teacher-tested options use some silly so students will embrace the rules – happily:

  • Karen Quinn’s Instagram post shows how simple sketches & captions clarify rules on when to interrupt. The short answer is ‘never.’ She removes the sting with silly examples of when interruptions would be okay. Think:  advancing tornado, alien invasion, or the arrival of Peyton Manning.
  • Buzzfeed Community offers this We Are Teachers list of 27 Attention-Getters for Quieting a Noisy Classroom. The call & response options like Finding Nemo’s ‘Shark Bait/Hoo-ha-ha’ will tickle a younger crowd. Older teens will groan and then giggle when required to sample Vanilla Ice’s  ‘Alright, stop!/Collaborate and listen!’ from Ice, Ice, Baby (show the video). 
  • Love Teach of We Are Teachers has more great ideas for the older set in 5 Quick Tips for Secondary Classroom Management That Actually (I Promise You!) Work For example, dancing for entry squelches tardiness in a few beats.
  • Miss Nelson is Missing by Henry Allard and James Marshall is worth a read with any age group. Here’s a free mini-unit by Irene Hines with discussion questions and graphic organizers to get kids of all ages thinking about why classroom rules matter.

safety first.pngSo now that your students are as quiet as delighted church mice and busy as bucolic bees, they’re ready for more. After all, there’s some metacognition involved in classroom management. Not to mention that since safety is a factor (fire drills, anyone?), you want to be sure the buy-in sticks.

First, ask students to review examples of process and safety rules in other settings. Think swimming pools, public roads/traffic, or hospitals. Brainstorm some attention-getting, hopefully humorous call and response phrases for life guards, crossing guards, and ER nurses.

Now check in for a flight. Airlines are required by federal law to hold the attention of grumpy, bored passengers when delivering the all-important safety and evacuation spiel before every flight. Some have created some pretty funny videos for the task:goofy plane.png

It’s the students’ turn to be seriously funny. Let them create laughter-inducing videos – or skits or collages – for specific processes in your classroom, campus or the wider community. Make sure the content conveys both humor and useful information.

Final thought:  People listen if you Make ‘Em Laugh! Err…just don’t show that clip from Singing in the Rain without first warning the recess monitor or gym teacher.

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