Monday, January 1, 2018

My Classroom Management System...

I think the number one question I get from teachers is "how do you handle classroom management"? I do have a system and I have had it for 13 years. It really works for me and I get a whole lot of work out of the kids because we have more time to focus on art and less time figuring out who is getting what or who is putting it all away. This is the system I use, you should find ways that will make your classroom run smooth as well. One system does not work for everyone but you are welcome to use mine if it works for you.

Classroom Management System-

1. Supply management-

I have one overall classroom manager in each class who acts a "mini-me". This person is the only one allowed to walk up to me without raising their hand. If you have a supply need you ask your table manager if you have an art question you can ask others at your table or raise your hand an I will come help you. Other wise everyone is expected to stay in their seat or in their area during class. Classroom managers keep their jobs all year and when ever possible they keep their jobs year after year. Cuts way down on the retraining process time. We hit the ground running each new school year. I do remind students each year that I do not have favorites we just need a quick way to get everything accomplished. I emphasize that the art room is based on team work...we are all on the same team. The manager system you set up and start right away...the team building thing takes some time. Try and develop a culture and attitude in your art room, it will differently help with behavior management. I pick classroom managers who seem to be class leaders, are very calm and seem to just know how to get things done. They also do not mind taking orders from me or working very hard while still being able to get all their own projects finished. It is the classroom managers job to do a final quality check at the end of class to make sure "their" art room is ready. At the end of they year I do have a party for all the classroom managers... I owe them that much for how hard they all work.

Supply manager--The supply manager is the second in command under the classroom manager. This person is the overseer of all supplies and table caddies the room. It is their ultimate responsibility to make sure all the table managers put away the supplies correctly. They also help me pass out random things that I do not have a job manager for. 

In addition to the classroom manager and the supply managers I have one table manager at each table. The table managers keep their jobs all year long or as long as they choose to keep it.  It is a lot of work. I remind students our most important goal in the art room is to create art. The faster we get supplies the faster we are working on our art. The table managers are in charge of getting all the supplies for their table. They do this at the beginning of class and through out the entire class. The table manager is also responsible for making sure everything gets put away correctly for their table and the table is clean before everyone lines up. Everyone else at the table is in charge of keeping the table clean during class, the table supplies organized and the floor around their table swept. I have a small broom on a hook at the end of each table. I remind students it is important to stay out of the managers way at the end of class so they can get the room ready for the next class so please help them but getting your tables put together and in order. It's a team thing!

On top of the table managers and the classroom manager  jobs there are a few other very important jobs in my art room these managers are--

Sink/Paint manager- The paint manager is in charge of all things paint and anything by the sink. The paint manager helps the table managers put out, pick-up and restock paint. They also help me with every thing that has anything to do with the sink area. The classroom manager also helps the paint manager. 

Paper Passer/picker-upper/drying rack manager--This student hands out all new project papers, old project papers and any special papers to everyone. They also pick up all the papers when the class works as a group. Otherwise I have a yellow turn-in basket were everyone puts their dry projects on their own when they finish a project during class.  The paper passer is also in charge of the drying rack when we turn wet projects in as a group at the end of class. Otherwise as soon as a student is finished with a wet project they may put their work on the drying rack and get their journal.

Journal/library manager--The journal manager keeps all the journals at his or her table in a basket. When a student is finished with their projects they know to go to the journal manager and get their journal out of the basket. The journal manager helps me help all the kids bind their journals together at the start of school, which is really helpful. The journal manager is also in charge of keeping the library and the journal station clean. I let the journal manager pick their own helper to assist them in organizing the journal's a really big job sometimes. The journal manager is also in charge of helping me pass out random supplies I do not have job managers for.

Clay manager--This person's job is to assist me with all things clay, paper mâché and 3D. 

I have a seating chart and the students with jobs sit in the same place for that job in every class. This way I am not always looking for the job person I need. For example all the classroom managers sit at the head of the orange table. That is because it is right next to where I stand to take roll and end class. All the supply managers for each class sit in the first chair at the Yellow table...this is because it is closest to the supply rack. All the paper passers for all the classes sit at the second seat at the Red table because it is closest to the paper cabinet. All the journal managers in all the classes sit at the 3rd chair of the blue table because it is at the center of the room and all the kids come to this person to get their journals. It is centrally located. This system is great for subs as well, when everyone knows their job and the sub has to do very little it is great for keeping the room clean. The jobs are marked on the seating chart so the sub can find the person with the right job to help them fast. 

My tables are color coded with ribbons above them hanging from the celling: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet. If I have an overflow of students some years there is also and Indigo table I use. All the table managers sit at the head of their tables. I have a cool side manager and a warm side manger as well. This person is in charge when a warm or cool side table manager is absent. The classroom manager is also in charge of any other manager job if that person is absent. This cuts down on "can I be manager x today our manager is absent". There is a plan in place for absent students.

Students put their names on the backs of all their  papers and also include their classroom teacher's name in case the paper is misplaced and their table color. Having the table color helps get the papers passed out much faster. 

I do not use the my management system in kindergarten. For these little ones I tell them the people who are paying attention and following directions get to be my helpers. 

If you would like more details on my management system just e-mail me at

This is a flow chart I use when kids say "what do I do next". There is a laminated copy in each table caddy on each table in case they forget, which they always do even though it has not changed in 13 years. I just say go look at your flow chart.

2. Behavior Management-

I am a huge believer in Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk. This management system totally changed the way I teach, manage my classroom, deal with other people and my life. I swear by it. It helps to teach with less distractions. I started my teaching career at a title one school in Houston, Texas with lots of behavior issues. I wanted to quit after the first month. This was the year hurricane Katrina hit and we got so many new kids from New Orleans we had to add a teacher to each grade level. Some of these sweet kids could not even write their names correctly in the 3rd grade. In my 3rd year of teaching my school implemented the Love and Logic system and it really chanced the culture and environment of our school.  If you ever need a good book to read...this is the one.

I use to give points and rewards in every form imaginable. I quit doing that a couple years ago and I have been so much happier ever since. I make sure the kids are busy from start to finish, walk around the room a lot...I mean A LOT, I am everywhere. I sit with the kids and work on the same project they are doing or I work on my art journal. I want them to see me working right along side them. I try to catch fires before they start and I take the Love and Logic approach to putting out fires once they do. I put the ownership of the problem back into the kids hands. For a better description of this process I beg you to read or take a workshop on Love and Logic. I know you are thinking...I do the same thing too and I am sure you do. It does take time though so keep pushing through. You must be very consistent and very firm at first. It is very important to develop a sense of team work, pride in their own art class room and a culture of mutual respect. It has taken me a few years and it is not perfect but it is so much better then the alternative of always yelling or being frustrated with the kids. Being upset or frustrated can make you crazy and you leave work tired an burned out every day. But once they get the plan it really does free you up to have fun with your students because you will have a good system in place they understand and can work within. Let the kids know all the time that you believe in them, that we act with respect in the art room and that you expect them to be on their best behavior with themselves,  their table mates and their class. I also teach them how to do a quick one minute meditation. If things are going a little pear shaped turn the lights down and ask the kids to meditate for one minute. If things are getting really loud I call for a Silent Art. Silent Art last for 5 minutes. I set the chicken timer (it's a kitchen timer shaped like a chicken). When the timer goes off I do not say anything  and let them figure it's over on their own. Usually they are still pretty quiet for a while. I allow my kids to talk in class but only to people at their own tables and at the journal station. As long as they are on task and keeping the noise to a minimum it's all good. I do sometimes play music and art videos for background ambience. They love Kids Hub and Bob Ross Videos on YouTube.

Most importantly I think the way we talk to our students is the key to changing their attitudes and behaviors. This is why I believe in Love and Logic so much. 

I hope this helps....Leave any comments or questions you think would be helpful. Also feel free to share your own classroom management procedures.

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