Amanda Koonlaba | January 2018

5 Classroom Management Hacks for the New Year

Classroom Management Hacks for You to Try

Classroom management is the number one reason teachers feel they fail at using arts integration and STEAM in the classroom. Some of the most seemingly insignificant things can have disastrous consequences if not intentionally planned for.

Consider this scenario: The class ran out of tissue in the box earlier. The custodian opened another box and put it on the teacher’s desk instead of near the sink where the teacher normally keeps it. A student gets up to get a tissue but has to walk all around the classroom to find the box. On the stroll around the room, the student popped someone else in the head and said, “Yo mamma. There was an outburst of arguing that the teacher had to address. It’s winter so a lot of kids and the teacher all have runny noses. The box of tissue is running out three times a day. So, this scenario is happening like it is on repeat.

This really happens in real life. It happens ALL THE TIME!  Here are 5 Classroom Management Hacks for you to try in the new year to keep you focused on helping your students learn, not calling little bit’s mama because he misbehaved on his quest for tissue.

Shoe Rack Reading Center

If you are going to have a center for students to select reading materials, it is a good idea to find a way to store the materials so they can be removed easily. It is also helpful to have a way for the students to see what is available without having to rifle through every single thing.

One solution is to use a clear, plastic hanging shoe rack for magazines. This is a photo of my Scholastic Arts magazines that hang on the back of one of the doors in my room. They can see enough of the magazines to make an informed decision about which to pull without having to pull every single one before deciding what to read. It is also super easy for students to put these back without me having to straighten them up constantly.


Tissue Dispensing

Yes, you need to have a plan and system for every single thing in the classroom, even tissue dispensing. I found this hanging toilet paper holder at a dollar store. It is perfect for making tissue acquisition for runny noses less dramatic.

I hung this over one of the drawers of my classroom cabinets, stuck a roll of tissue on it, and haven’t looked back since. This is in a neutral location of my classroom which keeps students from wandering around to touch the shoulder of every friend or foe in the room. It is in plain sight so there’s no mischief as opposed to putting it in the corner or on the teacher’s table. Additionally, the roll of tissue always stays there and  lasts much longer than a box.

Empty Containers for Mini-Trash Cans

One minute your class is engaged in the most amazing arts-integrated lesson you’ve ever seen. The next, it is time to clean up. BAM! Perfect students to football audience in less time than it takes to blink. Thirty seven children are running to the trash can with their scraps while thirty  more are fighting over who can carry the actual giant trash can around the room to pick up the trash. Okay, so maybe you don’t have sixty-something students at a time, but it sure can feel like it during clean up.

This was once a tub of Laffy Taffy. Now, it sits on a table waiting patiently for me to assign a student to go pick up trash. I have taught the students not to go to the actual trash cans during clean up. They can either carry their trash with them as they are walking out the door or someone will come around with this nifty bin to collect it. Somehow the size of this thing cuts down on all the drama of a student carrying an actual trash can.

Stacking Trays for Chalk and Oil Pastels

I shared this on EducationCloset On Air in October, but I wanted to add it to this list of hacks because of the way they stack. These are catering trays that came from the dollar store. I organized these chalk pastels by warm, cool, and neutral one time and stacked the trays up. The students can easily keep the materials separated by color and they stack up without falling over. Even if a student mistakenly puts one piece of chalk in the wrong compartment, see the photo, it is still easy to straighten. In the past, I’d tried to keep these in separate baskets and never had any luck. This works!

Labeled Posters for How to Organize Materials

I have art supply tubs that go on the tables in my classroom. I’ve found it to be pretty important that students keep these organized. It is hard to know what to replace from a disorganized bin. It is also hard for students to find what they need. So, I made a poster of a photograph of how the tubs should look when organized correctly. Then, I added labels. Every student in the room can see it and refer to it when needed.

Might Not Be On the Test

It might not be on the test, but these types of things must be in place for learning to occur. You want to be able to spend your time teaching and your students to spend time learning. These hacks can help you do that. Don’t fall victim to cutting out arts integration and STEAM because chalk pastels are hard to store and organize.

Let’s continue to chat about classroom management and share hacks like these so we can focus our time and energy on teaching and learning.

For more help with classroom management in an active learning environment, be sure to check out the Managing the Arts-Integration Classroom course that I created for EducationCloset.

About the Author

Amanda Koonlaba, Ed. S. is an educator and educational consultant with over 12 years of experience teaching both visual art and regular education. Her career has been driven by the power of the arts to reach all learners. She is a published author and frequent speaker/presenter at education conferences. Amanda was named the Elementary Art Teacher of the Year for the state of Mississippi in 2016 and received the Arts Integration Service Award from the Mississippi Whole Schools Initiative (Mississippi Arts Commission) in 2015. She holds an Elementary and Middle Childhood Art certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Amanda is on a mission to ensure every student in America has access to a high-quality arts-based education. She blogs at SimpleArtClass.com