Classroom Management – Use Time Wisely

So far in this series on classroom management I have talked about consistency and routine.

Today I want to talk about using time wisely.

Teachers with solid classroom management skills use their time wisely and fill it with a variety of activities.

I recently volunteered at a French immersion nursery school where the teacher did this really well. First, she followed a routine with the kids. Second, she filled every minute with a variety of interesting activities. The class was from 9:30 – 11:30 and the kids were so busy doing interesting activities that I saw very few behavior issues and the teacher had to discipline a child once. They were given play time, circle time, different and interesting group activities, snack time, etc. The teacher kept them hopping! And the kids had a great time!

I was really impressed by this preschool teacher. She used the time she had wisely and filled it with a variety of activities that grabbed the kids attention and kept their interest.

Sunday School teachers have a similar situation. They have a limited time with the kids in the classroom.

First, use the time you have wisely.

Sunday School teachers have 45 min to an hour and a half. When you consider all the other ways kids spend their time during the week, that’s not a lot.

Make good use of every minute you have with the kids in your class. Plan activities for the time you have and then plan a few extras. Sometimes activities will not take as long as you think they will or the service may run over time. Always have something prepared to use with any extra time you have.

A well-managed classroom is one that engages a child as soon as they arrive with interesting activities that focus on the theme of the morning. When kids are engaged in a variety of interesting activities they have less time to misbehave.

Second, fill the time with a variety of interesting activities.

A variety is important. Not all children learn the same way. When you vary the way you teach and present a lesson and the types of activities you provide for the kids in your class, you are including all children no matter how they learn.

By providing a variety of interesting activities you are also showing an understanding of children’s attention spans. Children just can’t sit and listen to a lecture for an hour! They are developmentally not able. But when you offer a variety of activities you are keeping their interest and attention and again giving them less opportunity to misbehave.

Develop your skills in classroom management by using the time you have wisely and filling it with a variety of interesting activities. Look at the routine you have for your class. Does it use the time wisely? If not, you may want to consider changing the routine. Does it offer plenty of opportunities for the kids to be involved? If not, you may want to consider changing it.

These classroom elements are all connected. Find a routine that uses the time you have wisely and then stick to it. Be consistent in the classroom. Consistently fill your time with interesting activities.

This week, take a close look at how time is spent in your classroom. If there are empty spaces, fill them up with interesting activities!

Classroom Management – Introduction

childrens ministry classroom managementOver the next couple of weeks I will be posting a series on classroom management. Not realizing that it was going to turn into a series, last week I posted Classroom Management – Consistency and Routine.

Before I continue with the series, I want to take a step back and talk about why classroom management is so important and why I am doing a series on it and not on discipline.

I get asked about discipline a lot. Volunteers have specific situations in mind and specific questions about discipline in the classroom.

Discipline is an important topic. I have talked about it before and I will talk about it again. But discipline is a skill teachers need to learn to deal with situations that have already arisen. Classroom management is about preventing those situations.

That is why I want to do a series on classroom management. Learning the skills of managing a classroom well prevents a lot of the behavior issues that lead to discipline and gives the teachers confidence and hopefully joy as they serve the Lord.

So in the next few posts I will be talking about what a teacher needs to know and do when it comes to managing their classrooms well.
I have already talked about consistency and routine. These 2 things are hugely important to a well-managed classroom. Continuing the series I am going to write about being prepared, using time wisely, making use of reasonable consequences, and a few other tips and skills.

Teachers, remember, you are in charge in the classroom! Embrace your role. Lead with confidence and love.

Check out these other posts in this series:

Classroom Management – Consistency & Routine

Classroom Management – Use Time Wisely

Classroom Management – Preparation

Classroom Management – Offer Choices

Classroom Management – Expectations

Classroom Management – Reasonable Consequences



Classroom Management – Consistency & Routine

Consistency and routine are two very important parts of classroom management. The teacher needs to be consistent in their response to discipline and inappropriate behavior. Also, the teacher needs to stick to a routine in the classroom, giving the kids a measure of control by knowing what to expect.

First, let’s talk about consistency.

Being consistent in how discipline is dealt with is important. Kids are watching and will notice if you are inconsistent. They will take advantage of it. They will also be watching for how fairly you treat everyone in the class.

When you are consistent as a teacher, you are showing respect to your students. You are showing that each one is important and each one will receive the same consistent responses from you.

Be consistent in your praise of students and in your discipline of students. If you state a consequence for a behavior, use that consequence every time. If you state the classroom rules, expect them to be followed by all students.

Being consistent in your classroom management helps the students feel secure in their boundaries and minimizes inappropriate behavior.

Second is routine.

It is really important to have a routine for your class and to stick to it. Kids will come to recognize the routine and will flourish in it. Having a routine gives the kids a measure of control. They know what to expect; they know what will happen when.

A routine minimizes distracting questions of what will happen next. For older classes, you may want to post the routine. Kids that need assurance can read it and kids disrupting the lesson with questions about when something will happen can be directed to the posted routine.

A routine is important for the schedule of your class, but also for how you deal with classroom management. Have a set routine for how you deal with behavior issues. Talk about it with the kids so they know what to expect. For example, a classroom management routine may look like this:

The teacher notices a child behaving inappropriately. The teacher goes to the child, crouches to their level and tells the child the rule that relates to their behavior. The teacher also tells the child the consequence for breaking that rule. The teacher lets the child respond. If the teacher notices that the child is continuing in that behavior, the teacher approaches the child again and speaks to them at their level. The teacher should ask the child what the rule is and what the consequence is for breaking that rule. Then the teacher should then ensure that consequence is carried out. Once completed, the teacher should welcome the child back to the classroom activities.

Consistency and routine are important parts of classroom management. They are especially important if a classroom has multiple sets of teachers. Teachers are all different so it’s important that they agree on and follow a routine and are consistent in dealing with classroom management.

Your classroom will run smoother when you adopt consistency and routine as part of your classroom management.

The Hot Seat

As a bonus to the series I have written on classroom discipline, here is a fun class motivation technique that I have used to encourage appropriate behavior in the classroom. It’s called “The Hot Seat.”

The Hot Seat works in elementary classes and is great as a way of encouraging the kids to motivate each other to behave and participate in class.
Essentially, the teacher will choose one seat before class begins. That is now the hot seat. The teacher does not reveal the location of the hot seat until the end of class. The child sitting in the hot seat will get to choose a prize from the hot seat bag if they have participated, been respectful, and obeyed the class rules.

To prepare, the teacher needs to find a medium size gift bag and fill it with small prizes – pencils, erasers, candy, stickers, small notepads, etc. Print out and laminate the Hot Seat poster.

This technique works to encourage an entire class to participate and behave because they never know if they are sitting on the hot seat. In order to be fair, the hot seat needs to change every week and the teacher needs to resist the urge to give every student the opportunity to win.
This situation arose in one of my classrooms. The teacher was more focused on being fair and making sure every student had an opportunity to win a prize from the hot seat bag than on encouraging appropriate behavior from the kids in his class. He ended up keeping a list of who had won the hot seat prize in the past and choosing the hot seat based on where kids ended up sitting. The students in the class figured it out. The ones who had already won a hot seat prize realized that they no longer had any motivation to follow the rules since they wouldn’t be on the hot seat.
This technique works as a motivation because it is random – every week each student could be sitting on the hot seat. Kids like the thrill of waiting to see if they could be the hot seat winners.

Creating Classroom Rules

Continuing the series on discipleship & classroom discipline, this post is about creating classroom rules.

With expectations and consequences defined, it is time for each teacher to create some rules specific to their own classroom. Rather than having one set of rules for the entire Sunday School, set specific rules for each classroom. This allows for age-appropriateness and the chance to revisit the rules each year with each new class.

For example, the rules for a preschool class will look very different from the rules for an older elementary class. My husband and I have taught Sunday School for many years. I teach in a preschool class and he teaches in a Gr. 4-6 class. Here are our classroom rules from last year:

Preschool Class Rules (Ages 4&5)
In our class we:

  • Listen to our teachers and obey them
  • Treat each other kindly
  • Raise our hands if we have a question
  • Do all activities together

Grades 4-6 Class Rules

  • Put up your hand to ask questions
  • Participate and have fun
  • No asking “When are we playing games?”
  • Use the bathroom during activities; no bathroom breaks allowed during lesson

Here are some guidelines for creating classroom rules:

For Preschool Classes (ages 2-5)

  • Teachers should decide on the classroom rules before the first class of the year.
  • For 2 &3 year olds use no more than 3 rules and for 4&5 year olds use no more than 4 rules
  • Rules should be stated in a positive manner. In other words, tell the kids what you want them to do. (ex. Treat each other kindly instead of No hitting.)
  • Create a classroom rules poster and use pictures to demonstrate the rules. Children this age can’t read but they can understand a picture. The picture is a memory aid for them to remember the rule.
  • Put the poster up in the classroom and go over the rules every week in class. After a few weeks, the children will be able to say the rules when the teacher points at the appropriate picture.
  • Here are some examples of how to show classroom rules in pictures:
    • Obey your teachers – use a picture of an adult or an adult with a group of preschool age children
    • Treat each other kindly – use a picture of 2 children holding hands or children playing together
  • As well as going over the rules every week, the teacher should also remind the children of the consequences of breaking the rules. Children this age feel safe when they know their boundaries and when they know the routine and what to expect. I talked more about consequences in the last post “Uh oh! Consequences for Inappropriate Behavior.”

For Elementary Classes (Grades 1-6

  • Teachers should allow time in the first Sunday School class of the year to decide on class rules. Tell your students that rules will be decided as a class. Together talk about how everyone should behave in this classroom. The teacher has ultimate veto. Sometimes suggested rules will be silly or unachievable.
  • Once the rules have been decided make a poster of your class rules. This poster should be put up in a highly visible spot in the classroom and referred to regularly.
  • As a class, consequences for disobeying the rules can be discusses as well. Consequences need to be in line with consequences already decided by the Sunday School teachers as a whole or the Sunday School Coordinator. I have found that kids can be much harsher in deciding consequences than teachers are. So guide this conversation carefully and remind the kids that the ultimate goal is growing as disciples of Jesus.

For all ages, children need to know and understand the rules. This is why it is important to post the rules in the classrooms and discuss them each week. Allow children to ask questions about the rules. It is important to make sure that your children understand the rules. Figure out ways of restating them to help the kids understand them.

1 2 3