1st Grade Class Management Skills

Post: Discipline
Posted by Miss Frazzle

Help! I'm drowning in a sea of giggles, chatting, body wiggling, pencil tapping, and crayon throwing... This is my first time in first grade. Do all first graders have such difficulty settling down, and listening for longer than 30 seconds? Or is my class just special.

Re: Discipline
Posted by 1st grade for 14 years

First graders are a wiggly bunch, but I think a lot of your problems can be solved by setting higher expectations, setting up consequences, and making sure kids know what to expect when they make a bad choice.

I got a lot of help reading "1-2-3 Magic". Forgot the author, but she uses a lot of scenarios so I'm going to set up one here:

You are about to read a book and kids are sitting around you on the carpet. You get EVERY kid'e attention and make sure they realize that you will not start until there is complete silence. Do not talk to them over talking and giggles. Stop what you are doing until they are ready. You tell them that you are going to read a story, and you expect them to sit and listen quietly, sitting on bottom, hands to self, etc. Tell them you are going to use 1-2-3 (as in 3 strikes your out). Begin the intro to the story as usual and as soon as someone talks to a neighbor or whatever, say "that's 1" (assuming all kids are familiar with this system). Next offense- "That's 2" then "that's 3- go to your seat." This lets kids know you mean business. Do this as often as you need to. You may feel that you are constantly counting those first few days, but after a while, IF YOU ARE CONSTISTENT, the kids know what you expect and what will happen if they don't meet your expectations.

Of course, the positive reinforcements are going on the whole time. But I have seen that high expectations and consistent discipline is the key.

I have to add that in my room, a kid throwing a crayon would not get just a "1". I like to use logical consequences at times, so in addition to being removed immediately from the group because of unsafe behavior, I would take the crayons from the kid for a few days until they are earned back.

I know I sound strict but the kids still love me. They want structure. Good luck!

2nd Grade Class Management Skills

Post: Help me...teach me...
Posted by 2nd grade sub

What am I doing wrong? Same school, another second-grade class... The teacher warned me they were chatty, but also some rang bell on desk w/o asking, flicked lights, just barely took the time to ask me before they went to the restroom, rolled around on the floor while we were on the carpet, yelled across the room to their friends, wrote notes about other kids and while the librarian was reading a book, kept talking until I'd called them down several times, stopped to draw on the white board when they were supposed to be getting into line, etc.... I was so busy trying to get them to behave today that I didn't even have the *time* to get to know them well, to let them see my nice side - to enjoy them, form a bond. :-( At the start of class, I met them at the door, told them to get quiet, put backpacks away, etc. In some classes, the kids come in and get right to work, are respectful & don't talk back. What am I doing wrong that I can't "tame" this class? What would you suggest? Send kids to the office faster? I ended up sending only one to the office today (hit someone), although others came close.

2nd grade sub

P.S. We were late coming in from recess, because all of the kids wouldn't come right away. I still had to count heads. So...we were then late to library, because I insisted on a quiet line before we could leave classroom (where we left our coats) and go through the hallway. They still weren't well-behaved for the librarian. The gym teacher said there must be something in the water, because all of the classes in gym with them were wild. Is it me? the moon? or the kids?

Re: feeling your pain today...
Posted by 1st grade sub

I had a similar experience today. Although not quite as difficult as you.

First grade...and they would not listen. Just generally had a hard time. I used all my tricks. Many things did not work. The teacher was in an inservice in the morning, so I saw her in the afternoon. She wondered (because this is the second day in a row with similar behavior) if the students are feeling tension arising from current events. She then said she's not trying to make excuses for them...but wondering....

In this class, two girls physically fought each other. I was so shocked that first graders would start pulling each others arms, and hair. YIKES!!!!! I only was able to get through half of the Calendar lessons, one out of three math worksheets, and we were late to lunch.

I think there are just some classes that give subs a hard time, or have issues for a day. We all have days like yours and mine. No matter what we do RIGHT!

Re: Help me...teach me...
Posted by Vet Sub

Hi Jean, thanks for the well wishes. Sorry about your day. I had a similar problem. Accountability!!!!!!!! I made the whole class write a letter of apology. It really worked. Perhaps they should write it to their teacher. I use the counting thing to get them seated. I say I will start at ten and work my way down to one. By the time I reach one all must be seated. Also, you could threaten to have them write a page of the dictionary. They have their own usually in their desks(age appropriate). Once they get that idea, it should help. I have a second grader and have taught second several times. Most of them hate the dictionary. You can't be their friend. After all, friends respect one another and they certainly did not show you respect today. Take a hot bath and call it a day! You can't blame yourself. It sounds like they are a rowdy bunch to begin with. If you ever get them again, nip that behavior in the bud. Tell them your expectations. Also, they are not allowed to touch the school property, except their desks, chairs, and books. I'm sure they will ask you if the door is alright to touch. Then, tell that child to write you a list of the items, which you and he will sign and give to the teacher and his parents. Get Tough Girl!! It sounds like they need it and I'll bet you'll gain some respect!!!

Re: Help me...teach me...
Posted by 2nd grade sub

Thanks all. I'll try some of those suggestions, and I'll recognize that they're probably a rowdy bunch anyway. In fact, someone in the office told me they are a bit challenging. I'm just going to have to toughen up. Actually, some of the kids were quite eager to pull out a dictionary to look up a word we ran across - one I didn't know & said I'd need a dictionary to know what it means.

I asked them if they misbehave when their teacher is there. Usually that gets the class in line. I gave them "the stare," but that didn't work. But I'll try the letter of apology to their teacher. And I'll have to become more relaxed about sending them to the office, I guess. This is the same school where I had the last class with the boy who told me flat out that he didn't want to do the classwork. The teacher asked me (in her note) to sub for her another day and - God help me! - I was going to do it (actually, I'm joking - eventually, I think I'll get a better handle on the kids so I wouldn't hesitate to sub this class again), but I already have a sub job for that day.

I *was* happy that I was able to comfort a child today, though. We were working on math and she began to cry (she's from a different class). She said she was falling behind, and she said people tease her about being a cry baby. I told her that crying just means she feels strongly about something, that it's obvious she wants to learn her math. I told her the people with problems are the ones doing the name calling, and I reviewed the math with her. I told her I'm a sensitive person, too (although I didn't cry today! :-) - Felt like I wanted to!! ;-)) And I had a few minutes while buses were being called to talk socially with some of the kids. Hopefully, it'll help me out the next time I sub for the class.

I'll brainstorm for the next time I sub these kids. And any more suggestions are very welcome. :-)

Re: same situation, different grade
Posted by 6th grade sub

I had a wonderful day today (and yesterday...same room), UNTIL the last class (both days). About eight out of the 20 or so sixth graders in there were beyond AWFUL. I could not get them to stop speaking out while we were reading out loud, make rude comments to e/o, or just misbehaving in general. It was SO HARD to teach the lessons that I had to get through for the teacher. I felt really sorry for those who were behaving and were quiet. Bad ending to a great day. Don't feel like subbing tomorrow. I've had more bad days than good with subbing.

Re: Some classes are just that way...despite our experience
Posted by or technique! Just keep getting that tough skin.. Sunny, NFM

Re: I end up doing this....
Posted by Miss Vet Sub

2nd grade sub wrote:
> I was so busy
> trying to get them to behave today that I didn't even have
> the *time* to get to know them well, to let them see my
> nice side - to enjoy them, form a bond. :-( At the start
> of class, I met them at the door, told them to get quiet,
> put backpacks away, etc.

> What am I doing wrong that I can't "tame" this class? What
> would you suggest? Send kids to the office faster? I
> ended up sending only one to the office today (hit
> someone), although others came close.
> -Jean

I doubt I'd send kids to the office, although that certainly is a powerful option for most classes.

With the wild, untamable second graders in their native habitat, you must first lead them into the net hidden on the jungle floor before you try to shove them into the zoo truck. You've already got the net: "to get to know them well, to let them see my nice side, to enjoy them, form a bond..."

Can't form a bond with the wild beasts? Sure you can. It's easy. Just shhhh! them all down and make sure you have good listeners. Then tell them what you like about them, and a little about yourself, peppering it with every positive let's-see-some-of-this-behavior word you can think of.

eg "I LOVE the energy in this classroom. It shows that you are all awake and ready to PAY ATTENTION AND LEARN. I need everyone to SIT DOWN and LISTEN VERY CAREFULLY. I want to see just how many BEAUTIFUL, POLITE, QUALITY LISTENERS I have. Let me look." wait, wait, look, look

Now's the time to tell them what your signals for quiet are, how much kindness, politeness, and please's, thank you's, and excuse me's you'll be expecting to see.

It's also a good time to play a quick round of "Who likes pizza?...do THIS" (wiggle fingers). "Okay, YOU! What kind of pizza? Good. That's my favorite, too." "Now....who likes playing a sport? Do THIS (hands on head). "Okay, YOU! What sport. Soccer? Cool!" It's a chance to get to know each other a little and it sets the tone for good listening and direction following.

If this doesn't do the trick, try appealing to their competitive nature. (The wild seconder has a competitive streak. It's part of their survival instinct.) Tell them about this one second grade class you had, how wonderful it was, how you saw kids push their chairs in, work hard on their papers, raise their hands before getting up/talking, helping their neighbor, being extra kind to kids who are having trouble, etc. Make a class up if you have to. Just take some time listing specific expectations, focusing on the fact that you expect the same fabulous behavior from THIS class. Be sure to add that you'll be writing a note to your teacher and how you'd love to tell her that this was THE BEST second grade class ever. Challenge them. They'll live up to it...or come close enough.

If all else fails, post here. We'll sympathize with ya; we've all had those ughh classes.

Wishing you the best,

Miss Vet Sub

Re: Help me...teach me...- Class Management and Discipline
Posted by John on 3/19/03


- Class Management and Discipline

2nd grade sub,

Many people here have been there many times and so you have a lot of good advice from several good mentors. As has been said by others, oftentimes a class has entrenched behaviors that come out whenever their teacher is gone. Also, a sub can only do so much to improve a class in one day without a stronger support system from the regular teacher and the school.

Strive to stay focused doing your best and no one should ever ask for more.

My best wishes for your future second grade assignments.

Kind regards,


PS I'd posted a response earlier to a similar 2nd grade note that 'might' help some who'd read this thread so I thought I'd pass it on.

><> http://teachers.net/mentors/substitute_teaching/topic9114/ <><

PPS Also, perhaps there are some ideas below that might help someone who'd read this in a browser search so I thought I'd pass it on as well.

Substitute Tools Website
Previous post

Tenets - Classroom Practices - Eight Expectations for Living -Life Principles
Background and Purpose - Program Growth - Supporting Research - Program Staff

Re: Help me...teach me...
Posted by Mrs Vet Sub

> You aren't doing anything wrong. What I find the problem to be is too many disruptive kids assigned to one classroom. It seems as if these kids are deliberately lumped together in a lose-lose situation.

> Jean, this middle school that I avoid has this very problem. I will say it again here--This school is a snakepit. You are lucky if three students are behaving properly.

> Say this to yourself. It's not me--not my classroom management skills-- It is the way these kids are assigned to respective classrooms. Why are so many troubled kids assigned to one classroom? Jean, I think it is very rare for subs to not care about their competency. Most of us really try to do the very best we can with the tools we are given.

> I am now turning down this one middle school every time the nice secretary calls. I value my sanity, my peace of mind over the money I could make going there. The place is a meat grinder the way it is set up. UGH. Anyhoo, I have been reading your post since last year. You seem to take your job very seriously. I don't really know anything else we subs can do. I always try to learn as much as I can from people on this board and other subs I encounter at my schools. Take care 2nd grade sub.

Re: I end up doing this....
Posted by 2nd grade sub

Thanks to all who responded. I really appreciate it - the support and the advice. Miss Vet Sub, I printed out your suggestions and I'll mull over them. I'll review some of the other things I've printed out from the 'net about discipline and classroom management, too. -2nd grade sub


Post: HELP!!!
Posted by Sub for 2nd grade class

I really need some wonderful ideas on how to control a very talkative 2nd grade class!! I think I will be subbing for them tomorrow, which will then be 3 days in the same room, and I think the kids are starting to get a little used to me.

I have many techniques (which I have seen here) like writing 10-1 on the board, taking away recess time for all those seconds they are talking on my time, stickers, praises, special privileges, etc....but today, for some reason, just didn't work so well. Every other class I have done have really adapted to these things. The teacher did tell me though the first day I subbed for her that this class "could eat me alive" if they aren't under strict reigns and the thing is I have really felt that I have done that. I just feel that this is more of a babysitting time that a learning time!

Please any ideas would help!!!!!


Re: HELP!!!
Posted by Mrs Vet Sub

If you have tried everything, including waiting till they get quiet, praising the ones who do, consequences, rewards, etc., and if they all get along okay, maybe you have achieved the best that can be hoped for with this bunch. Some classes are just like that. Continue to keep the reigns as tight as you can. I worked with a veteran teacher when I was student teaching and we never found a way to keep the class quiet. They were immature 3rd graders. There were many things I wanted to do with them that I couldn't.

If the teacher has group activities, make then individual. Move some seats (just while I'm here, tell them)

Good luck!


Post: red light management
Posted by Elementary Ed Student

I am a college student that just finished some time in the field, not yet student teaching. My cooperating teacher used a stop light with name markers on it for her classroom management technique. Each morning the students would start on green and their marker would be moved only if they were causing a disruption. For the most part this was okay. However, there were some students that would be on red (lose part of your recess) early in the day and then their marker just stayed there the rest of the day even though they were still causing interruptions. I was wondering what a more effective way of handling this would be or a completely new way of classroom management... one that last the whole day.


Re: red light management
Posted by artjam on 4/28/03

I'm the art teacher and hear teachers telling kids, "That's a check!" when they misbehave in the hallways. I knew this meant a check on the chalkboard but always wondered what was behind it all because with even the least effective teachers at my school, the kids ALL hate getting a check. So I asked the students of one particularly effective teacher. They said if you misbehave, you have to write your name on the board. The next time, you put a check, and so on up to 3 checks. If you get 3 checks by Friday, you miss (all or part of??) Fun Friday. We have a school-wide Fun Friday, which basically consists of each class having an extra designated time on the playground and/or the teacher does something special in the classroom like popcorn and a video. The great thing that this particular teacher does (not sure if all teachers do this) is that if you behave well, then she will erase your checks. I think this makes a system like this a thousand times more effective. Otherwise, once a child saw his name with 3 checks, he'd figure he already blew it so what's the point in behaving now? I think if they already have 3 checks and they misbehave, then they go to time out in another classroom or to in-school-suspension, depending on the behavior.

Re: red light management
Posted by Second grade teacher

I use a similar behavior chart in my second grade.
1. Verbal warning
2. Name on board
3. Move your card to yellow
Any more trouble?
4. Move card to red and I immediately call mom or dad- often
have the child talk to them (they don't like that at all).
Only had to get to that point 2x this year.

I also put a star on each card that it is the green at the end of the day- and I dish out extra stars for excellent or helpful behavior during the day. When you have ten stars on your card, you get a "poga point"- our school motivators that can be used on Wednesdays like money at the student store.

This way, my behavior chart rewards kids that have acted decently, keeps track of kids that are blowing it. If they were "in the red" at 9 am I would call a parent then. My kids LOVE the chart and often come and count their stars- so really the positive behavior gets as much or more attention than the negative. This is the first year I've done it quite like this (22 yrs of teaching) and I'm thrilled with how it's working for my class!

Re: HELP!!! - Class Management and Discipline
Posted by John on 3/19/03

Sub for 2nd grade class,

I don't know if this note will help much but it might give you some additional thoughts that probably need to be considered when mentoring impulsive hyperactive children.

Firstly, your 'feelings' of failure are counterproductive and will set you up to beating yourself up whenever you've been allotted an exceptionally hard assignment. The techniques I've published below are what help me to always know I've been consistently professional and focused on the goal. Also the techniques I use make it easy to tactfully leave a note to the students regular teacher who's likely overwhelmed on a daily basis.

Classroom management in 2nd grade is possible whenever their regular teacher would pursue the goal of a peaceful mannered class every moment of every day the first few days and weeks and months of school. It takes days, weeks, and sometimes months to whittle down misbehaviors in a classroom of children so they'll become mannered in their new grade. All that a substitute can do is try the best you can with the assignment you've been allotted.

As you probably already know second through sixth grades can sometimes be difficult or sometimes easy. I've seen a higher percentage of easier 2nd grade subbing assignments than working with 3rd and 4th graders. The teachers comment about her kids may be accurate about her kids but it also reflects on her class management skills she's achieved to that date. It usually appears to me that whenever a teacher has been sleep deprived, disorganized, and over stimulated, i.e. addicted to coffee or sugar, the kids become a mirror image of their teacher's hyperactivity. My impression is that the easy classes have always occurred when their regular teacher is organized, calm, and holds the kids accountable by redirecting them to mannered and peaceful behaviors whenever they'd first begin to break the class rules for that period.

In my opinion you're trying too many rewards and penalties, especially when kids can't change overnight from ingrained impulsive behaviors. I also disagree with rewarding kids, especially with stimulants such as sugar, for simply behaving appropriately. Or to punish a child by withholding a class reward from the kids who are more impulsive from sleep deprivation. These same sleep deprived and hyperactive kids tend to also be more addicted to the caffeine and sugar stimulants doled out in their morning breakfasts, be that breakfast at school or at home.

Again, all that a teacher can do is the best one knows how to do with the assignment one has been allotted. Keep doing your best and your skills will improve more and more on every assignment you'll take on.

I hope this helps some.

Best regards,


PS In the hopes that you or someone else could pick up some pointers on classroom management, I'm attaching this PostScript of a post I've made earlier.

- Class Management and Discipline

You mention many problems that are overwhelming many teachers these days because they havenít learned to consistently apply several tried and true classroom management techniques.

With the hope that it will help many teachers who are having difficulties with classroom management, I'll give a post that I've given before.

My hope would be that everyone at your school would catch the vision of having "Great Expectations," for the teachers as well as for the students.

I hope this helps some.

Best regards,

Substitute Tools Website
Previous post

Tenets - Classroom Practices - Eight Expectations for Living - Life Principles
Background and Purpose - Program Growth - Supporting Research - Program Staff

Substitute Tools Website