3 Ways to Handle Classroom Management After the Honeymoon is Over

It is that time of year when the sparkle of the new school year has started to lose its luster. You probably have finished a unit or two, and there is quite some time before Thanksgiving or winter break. Maybe you’ve had a a few groups of students who make you question your own sanity as you watch them “clean up,” leaving the classroom feeling like the aftermath of a tornado.

You might be wondering why things seemed so blissful those first few weeks of school when everyone listened like little cherubs to your guiding angelic voice. Now, you cross your fingers and hope your administrator does not walk by as your students dart around like feral cats while you tell students to, “Take just ONE paper towel!” using your angry teacher voice.

In a nutshell, the honeymoon is over.

You and your students have probably gotten a little lax when it comes to routines and behavior. That is okay. Don’t worry. You are not alone. It’s never too late to put some new routines and strategies in place and make beautiful artwork in your classroom.

Here are 3 Ways to Renew Your Classroom Management Plan

SOS sign

1. Review Routines & Make a Video

You might have gone over your routines at the beginning of the year until you thought your students could do them in their sleep. Now, everything has fallen apart. Slow down and take some time to review. It’s ok to admit something is not working. You cannot assume your students will remember everything or your passionate speech about paintbrush care will stay with them the whole year.

“But, I only have so much time with my students!” you might say. Yes, your time is limited, but a bad routine or habit will only get worse and take up more creative time in the future. Tell your students why you are reviewing and changing up a routine. Remind them it will maximize their artmaking time in class. A great way to review a routine is to take a simple smartphone video. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Show it again and again throughout the year as a friendly reminder.

Here’s an example of a quick video I made for my students to remind them about our sink rules.

2. Ask For Help

Sometimes you have an incredibly tough group of students who don’t seem to respond to any of the tricks in your bag. Maybe you are on the brink of apathy. Come off the ledge and ask for help. You have supports in your environment; use them. Reach out to another teacher and explain what is going on. Chances are, you aren’t the only one struggling with a particular student or group. You might find out a student or class has a behavior plan or something they are working toward as a reward. Use it to your advantage! Talk about your concerns with your administrator or school counselor. Ask someone to observe this student or class while you teach to provide insight into what else might be going on. Use the experts and resources around you. You might be surprised at what you find out.

3. Slap Some Tape On It

students standing on tape line

It may sound like a simplistic solution, but you can use tape on the floor (or almost anywhere) to show students where to stand, sit, watch, and wait.

Here are 4 ideas.

  • Stick a long piece of tape on the floor where students line up. Instruct them to “keep the tape between their feet” as they stand in line.
  • Give students a line or spots to sit on on the floor.
  • To avoid crowding around a table as you demonstrate, put small pieces of tape on the floor exactly where students should stand.
  • Slap a tape border around a supply area. Instruct students not to cross it until told.

Will students always follow the tape guidelines? Not a chance. But it will help give structure to some common problem areas.

The beginning of the year is usually fresh with possibility and good behavior. Teachers constantly revisit and renew their classroom management throughout the year so they can maximize their students’ creative opportunities. Don’t be afraid to try something new or ask for help as the honeymoon ends – let the artmaking begin!

What might you “slap some tape on” and try to review in your classroom? 

What has been your biggest problem area with classroom management this year? 

Megan Dehner

Megan Dehner is an elementary art teacher at a dual-language school in West Liberty, Iowa. She is passionate about the practice of creativity regardless of any talent or barrier.

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  • Katherine B.

    I do the tape strategy on the ceiling! I use a tape with a star pattern and remind students to line up “under the stars” and my custodians love that I don’t put tape on the floor that would get waxed in on breaks. I have the ceiling tiles that have the metal dividers that hold them in and the metal part is what I put the tape on!

  • Cher van der Lugt

    I use a managers in my class room. Every month the list changes in names, but everybody will get a turn, like sharing out/picking up art binders, erasers etc. Students without a task at that time need to stay seated. By the time they reach our third high school form (Dutch system) I do not even have to mention the chores to do. My class room is clean! Another thing is to let student come back in their own time to improve their assignment. Again, when they reach the higher forms lots of them return in their free time.
    They can make an arrangement with me. When I have an hour break, I will do my administrative work and the students have time to improve!