Get Melissa’s Newsletter Free for a Month

Each month, her newsletter includes:
book reviews, tips and advice for parents,
teachers’ toolbox and more!

Repost- Tricks of the Trade for Classroom Volunteers

Greetings all you smartymomz!

the 2010-2011 school year is upon us, and many of us will volunteer in our kids’ classrooms or supervise a field trip or activity.

Here are 5 classroom management tips, or as many teachers like to say…

Tricks of the Trade!


#1- Teaching is a “relationships” business.

  • Establish a strong connection with the teacher and speak w/her about her classroom rules and her classroom management plan.
  • Obey the golden rule w/the teacher AND the students- treat others how you want to be treated.
  • Treat students with dignity and I always suggest “getting on their level” to discuss issues one on one. Yes, this may involve kneeling to establish eye contact.

#2- If you fail to plan, plan to fail.

  • Think about any activity (driving on a field trip, volunteering, etc.) before participating in it.  Show up ready to work and support the activity.  If you’re going hiking, leave the Jimmy Choos at home!
  • If you have the material you will be covering ahead of time, review it and prepare.  Talk to the teacher and ask questions ahead of time.
  • Remember that, “I don’t know” is an acceptable answer.  You can follow it up with, “let’s Google it together.”  “I challenge you to find the answer at home.”  Or, “I will find the answer and get back to you.”

#3- Communication is key.

  • Utilize both verbal and nonverbal communication.  Did you know that over 84% of communication is nonverbal??!!!  Posture, facial expressions and tone are all forms of nonverbal communication.
  • Relaxed yet in charge is the way to be.  Throw the old teaching phrase, “Don’t smile until Christmas,” out the door.  Have fun and the students will react to you in a positive way.
  • Eye contact can work miracles.  So can “the look.”  Anyway who’s a mom knows what I’m talking about.  Sometimes “the look” is all you need to get behavior back on track!
  • Did you know???  The more we speak, the less effective our words become?  Talk less and make a bigger impact.  Leave “Shhh” “be quiet” and “settle down” at home.  Institute a nonverbal “trick” to quiet down any classroom.  Begin in a loud (not yelling) and somewhat commanding voice.  “Class,”  long pause, “I” long pause, “need”  pause “you” shorter pause “to settle down” (speaking a bit quicker and lowering your voice to just above a whisper by the end of the last word).  This trick works because the children become annoyed that you are speaking so slowly.  They naturally calm down and listen.  As the class quiets down, you lower your voice and speak a bit faster.  Speaking lower will keep them quiet, but speeding up your pace will keep them interested in what you have to say.
  • Use your proximity to a student and touch to re-direct behavior.  If a student is becoming “active” so to speak, move closer to the student and gently touch the child’s shoulder.  These two nonverbal forms of communication are very effective in re-directing behavior without disrupting what you’re doing.
  • Buzzwords (or phrases) are beautiful!  If you are a frequent class volunteer, use a catch phrase, “1-2-3 eyes on me” (student reply), “1-2 eyes on you” to grab attention.  If you always use the same catch phrase, the class will catch on.

#4- Focus on the positive.

  • Teaching is an art and a science.  The science is the teaching part and the understanding kids is the art.  You can do both and be a very effective volunteer!
  • Always remember the Self-fulfilling Prophecy.  What?  Really.  In a nutshell, this theory (which is well supported by loads of research) states that children will perform in the manner in which they have been told to perform.  In other words, raise the bar/expectations and kids will do better.  Lower it and they will lower their achievement, behavior, etc. too.
  • Encourage and coach rather than berate and demean.
  • “Don’t do that” has NEVER taught a child anything other than what NOT to do.  We need to teach and model the behavior we want to see.  For example, “Johnny, don’t do that.”  OR “Johnny, please let me see you sit on the floor with your hands in your lap.”  Which statement will get you the result you want?
  • Catch students doing the right thing.  Highlight and promote positive behavior.  Students want attention and will use various methods, both positive and negative, to get it.  By focusing more energy on the positive, you will see much of the negative melt away.
  • Reinforce when things are going well.  “I love the way table 6 is sitting.”  “I love the say Grace is doing her work.”
  • Pick your battles.  Not all behavior needs to be re-directed and/or acknowledged.  If a child is spinning on the back of the carpet yet not disturbing the class, consider letting it go.  Ignoring some behaviors will keep the task moving forward without interruption.  Additionally, depending on the maturity level of the child, some activities or a certain attention level may be difficult to sustain.

#5- Don’t be afraid to call in reinforcements.

  • Use the teacher as a resource. “Mrs. so in so, do you allow children to throw things in your class?”  The teacher is going to support you and students will realize that the two of you are working as a team.
  • Teachers can also remove students who fail to respond to any re-direction or calls to change their behavior.

I really hope these tips help you when you volunteer this year!

I would LOVE to hear more tips that work for you too.



{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment