Elementary Music, Management

What do I do with fifth graders? Classroom Management

Ah, fifth graders. What will we ever do with them?

Last week we talked about what to do with fifth graders in the elementary music room as far as lessons go. Check it out here.

Today we are talking about dealing with behavior in fifth graders. Because we all know that no learning can happen if the students are out of control. We also know that what works with the Kindergarteners will not work for the fifth graders who are eleven. And sometimes twelve. And I have at least one who is thirteen.

Please don’t think that I am an expert, because I am certainly not. I cannot guarantee that if you walk into my classroom, everything will be magical. I try really hard, and I am getting there, but still have some ways to grow.

That being said, I have tried a lot of different tactics when it comes to behavior management. I have some things that have worked and some that have not. I have also observed a lot of things that worked/did not work.

Also read: Vamos a la Mar Orffestration

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 2: Classroom management. If you teach elementary music (or elementary art or elementary PE), then you may be struggling with controlling your fifth graders. Don't sweat it. We have all been there. This post has lots of tips and tricks to figure out what to do with fifth graders-- even if you are a new teacher! Becca's Music Room.

A few quick tips….

See how the class acts with the teacher

If you have a particularly difficult class, watch how they act with their teacher. If they go to different classes, try to see how they act with all the teachers that they see. Sometimes you may be having a hard time with a class, but their teacher is having a hard time all of the time. If they are used to wild and crazy with no classroom management all day long, then you are fighting an uphill battle trying to get them to behave for you. It is possible, but keep that in mind.

Review the expectations

You may have seen my Things I’m Doing Differently in my Second Year of Teaching post, but last year, we talked about the rules once and then never again. This year, we are reviewing them almost daily, depending on which fifth graders I have. I have rhythms associated with each expectation (you can see them in my classroom reveal post), and we will clap them at the beginning of almost every class. This also gives me the chance to talk about anything specific that I have seen that I don’t like. It takes like 30 seconds, and I do think it matters. When someone is not doing what they are supposed to, I will literally point to it on the board and remind them of the expectation.

I know it’s making a difference because yesterday, one of my second graders said, “We didn’t do those rhythms!”

Be Consistant

If something was a call-able offense yesterday, then it needs to be a call-able offense today. Don’t laugh at a joke Monday and get mad about the same joke on Tuesday. Kids need to know what you are ok with or not ok with. They need you to be the same person every single day.

Make the Rewards worth it

Now, when you have a kindergarten class, you can start giving out little star stickers to kids doing a good job, and all the others will straighten out. Your fifth graders, however, and probably not going to care about a sticker. You need to make rewards match the age group. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money or that you need to go crazy, it just means that you need to get a little bit creative.

You can get some ideas from my post about cheap or free incentives. You can also get some reward cards from my TPT here. Writing a nice note home can make a huge difference– even with fifth grade!

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 2: Classroom management. If you teach elementary music (or elementary art or elementary PE), then you may be struggling with controlling your fifth graders. Don't sweat it. We have all been there. This post has lots of tips and tricks to figure out what to do with fifth graders-- even if you are a new teacher! Becca's Music Room.

Some bigger tips….


Be very specific (the strike system)

This goes for all of your grade levels, but when it comes to behavior and classroom management, be very specific. Way more specific than you feel you need to be. This is something that I just amped up.

I have always said things like, “You need to do a good job so that you can play the instruments.”

We probably all say things like that, right?

But what constitutes a “good job”? Does that mean that talking is ok but punching people isn’t? Does it mean that you speak to them once? Twice? Six times? Does it mean they sat quietly for two minutes? All students—especially fifth graders—need to know where the line is.

I have started to do a strike system. It seemed really mean at first, but it is so helpful because the students know exactly where they stand. Basically, if a student does anything they are not supposed to—gets out of their seat, talking without permission, being rude, etc—they get a strike.

The first two are warnings. If they get three, they are out—they do not get to do our fun thing that day. This is usually something I was already planning on doing, like playing a music game or using the instruments. If they get four strikes, they are out for the rest of the day. If they get five, then I call mom and they have to write an apology letter either during the next class period or during lunch (they get to choose which one). I see them every day for a week at a time, so I tell them if they get to five strikes twice in a week, then they get actual detention.

Side note– You may not have this problem, but at my school, kids pretty much never stay for detention. That’s why I started doing lunch detentions. And if you do lunch detentions, make sure you document them somehow. I just have a sign in sheet.

I know, it sounds so mean!

But really, it is way less mean than trying to make the judgment call for yourself about whether a student should or should not play the instruments or whether or not you call home. This takes the responsibility off of you and onto the students. They will appreciate knowing what to expect. The students know where they stand, and it allows them to monitor their own behavior.

I have even heard them say, “I’m at two, I can’t do anything again.” This does not mean that they never get to three strikes. But standing firm does make a difference. And they will get it. Even if they still get strikes, they will eventually (eventually) get less.

I have a whole video explaining this here.

Don’t Be Afraid to be Mean

This one goes along with the last one. I told you, it sounded mean, but it’s not. And every time that I do let someone know they have not earned their instrument time or that they have earned a phone call and alternate assignment, I feel mean. I do not feel good.

But you know what is really mean?

What is mean is letting students think that they can have inappropriate behavior and still participate in the rewards. It is not fair to them and it is not fair to the students who did what they were supposed to. If you say something, you have to follow through. Even if it is “mean”.

And you know what I have found?

Time and time again, when I give fifth graders detention or call mom or give them an apology letter, they respect me more. Not in the moment, but the next time they see me, they appreciate me. They will give me a hug. They will smile and talk to me.

I was sooooo freaked out the first few times this happened. I’m like, “I called your mom and gave you detention and now you are hugging me?”

Yes. Because they now know:

  1. Where the line is drawn (that consistently thing again)
  2. That you care enough to not let them off the hook
  3. You mean what you say

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Save Your Teacher Voice

We have all heard of the “teacher voice”. I use mine mostly with fifth graders, so I call it my fifth grade voice. (As in, “I should not have to use my fifth grade voice with my first graders.”)

Basically, your teacher voice is your strong voice. It’s not screaming, but it is louder and forceful. It says, “I’m in charge.”

Teacher voices are important and usually necessary.


If you use your teacher voice (or just straight up screaming) ALL THE TIME, they will tune it out. They won’t notice it anymore. They won’t care. I’m sure you can think of a teacher where every time you see them, they are just screaming. Do the kids care? Nope. Are they listening? Nope. Is it helping? Nope.

Don’t be that teacher.

Save your teacher voice for when it is necessary. The greatest thing about teacher voice is the element of surprise. If you use it too much, the element of surprise goes away. I try to only use my teacher voice when there is a serious problem. Usually only if someone hurts someone else or looks like they are about to hurt someone. I can tell that I am using it appropriately because half of the students will look at me with these super shocked faces because they’ve never heard me raise my voice. And that’s how I know it’s working.

Some specific classroom management things…

  1. Have a quiet signal: Have some sort of signal to get students quiet. Or have a few signals to get quiet. I use some chimes. If I ring my chimes, all of the students raise their hands until the sound stops. I use ones like this, but I have seen other teachers use these because they are more mobile.
  2. The points system: I talk about this in this post. This is a whole group reward system. The class works together to earn points for… something. Because of my funky schedule, my classes work towards game time on Friday. They get either 10 or 20 minutes of a game of their choice on Friday if they earn their points. 20 points=ten minutes and 25 points= 20 minutes.
  3. The card system: I also talk about this one in this post. This is individual (this would replace the strike system I talked about earlier). If a student is doing a good job, they get a green card. If they have it at the end, they get to do something special. If they are not doing the right thing, they get a yellow card (it’s a warning). If they continue, they get a red card. That means they get a parent phone call and lunch detention.
  4. The envelope system: I have a video about this which you can see here, but basically if a student does a good job, they get to write their name on a paper and put it in an envelope. On Friday, I pull out three names from the envelope and those three people get a prize.

What do I do with fifth graders? Part 2: Classroom management. If you teach elementary music (or elementary art or elementary PE), then you may be struggling with controlling your fifth graders. Don't sweat it. We have all been there. This post has lots of tips and tricks to figure out what to do with fifth graders-- even if you are a new teacher! Becca's Music Room.

So those are some ideas! This is another super long post, but I feel like this is a really important topic. Read part 1 here— it’s all about lessons for fifth graders.

Also read: Bate Bate Chocolate

A note of encouragement: If this is your first year at a school, it will get easier. I have noticed that my fifth graders this year are easier to handle than my fifth graders last year, and the only big change I can see is that I know these students better.

If you are interested in the FREE MUSIC INTEREST SURVEY we talked about in the last post, or getting access to other free resources, sign up for my email newsletter. I send out two emails a month– usually talking about one of the free resources available in the resource library. Once signed up, you can download and use any and everything in there! Sign up here!

What do you do to keep your fifth graders in line– literally and figuratively? Let us know in the comments!

Happy teaching!


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Elementary Music, Management, PBIS

Positive Reinforcements that won’t Break the Bank

PBIS. If you have read my blog for more than five minutes, you know that I love PBIS. And I use it. A lot. Why? Because positive reinforcements work.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t address when students are doing something wrong. It just means that you make a big deal about the students doing a good job.

Positive reinforcement is all about students earning rewards.

You can take this as far as you want to go, but buying candy for every good kid every day can get really expensive really fast.

Here are some things that are quite cheap (or free!) that your students will love a work for!

Side note: These are all intended to be for individuals, not whole class. If you want to know more about systems for behavior management in the whole class, you can check it out here.

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.

Free Positive Reinforcements

  • Class leader: Students get to be an example, get first pick at a game, get to hold rhythms cards, you name it and students want to do it.
  • Instrument of the day: I’ve seen music teachers give out “green cards” (I talk about it here) to students doing a good job, and they get to play the instrument of the day at the end of class.
  • Class coupons: I have not tried this, but it sounds like fun. Students can earn coupons for whatever—getting to pick a game, not wearing shoes, chewing gum in class, etc.
  • Parent phone calls: Calling students’ parents when they are good is THE BEST. The kids love it. The parents love it. You build relationships and it puts you in a super great mood.
  • Lunch with the teacher: You can have students come and eat lunch in your room. I’ve never done this, but I’ve heard good reviews from other teachers about this.
  • Notes: Send home a hand written note! Holding something tangible makes a huge difference, and students can show their parents. You can scribble them on a piece of paper, or you can download these free notes in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
  • Music Buddy: Students can hold a stuffed animal or puppet during music class.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.

Cheap Positive Reinforcements

  • Cheap candy: No discription needed.
  • Kids’ Meal toys: If you get kids’ meals at fast food restaurants (like I do!), keep the toy and put it in your treasure box. My mom also saves these for me when she goes to Chickfila.
  • Marshmallows: Super weird, but it works. Especially the giant ones. I use this mostly for getting students to be quiet with positive reinforcements.
  • Cereal: Kids love food. And with little kids, they will work hard just for ONE piece of cereal. Which means this can last forever. I also like to get these huge things of Goldfish from Amazon.
  • Pencils: Kids are always in need of pencils. And they can be super cheap.
  • Erasers: Kids also need earasers! And they love the cute ones, even when they are little.
  • Stickers: Enough said. Get a ton on Amazon here.
  • Notes: I put this in two places, because if you want them to be cute, you have to spend a little money. I like these, because there’s a ton and they are blank. You can also look in the Target and Micheal’s dollar sections because they always have cards there.


You can also download five different positive reinforcement cards from my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

Other ideas for keeping cost down

  • Not everyone needs a reward: When it comes to positive reinforcement, they do not all need a reward. Especially the older students. With 4th and 5th grades, I do a drawing. I see students for a week at a time, so I have them put their names into en envelope when I see them doing something good. On Friday, I pull out three names for students who get to go to the prize box. That way, I am only giving out six rewards a week. That is a lot less money than giving something to everyone. And it makes it a little more fun, because there is an element of surprise. This would NOT work with kindergarten though. But they just need a piece of paper or a piece or cereal or a sticker or something.
  • Keep a box: Once you have a prize box, you will be shocked how much stuff you can stick in there. Random art supplies, little things that someone gave you (you’re a teacher, so surely you need all of these random things, right?), etc.
  • Piggy Back on teachers: If the classroom teacher has a system, you can help with that. We have a school wide management system where students earn “Gotcha tickets” which are exchanged for a Dojo point. They earn access to events with their points. This is what I give out 99% of the time. Then I supplement with other things.

What’s in my prize box?

Well I have two. Here is my regular prize box:

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.
My regular prize box

I have Dum Dums, chocolate coins, sparkley pencils, spider rings, and various stuff that I have taken from students over the year….

Then I have a “big” prize box that comes out near breaks…

Positive Reinforcements that won't Break the Bank. Ideas for rewards for students to help your classroom management without spending a lot of money. A lot of these are cheap or free! This can work for all teachers, but it is specifically written for elementary school. Becca's Music Room.
My extra-super-special prize box

Piggy banks, soccer balls, train whistles, jacks, harmonica, dominoes, toys from ChickFilA, scarves from pirate night on the Disney cruise boat, mazes, etc.

So those are a few ideas! I like to stay in the free sections of positive reinforcements. I give out the previously mentioned tickets, the cards from my TPT store, stickers, and experiences. I make students earn their games and instrument time (that we are going to do anyway). And then I raffle off prizes to older students.


What do you like to use in your classroom? What is in your prize box? The possibilities are endless, so let us know your favorite in the comments!

Happy Teaching!


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Differentiation, Elementary Music, Management

Setting up Centers: The First Day

Hey everyone! As the school year just started (or is about to start), every teacher in the world is working on rules, routines, and procedures. For a lot of that, rules, routines, and procedures include centers. But what do you actually do on your first day of centers?
Let’s talk.
I came up with this post because I overheard some second grade teachers discussing centers with the assistant principal at school yesterday. The AP was describing how she used to set up her centers for math.
And you know what? It is the same thing that I do.
Well, it is the same thing that I do after that first terrible centers experience that I had, which I outline in my post about centers with “bad classes”.
The first thing that I will say is that your first round of centers does not have to be magical. It does not have to be the absolute best lesson you have ever done ever. There is time for that later.

Setting up Centers: The first day. How do you get started on the first day of centers or workstations in the music room? Here are some ideas to destress you centers time and help your students understand the routine. Becca's Music Room.


In your first day of centers, go for simple

You may love having four or five or seven centers (although I seriously advise against that!), but don’t. On the first day of centers, start with two.
If you did centers last year, then you can go ahead and do three or four. But if you have new kids, have never done centers, or have students (like mine!) who forget ALL procedures over the summer, then just do two.
One group works independently, and one works with you.
If you are adventurous, maybe go for three groups. Two independent and one with you.
That leads me to my second point…

Have a group work with you

I know they may not have to, but try it anyway. This does not necessarily mean that you are teaching the same lesson to each kid 50 thousand times. It just means you are doing an activity with them. Now, for the first day of centers, it can be something they can do by themselves, and you supervise and are available for questions. But this is the time to work with one of the groups. You can assess or extend depending on the group you’ve got.
There is a reason that the classroom teachers do this—because it works.
It’s extra fun to have your group work with instruments. Because they are with you, you can supervise their playing better. But if that is too much for your first day of centers, don’t bother.

Also read: Tips for Incorporating Social Studies in the Elementary Music Class

Have the independent group do something they already know how to do

This is THE BEST classroom management technique I could give you for centers.
Have you ever had a group that sat down to do centers and just sat there and did nothing?
Or they play with other kids the whole time?
Or they throw things and knock things over and run around the room?
Because no matter how much you talk about what they are doing, how many directions you write on the board, or how many times you explained it, they still don’t get it.
I do not understand why, but it is a thing. Maybe your school doesn’t have this problem, but my school does.
Literally. They would sit at the center and do nothing.
Because no matter how many times I explained it, they did not hear me.
So this is the antidote to that.
Take an activity that the students already know how to do. Use a game you did in class as whole group. I sometimes have them practice something the class before. For example, when I introduced Kaboom!, we played it the day before. I had four sets, and it was in groups, but everyone did the same thing.
Then when we played it in centers, they already had the procedures down.
Then you can take that same thing and make it harder—like they could add melody to the rhythms, they could put rhythms together for a quick composition, they could do different body percussions for the rhythms, etc.
But independent work should be something they can do easily.

Like my students know how to do this rhythm bingo, so it works well as a group activity.

Really emphasize the procedures

In my class, we earn class points. On my first day of centers, I tell them all of their points are connected to centers procedures—keeping voices down, transitioning, being kind to each other, etc.
Seriously, it is more important for the students to understand the routines than for them to learn music today.
I know, you hate me now. Let me be clear, the FIRST day of centers is for procedures. The rest of the days of centers are for music learning.
It’s like the first day of school. But in small groups.

You can read more about my classroom management ideas here.

Focus on being kind

The thing about centers is that you cannot watch all of the kids all of the time. Yes, sit so that you can see them. Occasionally circle while your group is busy. But you cannot necesarily hear everything.
So preface this with a pep talk on being kind.
I tell them that they are a team (that’s why they earn class points as a team). You have to work with people on your team, even if they aren’t your favorite. We go through what to do when people are annoying you, we talk about keeping our personal space, etc.
And then I tell them that if they cannot handle centers, we won’t do them anymore.
And they usually like centers because I usually have lots of games for them to play.

Then what?

Now that procedures are down, you can experiment more! I would suggest having only three centers, but like I said in this article, break the groups down further. So I have six groups, but they only do three things.
Now you have to decide how many centers to have. This will vary greatly based on time and space, but give the kids enough time to enjoy a concept. They need at least 5-10 minutes to actually do something productive.
Use your centers to differentiate (I hope you didn’t gag when you heard that word) to help students understand concepts more fully.

Also read: DIY Music Manipulative: Battleship

If you have any tips of questions, put them in the comments. We would love to hear anything that works in your classrooms! Good luck in these first couple weeks!
Happy teaching!

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Management, PBIS

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive

PBIS takes on many different shapes in today’s schools. We use it for individuals, classes, schools, etc. As part of our school’s PBIS plan, we have a school wide PBIS incentive periodically. Last year we did things once a nine weeks, this year the plan is to kick it up to once a month.

For people who have no idea what I am talking about, PBIS stands for Positive Behavior Intervention System. The idea being that students work towards a reward by having good behavior.

A school wide incentive is not necessarily the whole school. Students earn the school wide PBIS incentive through good behavior that is tracked by Dojo points. Any student who earns the set amount of Dojo points gets to go to the school wide PBIS incentive.

Now, these can be really crazy (carnival, fall festival, field trip, etc.) or more subdued (sock hop, popcorn and a movie, etc). Today I am sharing one of my school’s go-to rewards. This is cheap and easy to change so that it can continue to be fresh.

Speaking from experience, I would not suggest making this the only type of reward offered, but it can be used some times. If your school is strapped for cash (like most schools), this can be good. You could use this in between other rewards to keep momentum going.

Also read: Positive Management Strategies for when You Don’t Feel Positive

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room


The best way to describe the school wide PBIS incentive would be centers. We usually do school wides during specials times. Instead of going to music or art or whatever the case may be, the students in the grade that earned their incentive will go to the incentive. It is usually housed in the gym.

We plan as many activities as there are classes (although sometimes we double up and have two classes at each station). We usually have one specials teacher at each of the stations, and we switch after a few minutes.

The different stations allow you to change activities each time and keep things fresh. One suggestion is to alternate between high energy activities and low energy activities.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room


Here are some ideas for activities for school wide PBIS incentives:

  • Snack station (or water station)
  • Scooter races
  • Jump rope station
  • Relay race
  • Dance station
  • Non-elimination musical chairs: even my fifth graders loved this game!
  • Craft station: Bookmarks are an easy and cheap craft that require little time and supplies.
  • Basketball station
  • Just Dance videos on YouTube
  • Dress up relay: Students put on hats, sunglasses, large shoes, necklaces, etc. and run a relay. When they get back, they take the dress up off and the next person goes. This is easy to change for the seasons (these leis for summer, sweaters for Christmas, etc.)
  • Bean bag toss
  • Photo booth station: Have a camera to take photos. You can send them to teachers afterwards. If they are older, they could just use their phones. You can use props like these cheap ones.
  • Volleyball station
  • Parachute station
  • Tug of war
  • Fake tattoos: These are cheap and the kids love them! These look like fun.


Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room


The list can go on and on—that’s the beauty of this type of school wide PBIS incentive. What would you add to this list? And what does your school use to encourage good behavior? Let us know in the comments!

Happy Teaching!

An Easy (and fun!) School Wide PBIS Incentive. A simple and cheap idea for rewarding students for good behavior. Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Management

Music Centers Classroom Management for Bad Classes

If you have been teaching music for longer than a day, you will know that not all classes are well behaved. If you have had your kids for a few weeks, you will have already figured out which the “good classes” versus the “bad classes”. It is easy to let the bad classes rule your life—and your lesson plans.

One thing I knew that I wanted to do this year was centers. Centers is the big thing when it comes to education at the moment, and I wanted to incorporate that into my music class.

I know a few teachers who work in schools with many bad classes, and that causes them to shy away from centers activities due to classroom management problems.

I am not going to lie, it took a lot of effort for me to figure out how to do centers with some of my classes this year. It definitely wasn’t perfect by any means, but I did figure out some ways to keep control.

If you shy away from centers due to bad classes, read through this article for some ideas on how to make things better. Because it is possible. It may not be easy, but it is possible.

As a disclaimer, I don’t normally call any classes “bad classes”, but I thought it would be the best way to get my point across!

Also read: Routines You Need in the Music Room

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.


Don’t Make Too Many Activities

This one of the first mistakes that I made. The first (and second and third, I’ll admit!) time that my students did centers, I gave them five or six different activities.

While I have heard that many people do this successfully, it did not work with my classes.

Just being honest.

There was a time restraint, of course. I have 50 minute classes, but they often come late. And you have to take a few minutes for closing and lining up the classes. By this time there’s usually 30 minutes left, including explaining how to do each activity. We never end up with enough time to do everything.

Even without the time restraint, we still end up not having enough time to really dig deal into each of the activities. I fine that 8-10 minutes for each activity is ideal in my class. This, of course, would may be different in your class.

I usually plan three centers—four at the most. This seems to be the best way to allow my students to really benefit from each center.

I found that when I had too many centers, it was too hectic. On top of that, the students didn’t have time to grasp each center as they ought to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room


Use Activities the Kids Know

This was apparent to me after our first round of centers.

Not only did I have way too many centers, but the students did not know any of the activities.

The first round went ok, but even just the second center was a mess. I walked around and half of the kids were just sitting there, because they had already forgotten what they were supposed to do.

Nevermind that I wrote the directions on papers for them, they still were not doing anything. Or they were goofing off.

So the next time I did centers, I picked activities that we had done in class. Some of them I changed slightly, added more to it, or used the same activity but new concepts.

This worked so much better.

Since then, I only add one activity that is new, and I station myself at that activity to help. This will keep trouble makers occupied. The more occupied they are, the less time they have for trouble making.

They love playing Bingo, like this one for instruments or this one for rhythm.


Make Groups Small

I cannot stress this enough.

Make. Groups. Small.

Especially if you have bad classes. The smaller the groups, the better.

I know you are thinking—you just told me now too make too many centers!

Yes, I did.

What I like to do is have two sets of the same centers.

So I will have six groups with three rotations. Everyone still gets to do everything, but the groups are smaller. I usually set up three centers on one side, and three on the other side of the room.

Another way to do it is pick an independent or pair activity for half the class, and work with the other half of the class.

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat, Take a Seat

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.


Keep Everything Contained

When I say contained, I mean keep the supplies contained. Not the kids.

Well, the kids too.

If students do not know where to go for each center, it will be a mess. They will be too close to other groups, or way up on instruments, or whatever.

Give them a place to sit.

This could be groups of desks, tables, a blanket or tablecloth on the floor, etc.

I like to use hula hoops. I put out a hula hoop for each center. My students sit around the hula hoops, and the supplies stays in the hula hoops. I like to also put everything in a box so it is organized.

Also, because I do two sets of the same centers, I color code them. If I have two sets of Kaboom!, then I put them both in blue hula hoops. this way I can say, “Blue hula hoops, go to red.”

You can get hula hoops here or some cheap colorful containers here.


Work on Transitions

This is the most important part of your first round of centers.

Especially for a bad class.

You need a clear signal for when to stop—this can be a saying, a noise, etc. you need to decide what they are to do when this happens—do you want them to clean up, or just freeze and listen to directions? Do they automatically go to the next station, or wait for your signal? These are all up to you.

I like to play a rhythm on the cowbell (this one has a cow print on it!) and have them echo it—this way they can hear it over their noises—and then I say “1, 2, 3, 4, pick everything up get off the floor and freeze.” (I learned it from my mentor who would say instruments instead of everything, but this is more far reaching. I also added the freeze part because I don’t like the kids just going onto the next part without my signal.) Once everyone is up and QUIET, I will say “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” This is the signal to go to the next center.

You can do whatever you see fit, but this works well for me.

Whatever you decide, make them do it right. Even if it takes the whole class period. Eventually they will do it right and quickly (yes, even the worst of classes) if you make them do it right from the get go.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

So there are some ideas for how to do centers with your “bad classes”. I know it may be daunting, but you can do it. They can do it.


Although to be perfectly honest, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup plan (find some here!) in case it is not successful. You could consider having enough supplies to have every one do the same thing if centers are not in the cards that day.

I know we don’t want to think that way, but sometimes it is best.

The first time you do centers, I suggest picking all activities that they know how to do so that you can concentrate on procedures until they are able to do the routines easily.

How do you handle centers with bad classes? Let us know in the comments!

Music Centers Classroom Management for "Bad Classes". Difficult classes and differentiated centers are not usually things that go hand in hand. Find out how to get your difficult elementary music classes to do centers well! Becca's Music Room.

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Elementary Music, Management

Going Back to Teaching After a Really Rough Day

And I mean like a really rough day. Really, really rough day.

This is my first year teaching. And man, it has been a year. I don’t want to go into too much detail, because I intend for this to be uplifting, but I have been yelled at, cussed out, ignored, hit, and downright disrespected. I have some children that for the life of me NEVER sit down. I mean, spend the whole hour walking around my room touching my instruments. (Although I found out yesterday that they do it in everyone’s rooms, not just mine.)

We are not quite finished (still 22 days left), but we are getting down to the wire. Teachers are ready for summer (at least I am!). Students are ready for summer. And with that, comes some crazy.

And depending on your school, it might be a lot of crazy.

It might have already been pretty crazy, but now it is getting even worse.

Some days just drain all the energy out of you.

Then the next day, you are expected to go back to school.

How do you go to school the day after you were cussed out by a 10 year old? How do you approach that? How do you give your kids your best teaching self when you don’t feel like yourself?

I definitely do not claim to have all of the answers (and any input in the comments would be appreciated!), but here are some things that I (personally) have found help me out when it is the day (or the afternoon) after something really ridiculous happens.

Going back to Teaching after a Really Rough Day. Some tips for what to do the day after something bad happened, or when you feel defeated. What do you do? Becca's Music Room

Get Some Rest

This starts the night before (AKA the really really rough day). You need to destress. Whether that means taking a bath, reading a book, or just laying on the couch eating Taco Bell, do it. I know that this may be hard depending on if you have stuff to do or kids at home, but try your best. Put the kids in front of Moana and go use that hour and a half to take care of yourself.

I find that painting is a really great stress reliever. I paint a lot (so much so that I am about to open an Etsy shop), and it really helps keep my mind at ease. It is really great to take some time to just calm down and make something creative. (If you’re new to this, try abstract art. Anything goes!)

You can find more destressing activities in this post.

Take Some Time for You

This is more for the morning. In the morning, don’t just roll out of bed and throw some clothes on. Take a few minutes to enjoy yourself before going to school. That could mean reading your Bible, sitting on Pinterest, doing yoga, etc. It may just mean that you drink your coffee really slowly in the silence.

This will help get your mind right before you go to school. If you can take care of yourself, then you can take care of the children.

You can read more about morning routines in this post.


Pick Something Easy

Now, I know that most schools are sticklers for your lesson plans. But if it better to pick something easier on you than struggle all day. See if there is anything in your lesson plans that can be extended, shortened, or altered.

For example, I had a rough day a few weeks ago. It was a Wednesday. For the next two days, I was basically drained. My older students were learning a song and then getting on the keyboards. I shortened the song part (they still learned it, I just went a little faster) and put the extra time into their keyboard time (I always do half lesson and half playing for fun). I didn’t have to change my lesson plans, I just made it a little bit easier on myself.

If you feel like you just cannot do whatever your lesson plans say, then go ahead and reprint them just in case of an observation. And make sure what you replace it with is still going with the same standards.

For really easy lessons, I like this game or this movie.

You can read about backup plans in the music room here.

Going back to Teaching after a Really Rough Day. Some tips for what to do the day after something bad happened, or when you feel defeated. What do you do? Becca's Music Room


Always remember that if a kid totally freaks outs, it is a rough day for them too. And they are still reeling from it too. What is traumatic for us is traumatic for them.

If a kid is having a rough enough day that they are screaming or they are walking out of the classroom or banging on instruments or whatever, then they are going to be upset as well. And although you may not ever want to see them again, you have to. So, make sure there is a consequence and then let it go.

It’s hard. I know. But you have to let it go.

That doesn’t mean there’s no consequence. That doesn’t mean you don’t learn from it. But it means that you do not continually punish them for something that they have already paid the price for.


So those are my tips for going back to school after a really hard day. Have you ever had these feelings? How do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to subscribe!

Happy teaching!

Going back to Teaching after a Really Rough Day. Some tips for what to do the day after something bad happened, or when you feel defeated. What do you do? Becca's Music Room

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Children's Church, Management

Dealing with Difficult Behaviors in Church

I’m not going to lie, dealing with behaviors in church is really tough. It’s not school, and it’s only a few hours (maybe only one!) a week—so there’s no time for bad behaviors, right?


Other people think that church kids should be the best kids.

Also wrong.

Now, I am not saying you will for sure have difficulties. But there may be a few students who need a little extra push to help them behave appropriately.

Remember, children’s church/Sunday school is all about preparing students for their future—you want them to grow firmly in God. You can’t do that if they are yelling and screaming and rolling on the floor.

Now, hopefully, that will never happen to you. But to be honest, I have had a few who did that—do that.

And if you do too, I am here to tell you it may get better. I have two in my mind that learned a lot and got a lot better as time went on. One of them is older, and not in Children’s Church anymore. The other one still is. He still has his days, but as a whole, it has gotten much better.

So here are some tips for dealing with difficult behaviors in church. I have some other behavior management posts that you can read like this one. The others are centered on teaching music, but the concepts are all the same.

Dealing with Difficult Behaviors in Church. Tips on behavior management for children's church, sunday school, youth group, etc. Becca's Music Room

Talk to the Parents

This may seem like a “no duh” kids of thing, but it is so important. If parents don’t know what is going on, they cannot help. They have to be on board in order to help difficult behaviors in church get better.

I will admit, I was scared of this for a long time. I did not want to talk to parents. Because seriously, who wants to tell a parent that their kids was being ridiculous?

But once I did, it really helped.

I stand at the door at the end of class—that way I guard both people coming in and going out. It also means that I get a chance to talk to all of the parents. With some of my more spirited children, I give an update every week—good or bad.

One more time: good or bad.

You don’t want it to always be bad. Don’t lie, but if a child was better than last week, tell them that. Especially if you talked to them last week and the news was not good.

Remember, you and the parents are on the same side. You both want little Johnny (I don’t have any Johnny’s at church) to grow up and love Jesus and be an awesome person. I tend to use “Johnny was having a tough time today. He did xyz…. I really hope next week we can do better.”

Avoid saying things like “He ALWAYS gets out of his seat…. She NEVER listens to me.” We are not interested in always or never. We are interested in the behavior today. And remember, it’s the behavior we are addressing, not the child themselves.

Have Clear Expectations and Consequences

This is harder in a Sunday School or Children’s Church environment. You don’t want it to feel like school. you also tend to have more students moving in and out.

But if kids don’t know that something is wrong, they won’t know not to do it.

Now, I am not saying that if you get a new kid you should immediately plunge into a long explanation of what is ok/not ok. But as things come up, mention them.

For example, I take my kids to the bathroom half way through church every week. This gives them a mental break, and also has almost completely eliminated the “I have to go to the bathroom!” conversation. Every time we go, I’ll say, “We’re going to take a bathroom break. This is the only bathroom break you will get, so you need to go now. We are not running down the hallway. Please use whisper voices, so we don’t disturb other people having church. Two people in the bathroom at a time.”

Now, if I have only the kids I have had since they were two, then I’ll shorten it. But the idea being—they now know what to do. There is no excuse to not do what you are supposed to do. If I hadn’t said those things, they would run, they would talk loudly, there would be 12 people in the bathroom, etc. but since they now know what to do, it eliminates the ambiguity.

And although you think something is obviously not allowed, that does not always mean the child does.

Dealing with Difficult Behaviors in Church. Tips on behavior management for children's church, sunday school, youth group, etc. Becca's Music Room

Give Them Something to Work for

If you have never heard of PBIS, you need to look it up! It is all about getting students to do what they are supposed to by rewarding them.

This could be with food, with praise, with games, with special privileges, etc.

For a while, we would write all of the students’ names on the board. If someone was doing a good job, we would give them a point. Whoever had the most points would get to be it first in a game or we would pass out snack in that order. Whatever little reward it was, it helped. Class Dojo is an online version of this, which would be great if you tend to have the same groups of kids each week.

You can also do it as whole class. For example, if the whole class can earn three points, then we will play a game or go outside. They want to get the reward, and they will work for it.

On a crazy day, it also helps if you just walk around and hand out a piece of candy or one cheerio or goldfish (I know a lot of teachers that buy these large boxes off Amazon and they last forever). Don’t even stop, just hand one out and keep talking. The other kids will figure out what you want by looking at the child who is doing what they are supposed to.

I did this the other day with jellybeans. I didn’t say a word, I just handed a jellybean to a kid who was sitting nicely and listening.  A few minutes later, I handed out another. You have never seen kids sit that nicely. And seriously, it only cost me 15 jellybeans. (I actually just gave them the ones I didn’t like out of my pack…)

These are also a cheap option.

You can use some of the ideas from this post as well.

Save the Best for Last

This goes along with the last one. One of my favorite ways to control behaviors in church (and at school, for that matter) is to have a built in reward. This could be anything they like—dancing, games, crafts, etc. whatever really fun thing you are going to do (once more, that you are already going to do), do it at the end.

That ways you can remind them the whole time.

You have to listen to the lesson to play our really fun game.

You have to participate if you are going to do our songs.

I am looking for people who are going to be able to dance today.

Oh good, so-and-so looks like he wants to go outside. I can tell because he is sitting still with his eyes on me. He’s not talking or messing with people.

Try it and see the children transform before your eyes.

Note: if you do this and a child really doesn’t earn it, you need to follow through on it. Give them plenty of chances, but in the end if they cannot get themselves together, then they do not need to have the reward. They can sit and watch while you play a game.

You have to follow through. The kids notice whether you do or not. And if a child has bad behaviors in church the whole time and still get the reward, they will continue their behavior. And the others will look at that and think they don’t need to bother behaving well either.

Remember that They are Kids

I do not mean this in an excuse kind of way. It should not be “Oh, well Johnny was dong flips and broke the door, but he’s just a kid.”


I mean, you have to remember what kids are like. They are energetic, they like fun, and they like to talk. Build in some time where that can happen. Build in time for dancing to get energy out. Plan for them to play games. Maybe give them talking time during a craft or have a break in the middle so that they can get do that (because their attention spans are very small).

Never use the excuse that they are just kids, but do remember that when you are planning your lessons.

You can read more about finding building your lessons around different ways to keep kids engaged here.

You can check out this book for more information and ideas:


So those are my best tips for controlling bad behaviors in church! It is no magic wand, but just some things to help you get through your day.

How do you handle bad behaviors in church? Let us know in the comments!

Dealing with Difficult Behaviors in Church. Tips on behavior management for children's church, sunday school, youth group, etc. Becca's Music Room


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Elementary Music, Management

Routines You Need in the Music Room

All teachers know that classroom management is essential for learning. This is very true in the music room—without classroom management, how can you play instruments or do dances? An essential part of classroom management are routines. Routines keep things orderly. And if students do them enough, they will be so second nature that you do not even have to help (or at least that is the end goal—we may get there one day!).

Honestly, even though it is March, not all of my classes are to the autopilot stage yet. There are a lot of factors that go into that fact, but honestly, I think a lot of it is that some classes just don’t care. I think this because I have a lot of classes that can do all of the routines we will talk about without any help.

So what kind of routines do you need? This will be different for every class and every school. you have to think about things that students do often in your classroom. These would the very basics:

  • Entering the room
  • Exiting the room
  • Getting supplies
  • Bathroom/water/tissue/etc
  • Movement in the classroom

Now, you may have more routines than this. You may have centers movement, turning in work, dealing with instruments, etc. These would be the very basics of routines in the music room.

Again, these will all be different depending on your classroom. We all have different classrooms with different students and different set ups. We all have different “crazy tolerances”. (AKA how much we are willing to let students wiggle or sit strangely, etc.) All of these things affect how you do your routines.

I am going to let you know my routines, as well as ways that I have seen other teachers do it. If you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments!

And don’t forget to subscribe!

Also read: Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

Routine #1: Entering the Room

I will admit, this is one that my students and I have not totally figured out yet. Now, my kids have assigned seats (and if yours don’t, fix it quick!), so they come inside and sit on their assigned dots. They know (and I tell them every single day) that if they come in quietly and quickly, they will get a class point (you can read more about that here).

For people who do not have assigned seats, I have seen other teachers that brought the line inside and made a circle, keeping the same order. They held hands just to make sure it looked good and then they sat down.

I have also seen where they sat in assigned seats, but the teacher had music playing that they were listening to immediately. This is something that I have not done, but am going to try. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Routine #2: Exiting the Room

Again, depending on how you have students set up, this will change. My students have assigned “dots” that they sit on. We skip some rows so that they have space, so I have students on green dots, purple dots, red dots, and “brown dots” (carpet squares). To line up, I have the green dots stand and walk towards the door. Then the purple dots stand and walk away from the door so that they can go down the green row. Red and brown follow. This has worked very well for me.

Line order? You may ask. I always tell them we will get in Mrs. Davis’ line order first. Then I count down from ten to give them time to get into their line order.

Note: Some classes have had problems getting into their line order, so I just say that their teacher can do it in the hallway if they want to.

Also read: Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

Routine #3: Getting Supplies

This one is so important! Especially if you have a lot of supplies to get in a day. Try to make it as streamlined as possible.

For example, if we are coloring, then I put the paper, clipboards, and crayons right next to each other. This way it is easier to get all of the things.

I do this by rows as well. I tell them I am looking for a row sitting criss cross applesauce and quiet to pick. Once I pick a row, they stand up, stay in the same order and come up front. Then the walk around to the other side and go down their row. This way, no one walks through the carpet (AKA less likely to step on a hand). They should all still be in the order the sit in when they get back.

If you have tables or have students in groups, you could have students pass out the supplies. You could have them pass the supplies down the line until they get to the end. But there must be a system.

And if you do have that sort of system, I would definitely get these organizers.

Use the same system for picking up the supplies as well.

Routine #4: Bathroom/Water/Tissue/Etc

That is very vague, I know.

This routine is for all of the extra stuff. Are you going to let the students go to the bathroom during class? Do you have a sign out sheet? Do they ask you? Can they just get up and get tissue?

In my class, I like to minimize movement as much as possible. I do not like students walking around if I don’t know where they are going, so I require students to raise their hand to ask for these things. Even tissue. Especially because a lot of them like to go to blow their nose or go to the bathroom when they are bored. And they like to intentionally walk past people to talk to them. Yes, that’s a thing.

I only do bathroom as an emergency, and I tell them if they go they will not get a ticket (PBIS—same as a Dojo Point) because we are not supposed to go during music. This deters most of the kids who are just trying to play.

With blowing noses, I will let them but only one at a time so they don’t talk. Again, they have to raise their hands.

And I don’t do water unless someone seems like they are dying.

Note: if we have a really active day, like dancing or parachute, then I will usually play a video at the end and let them get water one at a time.

A lot of people use hand signs so that the teacher knows without calling on someone what they want. I do not. If you do, let me know how it works.

Another idea that I like but have not tried is having students write their name and destination on a dry erase board stuck to the door like this.

Also read: Free 3-5 Music Lesson: Extra Beat, Take a Seat


Routine #5: Movement in the Classroom

This is also a vague name for a routine. Essentially, what will students do the rest of the time? Like if you have to move from one activity to the next.

Again, this totally depends on your activities and what is going on.

A big on is centers.

If you are moving from one center to the next, what do you do?

I indicate the end of centers by playing a rhythm and having them clap it to me. (This requires them to put down anything in their hands.) Then I say “1, 2, 3, 4 put everything down, get off the floor AND FREEZE!” Students clean up their stations and stand. I always make them point to the next station to make sure they know where they are going. Then I say, “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” And they go to the next station.

This took a few times of doing it before students really got this down, but now it is like second nature.

Also, I did not make that up. I got it from my mentor during student teaching and I have no clue where she got it from.

For pretty much any other movement, I call students by row. And I always tell them I am looking for the row that is sitting the nicest.

So those are the main routines for the music room! Of course, there are quite a few other routines that are not as major. Again, everything is going to depend on your students, your lessons, and your room. And of course, your “crazy tolerance”. (I totally made that term up, by the way.)

Subscribe and check out my Pinterest page for more classroom management and music lesson ideas!

What are your favorite routines in the music room? Feel free to share your routines in the comments!

Happy teaching!

Routines You Need in the Music Room. You need each of these routines to ensure a smooth music class! Becca's Music Room

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Elementary Music, Management

Keys to Classroom Management in the Music Room

Classroom management is essential to learning. No learning can happen if a class is loud, crazy, or not in their seats. Trust me. There are quite a few “keys” to classroom management—today I am going to focus on the three top keys to classroom management.

For the record, I am definitely not an expert. I have learned a lot in the short time that I have been teaching, and I am trying to share that with other people. Hopefully this can be helpful!

If you are looking for more specific strategies, you can read this post about specific classroom management systems.

Keys to Classroom Management. Becca's Music Room. Basics to having an orderly classroom when teaching elementary music... or any subject!

Key #1: Clear Expectations

I cannot stress this enough.

One of the most important keys to classroom management is having clear expectations.

Because if students don’t know what is expected, how can they do what you want?

This is hard for music teachers in particular, because we see so many different classes. I have been in that situation where you swear you told a class something, but you didn’t. Somehow, you told the other 29 classes, but not this one.

The other difficulty is that we only see the students for a short amount of time. Sometimes, they just plain do not remember.

Having said that, make sure you go over procedures at the beginning of the year AND as it comes up.

Every time.

Every. Time.

Until it is perfect.

For example, every time every one of my classes gets in line, we talk about how. I always say: We are going to get in line. I am looking for people who are quiet. I am looking for people with their hands in their pockets or folded. We need to do a good job so that we can…. (get a class point, earn a sticker (I use these— super cheap and the kids can pick their color), whatever the management system is, insert here).

And as soon as the first students get in line I start with: I see only person with their hands in their pockets. Thank you so-and-so for being quiet.

It gets tedious, but it is necessary. If I forget, I regret it.

The same thing with getting supplies. We talk about how to pick up the supplies, we talk about what is appropriate to do with them, we talk about what to do with them when we sit down.

The more specific you can be, the better.

Say we are picking up scarves (if you haven’t figured out from this lesson and this lesson, I LOVE scarves!) for an activity. This is word for word what I will say: When I see a row that is quiet and criss-cross applesauce, I will call them to come up front and get a scarf. Remember, we do not walk through the people, we go around. When you get to your seat, put the scarf on the floor and hands on your shoulders. If my hands are on my shoulders, am I touching my scarf? Should I hit people with my scarf? Throw it up in the air? Should I put it in my mouth? No. If you do those things, you will lose your scarf.

It seems like a lot of talking, but it is very helpful.

And trust me, the one time you forget to say that we are not putting our scarves in our mouth, someone will do it.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Key #2: Reinforcement

You would think that students could remember things like “Don’t throw your marker in the air” for five minutes.

They can’t.

Or at least, most of mine don’t. Maybe you do not have these problems and the keys only apply to me. But I doubt it.

As soon as we start to do something, I point out the behaviors I like. When we get the supplies, like I was saying, I immediately go into: Oh good. I see one person with their scarf on the floor thank you for putting your hands on your shoulders. Thank you for not touching the scarf until we are ready.

It sometimes feels ridiculous, because it is constant. But it is helpful.

And yes, it even works on fifth graders.

Sometimes I just look around the room and start counting how many people are doing XYZ. Or I will point to everyone sitting the right way and say “Good”. And that is all it takes for a lot of classes.

What about the ones that it doesn’t work with?

Add something tangible. Stickers or music tickets or points or something. Once I added my class points (I talk about it here), students had something concrete to work for. They know that if they do what they are supposed to, the class can get a point. And they need that if their class is going to win the party at the end of the year.

And with some classes, I add something extra. If you get so many points, they can do freeze dance or a song they like or Disney sing along or something of that nature that gives them a more immediate reward.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Keys to Classroom Management. Becca's Music Room. Basics to having an orderly classroom when teaching elementary music... or any subject!

Key #3: Consistent Follow Through

This is the biggie. It is the most important of the keys.

If you say you will do something, you HAVE TO DO IT.

Every. Time.

So if I said you would lose your scarf if you are throwing it in the air, I have to follow through.

If you say you will call mom, you have to call mom.

If you say they can earn freeze dance, you have to let them do it.

This is the biggest of the keys, because it shows that you mean what you say.

I do this with instruments all of the time. I use Mrs. King’s phrase (check out the awesome post she did on classroom management here!) of “If you play before I say, I will take your instrument away.” And you know what? Every single time, someone plays their instrument. And then they go sit out. At the beginning of the year, they would look at me like I stole their puppy. I heard a lot of, “Give me one more chance!” But I would reply, “I mean what I say. I said it would happen, now it is happening.”

Side note—I let them earn it back, because students not working is not helpful to anyone. Most of them are very careful.

And sometimes, you just need that one person to lose it for everyone to get the picture.

Now that it is almost March, they believe me when I say it. That doesn’t mean they do it perfectly, but it means they do it less. And they no longer look at me like I am sealing their puppy.

Also read: Lessons form my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music

These are the very basics of classroom management—keys that must be in place for everything else! You can read about Specific Classroom Management Strategies here. And when everything fails, you can read How to Destress After a Crazy Day of Teaching (I’m not going to lie, right now it’s been a long two weeks!).

Let us know your keys to classroom management in the comments! And don’t forget to subscribe for more ideas!

Happy Teaching!

Keys to Classroom Management. Becca's Music Room. Basics to having an orderly classroom when teaching elementary music... or any subject!

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Elementary Music, Management

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room

Classroom management is so important. Without classroom management, no one learns anything. These are a few phrases for classroom management in the music room.

Everyone develops different phrases to keep their class running. These are the phrases that keep me grounded. They keep my classes running. They keep my students (mostly) in line. I hope that some of these phrases for classroom management help keep your class running smoothly too!

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room

If you play before I say, I will take your instrument away

I found this one on Mrs. King’s Music Class and it changed my life! I use it with every class kindergarten through 5th grade. And I am serious. The first time I hear a noise, they have to put their instrument away.

It has really helped. At the beginning of the year, it was rough. I would have half of the students sitting out.

Now that it is the end of January, the students are finally getting it! We did instruments this week and only a handful in the whole school had to put their instruments away.

Thank you so much for the idea! Check out the rest of the article here for good information.

Also read: Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room

Put your hands on your shoulders

This goes directly with “If you play before I saw, I will take your instrument away”. I use this mostly with the younger kids. I tell them to get their supplies, sit down, and put their hands on their shoulders.

I find that having a specific thing to do with their hands rather than just “don’t touch it!” You could do hands in lap or folded or whatever, just the more specific the better.

With classes I trust more, I change the phrase to “Don’t touch them. A good thing to do would be to put your hands in your lap or on your shoulders so you do not have an issue.” The older students seem to respond to the options.

Regardless, give them something to do instead of something not to do.

Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera

Think it in your head

This is a life saver! As soon as we started working on rhythms, it was a mess. I would hold a rhythm and immediately they are trying to figure it out. Which is good, because they are thinking about it. But not good because it was loud.

So we started “Think it in your head.” I will have the younger students point to their heads to remind them to think the rhythm in their head. I always say I should not hear noise if you are thinking it in your head.

And again, that is from kindergarten to fifth grade.

Not only is there less noise, but they actually pay attention to the what they rhythm is so they know the rhythm when we all read it together.

Also read: Free Music Lesson: Bizet Scarf Routine

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room

I’m looking for….

I’m looking for people sitting criss cross applesauce.

I’m looking for people with their instruments on the floor and hands on their shoulders.

I’m looking for people in a straight quiet line.

Whatever you are looking for. I say one of those phrases, and then I look around pointing at whoever has what I am looking for and say “Good.”

Once the good’s start going around everyone else starts falling into line. Sometimes literally.

Also read: Positive Management Strategies for When You Don’t Feel Positive

Show me don’t tell me

I love to have students show me answers. We learn hand signs for the first few letters of the alphabet. We use fingers to show how many beats a rhythm gets. We use thumbs up/thumbs down for yes or no questions.

These are all really great, but as soon as you ask a question, students’ first reaction is to yell out the answer.

So I started the “show me, don’t tell me”.

I use it with questions, with form, with opinions, even when I help with small groups in the afternoon in third grade (Yes, that is a thing. And no, you probably don’t want the music teacher helping with 3rd grade math and reading.)

This is also one of my go-to phrases for when I want the class to behave. I like to hold games and instruments for the end of the class so that I can hold it over their heads.

That sounds bad. But we all do it.

So I’ll use phrases like “Show me you can play the instruments” or “Show me you can handle a game”.

Also read: The Best Classroom Purchase Ever!

If you can hear my voice, clap once

This is one of my phrases for getting the class to quiet down. “If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice.” And so forth.

I also like to do this when I’ve got a class lined up and their teacher is not there yet. I start with “If you can hear my voice, touch your shoulders. If you can hear my voice, touch your head.” And I keep going. Then I stop talking, and just have them mirror me. They particularly like it when I change my actions really quickly. And then I try to trick them. And they think it is wonderful.


Here are some books in case you want to read some more. Click on the pictures to see more:

So those are my favorite phrases for classroom management! What phrases do you use? How do you keep your class in line? Let us know in the comments!

Phrases for Classroom Management in the Music Room. Check out what phrases I use in my elementary music classroom to keep the class in line-- literally! Beck's Music Room

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