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Classroom management systems in the music room…. It can be a difficult thing. It is difficult because elementary music teachers teach every single kid in the whole school. And some classes are better behaved than others.
And unfortunately, we still have to deal with the really difficult classes.
And we all know, that nothing gets done without good classroom management systems. You can’t teach anyone anything if the behavior is not decent.
As a disclaimer, you should know that I am not a classroom management master or anything. These are techniques that I have seen other teachers do while I have observed. I will let you know later on in the post what I do in my classroom.
This is what my (awesome!) mentor teacher used. I’ve actually been in two classrooms that do versions of these classroom management systems. The class at a whole has to earn points throughout the class. They earn points by walking in calmly, having the whole class participate in an activity, paying attention, etc.
Throughout the class, draw points on the board or put up magnets (bonus points if they look like music notes!) for a period of time that goes well.
I have seen one teacher do three points and one do five. I think it is mostly a personal preference.
At the end of the class, record the points somewhere on the walls with a chart so everyone can see.
I have seen one teacher record smiley faces or check marks for good days and x’s for bad days. She recorded for every class, and at the end of the semester the class with the most smiley faces gets a party.
The other teacher I saw did it on a more individual class system—every time a class earned nine smiley faces or checks (hypothetically once a quarter) they got candy or music free time or something to that effect.
I like this one of the classroom management systems because it provides immediate feedback and there is a long term reward, but not every single day.
Also read: Questions to Ask Yourself When the Class is Off the Chain
Red Card, Green Card
This is an awesome system that I observed from a teacher in my district.
Through out the class, she would give out “green cards” (literally like pieces of laminated construction paper) to students who answer questions correctly or who are trying hard. She always emphasized that it wasn’t who sounded the best, but who was trying the hardest.
Students not on task were told to get a “yellow card”.
A student who did something bad (like one student refused to dance with a partner during a dance) received a “red card”.
In this system, the cards can change. If the person with yellow got themselves together, they would be able to return it. If they continue to misbehave, they would get a red card.
At the end of class, the students with green cards would get to play the instrument of the day—and it was a big deal. Only those students would stand up. She would tell them about the instrument and then show how to play it, and they would get to play a rhythm on it and pass it to the next person.
Yellow cards would miss out on an opportunity like playing a game or playing instruments or something to that effect.
Red cards (which are rare) would get a phone call home and lunch detention. They would have to come to her room during their lunch and sit in the corner. And they hate it.
Just so we know, you will need to have the teachers’ and administrations’ support for something like that. Not that I can see anyone being opposed to it, but still.
This is really good because it gives specific feedback to the students and it the rewards are musical.
Two classroom management systems down and one to go!
Also read: Lessons from my First Semester Teaching Elementary Music
Now, this would be kind of a last result.
If you don’t know, Class Dojo is a website. You type in each of the kids’ names. They get a monster. Throughout the class, you can give and take points for behavior. You can leave it on the board so that all the kids can see how they are doing.
I would give them a point goal and students who get to the goal would get a prize.
One of my teacher friends said that she has done this with specific classes when they needed the extra motivation. She said it helped quickly.
I said this should be a last result because if you have 750 students… this is just a pain. But if you have one or two classes that just really struggle, it can help.
Notice, all of these classroom management systems have a reward, whether it is daily or semester-ly (totally not a word). The kids need something to work for. There are very few kids who will do what they are supposed to just because they want to be good.
Also read: Music Lesson Ideas: Opera Stories
What do I do in my classroom?
In my classroom, I do a version of the points system. The students earn points throughout the class. They always want to earn the “magic five” by the end of class. I write the number of points they get on a chart on the door. At the end of the school year, the winning class will have a party. I did one in December, and then I started the competition over in January until the end of the year.
In the fall, I just did a smiley face or x, but I needed a more specific way to record feedback. I had lots of days where I wasn’t sure what to put because they weren’t great but weren’t bad. This really helps with consistency.
Also, I only do parties twice a year because I don’t want to have them happening all of the time.
Also read: Tips for Keeping on Top of Lesson Planning
Here are a few books in case you want to read more. Click on the picture to view in Amazon.
Do you use one of these classroom management systems? Do you use something else? Let us know in the comments if you have any helpful information!
5 thoughts on “Really Specific Classroom Management Systems for the Music Room”
I use Class Dojo in my music room. Instead of listing the students’ names individually, I just make 6 separate classes (K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th). Within each class, I list the individual teachers names (In 1st grade,Smith’s Class, Thompson’s Class, and Jacoby’s Class). Then they earn or lose points collectively when they come to music. At the end of exact quarter, the class with the highest score wins a class trophy to display. It works week K-5 mainly because the Home room teachers all say that they want that trophy or that they know how Mr. Hall gets when he wins, so they definitely have to beat his class. A little friendly competition and the system works like a charm K-5. One Kindergarten teacher even tells her class that if they win, they get a pajama party. I love Class Dojo because it allows me to make sure I’m using more positive reinforcement than negative.
That is a great idea! I had not thought about doing it with classes. I do not use it, because I always thought of it as only for individual students. I do basically the same thing but with writing points on the board instead of the class dojo website. And I have the winning class have a music party, but the trophy thing is a really great idea! Thanks for sharing!
I love your ideas! I have tried systems similar to yours, but did quarterly rewards, and it was just too much. I’m going to try your idea of semester rewards next year! I’m curious if you do anything that takes in to consideration when classes miss music? Especially the classes that come on Mondays and Fridays….those are always the classes that miss for holidays or for assemblies/school parties. Those groups were always complaining that it wasn’t fair., and I just can’t figure out a way to make it fair and easy to keep up with.
This is what I have tried ….. since as you have mentioned, this is a reality in the music classroom room. For each grade level, figure out the number of classes that each class has attended. I also consider days that I have a sub, along with missed classes. After figuring out the lowest number of classes attended……. eliminate class points from the classes that have more days….. for example, dropping the lowest grade. This is still not quite the same as all the classes having the same number of music classes, but it seems to be a little more fair for everyone involved.
That is really clever! I usually give a free five points when I don’t see them…. I find that classes that don’t deserve to win still don’t but I don’t think it is the best option.