Volunteer Classroom Management Tips

Student Preparation

Introduce yourself and any other helpers to the class each time you teach a lesson. Students do not see you very often and students in the class may change.

• Set your expectation in your introduction.

Let them know what you will do to get their attention.” When I ring this chime, it means I need    you to stop whatever you are doing and listen.”

• Talk with the classroom teacher ahead of time to see what kind of listening or attention getting tools he/she uses in their classroom that the students already know and you may also use. (“1,2,3 – eyes on me” and they answer back “1, 2, eyes on you” etc.)

• Be ready to begin with the introduction piece from the lesson plan (or your own introduction version). This is to help students transition from the activity they were previously engaged in to your lesson. 


Behavior Altering Techniques

• Use a non-verbal signal to recapture the student’s attention. Volume begets volume, so raising your voice is almost never an effective tool.         

Ring a soft chime, rain stick or other instrument as a signal to stop and listen.

Stop talking completely and look directly at the students whose attention you are trying to get until they notice no one is talking and they will look to see what is going on. Thank them for listening and you may also say something like “I really didn’t want you to miss this next picture” or whatever you are focusing on.

• Distract-A-Kid – For the really challenging student, give him a responsibility or job. Often poor behavior is misdirected energy. Ask them to come up and look for some specific element or relationship in an artwork.

• For the student you will not sit still, ask him/her, “Hey, did you see that monkey yesterday?” Of course, there was no monkey yesterday. But they have to stop and think, “What is she talking about? What monkey? Does she mean here at school? Who would bring a monkey to school?” In any case, he/she can’t focus on continuing their behavior and think such interesting thoughts.


Behavior Rewarding Techniques

• Encourage the behavior you are looking for.

When students come in, sit right down and are ready to listen, look directly at them and give them a compliment “I like the way you came in, sat right down and are ready to listen, thank you!”

Or, while you are waiting for students to give you their attention - “Jenny, great job being ready to listen, thank you”.  Or, “I am looking for tables who are ready to listen…this table is ready because they are all looking at me.”

Whatever message you are trying to convey may be communicated through a compliment to a student who is demonstrating the desired outcome. It is more effective than constantly reminding students what not to do.

• To encourage students while they work on their art production and help them remember the objectives of the piece they are working on are, verbally compliment a technique a student is using well.

For instance, “I really like the way Matt is filling up all the space in his picture” or “I like the way Angie is using some warm colors and some cool colors.”

• If you need to remind students of some aspect of an art production, try to state it in a positive way:

 “Be sure to remember to wash your brush out when you change paint colors” (instead of “don’t mix up the paint colors with a dirty brush”.)

Or “I like the way Ben is being careful not to drip paint on his painting”. 

• We discourage handing out food or candy. Reinforce behavior you are looking for verbally.

During the lesson:

• Complementing intelligences – Students demonstrate a variety of intelligences. Replace the phrase “you’re right” with:

“ I like that answer because you worded it so well.”

“ I like that answer because you made it so clear and easy to understand what you meant.”

“I like that answer because it made me think.”

“I Iike that answer because it was a creative way to say what you were thinking.”