Effective classroom management is tricky whether you’re a homeschooling parent with 2 kids or a classroom teacher with 30 kids. Overcoming the fact that there is one of you and many kiddos is difficult. You may be only one person, but with a few effective techniques and procedures in place, you can maximize your time and manage any mischief.
When I was a classroom teacher, independent work time was one of the hardest times to manage. I’d pull a small group over to work with while the other kiddos in the class completed independent activities. Unfortunately, as soon as everyone started, the hands would raise and the classroom interruptions began.
Even as a homeschooling mama, I’ve run into the same problem. Working with one boy while the other is supposed to be completing independent tasks brings just as many interruptions.
If either of these scenarios sounds familiar or you just want to learn new ways to manage interruptions in the classroom, then you need to try a simple technique I like to call “I’m Invisible.”
I promise it will give you a huge head start into the world of effective classroom management!
Effective Classroom Management
The Light That Changed Everything
I first saw this idea a few years ago on Pinterest. (Where else would a person find a great idea?) Like every good Pinterest-user, I pinned it to one of my boards, and then promptly forgot about it. Months later, when searching for classroom management ideas, the idea resurfaced. So, I decided to actually give it a try.
The only two items required were a tap light and batteries! But, I couldn’t just have a plain old tap light…mine needed to be snazzy. So, using vinyl scraps and my Silhouette machine, I cut out the words “I’m Invisible” and a few circles and dots. When I placed the words on the light, the heavens opened up and the Hallelujah chorus broke out! (Ok, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I was really excited with the end result.)
Of course at this point, I just had a cute light. But I knew teaching my students (especially the constant interrupting ones) about the significance of the light was definitely going to be the tricky part.
The Light in Action
So with much uncertainty, I took the light to school and showed it to my students.
I explained that when the light was on, it was the non-verbal signal for my invisibility. In other words, I wouldn’t be able to answer questions or comments, and the kiddos would not be able to have any interaction with me barring barf, blood, or death.
Naturally they were intrigued by the idea…but I wasn’t really sure that it would be effective.
So with much skepticism, I began using my “I’m Invisible” light every time I worked with a small group or an individual. And I am happy to report that it did the trick!!
I was thrilled to have focused time to work with the students who genuinely needed my attention.
The best part was that I merely had to point at the light if students got up to come ask me something and they promptly returned to their desks.
I didn’t have to look away from the students I was working with to field 300 questions. As soon as I was finished working with my group or individual, I turned the light off, and things went back to normal.
This was the first beautiful step into the world of effective classroom management!
Taking Classroom Management to Another Level
After a few weeks, I noticed a specific issue continually surfacing each time I became “invisible.” Some of my kiddos had relevant questions about the activity they were completing independently, but they knew they weren’t supposed to interrupt me. This became a bit of a predicament.
I realized I needed someone, other than me, to be available to answer questions. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an assistant, but I needed one desperately. So, I decided to use my students as assistants.
I picked 2 students who had listened carefully to all of my instructions regarding the task to be completed, and they would receive a lanyard with an “Ask Me” tag to wear for the duration of the independent activity.
These students would answer questions from their classmates about the activity while I interacted with my small group. Because the “wearers” were the only people in the classroom allowed to talk and be out of their seats during the activity, I put specific guidelines in place so their behavior was in check. But this didn’t dampen the desire to be the “Ask Me” student.
1 Light + 2 Tags = No Interruptions
Combining the desire to wear the coveted “Ask Me” tags and the procedures already in place for the “I’m Invisible” light, I felt like I had superpowers!!
My kiddos, who were working independently, had listened intently to instructions (in an effort to be the “Ask Me” student). The “Ask Me” students were available to answer relevant questions, and I had uninterrupted time with individual students and small groups that needed more intensive instruction.
The implementation of these two procedures produced classroom management gold! The interrupting behavior that had been so prevalent was now minimized, and I was protecting instructional time in the classroom without having to say a word.
Of course, simply knowing these techniques worked for me isn’t going to help you…unless you put the same effective classroom management procedures into practice yourself. AND, because I want you to be successful, I made you a set of “Ask Me” tags!
This free printable is for you to print on cardstock, laminate, and hang on a lanyard for your kiddos.
Quick Check Reminders
- Use when working with a small group, an individual student, or when taking a phone call
- On=Teacher unavailable
- Off=Teacher available
- If a kiddo forgets, point to light without speaking.