Classroom management tips for new teachers can help them not just succeed but thrive. And that’s especially important in Sunday school classes, where volunteers share the good news of Jesus. Read these 12 expert suggestions—and share them with teachers at your church!
Why Classroom Management Matters
When I present workshops and receive feedback on other topics of interest to participants, the top suggestions are always “classroom management” and “discipline.” The lack of classroom management tips for new teachers causes more frustration in volunteers than almost anything.
I don’t claim to have perfect answers and all the skills. But I do know some classroom management tips for new teachers that will greatly help.
As a reminder: Prayer is not a last resort. Start with prayer for each of your kids. And spend a little extra time with the Lord for students who pose challenges.
12 Classroom Management Tips for New Teachers
1. Keep kids seated when giving instructions for a game.
Once you’ve presented all the instructions, position kids in team lines and hand out any equipment. If you do it the other way around, their attention is on the ball and figuring out who’s in which line. No one moves into game position until everyone understands what will happen.
2. Give instructions for games and activities in as few words as possible.
Tell children what they should do. Don’t go through all the “if-this-happens” scenarios. If your instructions go round in circles, all they’ll hear is blah, blah, blah (like in Charlie Brown cartoons). After one round, if kids didn’t completely follow the directions, pause to correct course. Then start again. Keep it simple and concise.
3. Take advantage of mirror neurons.
Use your smile. It activates mirror neurons in other people’s brains, and they want to smile back. If you act crabby, the mirror neurons give kids permission to act crabby too. So be aware of your face and attitude. Then let the mirror neurons go to work.
4. Choose names randomly.
Kids like to accuse leaders of not giving them a turn or playing favorites. That causes them to pout and get upset or frustrated. Figure out a way to choose helpers, leaders, and teams so it’s obvious you’re not showing preferences.
I use an app called Random Name Selector. But you could also write all names on individual craft sticks. As kids arrive, they each pick up their stick and place it in a can. Then you draw out all the sticks before returning any to the can. That way, no one can accuse you of having any say in the choices.
5. Use children’s names as much as possible.
(And not when you’re yelling at them!) This is a relationship builder. It conveys that you know kids and are personally connected. It also does something physically in the brain. When someone uses your name in a respectful way, blood flow increases to the area of the brain that processes self-perception. If someone is building into your self-esteem, more than likely you’ll want to please that person. Hence, fewer discipline problems.
6. Give out leadership responsibilities.
Some kids engage in the power-play game and make you feel as if they know more than you do. It may be that God has wired them for leadership and they want to stretch those muscles. Call them early in the week with a small assignment and ask for their assistance and leadership the coming week. You’re building a relationship, and their disrespect may just go away.