In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Quick Tips for When You Just Need a Minute

on January 13, 2012

Today in the lunchroom, I shared one of my favorite behavior management techniques with some of my colleagues, and my friend Jessica said that I should post them to my blog tonight. How could I say no to that?!

1. The “Going to the Bathroom When You Can’t Trust Your Students for Three Minutes” Technique: When I was pregnant with the twins, I had the use the bathroom frequently. In one particular class, I knew that there were one or two students who I just couldn’t leave alone – not even for a minute. At this time, I perfected the “You Go So I Can Go” Technique. When I could feel a bathroom break coming on, I did a quick scan for the “instigator of the day.” That person was sent on a quick errand. Sometimes it was just sending a note to a colleague on the other side of the building. Having one person out of the room often sets the mood in a better place. Just make sure the errand you are sending them on will take long enough for you to actually get to the bathroom and back again!

2. The “It’s Not You, It’s Me” Technique: Sometimes, you need a break from a student. You are reaching that point where you know you are going to lose it. When that feeling comes on, send that student on a mission. Often, you just need a minute to re-group and that child needs a change of reference. Besides, all the kids know is that teachers only send the “good” kids on errands. This is how this might go.

Me: “Oh. Beth, I almost forgot. Mr. Jones said he’d like to see you this morning for just a minute.”

Beth: “Ok.” She leaves.

Me picking up phone and dialing rapidly: “Mr. Jones. This is Mrs. Hines. I just sent Beth to you. Will you tell her what a great job you heard she did on her math project last week? Keep her for a few minutes before sending him back. I owe you. Thanks.”

10 minutes pass as I just breathe for a few minutes.

Me: “Oh, Beth. I’m glad your back. Is everything OK?”

Beth with a smile: “Yes. Mr. Jones told me what a great job I did.”

Me: “Awesome. Well, we are on page 35. Your neighbor will show you.”


3. The “Area 51” Technique: This is for emergencies only. It requires only a ¬†cooperating buddy teacher or staff member, preferably as far away from your classroom as you can find. It can be used as a substitute for techniques one and two when more detailed plans can’t be made. It should not be over-used. It is especially useful when you see an issue escalating between two students and you know they need a time out. When you see that a child needs a bit of a break from the class, send them to your buddy teacher and have them say, “Mrs. Hines needs the key to Area 51. Do you have it?” This is the important part. Your buddy should them spend a convincing amount of time rifling through drawers, looking in pockets, sorting through purses, etc. After a few minutes, she can send your child back with the bad news that she wasn’t able to find the key. Of course, you will act highly disappointed but thank the student for his time to go ask. Again, you’ve had the time to regroup.


3 responses to “Quick Tips for When You Just Need a Minute

  1. Deven Black says:

    I love these ideas, Kelly. Thanks for posting them. I wonder if they’ll work on middle schoolers.

  2. Ruth says:

    These are soooo great! I am going to share them.

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