Preparing young students to go to (or return from) lunch, specials, or assemblies is one of the often overlooked but highly important and challenging responsibilities of a teacher. The sudden change of pace and scenery can make students rowdy and talkative. Without well-established procedures in place, substitutes may find it especially difficult to maintain control during these transitions.
Although challenging, you must not underestimate the importance of keeping your class calm, cool, and collected as you navigate the halls. This is your chance to display your stellar classroom management skills to others in the school.
Here are seven great strategies for achieving hallway stealth with your class:
Strategy #1: Allow several minutes for lining up before leaving the classroom.
In a perfect world, a teacher could say, "Class, please line up for gym," and students would quietly rise, push in their chairs, and assemble into the perfect line within 30 seconds. Unfortunately, this is rarely (if ever) the case, and getting students lined up correctly requires some finesse. Therefore, be sure to leave yourself about five minutes to orchestrate a peaceful line-up.
Strategy #2: Make sure students are calm and quiet BEFORE lining up.
If you instruct students to line up mid-activity, commotion is sure to ensue. Instead, take a moment to have students sit quietly before beginning your line-up procedure. While you have their attention, explicitly explain how you expect them to behave as you call them to line up. Also remind students that they have the responsibility to remain silent throughout the hallways as to not distract other classes and to model their best behavior for the school.
Strategy #3: Make sure students are calm and quiet BEFORE leaving the classroom.
A lot can change in between the attentive class of Strategy #2 and the transition of lining up. Once students are in line, make sure everyone is silent before allowing them to leave the room. If you have even a few chatty students while in the classroom, you can bet that more of your line will erupt as soon as you cross the threshold into the hall. Tell your class that you will not leave until every person is behaving as expected. If still not cooperating, send students back to their seats to repeat the line-up procedure. This is when you'll be happy that you employed Strategy #1. It is important to get your students to their specials on time, but if you leave yourself five minutes, you should have time to repeat the line-up if necessary.
Strategy #4: Call students to line up individually or in small groups.
Asking your whole class to line up at once is a recipe for disaster. All the motion can create a lack of accountability as disruptive students feel they can easily "get lost in the crowd." If students are already seated in groups, and "group three" appears the calmest and most prepared, calmly say, "Group three, please line up." Allowing the most well-behaved groups to line up first will inspire others to mimic their behavior. If students aren't seated in groups, you can call students by row or number. Each time you call a group, make sure that group is lined up quietly before calling the next group. Slowly and deliberately retain your control.
Strategy #5: Model appropriate behavior.
Frantically yelling over your students for not lining up correctly is ineffective and counterproductive. Remember that students pick up on and reflect your behavior. If you are maintaining calm but sturdy patience, students are more likely to act in kind. In fact, talking extra quietly can be a smart tactic, since it forces students to quiet down in order to hear what you're saying!
Strategy #6: Mention incentives.
The teacher you're subbing for might use a positive reinforcement incentive system such as marbles in a jar to earn a pizza party. If the teacher gave you permission to use this incentive while subbing, before heading out into the hallway is an opportune time to remind your students, "If we make it to gym class in a quiet, organized fashion, I will add a marble to your reward jar when we return!"
Strategy #7: Recite a rhyme.
With younger grades, reciting a rhyme as a class is a great group reminder to behave appropriately. It's almost like having students take an oath before stepping out into the hall. Here is one of our favorites: "My hands are hanging by my sides, I'm standing straight and tall, my eyes are right in front of me, I'm ready for the hall!"