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Management Minute

Shake It Up

Are there certain procedures or expectations in your classroom that have devolved into chaos?

Maybe there’s way too much off-task chatter. Maybe students are blurting out answers instead of raising their hands. Perhaps bathroom breaks have become havens for gossip and goofing-off. Or maybe the uproar that takes place before the bell is refusing to die down when it’s time to start class.

Whatever the problem, you may be thinking there’s nothing you can do. The habits are too ingrained, and trying to change it now would be about as easy as turning the Titanic.

What if you tried conducting a classroom shake-up?

A classroom shake-up gets your students’ attention and shows them with actions (not just words) that things are going to be different. It essentially forces a reset and gives you an opportunity to make significant improvements throughout the year. 

Here’s an example of how it works: A teacher whose students were getting into skirmishes at the coat rack chooses to hide the coat rack in her closet for a day. When the students arrive and go to hang up their coats, they can't. She doesn’t immediately tell her students what is happening. She lets them wonder; she lets them ask. They are confused and want to know what is happening, and this is exactly the point. She has their attention and is able to explain (without lecturing) why the coat rack was removed and what she expects them to do differently in the future. 

Most importantly, she is able to carefully monitor her students as she brings out the coat rack and has them practice the procedure. She then kindly, patiently, yet diligently corrects the problems while they are still small and stays vigilant in ensuring students follow the procedure. As a result, she is able to restore order and (mostly) prevent additional skirmishes.  

As you’re considering a classroom shake-up, you must first decide what procedure or expectation you want to address. Then, find a way to shake it up. Ask yourself, What would get the students’ attention? What would make them come to me and ask, “What’s going on?”

If the problem is related to a certain item, you may take something out of the room (like the coat rack). If you want to reset a certain procedure that is normally part of your daily routine, you might skip it and wait for students to notice and ask why. If students have been disruptive at the start of class, you might close your classroom door and stand outside, not letting anyone in the room. 

Having fun and being creative when you shake it up serves as a positive way to overcome the classroom chaos. And before you know it, you will be one step closer to that calm, conducive learning environment where both you and your students can thrive. 

If you’d like more help planning and implementing your classroom shake-up, please join our free Classroom Management MiniCourse.

CEAI Members with Coverage receive a 40% discount on all Teach 4 the Heart courses as a benefit of membership. Log in to your membership account at to access your discount code.

Linda Kardamis taught middle school math before founding Teach 4 the Heart. She is the author of Create Your Dream Classroom and Take Heart and Teach and the creator of Classroom Management 101. She and her husband are raising their four kids in northeast Ohio.


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