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Monday, March 8, 2010

Classroom Management Tip #8: 5 Seconds to Move

Another procedure that I found highly successful in the classroom was called “5 Seconds to Move.” This meant that anytime movement took place in my classroom, you had until I had counted to 5 to complete the movement. I counted, “1 thousand 1, 1 thousand 2, 1 thousand 3, 1 thousand 4, and 1 thousand 5.” I counted so that the students actually had about 10+ seconds to move to their new location or to complete a task involving movement. Ten seconds gives students enough time to move their desks into a new location, pick up supplies, rearrange a table, turn work into a specific location, etc. There is something about this counting that makes students want to move faster. I have never had it fail for me or seen it fail for others. In fact years ago, I was part of a presentation on classroom management being presented to approximately 500 administrators and central office personnel. I was the first one up and needed to move everyone into their first group assignment. I delivered the assignment, told them they had 5 seconds to move, and they immediately started up personal conversations and were dragging their feet. We have all seen this happened. I raised my voice slightly and said in my best teacher voice, “Five seconds to move please” and then started counting. It was like magic; everyone started moving as I continued to encourage them to move faster while counting. I have never seen 500 people move so fast. I knew then that I had a good strategy, and I have continued to use this strategy with both teachers and adults. Of course you must be the cheerleader for this procedure and practice it numerous times before your students will take complete ownership of it and make it their own. You must praise them when they move within time limits, show them off by having them demonstrate for an administrator how fast they can move, and of course remind any straggler that dragging their feet is not acceptable. Your students must know that this is your expectation and nothing less is acceptable. Of course you always must have consequences in place if students do not perform as expected. I recommend then students who continually drag their feet while getting into a group or pair setting be made to work alone. Usually a parent phone call will motivate a student to travel faster.

You want procedures to become second nature so remember to introduce them, practice them, and enforce them.

For more Classroom Management Tips go to the Classroom Management Tips Page.

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