Forums / Elementary Science / clasrrom management

Elementary Science

clasrrom management

Author Post
Lucero Mendoza Lucero Mendoza 2185 Points

Hello! I am an education elementary major. I am currenly student teaching and I enjoy it very much, excpet when I can't control the class. Sometimes I feel like i just want to give up because the students dont listen to me. They get too loud when I allow them to work in groups. Something really common to do in a science lab is allowing the students to have a lab partner. But what startegies can I use so that the students focus and not play around during the lab?

Sierra Wayson Sierra Wayson 7745 Points

Hi Lucero!

I believe the age of your students is a factor in how you can best manage the science classroom, but all ages respond well to rewards/incentives.  Perhaps if you have a conversation with the students and explain that their behavior impacts the types of things you can do in the classroom, they will be more receptive and well-behaved.  For example, 5th graders may be ready to do a fun science project/experiment, but only if they can follow the rules - if students are remaining calm and focused, they can do a certain activity.  I think it is important here to remind students that behavior is included in lab safety (if you have lab safety rules, make behavior one of them) because it is necessary to remain calm and respectful when conducting experiments so that things don't get out of control/unsafe.  I'm sorry to hear that you're having such a difficult experience in this aspect of your student teaching - hopefully this perspective is somewhat helpful.  I also hope that your mentor teacher can give some experienced advice! 

Autumn Ariola Autumn Ariola 905 Points

Aloha Lucero,


Before starting my lesson, I share what the class expectations are during and share the learning target to help the students know what we are focusing on. Also, I place a timer on the board for students to know how long we are pair-sharing or doing an activity, that once the timer goes off their attention is at the front. I hope this helped you out!





Karlie Howe Karlie Howe 1795 Points

Hi Lucero, 

As everyone mentioned, I think it will really help to set up expectations and routines for the class, especially during science labs. You can have a discussion with your class and have them come up with guidelines with appropriate behavior and expectations for everyone in the class. It can also help to explicitly model these expectations to your students so they know exactly what these behaviors look like. Another strategy I find works with my class is using positive praise. By praising positive behavior in the class it can help encourage other students to follow the same positive behavior. 

Hopefully, this helps. 


Kelly Noelani Tolentino Kelly Tolentino 1045 Points

Hi Lucero!

It's important to set clear expectations and consequences before you begin your lesson... at the beginning of the school year is most effective to keep it consistent. I'm a pre-service teacher in a fifth grade classroom and my mentor teacher always tells me, 'don't be scared to have them sit down on the floor for a meeting.' In these meetings, I ensure that the students undertand their learning objectives and expectations. Since it gets a little rowdy with groups in your classroom, you could try grouping students who haven't worked together yet. Assign roles to each student so they are held accountable for their own learning. Circulate around the room and use positive praise when you recognize good behavior. Also, use attention getters to control the volume. I hope for better experiences, good luck!

Kau'ilani Ahlo-Souza Kau'i'lani Souza 315 Points

Hi Lucero, 

I too find that it can be difficult to manage the classroom when you want to give them an opprtunity to work with others. One thing that might help is to play soft instrumental music. I noticed that students were focusing more on their work when they heard the music. Of course, something that had to be stated to the class was the fact that the noise level of the classroom has to be soft enough for everyone to hear the music. If it starts to get too loud then you can turn the music off. I've seen the difference of the classroom where the music was playing and the music wasn't playing and it was a big difference. Another strategy could be to pull the class together and have them rate with a thumbs up, thumns in the middle, and thumbs down showing how they worked. Thumbs up is that they didn't need any reminders from the teacher or friends to keep their voices down and to focus. Thumbs in the middle means they needed a couple reminders but got back to work and continued to try hard. Thumbs down means that you had a hard time paying attention and maybe even bothered others who were working hard. This allows the class to hopefully self-reflect on their acitons, it also allows you the opprotunity to ask the class how they can improve on working harder and in an environment that isn't loud or chaotic. 

Hope this helps!

Chloe Robello Chloe Murphy 715 Points

Hey Lucero, I normally give them a super strict time limit and then a reward after finishing up. This causes them to focus harder on the task being given so they are able to ge to the reward. The reward does not have to be somehting big or anything out of the ordinary. I normally go with when you finish you are able to play with the legos in the classroom so they are able to keep focus on the task so that they can move on. My mentor always tells me that constantly having them know what goes on next helps them want to finish so they know that when they finish they can play with soemthing else. I also give them strict time limits such as 20 minutes for you guys to complete this worksheet with your partner. When they finish up I always check their work so they won't rush it either. I give all these instructions in the beginning of the class and constantly have them repeat it back so then they can memorize it easier. I'll start off by saying something like 'you have 20 minutes to do this worksheet with your partner when you finish you can join me on the carpet for legos, how long do you have to do this? .. Also don't rush becuase I will be checking your work. What is happening after you finish?'

Stephanie Aladin Stephanie Aladin 910 Points

Hi Lucero,

I understand what you feel because I have also gone through the same thing when teaching lessons. One thing my mentors have told me after teaching my lessons was that I forgot to discuss and explain ground rules before starting my lesson. Because I didn't do this, there were some students who were playing around, not listening, and some who were just not engaged. I think that telling the students beforehand what your expectations of their behaviors are within the lab would still help a lot. If they still don't listen to you, you could look at different strategies like the many that are mentioned above by everyone (i.e. noise level meter that goes off, go over consequences, use attention getters, keep reminding them, etc.) I've learned that setting expectations for students' behaviors depending on each activity in a lesson really does help a lot. It would also be useful and get through to the students more if they read the expectations out loud with you or if you asked a few students what are some examples of the expectations you have for their behavior in lab. I hope this helps you out!

Dapheney Martinez Dapheney Martinez 755 Points

Hello! i will aslo be student teaching soon and when observing during my fieldwork hours this is always a concern a mine. I think going over the rules on a daily basis is very important. Also, making the students feel like they are actually scientist so explain to them that when scientist work in groups they can't get too loud because they need to hear each others thoughts and ideas and be able to hear and follow instructions to do their experiment correctly. 

Kendra Chavis Kendra Chavis 1800 Points

As a preservice elementary teacher, I agree that classroom management can be a struggle. This is especially the case during science labs and other science activities. In my experience, I have noticed that students can tend to get out of control because of the fun they are having while doing science investigations. While it is great to see their enthusiasm about the topic, it can become frustrating when they are loud and get off task. Something that works for me is bringing the class back as a whole, repeating directions, and calling out how much time they have left. Knowing they are limited on time helps them to get back on task because they want to complete the activity or lab. Another strategy that works for me is positive reinforcement. If I notice a group is working quietly and staying on task, I will say 'Wow, I really like how so and so are sitting and working on the task!' This strategy makes other students want to work hard so they can have their names called out for working well.

Ashley Canny Ashley Canny 1480 Points

It would be a great idea to establish classroom community guidelines. Before starting the activity, spend some time or even a day establishing rules that your class comes up with altogether. Let students create some of their own rules that they want to follow (within reason) and post them where the whole class can see them and refer back to. This gives them some structure and ownership over the rules. When they are acting out, you can remind them of the rules that the whole class, including them, agreed upon.

Emma Scheidler Emma Scheidler 1905 Points

I think the big thing in classroom management during science is to review rules and expectations. Let students know that if they cannot follow rules and expectations, than they will not be able to complete the science experiment, and they will be sitting in their desks doing bookwork. If you don't want to do that, then you could just push it off to the next day until students can prove that they are grown up enough to handle a science experiment. Also, when you point out positive behavior in front of students who are portraying negative behaviors, those students who are acting poorly will wnat attention too, so they (hopefully) will start behaving the way that you pointed out to the students who were displaying positive behaviors. 

Bola Ogunbayode Bola ogunbayode 1695 Points

I agree with a lot of the ladies on here, I think it is import to set clear expectations with the students at the beginning of the year. Also, reinforce positive behaviors, there will be students who are on task and respectful, call on that students and tell them thank you for being on task. avoiding allowing best friends to sit together, re group students. use attention grabbers when students are not on task. restate your expectation and stick to it. If a students is still distrupting over time, call them to the hallway and tell them why distrupting the class is an issue. Build relationship with them students.

Yadira Alvarez Yadira Alvarez 95 Points

Hello. I think before starting the lab it is important to repeat the expectations and rules to the whole class. If the class is getting to loud you should use strategies such as cointing from 1 through 3 or all eyes on me. When you have their attention demonstrate to them how they should use their inside voice. Just find a strategie that works and stick to it.

Lydia Coley Lydia Coley 685 Points

Hello Lucero,

For classroom management strategies, you could remind students of the volume while working in groups. For example, students should be using inside voices. Let a student provide an example of using inside voices and then be very persistent in acknowledging groups who are talking with inside voices and redirect the groups that are not using inside voices. Also, you can walk around the classroom to try to diminish any conversations that are not about science or redirect those conversations into the science lesson! 

Jesslynn Preston Jesslynn Preston 645 Points

Aloha Lucero, 

One thing that has worked well with me this past week while I was teaching a science lesson was to start my lesson off by listing all of the classroom rules and expectations. For each of those rules, I gave an example to the whole class. Then, I'd allow them to turn and talk to the person sitting next to them and come up with strategies to stick to those expectations. This would give them a chance to get involved in creating those expectations, and it also helps them to check each other too. For example, when I taught day 1 of my science lesson, I noticed that because I did not clearly give them the classroom expectations from the start of the lesson, my students had a difficult time with following along with the classroom procedures for my lesson. I quickly realized that I should have done so from the beginning, but I did start the next lesson on the following day with listing out those expectations. I noticed that they handled themselves way better when I gave them those expectations from the beginning. I hope this helps! 



Haunani Preston 

Genissa Padilla Genissa Padilla 285 Points

Hi Jesslynn, 

I really liked the strategy you mentioned for keeping the class effective at all times. It is really important to make sure students know what they are expected to do or follow. By letting them know since the start of the lesson the classroom rules and expectations, they can understand and the class will remain concentrated. I think that the way you had them talk to another student to create strategies to make sure they follow the procedures correctly is a good way to manage the classroom.  

Sana Nazar Sana Nazar 480 Points

Hi Lucero,

One strategy I find that is very useful is to take a class lesson and dedicate it to creating a 'Classroom Expectations' list with the students. Pose the question 'What should an outsider expect when they come into our classroom?' Using the students' responses, generate a list of all the expectations on a big chart paper. Have the students sign it at the bottom, like a 'contract' telling them that they will be held responsible. I would go a step further and send the list to the parents as well. This way, on any behavior notes that need to be sent home, you can directly quote an expectation from the list.

Joanne Park Joanne Park 685 Points

Hi Lucero,

I am a student intern too. My mentor and suprvisor always tell me to get their attention first and don't give instruction or direction until you get their attention. Wait until you get their attention. And one of the trick I use when working on the samll group is when they ask me if they can work in partner or group,I tell them that I will let them work with partner if they can show me that they are working for the first 10~15 mins of the class. I'm still learning as day goes, but good luck!

Kristine Huang Kristine Huang 865 Points

Hi Lucero!

I found that setting up expectations and routines at the beginning is really helpful in establishing appropriate guidelines for your class. Modeling is also a great way to help children 'see' what is expected. Practice and establish these ground rules prior to starting your lesson or even at the very beginning of the day. Giving reminders to your students about your expectations will help students focus too. Stay positive! You got this :) 

Justin Hudcovic Justin Hudcovic 685 Points

Aloha Lucero, 

It is important to set expectations for your students at the very beginning of the lesson. What also helps is to develop a routine for students to follow. I work with sixth graders, so you can imagine the chaos that ensues. Fortunately, I try my best to be as firm and fair as possible because that shows my students that I mean what I say. I suggest that you develop a gameplan for moments that get hectic and out of control. Maybe that will defuse some situations you are dealing with. I hope this helps. Good luck! 


Justin Hudcovic  

Bailey Jenkins Bailey Jenkins 695 Points


One awesome thing I saw a teacher use was a noise level app on her computer. It monterted the noise level in the class and when it got too loud it beeped and would remind them. You could do a three-strikes rule and if they are still too loud no more partners for the day and they can try again tomorrow. You could do it every day and be very consistent and maybe they will learn. I hope that helps! 

Malia Pimentel Malia Pimentel 855 Points

Hey Lucero,

I have found it very helpful to set specific exceptations for each activity within your lesson. Once you know what you expect from your students then you also have to make sure that they know what is expected of them. So, before I give students a task to do I clearly state how I want students to do the task whether its quietly, whisper voices, sitting at their desks, raising their hands if they have questions, ect. I give them clear expectation. When I switch to another activity, I again, explain the expectations. Another important thing is following through with your expectations from them. If you told them you want quiet work time but they are very noisey, stop everyone and remind them the expectation of quiet work time and then have them try it again. 

Classroom magement is tricky, I hope you find some things you can try in your placement!

Madison Lew Madison Lew 780 Points

Hi Lucero,

I am a student teacher as well, and have found myself in frustrating predicaments very similar to yours. I've found that I asserting myself and saying things without hesitation can really help in monitoring and maintain unwanted behaviors in class. In terms of partner work, you may want to assign partners on your own and as you teach the lesson, you can always move students around if need be. This would help eliminate the noisiness that would come from having students be partners with their friends. 

Nicolas Vierra Nicholas Vierra 855 Points

Classroom management is something all preservice teachers may struggle with at first. It's very important to acknowledge desired behaviors by praising students who are on task. However, it's more important to not ignore the students who are misbehaving. For example, if there is a student talking with their friends and disrupting the class, as a teacher you have to take action. If you ignore the misbehaving students, they will think it is okay to keep talking and disrupting the class. One strategy I use is frequently is by simply walking around the classroom during modeling, group work, and independent work. When a teacher floats around the classroom, he/she can monitor student behavior. In some instances, I have used direct verbal action by just asking the student who is misbehaving, 'Is talking out of turn appropriate right now?' or 'I find it really disrespectful that you're talking out of turn.' I think classroom management comes with practice and overtime you will be a master at it! 

Jennifer Revelle Jennifer 2065 Points

For classroom management you really need to know your students and to talk to them on their level. Yes you need to be firm and not be a push over but if you talk to your students on their level and open up to them on a personal level they might treat you better. I am a preservice teacher also and in one of the classrooms I was in the teacher during science told them the students that they can do these experiements on their own but he made sure they knew the expectations and rules before setting them loose. If they got too out of hand he would correct them and said that they can just sit in ther desks and watch him do the experiment and not have as much fun or they can follow the rules and have a better time learning on their own, it was their choice. When it comes to partners I feel like you should give the a chance to pick their own partners but also if they don't follow the rules then the next time partners will be assigned.

Denise Diaz Denise Diaz 385 Points

Hello! I am a soon to be teacher and I also worry about this. All of these responses were something to take into consideration. While interning, I have noticed rewards/incentives are a huge part of behavior management. I often see teachers use multiple reward opportunities for children. Thanks for your advice.

Beth Stern Beth Stern 420 Points

As a soon to be elementary teacher I worry about this as well. The few times I've implemented STEM lessons in my field settings it was very stressful because I felt like the class was out of control. Thank you to everyone above who provided a lot of great advice, I will keep these things in mind as I develop and plan lessons in the future. It seems that it is key to establish expectations before trying these types of activities.


Kevin Mace Kevin Mace 75 Points

Great discussion. Classroom management, in my opinion, is the main reason teachers are reluctant to integrate STEM. Things can go off the rails quick sometimes ... but sometimes that's what is needed.

Yamel Abreu Yamel Abreu 2970 Points

Teaching is a tough job, no doubt about it. And working with young children can be a little overwhelming at times, especially when class sizes are large. But many seasoned educators have a sixth sense when it comes to classroom management—what works and what doesn’t. As educators, we need to use strategies to help ourselves. You can have a discussion with your class and have them come up with guidelines with appropriate behavior and expectations for everyone in the class.

Morgan Cronin Morgan Cronin 1985 Points

When that happens, pulling the students back together and reminding them of the expectations that you had set with them before they started their lesson can help you have better management in the classroom. You could also point out those students who are doing their work quietly and then maybe the other students will want to act like them, and that could calm down the craziness in the classroom

Lauren Gootee Lauren Gootee 1615 Points


I actually just finished my Classroom Management course. I wish every college had this for education majors. I learned so much from my professor. You need to set clear expectations for your students. Being overly strict at first is okay because the students need to know who's in charge. Praise those following directions and doing their job. As far as lab partners go, it's okay to make them work alone. That'll create a lot of work for them, but that's when you hope they learn that having a lab partner is a privilege to have. You can also stand up at the front of the classroom and make them wait or take time away from activities they enjoy. Building relationships and respecting your students is also a huge part of classroom management. If you don't do that, they're not going to be as motivated. Good luck!

Bianca Loya Bianca Loya 1830 Points


one of the most important pieces of classroom management is to set clear expectation, clear concequences and actually follow through. students can smell the fear! they know when you arent being serious and they will take advantage of that.
when the students work with partners be sure to let them know what the expectations are and if they arent following the directions then they cant work with a partner. 
Management is tricky because you want the students to like you and not see you as the mean teacher but you need to be firm with them. Being firm is different! student will respect you 

hope this video helps



Hannah Speed Hannah Speed 230 Points



I have found that using pre-correction and setting those behavioral expecations beforehand, and modeling the correct behaviors have helped with my students! Also, using questions to make sure they understand the expectations and that they are clear! 



Marcy Streicher Marcy Streicher 360 Points


Thank you for asking this question in this post.  I am a preservice teacher who is about to start my first practicum in a classroom.  I have had a class on classroom management but am always looking for suggestions from 'seasoned' teachers on what works and what doesn't.  I love that I found this post as this is my first day as an NSTA member (needed for my elementary ed science class, but definitely something I will keep in the future).  Thank you to all who have responded to this and all the other posts for those of us just starting out. 

Marcy Streicher


Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers