Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Managing Centers In The Classroom

As a teacher, I love to incorporate hands on activities for students to continue to practice their reading skills. This year, I decided to incorporate centers in the classroom that would specifically be geared to provide these hands on activities. After checking out many blogs of all grade levels, I was determined to do it. The only problem is that I jumped on that wagon very quickly.

After what I thought was a perfect plan in August, it has now turned to a perfect disaster. I love the idea of centers and the flexibility there is to provide students with independent activities to enrich their learning experience. However, it is all in the planning and the organization that will make these centers successful in the classroom.

At the beginning of the summer, I started by printing and laminating all of these great activities that I wanted the kids to practice. I then proceed to make the centers by designating a special place in the classroom and displaying these activities. Thinking they would appreciate this and make the most out of it, I let them roam free! After 6 months, of trying this out, I realized I need take a step back and restructure this portion of my day.

 Here are some tips that I will be

implementing this second time around:

Set Clear Expectations

      It is very important for students to know exactly what is expected of them at all times in each center. Depending on the maturity and levels of your students, some will take this into action in no time. Others will need constant reminds such as visual and verbal reminders. I highly recommend role-playing and go thoroughly all the rules in each center.

 Be Consistent and Determined

Some of my students had a hard time getting used to the idea that they can pick an activity of their choice without me telling me. At the beginning, some of them were even scared and not ready to do this yet. Others were just overwhelm by this and went what I called center crazy. Just keep in mind that consistence reminders of the rules, expectations and determination from your part will make your students display the behavior you expect.

 Freedom Within Limits

 I love this quote by Maria Montessori. It really encompasses what centers should be. Each student should have the freedom to work on an activity that captures their attention and appropiate for their level.  The quote freedom within limits is an excellent guideline when deciding what center activities to include in your center. Freedom refers to the options that students have to freely pick an activity but within the limits the teachers has set.  Remember students love when they feel they have an option, they feel a sense of responsability and achievement.


 The best model there is for behavior is you! Students will model what they see you doing. Make sure everyone knows what to do before allowing the option to work independently. I dislike finding activities incomplete or falling apart because I assume they know what to do. Out of all the tips, this has to be the most essential.

I take the following steps when it comes to be a good model: 
  •   Point out where the activity is located. Make it a big deal that it needs to be there at all times. I usually have either a label or picture to remind them.

  • Handle the activity exactly how you want them to handle it. Do not just put pieces on random places on the table.

  •  Demonstrate the activity from start to finish. If the activity has a recording sheet, fill out the recording sheet as well.

  • Make sure to pick up the pieces and return them exactly how they were at the beginning. Trust me this will save you time at the end of the day!
Now, I know that centers at times can be cumbersome at time. But, with the right tools and management it can be a rewarding experience for your students.

What other rules do you have in your classroom to manage your centers?


  1. No interrupting the teacher is my biggest rule! I love the photo collage at the top. It's so nice to get a sneak peek into another classroom :-)


    1. Sarah thanks for your comment! I agree, interrupting the teacher is a big rule.