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Discover a Clear Path to Successful Math Centers

Download my FREE QuickStart Guide to Meaningful Math Centers. Inside you’ll find inspiring ideas, helpful tips and meaningful resources to help you get started with math centers in your classroom.

Tips for Managing Math Centers

When I think about managing math centers, the phrase that immediately pops into my mind is “routines and procedures”.

I am sure you’ve heard this before, but it’s ABSOLUTELY true.

A major part of a good management system is being proactive. Preparing for unwanted behaviors BEFORE they even happen helps prevent disruptions and creates a productive classroom environment.

Let’s talk about ways to be proactive with routines and procedures.

Setting Clear Expectations

When your kids know what is expected of them, there is a much higher chance of success. That’s not just limited to children, that goes for anybody. Think about a time when someone came to your room to do an observation but you had no clue what they were looking for. How did that feel?

People (including your students) can’t live up to expectations they don’t know have been set for them.

So what does this look like? First, there should be a discussion with your class about what center time looks, sounds, and feels like.

AND I’m all about visuals. All of these things should be written on an anchor chart while they are being discussed. That’s why I created these Math Expectations Charts. Once completed, they can be blown up and displayed on the wall as a clear reminder of what should be happening during center time.

You can grab them for FREE by clicking on the photo below.

Model, Model, Model

Now that kids know what is expected, don’t stop there. It’s not enough to tell kids what to do, you also have to show them. Modeling is what seals the deal because it removes the notion of not knowing what to do.

There are several ways to do this.

You can:

  • roleplay with your students
  • have your students roleplay with each other and give live feedback
  • act out the routines/procedure yourself and think aloud while you do them
  • show a video of the routine/procedure in action and discuss
  • take photos of your kids doing the routine and display them as reminders

These are just a couple of ways you can model center expectations for your kids. But remember, this is not a one time deal. Repeat until it’s second nature. Consistency is key.

Download this FREE Math Center Expectations Chart template to get started creating center behavior expectations with your students.

Student Jobs

Another great way to get students involved and accountable in your management system is having student jobs.

Student jobs shift the responsibility from you to your students and keeps centers running smoothly.  When centers run smoothly, students are engaged in their own work and you can see your teacher led group with minimal to no interruptions. Kids LOVE being in charge and you are freed up. It’s a win-win!

Ready to learn more about an explicit behavior system during your center time… then check out my course Math Centers 101. This video course walks you step-by-step through implementing math centers in your classroom.

Want to learn more about math centers? Check out previous blog posts from this series:

Join me for the next post: Making Center Time Meaningful

Take the stress out of implementing math centers in your classroom...