Tips for Managing Your Classroom (Spoiler Alert: It’s the FISH! Philosophy)

Published On: March 22, 2023Categories: Blog


As we enter Spring Break season, surely plenty of educators are starting to reflect back on the first part of the semester and the year as a whole. What’s going well in your classroom? What could be improved? Are you managing your class and your classroom effectively?

If you feel like your classroom management could use improvement, experts recommend starting by focusing on building better relationships with your students. Education researchers Jana and Robert Marzano, for example, have found that when teachers build “high-quality relationships” with the members of their classroom, those students experience over 30% fewer disciplinary issues, and studies have found that adolescents are less likely to turn to substance abuse or engage in violent behavior when they feel “cared for” in the classroom.

So what are some of the most effective ways to build these strong relationships with your students? We’ve put together 4 pieces of advice for managing your classroom better and–what else would you expect from us?–they align perfectly with the 4 practices of the FISH! Philosophy

Tip 1: Be There

Being There isn’t just about showing up in the classroom: if building strong teacher-student relationships were as simple as showing up every day, we wouldn’t be writing this advice and you wouldn’t be reading it!

You know that not every student will require your attention every minute of every day, but when each student does need you, they need you to do more than just be physically present. Being There means signaling through your words, actions, and physical demeanor that you want to be there, that you’re open to helping your students and meeting their needs, and that you understand what makes them feel special, capable, and important.

Being There is the difference between just saying “hello class” and greeting each student by name as they walk in the door. It’s the difference between staring off into space as your student explains a problem they’re having and listening actively, attentively, and with genuine concern. It’s the difference between broadly choosing to assert your authority and taking the time to ask your students what they want. It’s about showing up 100%, 100% of the time–and if you find yourself slipping or getting distracted (as we all do), being able to catch it, regroup, and refocus.

Tip 2: Make Their Day 

Making Their Day is about not only knowing that each student is a unique individual, but finding ways to express that so that they know it as well. Schools have built a great culture of recognizing and rewarding high achievement and outstanding performance, but there’s very little structural push to ensure that every student feels proud, capable, and motivated to do their best every day.

To Make Their Day, you don’t need to do massive, grand gestures–it’s not about throwing a pizza party every week or doubling recess time. Even the smallest things–like recalling a student’s name, complimenting their creativity, or commending their effort on a project-in-progress–can be Make Their Day moments. These little moments build into real, positive classroom culture, but the most difficult part is doing them consistently so they reach every single student.

Tip 3: Play 

Play may be the concept that many teachers latch onto most quickly, but (perhaps counter-intuitively) we’ve found that it’s easily the FISH! pillar that is hardest for them to fully grasp. Teachers and educators often have this sense that work and play are both important, but must be kept separate–work is something you do in the classroom to learn, play is something you do during recess to burn energy.

But the truth is, Play is so much more than just running around outside. Play is about experimentation, discovery, and grappling with difficult concepts in unique and unexpected ways. It’s about a mindset that making mistakes is okay, as long as you’re trying new things and learning along the way. It’s about thinking outside the box and beyond the lesson plan–and requires a classroom culture that cultivates not just respect for learning, but respect for each other and respect for the freedom of expression and thought. 

Tip 4: Choose Your Attitude

Teachers are often the first to tell their students that attitude is everything–after all, how many parent-teacher conferences have started with “So-and-so is clearly very bright, but they always come in with a bad attitude!” when talking about behavioral concerns?

And yet, teachers are often the last to hold themselves to that same standard. The way we enter a classroom and the attitude we choose during our school days primes the behavior of our students: when we enter the room sour or tired, our students know it’ll be a “bad” day and respond accordingly. Conversely, if we choose an attitude of enthusiasm, curiosity, or compassion and allow that to influence our outward behavior, we can in turn help our students break out of their own negative headspaces and direct the attitude of the whole class towards something productive. 

Ideas to Reflect On:

  • How do your emotions and your attitude present themselves outwardly? Can students sense when you’re in a good mood, or a bad mood? Do you notice if your attitude is reflected in your students’?
  • Do you give the same attention, compassion, and guidance to all of your students, regardless of if they’re high-achievers or personal favorites? If not, what can you do to Be There for each and every student, and what actions can you do to Make Their Day?
  • Does your lesson plan and classroom culture make room for Play? Are students encouraged to brainstorm, try new things, and express their opinions, even if it leads to failure or differs from how you’d do things?

Want to Implement FISH! in your organization?

Are you a leader?  Do you train others?  Do you want others to be leaders?

Charthouse Learning, the creator of the world-famous, award-winning, FISH! film is offering an in-person, 2-day workshop, interactive Train-the-Trainer lead by our Senior Trainer this April in Minneapolis, MN.

During our time together you’ll learn how to:

  • Share the motivation and foundation of FISH!
  • Introduce the FISH! film with the four practices.
  • Present the invitation to apply the practices in everyday interaction with others.
  • Build a sustainability and reinforcement program to transform the culture.
  • Pick up tips from other FISH! Philosophers and develop a strategy to embed the practices into the DNA of your culture.
  • Create an energized organization that is the “first choice” for employees, faculty, staff, leaders, and customers.

Plus, you will learn how to create a workplace where people choose to “be and bring” their best self everywhere, every day.

At the FISH! Train the Trainer you will:

  • Dive Deep: Discover The FISH! Philosophy – full of “A-ha!” takeaways and perspective-shifting realizations.
  • Transform: Make the four FISH! practices – Play, Be There, Make Their Day and Choose Your Attitude – an essential part of your professional and personal skill set.
  • Discover: Learn practical ways to apply the FISH! practices to improve teamwork, service, leadership, retention and performance.
  • Develop: Brainstorm strategies to embed The FISH! Philosophy into the DNA of your culture, strengthening your mission, vision and values.
  • Collaborate: Learn and laugh with like-minded folks from across the globe.

Click Here for More FISH! Train the Trainer Information

Whether you work in business, education, or healthcare, FISH! offers accessible, intuitive solutions to empower your workers, bring your team together, and introduce Play into your organization. We invite you to contact us today at 800.695.4534 or to speak with our cultural specialists, who will help you find the right FISH! Philosophy solutions that will nurture your organizational culture and motivate your team!

 Join Us on Social Media:

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

Subscribe to Our Blog

Dive into the Deep End of Culture Transformation