Francine Jennings | September 2017

3 Ways You Can Use Creative Movement for Classroom Management

What usually pops in our minds when we hear ‘classroom management’? Phrases like “I wish I didn’t have to think about it so I can just teach”,  “if only I could have someone else to help me to take care of this part”, or “teaching would be so much more fun if it didn’t exist” often invade our thinking.

Then, there are those questions like “will my classroom management plans work for this new group of kids?”, “how will the new requirements impact how I control my class?” or “if they’re giving us 90 minute blocks, how will I ever keep my kids on task that long” which rise to the surface, especially at the beginning of the school year!

Simplistically speaking, the term ‘classroom management’ suggests that teachers must have systems in place to manage what goes on the classroom. More specifically, we might say that the term makes reference to possible strategies, techniques, or procedures that teachers might employ to manage student behavior and learning activities to maintain balance and control in the classroom. Without viable classroom management, the learning environment becomes chaotic, so I’m sure we can agree that although it may not be at the top of our “can’t wait to do” list, classroom management has to be at the top of our “must do” list! But how?

creative movement, classroom management

Keep the lesson moving and find ways to get kids out of their seats!

What a no brainer!  When movement becomes part of lesson, it adds physical and mental momentum to the classroom. The endorphins released during movement add a “feel good” component to the overall classroom climate, and, ultimately, the energy breaks up the monotony of being seated in one position. For example, asking everyone who’s traveled outside of the US to raise their hands emits a different level of energy than asking the same question and having students to stand. When students have opportunities to move, there is less of a chance for boredom; and less boredom brings about fewer behavior management issues.

Keep students actively engaged!

Think about it!  We can never leave our bodies behind; therefore, if students use their bodies to learn, there is automatic engagement.  Suppose you are teaching the concept of angles to your students.  Reading about angles, drawing angles, and identifying angles are all outstanding teaching strategies, but how about asking students to BECOME an acute angle or to BECOME an obtuse angle?  The level of engagement rises to a much more prominent position because students are using critical thinking skills to accurately position their bodies to solve a problem!  High levels of engagement with the body and mind reduce opportunities for negative behavior manifestations.

Gain student attention before beginning class!

It’s seldom that students come into class totally ready to get to work. Even with graduate students, there are side conversations, involvement with social media, snacking, and a plethora of other distractions. I’ve found movement to act as a profound attention getter prior to beginning class. I will often exhibit something with my body that will catch students’ attention.  If I persist, usually a few students will figure out that I’d like for them to mimic or repeat the movement I’m doing, and in no time, the entire class catches on, everyone is focused, and once we’re done, I’ve gotten everyone’s attention!  A few movements I’ve found successful include the following:

  • clapping patterns
  • stomping patterns
  • brain gym/ brain dance formations
  • group mirroring/partner mirror
  • human statues/body shapes
  • different versions of the wave/high five’s

Researchers and practitioners of creative movement have all made mention of creative movement as a natural behavior management tool partially because of its ability to engage students, but also because of the natural proclivity to offer excitement and fun, something that every student, young or old, sorely needs in the learning process.

Additional Resources:

Creative Movement and Dance by Francine Jennings

Get Moving! by Francine Jennings

About the Author

With a background in performing arts, special education, ESOL, and educational leadership, Francine Jennings currently serves as national faculty for Lesley University’s Division of Creative Arts in Learning. Francine’s position at Lesley enables her to travel around the country teaching educators to integrate the arts into the curriculum. In addition, under her company, MFJ Consulting and Edutainment, Francine works not only as a practicing performing artist, but also as an educational consultant using the arts to educate audiences on topics related to social justice, diversity, and culturally proficiency. She earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Virginia Tech University. You can locate her at and at