Thursday, October 27, 2011

Crowd Control

I started work as an afterschool program leader (aka afterschool academic and enrichment instructor) and for most of the time, I feel like I am directing a crowd. It is only 21 students, but each one of those twenty one children have their own twenty one different things going on. I don’t blame them. We all rather be somewhere else, doing something fun, than listening to someone tell you what sound the letter ‘m’ makes while you have to sit up straight in a chair that has not left your behind for a couple of hours.

But as an instructor, there are boundaries and agreements you have to create in order to make the environment as stress-free for you as possible. This ensures that the students get a chance to do what they came to do-learn. Obviously, crowd control in a classroom is different than one in a concert or airport line. Although, it might seem like a good idea to have those queue stanchions leading to the bathroom, the field, or anywhere else you need to take the students during the course of your program, it is not a practical solution.


If you are interested in crowd control for large adult audiences, a company that offers barricades and stanchions will be most useful for you. You can select from a variety of designs that suit your needs. Stanchions are mainly for lines in an airport, grocery store, or other events. Barricades are normally used for security and privacy.

If you are dealing with school children, here are two suggestions for you:

1. Teach in the field.

The best place to teach children about rules and procedures is out in the field (not just in the classroom). When you have to go out for your physical education, use orange cones liberally. Place the cones as boundaries for your students. Tell them that you want them within the orange cones. Place additional cones a couple feet away and have students run to those and back. I have found this to be the best way to teach children about boundaries.

2. Enforce ‘proper line behavior’.

Whether you are going to the bathroom, or to an adjacent classroom,make sure the students are always in a straight line. Having them hold on to one side of a long rope helps them stay in a proper line. If you are consistently diligent about proper line behavior, it conditions them to follow rules and agreements in other areas as well (such as inside the classroom).

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