Traffic-Light for Friendly Classroom

I have found that investing time and effort in building trusting relationships with my students is the best tool I have used for classroom management. Once your students trust and feel safe in your classroom, the level of required classroom management drops significantly. I try to keep my classroom safe and fun for my students. Teenagers already feel targeted by adults; this is why I try to make my classroom a safe learning space for them.


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My students are usually challenged with different types of work. They work individually, in pairs, and in groups. I always encourage them to ask questions when they are stuck or unclear about task requirements or outcomes. However, I remember being a student and having to raise my hand for help. Sometimes it felt very intimidating to show that I was struggling with the task when everyone else seemed to be clear about it (or pretended that they did in order not to raise their hand!). Moreover, sometimes it felt like it took the teacher forever to get to me – my hand would start to fall asleep and my embarrassment will be prolonged. I would think twice before raising my hand next time… THIS method eliminates all these things. This traffic-light system of using coloured cups is very helpful. Moreover, students like it for its simplicity and game-like feel..

When students are doing great (going strong and fast) and need no assistance, they leave the green cup on top.


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When they are struggling (going slower) and are trying to figure it out but would like to get some help from a teacher, they put the yellow cup on top.


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When they are totally stuck (stopped) and cannot move forward until they get help from a teacher, they put the red cup on.


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This makes it so easy to see exactly where each student/group is within a couple of seconds of scanning the room. The strategy works well for individual, pair, and group work. I also love the fact that it forces my students to constantly think about where they are in terms of understanding and determining how much help they need.

What are your strategies for getting your students to ask for help when they struggle?

(I bought my cups at the Dollar Store. However, you can also order them from Amazon, since the green and yellow can be difficult to find in stores). 


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