I’m A New 4th Grade Teacher: Now What?!

Excited. Overwhelmed. Ready? Not ready at all! Maybe you fit squarely in one of these categories or you have an equal mix of them. If you are a new fourth grade teacher or returning back to teaching 4th grade, you’ll find everything you need to be successful here!

PLUS–you can grab FREE 4th grade printables to use in your classroom this week.

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon for your convenience. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, which do not cost any extra for you. Please see the full disclosure here.*

How I Became a New 4th Grade Teacher

Let me start by saying Welcome to 4th-grade teaching! You have lots of questions, which I completely understand.

After teaching 2nd grade for four years, my K-8 independent school principal asked me to move to upper elementary ELA and SS because the teacher in that role was moving to another state.

I felt excited by the new opportunity, but also very nervous and unsure.

My new 4th-grade teaching structure looked like this:

  • Block scheduling with 2 sections of 23 students in each section.
  • Instead of having an assistant / paraprofessional, I’d have a Math & Science Co-Teacher.
  • We each had our own homeroom and switched classes throughout the day.
  • Most of students’ academic skill level ranged from 2nd-6th grade.

Does any of this sound similar to your new 4th-grade teaching structure? If so, you’re in the right place!

What You Need to Know as a New 4th-Grade Teacher

Here’s what you can expect to find below to help you in your Fourth Grade teaching journey:

  • Classroom Management Tips
  • Ideas for Lesson Planning & Activities
  • General Ideas on 4th Grade Student Behavior & Development
  • Technology Teaching Tools
  • FREE 4th Grade Printables that you can use in your classroom!

Regardless of whether you are skipping into 4th grade teaching like Mary Poppins or you’re kicking and screaming while someone drags you into this—I promise you’ll find useful tips and ideas in this post!

Classroom Management Tips for 4th-Graders

Let’s start with the Big Kahuna! Classroom management and behavior.

Of course, all kids are different. Every teaching situation has its own quirks and unique details.

But overall, research has shown that 4th grade students tend to be emotionally intense and very aware of social situations.

You’ll need to take this into consideration with your classroom management approach.

4th grade teaching

Now that I’ve taught 4th graders for 5 years, I’ve learned some really useful strategies for this age group.

Effective Classroom Management Strategies That Work:

  • Build positive teacher-student relationships with simple and consistent activities. For instance, I consistently write individual notes to my students when I notice positive actions or achievements.
  • I also weave Character Education into my weekly activities and routines. For example, The Golden Rule is my main classroom rule. Here’s the nitty-gritty on that management approach.
  • Directly teach and model procedures for EVERYTHING! Don’t assume that your 4th-grade students will “figure out” your expectations. My co-teacher calls me “The Procedures Queen” because I have a procedure for every single transition and activity in my room.
  • Play music for transitions. Not only does this management hack stimulate learning, but it also gives 4th graders a chance to physically move in a fun way.
  • Allow many opportunities for partner work and small group activities. Since 4th graders tend to be very socially driven, they also thrive when given chances to work collaboratively with others. This keeps them engaged and excited to learn.

    An abundance of individual seatwork–especially when it’s nothing but worksheets–leads to disengaged 4th graders who will rebel and misbehave because they’re bored!

Since these classroom management tips are general, you may benefit from seeing specific examples from my classes over the years.

These detailed posts provide just that:

4th-Grade Lesson Planning

In addition to classroom management, you’ll also want to know more about lesson planning as a new 4th-grade teacher.

How can you structure your lessons to get the biggest bang for your teaching buck?

If you are teaching block scheduling with your 4th graders, this is especially important!

You have more students than a self-contained Kinder through 2nd-grade teacher (since you may be switching classes), and you only have a certain amount of time to teach ALL the skills & standards required.

Here’s how I’ve learned to organize my lessons for success as a 4th grade teacher:

  • Start every lesson with a quick 5-7 minute warm-up. My warm-up activities will either introduce a new skill/standard OR they will review a concept taught from the previous day.

    These lesson hooks work best when they are high-energy and allow quick-wins for students. When your 4th graders are having fun AND being successful, they are more likely to keep that positive attitude for learning throughout the rest of your class.
  • Transition into small group instruction. Small-group instruction is my JAM! Yes, I use center rotations with 4th graders even though I teach block scheduling.

    Small group instruction is highly effective for helping upper elementary students achieve mastery because it allows you differentiate instruction more easily.

    The amount of time for my small-group instruction varies.

    I provide detailed, step-by-step instructions on my centers in this post: 4th Grade Literacy Center Ideas.

More General Lesson Planning Tips:

Another thing to keep in mind as a new 4th-grader teacher is to make time for a daily snack and for brain breaks that allow movement.

In my class, I love GoNoodle because it’s free, engaging, and has variety.

My 4th graders enjoy the Zumba and Yoga exercises for brain breaks.

With so much movement during centers and brain breaks, your kids will definitely get hungry!

Even though eating and exercising aren’t an actual part of the lesson you’re teaching, I still strongly recommend including a daily snack time and brain break in your lesson plans.

Trust me–in my experience as a 4th grade teacher–these two activities boost the mood of my students in a way that makes learning better for everyone.

4th graders love hands-on learning activities! For this lesson, I typed my students’ vocabulary words and definitions on separate strips. Then I cut them apart and put them in Ziplock baggies. My kiddos really enjoyed matching their vocabulary words with the meaning.

Plus, an activity like this allows me to move around the room and quickly assess their learning. For this 4th grader, I could easily see his mistakes and assist him.

Teaching Fourth Grade Literacy / ELA

To follow up on lesson planning, I want to provide specific teaching ideas on literacy / ELA for new 4th grade teachers.

**The section after this one provides details on math instruction, so skip ahead to that if you don’t teach Language Arts.**

4th Grade students can and WILL fall in love with reading, writing, and grammar!

But there’s a catch.

Your ELA activities need to give students choices and opportunities for hands-on, interactive collaboration.

What in the world does this look like in your day-to-day teaching?

  • Teach your 4th graders how to choose ELA activities wisely with choice boards. Whether you call them learning menus or choice boards, they work wonderfully for helping 4th grade students have autonomy over their ELA learning.

    Some of the ideas I use are: Spelling Tic-Tac-Toe Boards, Choice Boards for Literacy Centers, Homework Menus, and Monthly Book Report options.

literacy center choice boards
Teaching students to be independent and make their own choices is a win-win for them and for you. I use choice boards like THESE to achieve this goal.
  • Use game-based Grammar and Writing activities. Turning your ELA lessons into games provides fun and rigor for 4th graders. They LOVE partner and group games.

    These game-based activities don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming to prep.

    I use ideas like: Banana-o-Grams for spelling games, Bingo for vocabulary practice, Boggle for writing and word work, and “Trash-ket Ball” for a reading review game.

More Easy ELA Teaching Tips for 4th Grade Teachers

In addition to the teaching tips above, you can also:

  • Incorporate Read-to-Self and Read-to-a-Partner time in your Literacy block. In my class we call “Read-to-Self” time D.E.A.R (Drop.Everything.And.Read). My kiddos really like having some “quiet” reading time to help balance all the high-energy games we play.

    For Partner reading, I teach them how to choose partners and books appropriately. Then I use these Book Talk Prompt Cards to help them stay on task while discussing what they are reading with a friend.

4th Graders love working together, but they still need scaffolding and guidance. During our Partner Reading, I help my kiddos stay on task with prompt cards like THESE.
  • Read out loud to your students OFTEN! Many people assume that upper elementary students are too “old” for a teacher to read to them, which is NOT true.

    Your 4th graders are like sponges. They will deeply enjoy read-aloud time with you. I often choose a combination of picture books and chapter books to read with my students.

Again, these tips are general. I go into more specific detail for each one in these posts for you:

Math Games for 4th Graders

Since I only taught 4th Grade ELA & Social Studies, I had to interview my co-teacher for this section.

She’s taught 4th grade math for three years and I see her using lots of the same teaching strategies I use with ELA.

Here are the top things she recommends for a new 4th grade math teacher:

  • Provide visuals with your math instruction. If you have a SmartBoard, Mimio Teach Board, or document camera—be prepared to use it with every single math lesson.

    Your 4th graders need to SEE you work the problem with them in organized steps to help them grasp the concepts. Don’t rely solely on explaining.
  • Be prepared to use lots of manipulatives. Fourth-graders are hands-on learners, especially with math! So help them succeed during math by giving them tools to use for solving problems.

    You can use things like: Fraction tiles and circles, mini-erasers for counting and grouping, individual whiteboards at their desks, and base-ten blocks.

    **I’ve also seen my math co-teacher use beans, money, and linking cubes during her math centers!**
Many students in 4th grade love jokes, funny stories, and solving riddles. Use this to your advantage in math with things like: working math problems to solve the riddle, having a Math-Joke-of-the-Day, and algebraic task cards like THESE. Click the image if you’re interested in how to use critical thinking with 4th grade math.

More Math Ideas When Teaching 4th Grade

  • Make the learning interactive with hands-on math games. This piggy-backs off the need for manipulatives with 4th grade math instruction. Hands-on math games work especially well with small groups of 2-3 students.
  • If you plan on using centers for math time–GREAT! This will give your students a chance to practice with games, which will keep them interested in math.

    Here are some ideas to get you started: Math Bingo, Hopscotch Multiplication, SCOOT games for math review, and Geometry Scavenger Hunts in the classroom.

    I have more ideas for math instruction in this detailed separate post on math centers.

You can even use hands-on math games like these shown in the video for math fact practice. When you sign up using your email, you also get one of these multiplication math games for FREE!

Hands-on multiplication math games like these really help 4th grade learners. Check out more details by clicking HERE.

Fourth Grade Technology Integration

As a new 4th grade teacher, you’ll want to infuse technology into your activities and instruction to keep students engaged.

My kiddos love using technology because it allows them to transform learning digitally and do so many different things.

Not only can it help students create innovate projects, solve problems, and collaborate, but technology helps students make more real-world connections.

But here’s the major caveat: they need LOTS of procedures training and step-by-step instructions to use technology correctly.

Many people assume that if you stick a device in a kid’s hands, they’ll instinctively know how to use it wisely.

Really? I don’t know who started that myth, but it does not apply to most 4th graders.

So be sure to plan your technology integration carefully.

Effective Tech Tools You Can Use

Plickers in the classroom
These cards that resemble QR Codes are called Plickers, which I love using as a 4th grade teacher! Click the image or the link below on ways to use these in your classroom.
  • Plickers: these free web-based tech tools can be used in SO many ways. I have an entire blog post about them here: Ways to Use Plickers in Your Class
  • FREE Literacy Apps: this is a full list of different apps you can use with your technology centers.
  • Self-Grading Activities for Google Classroom: I have been using more and more resources for Google Slides and Forms. So far, my kids love them and I love the self-grading feature because it saves me so much time!
  • Kahoot makes anything you teach very high-energy and fun. Plus, it’s free to use.

Everything Else You Need to Know about Teaching 4th Grade

Pause and breathe.

I’ve shared so much already that it probably seems overwhelming that there’s more to know.

That’s a perfectly normal feeling to have. So I’ll keep the tips in this section short. These are just extra helpful ideas to keep in mind as a new 4th grade teacher:

  • 4th Graders thrive with Project-Based Learning Activities. My math co-teacher and I do project-based assignments every grading period, and our kids LOVE them!

    Just be sure to break large projects into manageable chunks for your kiddos. Every year my kids struggle with organization!

    Not only should you scaffold the due dates, but you should also show your students how to write those dates in a student planner or homework book.
  • Invest in a good heavy-duty electric pencil sharpener. Here’s a full list of suggested ones. You’ll thank me later!
  • Students at this age can be very self-critical and hard on themselves. So when you correct them, be gentle. And they don’t respond well to sarcasm. It’s ok to use humor as you teach, but your teacher tone is very critical with this.

If you feel ready to launch centers in your 4th Grade class, this set of hands-on activities are designed to be engaging and rigorous for 4th graders. Click HERE or the image for more details.

  • Establish a healthy communication with parents. Although 4th graders want and need more independence, they are still in a huge learning curve with this.

    Be consistent with your communication with things like a weekly classroom newsletter, using apps like Remind, and inviting parents to come help as volunteers.

    Do NOT grade every assignment! This will only frustrate you and your kids. Frequent formative assessments help you plan instruction effectively, but that doesn’t mean you have to attach a grade to every single one of them.

F-R-E-E 4th Grade Activities for You

Do you feel like you just drank from a water hose?

Yeah, I know that feeling! There’s so much information to absorb as a new 4th grade teacher.

My TOP piece of advice right now is to break your own learning into manageable chunks as a teacher.

Don’t try to implement everything you see and read at once.

In fact, take these next steps:

  1. Pin or bookmark this post so that you can refer back to it when needed.
  2. Check out the other detailed posts mentioned above for at least ONE area you want to grow in.
  3. Grab these FREE printables for your class!

As an added bonus, please consider sharing this post on your favorite social media channel to help other 4th grade teachers.

Thanks for all you do teacher friend; again, welcome to the 4th Grade Teaching Club!!

The Butterfly Teacher

3 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for all the great tips and resources. After teaching preschool for 18 years, I started in a new district this year. Today, they told me because numbers were low in preschool and high in 4th grade, I would be moving to 4th grade on Tuesday and the students have already started school. I was researching ideas for 4th grade and your link has been a huge help. Thank you so much for sharing!

  2. I am will be new to teaching 4th Grade. What advice would you give to those for the first week of school? How are you opening up this school year (whether it is digitally or traditionally)?

    1. Hi Ana,
      I am currently researching ideas for how to make this new school work for 4th graders and teachers. It’s been a whirlwind with so many options and rapid changes. Please be on the lookout for updates/tips about the first week of school. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.