Kelley Randall at Mrs. Randall's Learning Library is having a Classroom Management Linky Party!
I keep things as simple as possible. One of the greatest management tips I learned from a colleague is to have the kids line up in "number order." Each child is assigned a number at the beginning of the year (which I use for all sorts of things.) On the first day of school they are lined up #1-23. One the second day 1 moves to the end of the line so they are lined up 2-23 and then #1 is at the back. And so it continues to rotate throughout the year. At the start of the year I call a few numbers at a time, or use greater than/less than statements, but at this point I can simply say "When you are ready to line up perfectly and silently you may do so." And they do! Number Order is slick, quick, and IDEAL for fire drills.
Establishing rules and guidelines Daily 5 style in August is the perfect way to begin the year. I use their tips and tricks in every subject area so expectations are very clear. Daily 5 is MAGIC. It has eliminated the need for any behavior systems. Once in a while a child needs a one-on-one chat, but that is as complicated as it gets.
I do reward my class as a whole for compliments they receive from teachers or other adults in the building. We keep a savings bank on the white board and each compliment is worth a "penny in the pot." I just stuck some magnets on the back of large paper coins. At the beginning of the year they can cash in 10 cents. Then we bump it to 15, then to 20, and so on. They can use their $ as a group to buy extra recess time, an ice cream party, game time, etc.