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February 3, 2012

Mastering Classroom Management

Written By: Brandi Jordan
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Mastering Classroom Management

As every teacher knows, how you handle classroom management can make or break a school year.  Poor classroom management leads to disorganization, stress, and behavioral issues.  Great classroom management can lead to a fun-filled, organized year that runs smoothly from start to finish.  So, how do you establish a well-run classroom at the beginning or middle of the year?  Consistency is what it is all about.

The Truth About Classroom Management

Let us be clear about what classroom management is and is not.  Classroom management is not having a reward treasure chest at the end of the week for good behavior.  Classroom management is establishing rules.  Classroom management is not  collecting papers from students’ desks.  Classroom management is establishing a system for paper management.  Classroom management is not trying every new technique that comes across your path.  Classroom management is being consistent in rules and routines.  In other words, classroom management is about effectively managing the systems of the classroom and instruction.

What are those systems that need management then?  Surely behavior is part of it, but it is far from being the entire piece.  Rules and procedures, time management, material management, classroom set-up and layout, and properly managing instruction also come into play.  Think of it this way – as a teacher you are responsible for getting everyone where they need to be, when they need to be there, doing what they need to do, while keeping track of what they have done, how they have done it, and facilitating learning to meet their needs.  And people think that teachers do not deserve summers off.

It’s All About Procedures

Establishing the necessary procedures and rules from the very first moments of the very first day of school is essential for making sure that the year runs smoothly.  Being firm, consistent, and praising students who follow the procedures and rules is vital.  If you are coming in to a classroom mid-year or need to revamp your current rules and regulations, because they are not working, be prepared for a tougher road, but one that will eventually lead to a well-run classroom.

Having a procedure for everything from morning attendance to lunch count to learning center completion is imperative.  Think about what you want students to do on their own, what habits you want them to establish when they enter and leave the classroom, and the behaviors you want to see take place during transition and learning times.  The systems that you set-up must reinforce those goals.  For example, if you want students to immediately settle into their desks and complete a quiet activity when they enter the classroom in the morning, having a bunch of activities that requires them to move around the room to drop off papers, record lunch choices, or do their classroom jobs is not going to get you the results that you want.  A quiet morning routine might begin with journal writing until morning announcements or until you call each child up individually to turn in homework and then complete their attendance count and lunch choices.  Every action has a reaction, so think about what will happen when students complete the tasks you have assigned.

Classroom Set-Up

The way that you set-up your classroom is also going to play a huge part in how smoothly your classroom runs.  An overcrowded classroom with a lot of visual distractions is going to make it more difficult for students to focus and get from place to place efficiently.  If one area of the room is a constant source of disruption, maybe because of where it is located or what is around it, change it to function as a different space.  Do not be afraid to change what does not work to create a classroom that does work.  It is also important to note that the needs of students will change from year to year and your classroom management systems may need to accommodate those changes.

Get your systems in place.  Take the time to find out what works and what does not work for your students.  Be consistent.  Set rules and regulations as a class and then stick to them.  Children watch your every move and if you let even one rule slide for one student, the next day more students will be testing the limits too.  Come up with a classroom schedule that allows for maximum instruction time and easy transitions.  Classroom management is multi-tasking at its best and requires a commitment to excellence.  Any teacher can have a classroom, but only the best teachers have classrooms that work.

Mastering Classroom Management - ReallyGoodTeachers.com
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  • Leah Demain
    May 11, 2012

    Having a procedure for everything, literally EVERYTHING!!! So crucial

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  • Rosanna
    March 25, 2012

    I agree with you Ashley Redanz! People do not realize that sometimes. I’m a second year teachers and I know that it won’t instantly happen. But I do see some other teachers that try to establish new rules or routines and after a week, stop the routine because “the kids didn’t get it.” I love my classroom management, because I am not required to walk around and collect papers, to constantly reinforce behavior or pass out materials. The students are in groups of four or three and EACH student has a captian job. This prevents one from saying “I want to do something…” I have the team captain who is responsible for collecting papers, and passing papers to students in their group. I have a quiet captain, who has a ruler next to his/her desk and reminds students to remain on task and remember the 6 in. rule. I have matierals captain, who passes out scissors, pencils or anything the students need. The last student is textbook captain, who is responsible for passing out and collecting textbooks or consumables for their group. These are all important roles and my students take them very seriously.

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  • chequetta
    March 12, 2012

    I begin classroom management by looking at my notes from the previous year. I read about what worked and what did not. I’m never afraid to make changes throughout the year. I also try to rehearse how the students will carryout their routines.Focus on gaining respect from your students early on by treating them with respect.

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  • Amy
    March 12, 2012

    It takes good structure and consistency!

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  • Stacey
    March 12, 2012

    I wished my schedule was something within my control, but it is set by the district. I always try to be consistent, but I feel out numbered!

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  • Bobbi VanWormer
    March 12, 2012

    Completely agree! And revisiting routines in new ways helps a lot throughout the year. We are currently using ToonDoo to create comic strips about our routines to post around the room. The students love it.

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  • Cheryl Deutschman
    March 12, 2012

    True, classroom management involves more than behavior management, but doesn’t good behavior make other aspects of the school a better place? My school incorporate PBIS three years ago and it has made all our lives easier. All teachers publish, teach, and adhere to the same set of expectations. The next year it took less time because so many students returned and knew the “rules.” You heard a lot of things like, “We don’t act like that at our school!” to new students. This year, it was even easier. With behavior in place earlier in the year, other management systems were easier to incorporate, hone, and manage It was and is a wonderful, non-stressful experience. The website for this program is http://www.pbis.org. Another website I am looking into is http://www.theleaderinme.org/. I like the theme of this program – creating leaders in all children, very empowering. Nice.

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  • Melissa
    March 12, 2012

    Practice, practice, practice. Taking the time in the first fe weeks to practice the procedures is key!

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  • Brittney
    March 11, 2012

    As a first year teacher I have learned so much on classroom management and its importance! I set the tone from day one and continue to model my expectations in and out of the classroom! 🙂

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  • Ashley Redanz
    March 11, 2012

    I always remind myself…it takes 21 days for something to become a routine. Keep this in mind as kids will need to practice a lot before it comes second nature.
    good luck!

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  • debbie
    March 11, 2012

    It is so reassuring and validating to read the message contained in this post! As a kindergarten teacher for 25 years, I have always been a firm believer in the importance of routines, clear boundaries, and clear consistent rules. I spend the first two months of the year introducing, practicing, reinforcing, until it all becomes second nature. I model the behavior I want to see and treat my students with the respect I want them to show me. The pay off is this is a “community” of children that feel safe, valued, and important, love to learn, and truly care about each other in a way that you sometimes don’t see in other classrooms. When children feel good about themselves from within and are on board with the “social” curriculum, their minds are then free to soar with the academic curriculum.

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  • Maribel Rivera
    March 11, 2012

    Consistency is key to classroom management. Something I find helpful is having a job for each student and letting them choose and change jobs monthly. Teaches them responsibility, helps them feel important and you get some helping hands.

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  • Julie Phillips
    March 11, 2012

    Classroom management is vital to a successful school year. I am known for my organization and well-behaved students (most of the time). I learned years ago that you must remain consistent. I learned that I am not there to be their buddy. I love my students very much, but I am the teacher. I use Really Good Stuff items in my classroom every day. My students love their book boxes I purchased last year. Those really help desks stay neat and keep my classroom library books in better shape.

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  • Mardi
    March 11, 2012

    Just as so many others have said, consistency is key! I also teach fourth grade and find that a lot of practice at the beginning of the year pays off at the end. Students repeat expectations to others verbally and we role play situations. If something breaks down along the way, we stop, review, practice and even talk about “non-examples”. All in all, time invested at the beginning of the year pays dividends throughout the rest of the year.

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  • Kerri
    March 11, 2012

    Love this!! Being the PBIS coach I am going to share this with my staff ASAP.

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  • Heather Dennis
    March 11, 2012

    Classroom management takes lots of practice & patience at the begining of the year with revisiting all aspects throughout the year!!

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  • Amy S
    March 11, 2012

    Great comments and tips. I start planning my routines and procedures in August. I try to visualize myself as a student walking through the procedures and steps that I am requesting. I try to keep the routines all year so I’m not changing it up on students and then I revamp for the next year.

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  • Sandra
    March 11, 2012

    Classroom management requires repetition!! All year I repeat rules and procedures, but my students all know what to do!! The best management helper I have is for when students are absent, I have file folders with the days of the week, all homework and handouts go into the folder. When a student comes back from being absent, he or she can be responsible for getting anything that was missed.

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  • Laurie Weil
    March 11, 2012

    Classroom management is my greatest tool and my biggest challenge. I have a self-contained classroom with a revolving door, so students are always coming and going. There is rarely one solid block of time to work and most students are on various levels. I find that structure is my friend and an absolute necessity. It doesn’t always prevent outbursts, but it helps. I could wish for another ta or a quiet room but those things aren’t going to happen so I need to be consistent, fair, and proactive. The class will also take cues from me – If I stay calm, then things tend to go smoother.

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  • grace gRant
    March 11, 2012

    I’ve always said my Kindergarteners would come to my house and vacuum each day if I trained them at the beginning of the year to do so! Practice and routines have helped my classroom in so many ways!

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  • Monica Brock
    March 11, 2012

    Great tips! Always up for some new classroom management ideas!!

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  • Lee Weber
    March 11, 2012

    Our school has been Responsive Classroom for many years and it makes a world of difference! It involves the class and makes for a great classroom community!

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  • Libby Springer
    March 11, 2012

    Consistency and clarity of routines is key! I teach 4th grade and we practice, practice, practice every day!

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  • Jeanne McLamb
    March 11, 2012

    I also believe that you must start at the beginning and stay consistent. One thing that works for me in the hallway is walking about 2/3 the way down the line. I can keep my eye on the front of the line and I’m close enough in proximity to the back they behave as well,

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  • Caryl VF
    March 11, 2012

    I believe that good classroom management begins with the community of learners. In my class, we establish community rules, routines and procedures from day one that are important to all learners in the classroom. We brainstorm what it means to demonstrate good character, how we like being treated and how to treat others. Once in place, our community rules guide my students throughout the entire school year to be the best they can be!

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  • Jesica
    March 11, 2012

    The thing I struggle with year after year is the first part of the day. Our kids start coming in at 7:30 and school doesn’t start until 7:50. They can come in any time during that window. I like to start off with morning work but some don’t come until right at 7:50. I like to go over the morning work but I find myself waiting on the latecomers while those who came at 7;30 have been finished for a long time. Right now, I have them reading but I feel like I should be utilizing that time and not “wasting” time waiting for the others to finish up.

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  • Michelle Ramey
    March 11, 2012

    Having a consistent schedule, routine and management style has saved me tons of hours! Yes, it takes a lot of time the first weeks of school and it also needs reminders through out the year but the systems do work.

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  • Scottdsl
    March 11, 2012

    I am have only been teaching for a few years and am always searching for a way to make my students successful and my classroom as positive as possible. This article was helpful in getting me refocused.

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  • Erin C.
    February 27, 2012

    Some great tips here! Classroom management has always been something I struggle with.

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  • Connie Copenhaver
    February 19, 2012

    Responsive Classroom Rocks for those of you searching for methodolgies that help you create a safe and joyful classroom. The classroom that challenges academically and yet has joyfulness is one that begins with routines, procedures, and high expectations consistency and fair-play by all.

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  • Julie P.
    February 19, 2012

    A well organized classroom is key. Depending on the class of students, come January, I have to make sure I go over the rules and reinforce everything. It may be tiring at times, but it saves my sanity!

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  • april
    February 9, 2012

    consistent routines and organization can make or break a classroom teacher! a little uploading to our students in the beginning , pays off in the end – makes everyone’s life much easier and nicer!

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  • sofia
    February 5, 2012

    Classroom management for me starts at the beginning and stays consistant to the end of the year. I have only had to change something if it just clearly isn’t working. It is hard no to try a new technique when it comes around, but I make a note and try something new the start of the following year. I have to say one more thing. classroom manangement can also be thrown off a bit when you keep getting new students regularly..some come and others go seems to be the motto this year.

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