MAT Blog

4 Classroom Management Tips to Hang Your Hat On

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Oct 6, 2012 6:00:00 AM

Classroom ManagementAlmost every social interaction we have in life involves a consensus on what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior. It’s easy to forget, but social etiquette is complicated business; we’re not just born knowing that it’s weird to face the opposite direction of everyone else in an elevator, or that you shouldn’t chew with your mouth open, or that you can’t stare at someone without making them uncomfortable or angry.  

A good many social behaviors have been learned through years of trial and error, instruction and modeling. We need to remember that many of our students—especially younger students—are still sorting out how to contextualize behavior. We also need to set the example for them with clear expectations and routine classroom management procedures. Here are a few classroom management tips you might try:

4 Classroom Management Tips to Hang Your Hat On

General, run-of-the-mill expectations for behavior
As a foundation, teachers may want to set ground rules for

  • Politeness/helpfulness  (rule: help at least one student with something every day)
  • Respecting others’ property (rule: treat others’ property as if it belonged to you)
  • Interrupting the teacher or other students (rule: listen to others while they are speaking and think before you speak)
  • Hitting, pushing (rule: keep your hands to yourself)

Although it’s best to implement this the first week of school it’s never too late to implement best practices. First, write each rule on the board, divide students into groups of three or four and assign each group a rule. Then give them a poster board, magazines, sharpies and glue. Ask them to decorate their poster board with pictures and drawings that relate to each rule. Once your students have finished, come together as a class and have each group present their classroom management poster. 

Beginning and ending each class/school day the right way
Bookending your day with a well-oiled set of procedures is critical for classroom management. The way you start sets the tone for the rest of the day; the way you end often carries over into the next day. Here are some procedures you might consider using at the beginning and end of your day:

  • Start with a set of social activities: Perhaps you take attendance and then spend the next five minutes discussing a funny story you read or a current event. Or maybe you could talk about an historical event that happened on that day in the year ______.

  • Start by having your students reflect on a specific activity or discussion you had the day before. Ask them if it was successful? Why or why not? What did they learn? What would they do differently next time?

  • End the day ten minutes before dismissal and have your students come together in a designated area. Choose an activity that encourages celebration and reflection. This could come in the form of a collaborative game, a song, a dance or you could simply ask your students questions about the day or what they plan on doing this weekend. Something to keep in mind is that each student should participate and say at least one thing.

Use consequences—not punishment
Although there are occasions where discipline is necessary and appropriate, creating a classroom where discipline problems do not become an issue is (obviously) the goal. The difference between consequence and punishment may seem implicit, but nothing could be further from the truth.



Don’t come as a surprise because they are known ahead of time

Are often determined as the situation occurs and may come as a surprise to students

Are fair and reasonable

Are excessive

Coincide with a specific behavior

Do not relate to the specific behavior

Are developed and understood by students and teachers

Are decided solely by the teacher

Are imposed without emotion

Are imposed with anger


How to facilitate group work
Having students work together in groups not only teaches them how to collaborate and develop interpersonal relationships, it also gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their learning experience. There are tremendous benefits from having students work with one another, but if they are not given rules and procedures, these activities can quickly go off the rails. Here are some suggestions for facilitating a positive group activity:

  • Although you may allow students to choose their groups on special occasions, you know from interacting and assessing their work who should be paired with whom. If you are doing a peer-review activity, for example, you wouldn’t want to pair one strong writer with three struggling writers. Although the struggling writers would benefit from having a talented writer critique their work, the strong writer may be discouraged (not to mention bored) by the fact that s/he is giving out helpful feedback without having it reciprocated.

  • Depending on the activity, you’ll want to appoint a “secretary.” S/he will be responsible for documenting the group’s answers and conclusions during an activity. In addition to this, you’ll want to appoint a “presenter” for each group; this student will have to work closely with the secretary so that there’s no confusion over handwriting or wording once the class comes back together and each group presents its conclusions.

  • To ensure that your students stay on track, make sure that you travel from group to group. If they seem to be oversimplifying the activity, play devil’s advocate and ask Socratic questions to help them look at the problem or activity in a different way. 
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Tags: classroom management, classroom procedures, behavior, Classroom Strategies, classroom rules

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