Classroom Management Details

Classroom Management


To develop a thorough management plan, there are six steps to take:

  1. Understand the basic principles of behavior modification and your role in that process.
    1. Behavior is learned
    2. If you want to change a behavior, you must understand what is prompting the behavior, what is sustaining that behavior, and what might discourage the behavior in the future.
    3. Any behavior that occurs repeatedly is serving some function for the individual exhibiting the behavior.
    4. Some students like the parental approval, good grades, teacher attention, sense of pride and accomplishment, etc.
    5. Other students may enjoy the increased attention from adults in a negative way, gaining a sense of power when the teacher argues, looking powerful in front of peers, etc.
    6. Think about what is causing the behavior to be sustained.  Remember, student behavior can be changed.
  2. Understand motivation and the variables that can be manipulated to increase it.
    1. Behavior that is repeated is motivational.
    2. Behavior does not reoccur if there is no motivation.
    3. A student that does nothing in class is more motivated to do nothing that to complete the work for your class.
    4. People are motivated by intrinsic factors (reading for the joy of curling up with a book) and extrinsic factors (the compliments you get from having a broad range of knowledge from extensive reading).
    5. There is also a relationship between the motivation to do the task and the proficiency at that task.  A student that has been academically successful may be more motivated in a tough course than a student that has been an academic failure in the past.
    6. (Expectancy)(Value) = Motivation     If either the expected outcome or the value of the task is at zero, there is no motivation to perform the task.
    7. The value would be the rewards that are attached to completing the task, extrinsic or intrinsic.  These are based on what the student perceives as being true, not what you think as the teacher.
    8. The expectancy is something that is easier for teachers to control.  If the student doesn’t feel the task is “doable”, you can break it up into “doable” bits and allow the student to have a feeling of success.  This will increase the level of expectancy and increase the motivation to continue working.
    9. Show an interest in the student’s work.  Go around as the students are working and make positive comments where you can.
    10. Invite students to ask for assistance.  Ask how they are doing as they work, and ask if there is anything you can help them with.
    11. Make a special effort to greet or talk to any student with whom you’ve had a recent interaction regarding misbehavior.  This lets them know that you are not holding a grudge.  It also lets them know you are ready for a fresh start.
  3. Understand the importance of maintaining high expectations for students’ academic and behavioral performance.
    1. Low expectations predict low achievement.
    2. Be sure to convey high expectations and the students are MORE likely to succeed.
    3. This isn’t to say that a student that misbehaves should be expected to never misbehave, rather, think about teaching the child to behave appropriately, and over time, become better at controlling their behavior.
    4. If you have thoughts, or have voiced, low expectations of your students, that is the first thing to stop.  You must believe they can succeed before expecting them to do so. 
    5. Seriously evaluate your thoughts and actions regarding the students.  Although you don’t have to personally enjoy every student, you do have to maintain a high expectation for each student’s success while you’re teaching.
    6. Here are some steps that might help:

                                                              i.      Take care of yourself.

                                                            ii.      Maintain a positive and realistic vision of student success.

                                                          iii.      Be reflective about your plan.

                                                          iv.      Don’t take it personally.

                                                            v.      Make an effort to interact positively with every student.

                                                          vi.      Consult with colleagues.

  1. Understand the importance of building personal relationships with students.
    1. You will drastically increase the probability of having cooperative and motivated students if they perceive that you both like and respect them.
    2. In a national study, it was found that making connections with students is more important than classroom size, rules, or other structural considerations.  Students that have teachers that they make a connection with are also less likely to use illegal substances, engage in violence, or initiate sexual activity.
    3. Just say, “Good Morning, Tamisha”…even if they don’t reply, they heard you and you validated them being there.  Instead of, “Where were you yesterday?” try saying, “We missed you yesterday!” 
    4. This is not to say that you are to be their friend.  However, setting clear expectations and showing them you value them as a person will be enough to build a relationship.
  2. Develop and Implement Guidelines for Success.
    1. These are different from classroom rules and should be used in a positive way in class.
    2. Examples:

                                                              i.      Be responsible.

                                                            ii.      Always try.

                                                          iii.      Do your best.

                                                          iv.      Cooperate with others.

                                                            v.      Treat everyone with respect (including yourself).

  1. Adjust the structure of your management plan based on the needs of your students.
    1. Determine the structure you use based on the students you have.  If your students are mature, a less structured environment may be ok.  If the students are immature, more structure may be needed.

Other strategies that might be helpful:

  • Schedule independent work and cooperative group work so that they immediately follow teacher-directed tasks.  This keeps the momentum going from the teacher directed portion of the class.  On task behavior is lower in classes that start with an independent or group project.
  • The last hour of the day should be broken up as much as possible.  The students are tired and so are you.  If you have 1st period working on 30 minutes of independent work, break that up into two 15 minute blocks for 7th period class.  Same amount of time, just broken up to allow students to focus on the task.
  • The last five minutes of class…try to end each class with a few minutes of teacher-directed instruction.  If you allow them to work independently until the bell, many of them will waste time until the end of class.
  • Work on an attention signal.  It may sound elementary, but whatever you are using to get the attention of the class is YOUR attention signal.  If it works consistently, great.  If you use something different each time, try to find one that works the best and stick with it.  Reinforce behaviors you want to see, for example, “Attention please, thank you Ashley, thank you Robert…etc”.
  • Just as students are expected to be on time turning in their work, you must be timely with grading it and returning it to them.  Try to return simple items the next day.  This will give students feedback while the task is still fresh in their minds.
  • Rules and Consequences:
    • Identify three to six classroom rules that will be used as a basis for providing positive and negative feedback.
      • Come to class everyday that you are not seriously ill.
      • Arrive on time, with pencil, paper, and notebook.
      • Keep hands, feet, and objects to yourself.
      • Follow directions the first time they are given.
      • Stay on task during all work times.
    • Rules should be stated positively.
    • Develop a plan for correcting early-stage misbehaviors
      • Use proximity
      • Give a gentle verbal reprimand
        • They are short.  They cause a brief interruption in the lesson.
        • They are given when you are near the student, not from across the room.
        • Their tone and content are respectful.
        • They state the expected behavior, rather than an accusation of the student.
        • They should be given in a way that creates the impression of privacy.
      • Have a discussion with the student, preferably at a neutral time.  While the class is working on an assignment, etc.  Waiting gives you and the student time to cool off and decreases the probability that someone will become defensive.  Also, by waiting, the student doesn’t get the immediate attention they may be seeking.
      • Family contact.
    • Be sure that your interactions with the student do not deteriorate into an argument.  Tell the students at the beginning that if they feel you are being unfair, they can make an appointment to come speak to you.  When you correct a behavior in class, don’t be pulled into giving an explanation of why you acted in a certain way or what your reasoning is.  That transfers the power to them.
    • You can use “time-owed” if a student is taking time away from class.  Make them stay in your class for a given period of time.  As a rule, have them do nothing.  You may want to use this time to discuss their actions.  Be cautious, some students will see the extra time with you as a reward and will continue with the behavior.
  • All of this information, and more, can be found in Discipline in the Secondary Classroom by Randall Sprick, PhD.