What is Classroom Management & How to Create a Plan for It

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Classroom management is the combination of tools and practices that provide structure and promote positive learning spaces for students. The teacher, or classroom lead, provides instructions and sets expectations for student behavior in order to regulate classroom activities.

Classroom management is the combination of tools and practices that provide structure and promote positive learning spaces for students. The teacher, or classroom lead, provides instructions and sets expectations for student behavior in order to regulate classroom activities. Organized students, active participation in learning and minimal behavior distractions are evidence of effective classroom management.

The goal of a successful management plan is to maintain a safe and fun classroom that can focus on learning. Excellent management practices encourage student agency in the learning environment. For instance, effective managers might allow younger students to practice choice in how they self-regulate or leverage opportunities to choose their own learning adventure while operating within established expectations.

Learn more about Classroom Management best practices

Important Elements of Classroom Management

Below are a few important elements of classroom management to keep in mind as you are creating your management plan.

Accountability

Classroom rules and norms that clearly outline expectations hold students accountable to their behavior. This creates consistent responses to behavior choices and further promotes an environment focused on learning. Students benefit from consistent responses (positive or constructive) that inform their future behavior choices.

Environment

All parts of the classroom contribute to the learning. It is important to create a physical space that is welcoming and reinforces important parts of the intended culture. This includes the placement of the desks, signage and activity spaces.

People

Both students and teachers play an integral role in how the classroom is managed. Teachers are responsible for high-quality, engaging instruction that informs learning outcomes. Teachers model the behaviors that they expect students to follow and students play a critical role in practicing these behaviors as well as providing peer-to-peer accountability.

Time

Classroom management does not happen immediately. It takes time to set up the space and implement routines to provide structure, and students will need reminders. Being patient with how students adjust to the structures is critical. Each day is an opportunity to practice and learn.

These classroom elements are helpful in designing and executing your classroom management plan.

Classroom Management Tips

As a former teacher, I got excited about many classroom management ideas but would find it really difficult to create an action plan for my classroom. Here are a few tips I used to organize my own plans.

Post your classroom norms

Even if it is 1 to 3 simple ideas, this is a great starting point. It will give students some direction and encourage them to think of any additional rules to collectively agree upon.

I started with the following initial rules:

  • Rule #1 Show respect to your classmates.
  • Rule #2 Be responsible for your learning.
  • Rule #3 Think! Ask! Do!

During class time, I shared my list and then students shared their ideas about our class norms. Together we agreed on what each rule meant and would add new rules if we thought something important was missing. We continued to adjust the list until everyone agreed.

Get to know your students

Understanding the different personalities and motivations for your new class is critical to implementing a plan successfully. Connect with the students and ask what motivates them to work hard in school. As you get to know them, be prepared to adjust your plan to best serve your students.

You can use creative ice-breakers and fact sharing activities to learn about your students. Ask students questions about how they solve problems or how they share their emotions. This will give you insight into what norms should be in place to support your learners.

Determine your reinforcements

Be sure to have concrete plans to positively reinforce appropriate behavior and ways to hold students accountable when they do not meet expectations.

Positive reinforcements can vary from class to class. Think about reinforcements that might motivate positive student behavior. For example, stickers, extra privileges and opportunities to lead. As a response to misbehavior, align the constructive response to the action. If a student is not showing respect to others, reiterate the classroom norm. Have the student identify why this is an important rule. Consistent reinforcements are important for students to learn from their behavior.

Set the tone for the classroom

Get excited! Be welcoming! Express your enjoyment of learning with the students. While doing so, be prepared to clearly explain and reiterate your expectations. Students will be excited to learn how they can contribute to a vibrant learning space.

Planning for classroom management is process. As a teacher, I dedicated time to organize the classroom and I even prepared mini-lessons that would reinforce rules and procedures. As you begin to think about your plan, use these tips to organize your thoughts. Take your time, be reflective, write down concrete ideas and plans to execute. Take advantage of the opportunity to get creative in how you introduce norms or positively reinforce the behavior. Use these tips to develop your own plan of action and don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed.

Good luck, with your plans! Classroom management is a practice and it will change from year to year with different students. Take note of the techniques that really work, share with other teachers and build your resources. Building a toolbox of classroom management approaches will be a critical part of your career as a teacher.