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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.


How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started
The Basics of Classroom Management by Charlene Davis

When I think of classroom management basics, I think of core planning. The teacher first needs to answer the following questions: What is my management philosophy, and what foundation will it rest upon? Next, the teacher needs to envision the following: What does my living classroom look like, sound like, feel like, and so on? The well-known Biblical proverb that states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” captures the gist of this piece. The teacher who sees his/her role as a leader establishes the tone of the classroom well before the first day of school. 
“People will never attain what they cannot see themselves doing.”
Karen Ford

Here are some of the questions the teacher-leader probably considers:

  • What will be my welcoming and departing rituals? (Catchy greetings/poetry/singing, etc.) 
  • What is the morning, and dismissal routine?
    1. How will students enter the room?
    2. What is the routine for unpacking?  Will re-entry into coats/bags be allowed?
  • What is the plan for writing utensils (Believe it or not, this is crucial!) 
    1. When and how will pencil sharpening take place, if at all?
    2. How many pencils/pens are required, daily?
  • What is the seating plan? (Group seating is usually the arrangement.)
    1. Will I use a seating chart?
    2. Will I alternate boys and girls, or allow free seating choice?
  • When and how will movement, of any kind, occur?
    1. Of students to the waste basket?  To the bathroom?  To you?
    2. Of materials, books, manipulatives, papers, etc.?
  • When and how will talk take place?  What parameters will be set?
  • How will the incentive plan support the living classroom? (See my article, Achieving Holistic Classroom Management.)
    1. How will you validate students for their accomplishments? (Remember struggling students/reluctant learners/character recognition opportunities.)
    2. What will the tiered consequences be for various situations? (The consequence usually intensifies according to the severity or frequency of the offense.)
    3. At what point will you involve others: guidance, parents, and administrators?
  • What will be your teaching tone vs. your disciplinary tone?
    1. What kinds of non-verbal cues will you use to address the issues at hand? (Some examples are signals, gestures, facial expressions, physical proximity.)

Please feel free to add to this list of questions and to share them with me!  It may be very helpful to you to use them in discussions with your buddy teacher, coach, or someone whose classroom management practices you admire.  I have found that when students sense that a teacher is offering firm structure, wrapped in an empathic, caring mode of delivery, it becomes their mission to become your partner in the process! 

I close with the following quote which I believe captures the gist of the challenge of classroom management:

“Don’t ever be too impressed with goal setting.  Be impressed with goal getting.” 
--John C. Maxwell

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me.

See also: Setting Up Rules and Routines by Carolyn Hornik and Bonnie Glasgold.

 

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