Best Practices for Creating a Classroom Management PlanBy Huntington Learning Center
Your ability to establish and maintain a productive, structured classroom learning environment is critical for your student’s learning. How can you create a classroom management plan that allows you to do your job effectively? Here are several tips:
- Lay the ground rules. An effective classroom management plan should set clear rules and expectations for appropriate, respectful behavior. You can create these rules yourself or involve your students in the process too. Be sure to include consequences for not meeting expectations—and hold to them.
- Establish routines. Most students do their best when they know what to expect, and giving a loose daily schedule is helpful for this. How specific your routines are depends on the grade you teach, but here are a few examples of routines that are adaptable for any grade:
- Entering-the-classroom routine. Set the tone for productivity by having students complete the same tasks within the first few minutes of walking in the door. For elementary teachers, that might include hanging up backpacks, getting out take-home folders, turning in homework to a specified bin, sitting at desks, reading the message on the board and following its instructions. Middle and high school teachers can take a similar approach, having students put their phones away when the bell rings and get out their pencils/notebooks, laptops, or other materials they need for the day’s lesson or activity.
- Transition routines. Routines that help students move from one activity, lesson or place to another reduce disruptions and behavior problems. They also save time by keeping students in “school mode” and focused on learning. Create attention signals for different transitions and set expectations for what students must do for each (and how much time to take). For example, you could play three minutes of music to tell students that it is time to clean up and get ready for lunch. Transitions work best when you give students advance notice (Students, in five minutes, we’ll start to clean up and get lined up for lunch). A visual aid like a schedule posted on the wall helps keep students on track.
- Ending-the-day/class routine. Minimize chaos with procedures that help both you and your students stay organized, whether students are headed to their next classes or home for the day. Allow a few minutes at the end of class for students to tidy up their desks and other classroom workspaces (or put things in their backpacks) and write down the day’s homework assignment in their planners. Job charts are a great way to keep your classroom tidy while building students’ sense of responsibility.
- Focus on keeping students engaged. Students may lose focus due to a multitude of reasons such as encountering a variety of teaching styles or being overwhelmed academically. Students may also find it difficult to shift their focus from subject to subject when they move between classes daily. So, student engagement is important at every age and helps keep a classroom running smoothly. However, it can be especially hard to keep students engaged as they move into middle and high school. Don’t stop trying, though, because creating an inspiring learning environment will greatly enhance your classroom management efforts. Get to know your students and their needs early in the school year and connect what you teach with their own experiences whenever possible. Encourage students to work together and learn from each other.
- Encourage teamwork and make respect non-negotiable. Rules and routines are a must to minimize chaos in the classroom, but developing a culture of respect among your students can go a long way toward making your classroom a comfortable, safe place for learning. On a daily basis, find ways to bring students together to collaborate and problem-solve. This teaches them valuable life skills like communication and keeps students focused when they are in your classroom.
- Let your passion show. Ask any student what their favorite teachers do well and you’re likely to get an answer that mentions their enthusiasm and excitement for both their subject and their craft (teaching). So, try to give your students your best every day. When designing lesson plans, build energizing activities into them whenever possible to bring concepts to life. Welcome questions and encourage conversation. Keep things positive. Make learning fun!
Whether you teach elementary school, middle school or high school, you know that good classroom management is important. It creates a positive classroom environment built on trust and respectful relationships between you and your students (and amongst the students). Of course, your primary goal is to facilitate your students’ learning. You’ll be much more successful at this if you create a well-managed learning environment.