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Course 2, Chapter 6 - Classroom Management

Module by: Fred Mednick. E-mail the author

Figure 1: Classroom management is a delicate art and science
Brim of Water
Brim of Water (brimofwater.jpg)

Day One

This section is a practical guide to classroom management techniques that can make your job easier.

Here are some simple, yet, effective management techniques to establish on the first day of class:

Attention-Getting Device

Teach your students a hand-clap pattern or some other visual or auditory aid that will let them know that you need silence and eyes on you. Practice it to make sure they know it. Use it frequently n the first day of school and thereafter.

Establish the Importance of Listening

Teach your students the "Say Back" game. It's simple: after you or any student has spoken, ask the class: "Raise your hand if you can now "say back" what I just said (or what student x has just said)". Note what percentage of hands are in the air and simply say to your students, "I notice that approximately 60% of your hands are raised. Our goal during the course of the year is to get 100% "say back" - maybe not every time, but close to it. We're learning how to listen when others are speaking."

This simple "Say Back" tool will increase the students' awaeness of how often they are listening to you or others when you speak and how deeply. It does it in a way that does not put any one person on the spot to have to actually "say back" what was said. It does let the class know that you're all working towards deep listening no matter who is speaking. It also give students the confidence to know that when they speak, their voice will be heard. This is tremendously important for creating an environment in which students can feel safe to share their thoughts.

Establish a Theme for Desired Behavior

Just as we discussed teh value of theme-based learning, there can also be "theme-based" classroom managament. What is meant by this? If you say to the students that in addition to listening to one another, we "Care" for one another then you have established "Care" as a theme or behavioral expectation. When a student is disruptive you can ask them, "Are you showing care for what we're doing?" Or if a student misuses resources (i.e. leaves the cap off of the marker or pens so that the pen dries out, you can ask the student: "Are you showing care for the tools we use in the classroom?" It's a gentle way of "enforcing" what you value in your classroom: care for one another, care for the classroom environment, and care for your resources.

The Rest of the Year

Effective classroom management can be summed up in three words: firm, fair, and friendly . The ramifications are tremendous.

  • Firmness implies strength, organization, resilience, and leadership, rather than rigidity.
  • Fairness implies equal respect for all kinds of learners and learning styles.
  • Friendliness implies a readiness and joy of learning and association with knowledge, engagement with the process, and appreciation of each other.

These three words - firm, fair, friendly - speak volumes and can serve as a mirror to behavior. But what gets in the way? Three other words: fear, flight, and fight. You can recognize them when you see them:

Fear - We are referring to fear of the material, of the teacher, of fellow students. Students express it in various ways; it is up to the teacher to read the signs. A climate of fear can be created - fear of being struck; fear of being embarrassed; fear of being excluded. Our responses are simple: children should never be hit - under any circumstances.

Flight - The students you do not remember, or the ones who cower in fear are the ones that suffer the most in social situations. They know how to hide or leave difficult situations. They are the ones who take it all out on themselves and who are impossible to arouse to learn if they are ignored. The effect of creating a welcoming learning atmosphere for all students, regardless of background, cannot be overestimated.

Fight - Disruptive students intimidate their teachers. They are often attacked themselves, either at home in their community, and this is often all that they know. They withdraw their effort as a way of getting back or taking control. Often, the reaction of the teacher - if it is anger and punishment - makes the situation worse.

Common Behaviors and What You Can Do


Students who are bored will frequently look around the room. The source of their boredom is that the work is too easy or too hard, or it lacks relevance. To help the situation, position yourself where you can see most students. Learn how and why this is taking place; re-envision (or, "revise") the assignment.


For students who are frustrated, often the work is too difficult and others can do it easily. They usually are silent and make no contribution. One thing you can do to help the situation is to move about the work area; create groups of students with different abilities; give praise or support; ask questions you believe struggling students are afraid to ask.

Low Self Esteem

The origin of low self-esteem is many past failures. You'll notice students shut down. To help, ask good questions; support individual students; and spend extra time with students.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) studies the structure of how humans think and experience the world. Obviously, the structure of something so subjective does not lend itself to precise, statistical formulae but instead leads to models of how these things work. From these models, techniques for quickly and effectively changing thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs that limit you have been developed.

Neuro-Linguistics: This article looks at the visual (sight), auditory (hearing), and kinesthetic (sensation and movement) features of learning.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Choosing the Right Words: This article provides tools on how to use neuro-linguistic programming in the service of effective classroom management.

PDF Versions below:


Neuro-Linguistic Programming: Choosing the Right Words

Successful Practices

Successful teachers in classroom management exhibit the following:

  • Create an inclusive classroom in order to prevent unnecessary conflict and reduce physical and emotional violence.
  • Engage in hands-on, experiential activities focused on prevention and intervention.
  • Re-commit to the process and joy of stimulating young minds and building positive long-term relationships with learners.
  • Discover strategies to "create a space for listening" to increase students' sense of belonging and connection.
  • Help students re-evaluate their behaviors in relation to their own goals for creating inclusive classroom communities.
  • Understand the importance of conveying "high expectations."
  • Develop skills for "welcoming" and sending "positive invitations."
  • Develop a model discipline plan appropriate for the age of the students and in sync with educational philosophy.
  • Develop strategies for implementing the model discipline plan.
  • Develop appropriate rules, procedures, and routines for the classroom.

Setting Limits

Limits are the way in which we make classrooms safe and productive. We set limits in order to explain choices and consequences simply, clearly, and calmly.

Why We Do It - To help a person better understand their present circumstances and guide him/her toward constructive behaviors. Limits empower the individual, allow the person to "save face," and help us to avoid physical confrontation. Setting limits is a first step in teaching a person to solve problems.

When We Do It - When an individual is unable to identify choices and consequences for him or herself, but may still be able to understand and utilize information when it is presented.

TIPS for Effective Classroom Management

  1. Acknowledge the person's feelings and point of view.
  2. Ask for cooperation first.
  3. State reasonable and enforceable actions.
  4. Pay attention to behavior spoken or unspoken.
  5. Focus on the positive.
  6. Set up limits within the school's rules and the individual's rights.
  7. Assess whether or not the limits were heard and understood.
  8. Allow time for the person to think and make a decision.
  9. Follow through with consequences.

Required Reading:

Bringing Classroom Rules to Life describes a positive approach to helping children create and live by classroom rules through practice and role-playing. Click on the Word icon below to access Bringing Classroom Rules to Life:

Bringing Classroom Rules to Life

Assignment 6: Your Classroom Management Plan

Assignment 6: Your Classroom Management Plan


One Way

To do this assignment, click on the link in color at the top of the page. When it appears, press "Save" and name the file so that you can work on this assignment "off-line." You can type right on the assignment template. Be sure to save your assignment on a disk or on your computer hard drive.

Another Way

You can also copy the text below, and save it to your disk or computer.

GOAL: To reflect upon your current classroom management plan to inform any modifications you may wish to make for the future.

GIVE: Feedback to others on their assignments at the TWB Learning Cafe.

Assignment 6: Your Classroom Management Plan

Please answer the following questions:

  1. How is your room set up for the best possible student behavior?
  2. How do your students know about limits?
  3. What is your plan for disruptive students?
  4. How do you reduce fear, fight, and flight?
  5. How do you create a sense of firmness, fairness, and friendliness? Give 3 examples.


Usually, you just click "Next" to go to the next page. When you finish a section, however, (as you're about to do when you finish reading these two paragraphs), you need to click on the "Outline" button, which is on the bottom, right-hand side of the page. Look underneath the blue bar and click on the word "Outline."

When you click on "Outline," a screen will come up that will show you the outline for Course 2. Look for the next section to read and click on the first topic in that next section. For example, when you get to the outline now, look under the next section called "Theory Meets Practice" and look for the first topic in black lettering called "Assignment 7: Lesson Planning with Cooperative Learning in Mind." Click on "Assignment 7: Lesson Planning with Cooperative Learning in Mind."

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