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© 2008, by Barry Sweeny

The importance of a good start to the school year is well documented, and the role of a solid class management approach is a key to that good start. Beginning the year with a class management plan IN PLACE communicates clear expectations and helps beginning staff to be more consistent in enforcing their behavior standards and that leads to less student misconduct and stronger teacher self-esteem.

1. Be sure that proteges know school-wide expectations for behavior, in class, in halls, at lunch, at recess, or on campus.

2. Develop classroom rules consistent with school rules and which administrators will support.
      - rules need to be realistic and within students' ability and control to accomplish
      - rules must be limited in number, clear, and specifically about observable behaviors

3. Establish routines and procedures to handle daily classroom business such as:
      - use of restrooms (time of day is important here)
      - beginning and ending of class expectations for attendance, noise, seating, dismissal, etc
      - distributing and collecting materials, papers, and equipment
      - setting up and running audio-visual equipment
      - lining up or group movement to assemblies, PE., specials such as music or art, or emergency drills

4. Accompanying the rules should be a set of consequences including rewards & punishments
      - rewards can include praise & encouragement, participation choices, and recognition.
      - punishments require careful planning so they are appropriate, a deterrent, and enforceable. Work with the mentor on these.

5. Review with the protege the pros and cons of punishments, such as:
      - overuse decreases effectiveness
      - punishments can actually reinforce some behaviors (ie. ditched class=suspension?)
      - use punishments that can lead to behavior changes

Help plan the layout of the room to reduce traffic flow problems, keep all areas visible to the teacher and the teacher visible to the students. Make displays, instructions, and clocks visible to all work areas. Plan an area near the teacher for students who need closer supervision, for materials or samples displays, and for collecting papers and projects. Try to anticipate and solve in advance as many conflicts and problems as possible.


As in all other improvement efforts, it is in the implementation stage where the greatest pitfalls are. Problems arise that need diagnosing and solving. Student, subject and grade level idiosyncrasies require adaptations, and the teacher's own strengths are weaknesses come into play. This is the stage where a mentor's help is critical. Of course mentors help with the previous planning steps, but they must be available often, seeking to help, asking questions and coaching their protege to make implementation a success.

Here are a few guiding principles to aid in implementation:

  • Rules need to be written, posted, and enforceable by the teacher.
  • Teach the students the rules and routines. Explain your expectations.
  • Teachers who routinely refer misbehavior to "the office" can also create the impression that the teacher can't handle problems.
  • Try to solve your own problems but ask your mentor, a specialist or the principal for help.
  • Consistency in enforcement is critical. Uneven application (random?) decreases impact and is unfair.
  • New staff often want kids to "like them" but that will often conflict with helping kids to stay focused on learning.