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Classroom Management Guide

The Critical Role of Classroom Management

Teachers play various roles in a typical classroom, but surely one of the most important is that of classroom manager. Effective teaching and learning cannot take place in a poorly managed classroom. Effective teachers appear to be effective with students of all achievement levels regardless of the levels of heterogeneity in their classes. If the teacher is ineffective, students under that teacher’s tutelage, will achieve inadequate progress academically, regardless of how similar or different they are regarding their academic achievement. Current research indicates that students in classes of teachers classified as most effective can be expected to gain about 52 percentile points in their achievement over a year’s time. Students in classes of teachers classified as least effective can be expected to gain only about 14 percentile points over a year’s time. This comparison is even more dramatic when one realizes that some researchers have estimated that students will exhibit a gain in learning of about 6 percentile points simply from maturation-from growing one year older and gleaning new knowledge and information through everyday life (see Hattie, 1992; Cahen & Davis, 1987).

The effective teacher performs many functions that can be organized into three major roles: (1) making wise choices about the most effective instruction strategies to employ, (2) designing classroom curriculum to facilitate student learning, and (3) making effective use of classroom management techniques (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2001). Therefore, effective teachers have a wide array of instructional strategies at their disposal, are skilled at identifying and articulating the proper sequence and pacing of their content, are skilled in classroom management techniques.

In summary, the research over the past 30 years indicates that classroom management is one of the critical ingredients of effective teaching. The research resulted in two books on classroom management; one elementary level and one for the secondary level. The books, Classroom Management for the Elementary Teachers and Classroom Management for the Secondary Teacher by Carolyn Evertson, Edmund Emmer and Murray Worsham are considered the primary resources for the application of the research on classroom management to K-12 education (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock).

The following information was taken directly from the book, Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers by Carolyn Evertson, Edmund Emmer and Murray Worsham (2006), considered by many as the to be the primary resource for the application of the research on classroom management.

  • Organizing your Classroom and Supplies

    Organizing your Classroom and Supplies

    Arranging the physical setting for teaching is a logical starting point for classroom management because it is a task that all teachers face before school begins. Many teachers find it easier to plan other aspects of classroom management once they know how the physical features of the classroom will be organized.

    Four Keys to Good Room Arrangement

    1. Keep high-traffic areas free of congestion.
    2. Be sure students can be seen easily by the teacher.
    3. Keep frequently used teaching materials and student supplies readily accessible.
    4. Be certain students can easily see whole-class presentations and displays.
    5. Arrangement of Student desks-Arrange desks so students are facing and can readily see the primary whole-group instructional area.
    6. Small-Group Instruction Areas-Arrange this area so you can monitor the rest of the class from your seated teaching position.

    Checklist Room Preparation

    Floor Space
    • Student desks/tables
    • Small-group area
    • Computer Workstations
    • Teacher’s desk and equipment
    • Bookcases
    • Centers
    • Pets and plants area
    • Traffic patterns
    • Classroom library
    Storage Space and Supplies
    • Textbooks and trade books
    • Student Work
    • Portfolio Files
    • Frequently used instructional material
    • Teacher’s supplies
    • Classroom supplies
    • Student belongings
    • Equipment
    • Seasonal or infrequently used items
  • Establishing Classroom Norms and Expectations

    Establishing Classroom Norms and Expectations

    For students to have a successful year in your classroom, they must understand and practice the behaviors you expect of them. Because you will want appropriate and cooperative behavior to become the norm in your classroom, think about how your students will know of these expectations and begin to adopt them.

    • What Is an Effectively Managed Classroom-An effectively managed classroom is one that runs smoothly, with minimal confusion and downtime, and maximizes opportunities for student learning.
    • Goals are target aspirations not necessarily attained every day. However, long- term goals determine our daily actions.
    • Expectations are desired behaviors or outcomes. An effective teacher makes her expectations known to the students and consistently teaches and reinforces the expected behaviors.
    • Rules and procedures refer to stated expectations regarding behavior. A rule identifies general expectations or standards of behavior. A procedure also communicates expectations for behavior. They are usually applied in a specific activity, and they are directed at accomplishing something rather than prohibiting a behavior.
    • Effective teachers generally involve students in the democratic process of determining classroom rules, but generally the rules entail respect and courtesy toward all people, be prompt and prepared, listen quietly while others are speaking, and obey all school rules.
    Checklist Norms, Expectations, Rules, and Procedures
    • What are my short and long term goals for myself this year?
    • What are my short and long term goals for my students this year?
    Room Use

    How will I establish basic procedures in the following areas?

    • Teacher’s desk and storage areas
    • Student desks and storage areas
    • Storage for common materials
    • Drinking fountains, sink, pencil sharpener
    • Rest rooms
    • Centers or equipment areas
    • Board
    Individual Work and Teacher-Led Activities
    • Attention during presentations
    • Participation Talk among students
    • Obtaining help
    • When individual work has been completed
    Transition Into and Out of the Classroom
    • Beginning the school day
    • Leaving the room
    • Returning to the room
    • Ending the day
    Procedures for Small-Group Instruction
    • Getting the class ready
    • Student movement
    • Expected behavior in the group
    • Expected behavior of students out of group
    • Materials and supplies
    Procedures for Cooperative Group Activities
    • Roles of group members
    • Expected behaviors
    • Interaction to include every member
    • Interaction to move toward instructional goals
    General Procedures
    • Distributing materials
    • Classroom helpers (students)
    • Interruptions or delays
    • Restrooms
    • Library, resource room, school office
    • Cafeteria
    • Playground
    • Fire and disaster drills
    • Classroom helpers (parents, aide, etc.)
  • Fostering Student Accountability

    Fostering Student Accountability

    Additional procedures are needed to encourage students to complete assignments and to engage in other learning activities. Ultimately, the goal of any accountability system is to help students develop into independent learners; thus, your procedures should give as much responsibility as possible to the students themselves, rather than having the student depend on either you or their parents to see that assignments are completed.

    • Clear Communication of Assignments and Work Requirements
    • Monitoring Progress on and Completion of Assignments
    • Feedback to Students

    Checklist Accountability Procedures

    Communicating Assignments and Work Requirements
    • Where and how will you post assignments?
    • What will be your standards for form and neatness?
    • How will absent students know what assignments to make up?
    • What will be the consequences of late or incomplete work?
    Monitoring Progress on Completion of Assignments
    • What procedures will you use to monitor work in progress?
    • When and how will you monitor projects or longer assignments?
    • How will you determine whether students are completing assignments?
    • How will you collect completed assignments?
    • What records of student work will you retain?
    • How will you encourage students to monitor themselves?
    • What are your school’s grading policies and procedures
    • What kinds of feedback will you provide, and when?
    • How will you encourage students to reflect on their own progress?
    • What will you do when a student stops doing assignments?
    • What procedures will you follow to send materials home to parents?
    • Where will you display student work?
    • What records, if any, of their own work will the students maintain?
    • Will students keep portfolios? If so, how will entries be selected, and how will students reflect on them?
    • How will you handle grading disputes?
  • Getting Off to a Good Start

    Getting Off to a Good Start

    The beginning of the school year is an important time for classroom management because your student will learn attitudes, behavior, and work habits that will affect the rest of the year. It is the first few weeks of school that students learn the behaviors expected of them and how to accomplish school tasks successfully.

    Creating a Positive Climate in Your Classroom

    Effective teachers create a positive learning environment through actions and deeds. The foundation of a positive climate is positive interaction between the teacher and students and among students. A positive environment encourages students to be excited about their school experience and about learning.

    1. Speak courteously and calmly-Say “please”, “thank you” and “excuse me” for courtesies to become expected. A calm voice indicates acceptance and self-control.
    2. Share information-Learn names as soon as possible and engage in activities that help students learn more about each other. Speak personally with students and get to know them as individuals.
    3. Use positive statements as often as possible. Accentuate the positive-Not only do negative comments cause a student to feel negative; they also tend to create a negative environment that affects everyone.
    4. Establish a feeling of community. Teach students to work cooperatively and give them regular opportunities to learn in structured cooperative activities. Conduct class meetings on a regular basis for class-building, problem-solving, and content-related discussions. 

    Teaching Rules and Procedures

    One of the surest ways to communicate your expectation for student behavior is through a planned system of teaching classroom rules and procedures. The term 'teach' is purposely used because you will not communicate your expectations adequately if you only tell students about rules and procedures. Three important aspects include:

    1. Describing and demonstrating the desired behavior-Use words and actions to convey what behavior is acceptable or desirable. Be as specific as possible.
    2. Rehearsal-This means practicing the behaviors. Rehearsal serves two purposes:
        1. It helps children learn the appropriate behavior, and it provides you with an opportunity to determine whether they understand and can follow a procedure correctly.
        2. It also affords the teacher the opportunity to explain why the rule or procedure is important
    3. Feedback-Tell students how well they did. Even if improvement is needed, be positive.

    Planning for a Good Beginning

    Planning for a warm and friendly learning environment for your student is a positive first step in starting the school year. Some typical activities include:

    • Greeting the students, introductions, room description, get-acquainted activities, presentation and discussion of rules, procedures, and consequences, content activities, time fillers, administrative activities (distributing textbooks, etc.). 

    Communicating with Parents

    Prepare a letter to send home explaining any essential information not already covered in school handouts. Typically, teachers at one grade level collaborate on the letter. A cheerful, friendly letter that is neat, legible, grammatically correct, and free of misspellings will create a good impression and communicate a professional image to the parents. The letter may include: Information about yourself, materials or supplies their child will need, class schedule with conference times and how parents may reach you, curriculum units or special field trips, and special events for parents.

    Special Problems

    Interruptions by office staff, parents, custodians, and others; late arrivals on the first day; one or more children are assigned to your class after the first day; child forgets lunch money or supplies; large amount of paperwork the first week of school; child forgets bus number or misses bus; insufficient number of textbooks or materials; student disability that interferes with understanding or following directions; crying; wetting; child becomes sick.

    Preparing for a Substitute

    Create a handbook for the substitute who may teach in your absence. Include the following: Class roll, seating chart, copy of classroom rule and consequences, daily schedule, list of medical alerts and medication times, emergency lesson plans, emergency procedures, names of teachers and students who can provide assistance, and map of school.

    Checklist Preparation for the Beginning of School
    • Are your room and materials ready?
    • Have you decided on your class procedures, rules, and associated consequences?
    • Are you familiar with the parts of the school that you and your students may use (cafeteria, office, halls, restrooms, gymnasium, computer lab) and any procedures for their use?
    • Do you have a complete class roster?
    • Do you have file information on your students, including information on reading and math achievement levels from previous teachers, test results, and any other information?
    • Do you know whether you have any students with disabilities who should be accommodated in your room arrangement or in instruction?
    • Do you have adequate numbers of textbooks, desks, and class materials?
    • Do you have the teachers’ editions of you textbooks?
    • Do you know the procedures for the arrival and departure of students on the first day? Afterwards?
    • Are students’ name tags ready? Do you have blank ones?
    • Do you have your first day’s plan of activities ready?
    • Does your daily schedule accommodate special classes or “pull-out” programs?
    • Do you have time-filler activities?
    • Do you have a letter ready to send home to parents?
    • Do you know when and how you can obtain assistance form school staff?
  • Planning and Conducting Instruction

    Planning and Conducting Instruction

    Your classroom is organized, you have thought about the climate to be established and the expectations you want to communicate, you’ve developed and taught your rules and procedures, and you have systems in place to manage student learning. Now that your students are attentive and ready to participate comes the point that management and instruction meet. Well-planned lessons with a variety of developmentally appropriate activities support the positive learning environment you have created.

    Planning Instructional Activities

    Types of planning include both long-range and short-range. Accomplishing the longer plan requires dividing the work into terms, the terms into units, and the units into weeks and days.

    Types of instructional activities include:

    • Content Development (Whole-Group Instruction)
    • Grouped Basic Skill Instruction
    • Individual Work
    • Feedback

    Planning for Clear Instruction

    • Presenting new concept
    • Checking for understanding
    • Reteaching

    Kounin’s Concepts for Managing Whole-Group Instruction

    A central theme in managing teacher-led activities well is the idea of activity flow-the degree to which a lesson proceeds smoothly, without digressions, diversions, or interruptions. Lessons with good flow keep students' attention and prevent deviation because most of the cues for behavior during the lesson are focused on behaviors appropriate for the lesson. Kounin’s concepts include:

    Preventing Misbehavior:
    • With-it-ness is the degree to which the teacher corrects misbehavior before it intensifies or spreads to more students and also targets the correct student when doing so.
    • Overlapping refers to how the teacher handles two or more simultaneous events.
    Managing Movement
    • Whereas withitness and overlapping are accomplished by handling external interruptions and student intrusions into the flow of the lesson, movement management is accomplished by avoiding teacher-caused intrusions or delays.
    • Momentum refers to pacing and is indicated by lessons that move along briskly.
    • Smoothness is epitomized in lesson continuity. A smooth flowing lesson keeps student attention.
    Maintaining Group Focus
    • A teacher must be conscious of the group influence on the instruction. Group focus can be maintained through several techniques.
    • Group alerting means taking action to engage the attention of the whole class while individuals are responding.
    • Accountability occurs when the teacher lets students know that their performance will be observed and evaluated in some manner.
    • High-participation formats are lessons that program the behavior of students when they are not directly involved in answering a teacher’s question.
    Common Problems in Conducting Instruction
    • Transitions is the interval between any two activities. Problems include long delays, which can attribute to high levels of inappropriate or disruptive behavior.
    • Clarity involves stating goals or major objectives and making sure that students know what they are accountable for knowing or doing; carefully outlining a lesson sequence, moving from simpler to more complex ideas; providing instruction both orally and in writing; checking understanding by asking specific questions or obtaining work samples; and providing for meaningful practice and feedback through class work or homework assignments that review all lessons skills and content.
    Checklist Planning for Instruction
    • What are the most important concepts or skills to be learned?
    • What kind of learning is your goal (memorization, application, appreciation)? Have you communicated this to your students?
    • What learning style is targeted by this lesson? Are you varying learning modalities?
    • Are there difficult works of concepts that need extra explanation?
    • How will you help students make connections to previous learning?
    • What activities will you plan to create interest in the lesson?
    • How will you make transitions between activities?
    • What materials will be needed? Will students need to learn how to use them?
    • What procedures will students need to know to complete the activities?
    • How much time will you allocate for the lesson? For different parts of the lesson?
    • If activities require that students work together, how will groups be formed? How will you encourage productive work in groups?
    • What examples and questioning strategies will you use? Prepare a list of examples for explanations and list higher-order questions.
    • How will you know during and after the lesson what students understand?
    • What are some presentation alternatives if students have trouble with concepts?
    • Are there extra- or special-help students?
    • How will you make sure that all students participate?
    • How will you adjust the lesson if time is too short or too long?
    • What kind of product, if any, will you expect from students at the end of the lesson?
    • What will students do when they finish?
    • How will you evaluate students’ work and give them feedback?
    • How will students use the concepts you presented in future lessons?
  • Managing Cooperative Learning Groups

    Managing Cooperative Learning Groups

    Strategies and Routines That Support Cooperative Learning
    Room arrangement, talk and movement procedures, group attention signals, promoting interdependence within the group, and individual accountability.  Monitoring Student Work and Behavior.  Effective Group Work Skills

    Social Skills/ Explaining Skills/ Leadership Skills

    Active listening includes listening to others without interrupting, being able to summarize other’s ideas, incorporating them into the discussion, and using them constructively in completing the group’s assignment.

    Beginning the Use of Cooperative Learning Groups

    Room Arrangement/Procedures and Routines/Forming Groups/Initial Group Tasks/Teaching Group Skills/Student Goals and Participation/Using Group and Individual rewards.

    Checklist Planning for Cooperative Group Instruction

    Room Arrangement
    • How will student seating be arranged?
    • How will individual and group materials and supplies be stored?
    Routines and Expectations
    • What are your expectations for student movement to, from, and during group work?
    • What expectations about talking will you communicate to students?
    • What group attention signals will be used?
    • Will students have specific roles?
    • Do any group skills have to be discussed, modeled, or practiced?
    Monitoring, Accountability, and Feedback Procedures
    • Will group work have individual products, group products, or both?
    • How will individual or group work be assessed?
    • How will you monitor student behavior and work during group activities?
    • How will students receive feedback about individual and group performance?
    • How will students receive feedback about their behavior in groups?
    Group Skills That Must Be Discussed, Modeled, or Practiced
    • Social skills?
    • Explaining skills?
    • Leadership skills?
  • Maintaining Appropriate Student Behavior

    Maintaining Appropriate Student Behavior

    • Monitoring Student Behavior during whole group presentations, small group instruction, individual work, by moving around the room, during cooperative group work, and monitor completion of assignments.
        • Consistency
    • Management of Inappropriate Behavior-Make eye contact or move closer to student. Use a signal, such as finger to the lips or a head shake, to prompt the appropriate behavior. Monitor until the student complies. Provide a simple reminder of the correct procedure by either stating the procedure or asking the student to recite the procedure. Redirect student to a task if he is off-task. Ask student to stop misbehavior.
        • Building a Positive Climate-Use praise
        • Improving Class Climate Through Incentives and Rewards
  • Communication Skills for Teaching

    Communication Skills for Teaching

    • Constructive Assertiveness-Describe your concerns clearly, insist that misbehavior be corrected, and resist being coerced or manipulated.
    • Empathic Responding-Listen to the student’s perspective and react in ways that maintain a positive relationship and encourage further discussion.
    • Problem Solving-Includes several steps for reaching mutually satisfactory resolutions to problems; it requires working with the student to develop the plan.
  • Managing Problem Behaviors

    Managing Problem Behaviors

    Management Strategies

    • Minor Interventions- Use nonverbal cues, get the activity going, use proximity, use group focus, redirect behavior, provide needed instruction, issue a brief desist, give the student choices.
    • Moderate Interventions- Withhold a privilege or desired activity, isolate or remove student, use penalty, assign detention, use a school-based consequence.
    • More Extensive Interventions- Use problem solving, use five-step intervention procedure, use “think time” strategy, use the Reality Therapy Model, confer with parent, create an individual contract with the student.
    • Special Problems- Bullying, tattling, rudeness toward teacher, chronic avoidance of work, fighting, power struggles.
    • Final Reminder- Think and act positively, don’t personalize.
  • Managing Special Groups

    Managing Special Groups

    Strategies for Individual Differences-

    • Team Teaching-coordination of schedules, transitional routines, reminding students what they are supposed to take with them, rules and procedures, maintaining responsibility for work.
    • Modifying Whole-Class Instruction-Interactive instruction, seating arrangement, directions, and assignments.
    • Supplementary Instruction-Coordinating times with other teachers, staying on schedule, having something for drop-in students to do while waiting for instruction, getting returning students involved again, activities when supplementary instruction is not held, in-class aides, content mastery classroom, and inclusion.
    • Individualized Instruction-Cooperative groups, peer tutoring.
        • Working with Students with Special Needs
        • Teaching Lower-Achieving Students
        • Teaching Higher-Achieving Students

Taken from Classroom Management for Elementary Teachers, Seventh Edition, Carolyn M. Evertson, Edmund T. Emmer, and Murray E. Worsham, Pearson Education, Boston, 2006.