Classroom Management Tips September 15, 2017 09:30

Class of students working

As someone who has had to learn how to manage a classroom of students myself, I understand how difficult it can be at times.

Excel Math makes it easy for elementary math teachers to keep students focused on the lesson.

The combination of the daily lesson, Guided Practice, Homework, our unique CheckAnswer system, the detailed spiraling system, and spaced repetition combine to keep kids engaged in learning and reviewing each concept all year long.

Math concepts get into long-term memory as they are practiced multiple times over time.

Girl in classExcel Math Manipulatives, Create A Problem multi-paragraph word problems, and Projectable Lessons provide ways for the students to interact with the teacher and with each other to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Even so, it helps to have a teacher who is prepared and who communicates expectations to the class—not just at the beginning of the year, but before moving on to the next activity. It's hard to keep a group of kids motivated if the classroom rules are unclear or inconsistent. 
Boy counting


Classroom management isn't usually one of the required courses for getting your teaching credential. As a result, the new teacher can feel lost and alone in the middle of a school of hungry piranhas during those first years of teaching.

Preparation can be an important key to classroom management.

When the lesson materials are ready to go and the teacher can keep things moving throughout the day and from one activity to the next, behavior problems are much less likely to take over.

But it also helps to have a defined plan for classroom management along with expectations that are clearly communicated to the students before a new activity begins.

Girl working in classWe asked some of our teacher friends to send ideas that have worked for them. The emails are still rolling in, so we'll share more classroom management tips over the next few weeks. Here are a few suggestions to get the discussion started:

Classroom management is huge and needs to begin day one. Consistency and structure are my best friends when it comes to classroom management. I assign classroom monitors each week and require much responsibility with these jobs. Assigning jobs in the classroom allows for community building and lets students know that they are an important part of how our daily routine is managed.
Weekly jobs assigned could include:
  • A line leader
  • An equipment monitor (responsible for the calendar and handing out papers as needed).
  • A flag monitor
  • A librarian (responsible for keeping the library tidy and making sure books from our school library are checked back in and sent back to the library)
  • A scrap keeper (the go-to student that checks scraps picked up from the classroom)
  • A messenger (responsible for sending notes to the office or other classrooms)
In addition, there are five tables in our class, and each week one Table Captain is assigned. The Table Captains are responsible at the end of the day to place stickers on behavior charts.
— Lorraine, First Grade Teacher from La Jolla, CA
For me, the key to managing a class effectively is to set clear behavioral and procedural expectations from day #1. Those standards must be clearly taught and constantly re-enforced throughout the year.
— Chris Rabago, 7th and 8th Grade History Teacher from San Diego, CA




Boy in class


No pupil should prevent you from teaching, or keep another student from learning. 

Student compliance is imperative in creating and maintaining an effective and efficient learning environment.

To accomplish this goal, teachers must react assertively, as opposed to aggressively or non assertively.

Lee Canter, in his book, Assertive Discipline observes:

More than being a director, assertive teachers build positive, trusting relationships with their students and teach appropriate classroom behavior (via direct instruction...describing, modeling, practicing, reviewing, encouraging, and rewarding) to those who don't show it at present. They are demanding, yet warm in interaction; supportive of the youngsters; and respectful in tone and mannerisms when addressing misbehavior. Assertive teachers listen carefully to what their students have to say, speak politely to them, and treat everyone fairly (not necessarily equally).

Because many of our students no longer enter the classroom with the behaviors we expect them to have, we often need to teach them those appropriate behaviors. More and more, we also need to teach them what is appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior. As Cantor points out, this involves much more than just giving commands and expecting them to be followed. That type of classroom management may have worked in our parents' day, but most children today will not follow the rules just because they are commanded to do so.

Children in classSome students may not even understand completely what they are being asked to do. We often need to actually show students what is expected and then  have them role-play those behaviors. If our students don't come to school with social skills, we can save ourselves a lot of time and effort (and a few headaches) by teaching them those skills at the beginning of the year and then holding them accountable for their actions each time they enter our classrooms.

ClassroBoy thinkingom management is a huge topic that is not easily mastered in one or two sessions or even in one or two years of teaching. Teachers (including homeschooling parents) who have strong classroom management techniques continually hone their skills. We'll share feedback from teachers and parents and take a look at additional resources for classroom management in future posts.

If you have an idea that's worked well in your own situation, feel free to leave a comment with your tip. Include your first name, grade/subject you teach, city, and state so we can give you proper credit. Then watch for your suggestion to appear in a future post. If you send us your email (or use the link on the left to become a follower) we'll notify you when it posts. Thanks in advance for contributing!