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The Unfettered Teacher 2019

  • Christiana Findley

Five Essential Elements for Strong Classroom Management

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

So you’re looking for ways to improve your classroom management, huh? Awesome! You’re in the right place!

There are five essential elements you need for strong classroom management. They are:

1. Classroom Procedures

2. Expectations for Procedures

3. Rules

4. Consequences

5. Incentive Program

Five Elements → Foundation

To be clear, these elements are essential for effective classroom management because they create a strong FOUNDATION.

Foundation → Framework

And you guessed it! Having a foundation for your classroom management plan is KEY to having effective classroom management practices.

It’s your home base when you’re creating and revamping systems for your classroom. It’s the framework you build on. It's what helps to keep things organized and helps you understand how to troubleshoot when one of the 5.8 million things you manage goes wrong.

Framework → Strong Classroom Management Practices→ Sanity

Working within this framework can provide clarity to what the day is going to look like (for you and your kids) and help you understand the behavior you’re observing in your classroom. And as mentioned above, it will help organize your room, the traffic, and even allow you to take back some of your sanity. 💛 I know right?!

By the way! This isn't a magic pill of any sorts! It definitely requires work! The more specific and concrete you design what your elements look like in your room, the more successful you will be.

And yes... you will have to teach them to your students! Treat the lessons like they are as important as the content you're teaching (because they are)!

Alright, let's get into these five elements!

1. Classroom Procedures:

What it is: A daily routine that does not change.

Some ways they are useful:

  • Provides flow and structure for the agenda

  • Minimizes the chaos because a routine is in place

  • Gets rid of the [?] marks of “what are we supposed to be doing right now?”- “We do the same thing every day in the same order; you know what to do!”

Tips: By providing a predictable routine, it helps everyone relax and mitigate feelings of anxiety because you and your students have a strong sense of what will take place in your daily classroom.

By the way, you can have as many procedures in place as you want. For example, procedures to clean up materials, silent reading time, studio time, etc. Just make sure to have set procedures specifically for your day to day routines (your classroom procedures).

What do your classroom procedures look like?

2. Expectations for Procedures:

What it is: Concrete criteria or standards for how procedures will be carried out. Expectations are fully and clearly communicated to the students.

Some ways they are useful:

  • Students will know exactly how you want them to execute daily procedures

  • Provides a standard of acceptable and inappropriate behavior

  • Gets rid of the [?] marks of “HOW are we supposed to be doing this?” for routine procedures.

Tips: When communicating your expectations for your procedures, model it for them. They won’t always do it that way, but they will at least know what to strive for. I also find it helpful to model what I don’t want to see.

Also! Have the expectations be realistic and make sure that they benefit both you and your students; otherwise, they may not buy into them.

What are your expectations regarding how your students will carry out your classroom procedures?

3. Rules:

What it is: A set of expectations for behavior that will not be tolerated when broken.

Some ways they are useful:

  • Sets clear boundaries for behavior - It is an objective list that everyone should follow (including yourself)

  • Minimizes negative behavior

  • Creates a classroom atmosphere and culture

Tips: I like to write these rules within a light that is as positive as possible. Like “Be respectful” rather than “do not be disrespectful” and “Stay in your seat” rather than “no roaming allowed.” You don't have to create them like this. It is totally up to you. The rules that you create and the way they are communicated contribute to your classroom atmosphere and culture.

Create rules that are worth enforcing (In other words, without that rule, your day would feel crazy.) Make the list of rules as short as possible. Three to five rules seems to be a sweet spot for most teachers.

What rules are important for you to enforce in your classroom?

4. Consequences:

What it is: A protocol to follow when rules are broken.

Some ways they are useful:

  • An objective system that all students are held accountable to

  • Minimizes the student from feeling picked on

  • Projects a sense of fairness in your discipline practices

Tips: This protocol should only consist of actions you are willing to take and be consistent with. This list of actions should have your preferences baked into it (make sure they are your authentic preferences, that they make sense to you), but keep in mind that there will be some things that you will have to do that you don’t want to do. Giving out consequences isn’t pleasant, but it needs to be done. 😐

What does your protocol look like when administering consequences?

5. Incentive Programs:

What it is: Systems to provide the whole class with positive feedback when following rules and procedures.

Some ways they are useful:

  • Provides feedback

  • Helps train students perform the way you want them to

  • Creates a relationship with your students

  • Creates a sense of teamwork

Tips: When you’re offering an incentive, make sure that the incentive is something that you are wanting, willing, or can do easily; otherwise, it would be difficult for you to follow through with it. An incentive system is effective when students can earn their incentives together (as a class, not individually) and when it is ongoing. I offer incentives in four-week intervals.

Create metrics, so the students know how they are progressing. I use a daily point system that I keep track of on a whiteboard. At the end of the four weeks, I give the incentive to the classes who earned 90% of their points.

What system would you like in place as their incentive program?

Combine these five elements with consistency and BOOM, you will have a solid foundation for your classroom management practices.

Teach them how you manage your classroom so they know what to expect and so you can hold them accountable. (To be clear is to be kind)

Make sure to post your procedures, expectations, rules, consequences, and incentive program in your room so that you can easily refer to them when you need to. The kids need to know you’re on top of your game, have your stuff together, and that you mean business.

You can define and create your procedures, expectations, rules, consequences, and incentive program however you want! I had 10 daily procedures, 4 rules and 4 consequences in my protocol. Yours may look different and that is awesome! You do you!

The important thing is for all these elements to exist within your classroom management plan (the more authentic they are to you, the better!). Leave out an element, and the foundation isn't as strong. You get the picture.

After you have your foundation laid out, feel free to add other tools and strategies to suit your style of teaching. You know, the:

Don’t move on until you have everyone’s attention.

1, 2, 3, all eyes on me.

Give a student a refocus worksheet when they misbehave.

And don't worry... if what you have doesn't jive with you 100% after you put it in action, go back and adjust one of the elements and tweak as you go (give it a fair shot though, 2 days of running your new plan isn't long enough to understand if it is working - inconsistency is never our friend- give it about a week). That's the advantage of this framework, after it is in motion (and when you are ready to make changes), it's easy to see where the tweaks need to be made.

Take Action

Go for it! Do it! Create it~!

Start building your foundation with this framework now, to get some traction towards better classroom management. Why prolong the process?

Five Elements → Foundation → Framework → Strong Classroom Management Practices → Sanity

If you need help creating your procedures and expectations, I created a free guide specifically for new teachers: The Ultimate Guide for New Teachers-Twelve Steps to Better Classroom Management.

In this guide, you’ll find examples of what my procedures and expectations were, what they transformed into, and how you can do that for yourself. You’ll also get some ideas on how you can implement and enforce them.

It doesn't cover all of the elements this article touches on, but if you're wanting to start the process of creating your foundation, it's definitely an excellent place to start.

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