Teachers of every age and experience level know that a carefully developed classroom management plan can positively affect student behavior. It can also provide the structure and support necessary to meet students’ social-emotional and educational needs. But a strong plan is more than a simple set of rules and consequences.
A good classroom management plan considers all aspects of student learning, from behavior to physical space, schedules, resources, and materials. When students have a clear idea of what to expect and what is expected of them, they are much more likely to remain calm and focused during instruction, independent work times, and transitions.
Teachers who have been prepared with an advanced degree in education understand the value of investing the necessary time to develop and implement a classroom management plan that works.
Creating a Classroom Management Plan
The purpose of a classroom management plan is to create a learning environment in which all students, teachers, staff members, and visitors feel safe and affirmed. Professionals in many different positions and careers in education know that a meaningful plan must include all aspects of the school day in a concise and easy-to-understand format.
Basic Elements of a Classroom Management Plan
Although every teacher has a unique way of approaching the topics of classroom expectations and procedures, all classroom management plans should include these basic concepts:
Depending on grade level, the vocabulary for class rules will be different. The longer children are in a structured educational environment, the more aware they are of general behavior expectations.
Some teachers, however, take an approach to rules that would better be described as norms — generally understood behaviors that are accepted by an entire group. The rules set up in these classrooms reflect these norms and apply to a wide range of situations, such as:
- Treat others as you want them to treat you
- Respect other people’s property and personal space
- Be prepared for class and ready to work
Procedures and Routines
Students who understand and have practice following procedures are more likely to follow a plan. Here are some classroom procedures that run more smoothly if students know each routine:
- A morning routine, which may include turning in homework, selecting lunch options, checking the daily schedule for changes, starting morning work, etc.
- Pencil sharpening
- Lining up to leave the room
- Transitioning from one subject to another
- Requesting a bathroom break
- Working independently
- Working in groups
In Case of Emergency
Although the responses to most emergency situations are determined by a school’s administration, it is important to post and review the steps teachers and students must take when a fire or tornado alarm sounds or when people are endangered either within or outside the building.
When a classroom is clearly organized, students see that the placement of desks and work areas, as well as the location of supplies, resources, and shared materials, are intentional. They see that the structure and arrangement of their work space and what they need to succeed are important to the teacher and, therefore, should be important to them.
Importance of Including Students
Students who are actively involved in creating the classroom rules, routines, and procedures are more invested in the classroom climate than students who walk into a room in which the rules and expectations are already firmly in place. Beginning with a discussion about topics such as respect, collaboration, and civility, teachers and students develop a common vocabulary they can use to talk about behavior and expectations. When students are included in the conversation and feel heard, they feel empowered. And when they feel empowered, they are much more willing to take responsibility for their own learning.
Implementing an Effective Classroom Management Plan
Even the most comprehensive classroom management plan is only as effective as its implementation. Here are some tips about maintaining behavioral and learning goals in the classroom by following the plan:
- Build and maintain positive relationships with students. Focusing on rules instead of building relationships can lead to the downfall of even the best classroom management plan.
- Set clear expectations at the beginning of the year. Even without written rules, students must recognize that a classroom culture of mutual respect and encouragement is the norm.
- Maintain a positive attitude, even in the face of bad choices or broken rules. Use every opportunity to open up opportunities for student learning and success.
- Choose words of praise and encouragement that are meaningful and rewards that are appropriate for the accomplishment.
- Be consistent. It is the teacher’s responsibility to treat each student equitably and fairly, both in rewards and consequences. This approach means that students may not always have identical experiences, but they will receive the encouragement or consequences they need for social-emotional and academic success.
- Use direct instruction to teach expected behaviors and responses. Although societal norms are familiar to many students, wise teachers don’t assume what children know but paint a clear picture of what is expected during the school day.
- Maintain an organized classroom.
- Institute regular classroom meetings. Meetings that are written into the schedule and routine provide a safe place for students and teachers to discuss the successes or challenges they are experiencing with respect to the plan. When students know they will have an opportunity to speak up about concerns, they feel heard and experience real-life opportunities to resolve issues with classmates in a familiar setting.
- Involve parents and families. Parents and guardians who are aware of a management plan have context in which to place the stories and concerns their students bring home. They may also feel more like partners with the teacher and school staff when they can speak intelligently about expectations and consequences.
Plan Your Future in Education
From the first day of the school year to the last, an effective classroom management plan will provide the structure and support students of all ages both need and crave. If you are interested in developing the skills to set students up for academic progress and success, explore the Online Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at American University. Learn how you can meet students where they are and turn learning differences into learning strengths. Join the highly-qualified ranks of teachers who are stepping up and preparing elementary students for a bright future.
American Federation of Teachers, “What You Can Do”
Arts Integration, “How to Build a Classroom Management Plan — Strategies, Processes, and Routines That Work”
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, “Avoiding Common Classroom Management Missteps”
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, “Don’t Be a Robot! Manage Your Classroom with the Four Cs”
Educational Partners International, “Create Effective Class Rules Using Tips from Launch Your Classroom!”
Education World. “Ten Activities for Establishing Classroom Rules | Lesson Plan
Edutopia, “Creating a Classroom That Is Student, not Teacher, Driven”
EdWeek, “Are Aspiring Teachers Learning Classroom Management? It Varies”
Indeed, “What Is a Classroom Management Plan?
National Education Association, Classroom Management
TeacherVision, “Class Meetings”
Truth for Teachers, “Classroom Meetings: Your Most Powerful Tool for Creating a Respectful, Inclusive Class Culture”