classroom management plan
Sep 13 2023
Updated at: Sep 15 2023

8 Steps to Set Up an Effective Classroom Management Plan

Positive Action Staff
Picture an effective classroom management plan for a moment.

What would it look like?

It would undoubtedly stipulate ways to demand impeccable student behavior without causing friction or resentment—helping you build meaningful and influential relationships with your students.

It would probably be a management plan to hold students accountable for misbehavior—without having to yell, scold, or lecture.

It would be a set of classroom rules that eliminate the need to use other stressful and counterproductive methods.

It would be a classroom management system that makes sense to the students, thus, would be fully enforceable.

And most of all, it would be a behavior management plan that covers all bases.

But how do you create one?

Step 1: Set Classroom Expectations

No question, a learning environment requires rules. Every class needs a guideline for students to understand what type of behavior they should display throughout the school day.

However, it’s best practice to involve your students in classroom management because it helps build a community as well as the classroom culture. Allowing students to take ownership of their environment will improve how they reason about school rules.

During the first week, let the students write down the rules they expect you’ll enforce. The most common expectations you’ll find include:

  • Raising a quiet hand
  • Appropriate language usage
  • Keeping hands and feet to self

You’ll be surprised at how right your students usually are. At the same time, you’ll find a joker that will suggest you recess all day. Disregard that one. Kids typically take pride in proposing solid expectations.

Once you have collected all the classroom rules in one place, make your students sign a contract.

From the word go, they’ll get invested. Students listen more when you involve them in the rule-making process.

Step 2: Consider School Policies When Drafting a Classroom Management Plan

Your school has a specific management policy already in place to create discipline while learning.

Use this system as the basis of your own. Then build off these policies and incorporate your principles, rules, and philosophy to create a positive classroom culture for your students.

Your school policies and procedures are integral. However, incorporating your philosophy into your school’s policies is indispensable in creating working classroom management policies to regulate behavior inconsistency while allowing you to hit your teaching goal.

Considering school procedures and policies ensures that the classroom management plan does not go against any school rules.

Step 3: Establish Clear and Consistent Boundaries in Your Class

To be the best for your students, you need to be the best you—and it’s nearly impossible for that to happen without setting some boundaries.

Without boundaries, it’s easy to be easily overwhelmed because of stress and burnout. Boundaries set what is okay (and what is not) in your class.

For instance, avoid talking when your students are talking.

Waiting for your class to stop talking can often take extreme patience. However, talking when your students are talking is a fatal flaw in one's teaching career. If you let your students speak while you’re talking, they’ll continue doing it.

Wait—even if you have to stand there for five minutes. Wait, and don’t speak. Even if they’re small kids, they are smart little kids, and some will test you. If you continue to talk while they are talking, you’ll fail their test.

After a few times of just standing there waiting for them, they should get the idea.

Step 4: Use Verbal and Non-Verbal Reinforcement

To maintain positive behavior in the whole class, your students need to remember and understand what positive behavior is (and what is not).

When a student displays positive behavior, use verbal and non-verbal reinforcement to encourage such behaviors. However, you’ll need to vary reinforcement to maintain motivation and interest.

For instance, when you see a student doing well in the class, show her you notice it by saying it aloud or smiling at her. On the flip side, when you see a student making noise, you can shake your head to them, frown at them, or simply tell them to keep quiet without yelling.

You can also:

  • Praise with non-verbal communication (smiling, nodding, and using a thumbs up)
  • Use social attention (creating a special time with the teacher or peer)
  • Use tangibles to influence behavior choices like stickers, washable tattoos, or new pencils
  • Create special activities or privileges such as playing games, having extra computer time, or going to recess

Whatever reinforcement option you go with, your success will stem from the consistency of your approach.

Step 5: Hand Out a Planned Syllabus to Your Class

If you’re a high school teacher, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and not create a concrete plan. After all, teaching requires many decisions and remembering things.

However, having a planned syllabus creates an impression on students—it’s the first material the students will have about the course. Designing the syllabus is your opportunity to create a good first impression on your students.

Put together a comprehensive, well-organized, and easy-to-read syllabus.

For example, put the book titles and websites you’re going to use in your syllabus to avoid unnecessary surprises during the semester. Then hand it out to your students on the first day of the class.

This step will save you and your students a lot of headaches because a syllabus plan establishes expectations from day one and prepares your students on what to learn. At the same time, it allows students to plan informed schedules.

Students, too, don’t enjoy uncertainty. Give them a clear syllabus plan to decrease anxiety and gently enforce student behavior.

Step 6: Know the Students in the Whole Class

This step might appear as one of the strangest classroom management strategies, but it’s a powerful move to take.

Every student has something going on, and high schoolers seem to have lots of bigger issues. Some might be having relationship issues, others might be facing conflict at home, and to some, life can be complicated while venturing into adulthood.

Understanding your students can help manage their behavior or prevent behavior problems.

However, it doesn’t mean you invite students over for a cup of coffee or ask them personal questions that they’re uncomfortable answering.

Instead, implement icebreakers to help you know your students better. Knowing your students better makes them see you as more than just a teacher—a relatable person who deals with the same problems they’re going through. Students learn that it is easy to talk to you.

Step 7: Teach Engaging Content to Encourage Positive Behavior

In school, you’ll find that the majority of bad student behavior happens when the learners are bored. You probably learn that when you have a lesson that involves a lot of movement, a project-based class, or simply engaging learning, students will have less undesirable behavior.

Yes, you might not be a stellar entertainer every single day of school. Yes, you’ll need to make reading, writing, solving maths problems, and listening happen. But do your best to incorporate engaging aspects into your teaching.

You can create class games, make the lesson interactive, break critical formal learning into micro-lessons, relate your material to your students’ life, or flip your lessons.

Step 8: Decide on Consequences

You’ll need a set of consequences for students with problematic behaviors. And by planning, you’ll gain more consistency and avoid the stress of taking the punishment route.

Without consequences (or waiting too long for them), you risk becoming permissive, so you’ll want to pick effective consequences. The most successful method to facilitate long-term behavioral change is to use positive strategies to increase students’ competence.

However, sometimes you’ll be forced to use negative consequences. Here are some tips to effectively implement negative consequences:

  • Don’t implement a negative consequence when you can use a positive alternative. Document the efficacy or inefficiency of all behavioral methods to justify the use of alternative measures.
  • Draft and implement measures that are safe for students and respect their dignity and basic rights.
  • Include the parent in deciding about using negative consequences.

Creating a Working Classroom Management Plan Takes Work

Yes, classroom management is an integral teaching skill. When executed well, it minimizes student misbehavior that impedes learning.

However, like any other aspect of teaching, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t as you go. Some of these tips will work for you—others will need slight adjustments. Some situations will call for the reformation of the entire school ecosystem.

For instance, when you want to:

Those are tall orders to execute. They’ll need you to involve your school, parents, and community. To handle such excruciating tasks, opt for a whole-school reform model that’s approved to address the entire school ecosystem.

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