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Classroom Management In a Nutshell

By Rhonda Stewart on September 6, 2013
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

When it comes to classroom management, I have tried several techniques throughout my career, and have come to realize that there is not just one method that works. Instead, I have combined and customized all that I have researched and experimented with, to design a system that works effectively. This is not to say that I haven’t had my stumbles and pitfalls along the way. (I have the bruises to prove it!) I have, however, learned from those experiences and am a better teacher for it.

I am constantly reminding myself that the classroom should be a safe learning sanctuary where all are respected. In my classroom, it is expected and required that my students be mindful of their actions and their words. For we all know if this does not occur, the impact can be very detrimental.

Factors for Great Classroom Management

  • Model the behavior you expect from your students

  • Understand that your class is constantly watching and noting your actions

  • Be prepared and be confident with your teaching

  • Be clear and consistent with your expectations of classroom behavior and stay true to the policies you have put in place

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel — recycle ideas that speak to you adding your own personal spin


Setting Classroom Guidelines

There are some very basic rules that we are all privy to from our first teaching courses in college and they still hold true. For example, use proximity as a method to nonverbally get a student back on track. Compliment students who are on task to help refocus those who are distracted from the task. Help troubled students remember that tomorrow is new day and an opportunity for a fresh start.

Pearls of Wisdom — Be sure to connect with a buddy teacher. Set up a system (don’t abuse it) where in those moments of really needing a break from a particular student, that student can go to the buddy room to complete an assignment. Use a reflection sheet where the student gets a chance to reflect on their behavior and to redirect themselves. Sometimes a different setting will defuse a disruptive situation.



You may remember from my last blog “Mission Impossible — From Drab to Fab,” I created a list of non-negotiables for the classroom setup. For my classroom management, I stick to my mantra of keeping it simple. I keep my procedures and routines to no more than five. 

  • Be ready to learn

  • Always act and speak in an appropriate manner

  • No food or drink allowed (water and medical necessity are the only exceptions)

  • No personal electronics allowed

  • Respect the classroom environment

Pearls of Wisdom — Trial and error are okay. Sometimes the plan you had doesn’t work. Keep notes and develop a new game plan if the situation should arise again. Reflect and be flexible.


A Middle School Incentive That Works

(It has the sixth grade stamp of approval!)

 Everyone loves being rewarded for their efforts and middle schoolers are no exception. Stickers, certificates, and star students may have worked when they were in the younger grades, but now the approach must be more sophisticated. One positive classroom management technique that I have used over the past couple of years is called “Prints” based from the concept of “Plaid Stamps” from my childhood. Primarily, due to my fascination with frogs, mine are called Frogs. Frog Prints rewards positive behavior and redirects unfocused behavior.


 The Print System in Five Easy Steps:

  1. Choose a theme. You will need to get either an ink stamper or stickers to coordinate with your theme.

  2. Design a 25 box grid. You want it big enough to fit your stamp or sticker. Reproduce copies for your class on either card stock or oak tag. Keep copies handy because when a sheet is completed, the process starts over again. The students know to hold on to their completed sheets because they are valuable as well. I have a redemption center which is open twice a year for the “BIG” prizes.

  3. Generate an increment list where students can work towards rewards from as little as five and as large as twenty-five.

  4. Create a treasure chest. You can go to garage sales, hit the clearance rack or follow one of my fellow bloggers, Allie Magnuson. (She gives great tips on how to stock your classroom without breaking the bank!)

  5. Be consistent with filling in your “Prints” for the students. You want the students to buy into the process and be successful.

Final Thoughts

Remember, classroom management is the key to any learning that will occur. If you have not established appropriate routines and an atmosphere of respect for you and for the education you will provide, nothing of any real substance can happen in your classroom. It is critical that in these first few days, that you communicate the seriousness of your intent, from the first moment that you meet your new students and from the first activity that they are engaged in.  

And remember, yet again, the beauty of school is that every day is a new chance at improving what doesn’t work. You’ll figure it out as long as you don’t give up!

Do you have any classroom management tips that are successful? Please share!

Coming Attraction – Creating a Reading/Writing Toolkit




Comments (13)

Rhonda, I love the way you think! You've taken a complex topic and made it very manageable without oversimplifying it - that's an art.

Thanks for the continued support!

As an educator, I have used a number of different behavior management strategies over the years, including many of the ideas mentioned above. I can attest to the fact that positive reinforcement and proximity both work, however they must be done continuously, on a day by day basis. Students love consistency and need constant reminders about how to act appropriately.

Recently, one of the best tools I have found to deal with student behavior is Class Dojo, a web-based behavior management program that works like an interactive sticker chart. Instead of stickers however, students accrue points. I am amazed by the response my students have had to Class Dojo, especially the older ones. If you are interested in learning more about Class Dojo, feel free to check out my blog post


Thanks for sharing! I will take a look at the website.

I love how simple you make things seem. You outline a plan and act.
Thank you for sharing!


Rhonda, you gave some important, yet simple reminders for all teachers. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks Sheila - please continue to stay tuned for the next post.

Great tips, especially for the new teacher in her first year!!! I will share with my colleagues. Looking forward to your next post.

Glad to be of help Dorothy.

Another good one!!!

Thanks Kaz - Please share!

Great Idea--do you have a pdf of the 25 block sheet to share with us?

Hi Kate,

Yes, I will download a template and let you know when it's available. Thanks for the interest.

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