I have found that starting the year with a classroom management system helps promote a strong classroom environment and keeps behavior problems to a minimum. On the first day of school my class creates classroom rules together and we agree upon the five most important rules. I find that more than five is too much to remember. I also stress that the students' behavior is their choice and no one else's, which cuts down on the "he told me to do it" claims. I strive to create an environment promoting responsibility for one's own actions.

Throughout the year I use a flip card behavior plan.

  • I create a poster with a labeled pocket containing four cards for each student. Each day the whole class starts on the green card, meaning "I'm doing well."

rules flip chart
A poster with pockets for each student's behavior cards.

  • If there's a behavior problem, I ask the child to please change his or her behavior and I flip a card. I also point out which classroom rule he or she is not following. Below the green card is a yellow "warning" card.
  • If the behavior issue continues, the next card is an orange "think about it" card. The orange "think about it card" involves a simple worksheet that the student fills out explaining what the inappropriate behavior is in his or her own words. The student then signs the sheet and shows it to me.
  • Followed the orange card is a red "note or phone call home" card.

color-coded behavior cards
Color-coded behavior cards

Each day all the cards flip back to the green "I'm doing well" position. I believe in fresh starts.

This classroom management system has really worked for me. I think the best way to succeed with classroom management is to establish the rules from the start and be consistent.