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The Friend Series: Tamara's Classroom Management Tips

Welcome to blog #2 in the Friend Series! This blog is based on Tamara’s video on classroom management. Classroom management can be a struggle for even the most seasoned teacher—we all know that each class is unique—what worked for one group may not work for another. Below are Tamara’s five tips to help teachers, novice and seasoned, strengthen their classroom management. I hope you enjoy it!


Before you consider these tips, make sure that you are using rigorous, engaging, and individualized lesson plans. If you are using lessons, the following should help any teacher, regardless of grade level, have a well-managed classroom environment.

#1: Establish routines and procedures. Create routines and procedures that are age appropriate at the beginning of the year, i.e. how students should enter/exit classroom, submit homework and classwork, utilize classroom resources (books, computers, etc.) In addition, give mind, body, and voice directions for how they are to conduct themselves for each routine/procedure. For example, tell students “If you have a question, remain in your seat (body), silently (voice) raise your hand (body), and think of and hold your question in your head (mind) until you are called on. Most importantly, have students practice these routines and procedures until 100% of them get it right. Finally, post daily routines/procedures around the classroom to serve as a reminder.

#2: Build a list of non-negotiables. Create a list of non-negotiables (i.e. rules) together as a class. This collaboration allows for student input and will help with create student "buy in.” Once the collaboration is complete, pull out the "big picture items" from student contributions to use as your non-negotiables. Be sure to keep your list short, and avoid "negative speak" (i.e. keep the words "no" and "don't" out of your list). In other words, list what you want to see/happen as opposed to what you do not want to see/happen. When are you finished with your list, post non-negotiables around the classroom to serve as a reminder.

#3: Have a consequence plan. Create a consequence plan to correct inappropriate behavior. Your plan should include 3-4 tiered steps with each step increasing in intensity (i.e. first step is a warning and second step may be a phone call home, demerit, etc.). REMEMBER, you must be consistent and fair with your plan, and follow through with whatever consequences you create 100% of the time!

#4: Acknowledge (reward) the positive. Acknowledging/rewarding positive behavior is a must! You must acknowledge/reward positive behavior often. Acknowledgments/rewards can be as simple as affirming a student, giving positive praise, or narrating positive actions. A caveat, be sure to take students' personalities in consideration. Some students may like public acknowledgement, while others may prefer a discreet thumbs up or private praise. In addition to praise, you can also put stickers on student work, give homework passes, invite students to have lunch with you, have students earn end of semester pizza parties, etc. Choose whatever works best for your class!

#5: Establish meaningful relationships. Establish authentic relationships with students early on. Get to know your students as individuals, make connections to them, engage in conversation on topics besides academics. Students like to know, see, and feel that you care about them as a person! In addition, establish an authentic and familiar relationship with your students' parents/guardians early on. Get to know them before there is a problem, and make it clear that together you all function as a team. Have face to face parent/guardian conferences as often as necessary and invite parents/guardians into your classroom to volunteer or just observe.

I hope you’ve found this week’s blog helpful! You can always watch the VIDEO for this blog or CONTACT me if you are interested in more tips!

 Tamara is a Chicago native, a CPS alumni, and earned her Master of Arts in English and Master of Arts in Teaching.  She has been teaching for almost 15 years. She’s taught middle school and college, and is currently a high school English teacher.

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