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The Stages of Classroom Management

by Michael Stratford, studioD

Classroom management is a linchpin of effective teaching; you really cannot accomplish any classwork without it. The stages of your classroom management, in order to be effective, have to include expectations. These expectations must be readily obvious to students, because you should have clearly communicated and consistently enforced them as classroom routines.

Create, Communicate, Enforce

You create the first stage of classroom management long before you enter the classroom: you set expectations for behavior and consequences if those expectations aren't met. In addition, you need to be able to model situations where an expectation changes. The CHAMPS system of classroom management, one of many online systems available for teachers, suggests that behaviors modify as the class modifies. For example, you may have lecture time when no talking is allowed; question-and-answer periods when one-on-one communication occurs; group work where everyone is talking. Set all these expectations down clearly.

The next step is to communicate, at once and consistently thereafter, your expectations to the class regarding behaviors, expectations and consequences. Be clear and open throughout; don't have any "secret" punishments or rewards. Be sure students clearly understand your ground rules, and be prepared to repeat and reinforce them for at least the first week of class. Above all, keep punishments reasonable and logical. A loss of points or privileges or a time-out is reasonable for an infraction; shaming the student publicly or sending him out of class is not.

Finally, acknowledge both good behaviors and bad behaviors at once; you should give the former immediate praise, and the latter immediate consequential response. One caveat: in the case of a discipline problem, your response to the student's behavior is immediate, but you may want a "cool down" before giving out the consequence. Whether you praise or penalize, remain calm, friendly and professional.

Items you will need
  •  Set of clear expectations for classroom behavior.
  •  Hierarchy of consequences, lesser to greater, for times when expectations are not met.
  •  Several methods of communicating expectations: posters, Power Point presentations, lecture moments (not more than a few seconds) to reinforce.
  •  Several methods of praising good behavior.


  • Be fair, reasonable and adult in all classroom dealings.
  • Be ready for special situations: how to handle cell phone use, for instance.
  • After a consequence is meted out, immediately go on with classwork.


  • Never lose your temper! Stay cool! You are the adult in the classroom.
  • Never single a student out as the "class bad boy" -- sadly, he will live up to that expectation.
  • Never double or intensify punishments; keep the rules consistent.

About the Author

Michael Stratford is a National Board-certified and Single Subject Credentialed teacher with a Master of Science in educational rehabilitation (University of Montana, 1995). He has taught English at the 6-12 level for more than 20 years. He has written extensively in literary criticism, student writing syllabi and numerous classroom educational paradigms.

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