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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What's The Best Classroom Management Advice You've Gotten?

What's The Best Classroom Management Advice You've Gotten?

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I thought it might be useful/interesting if people shared the best piece of classroom management advice they've gotten/read/heard... Mine comes from Marvin Marshall, who is my favorite (by far) writer/thinker on positive classroom management. He’s written a question that we as teachers might want to consider asking ourselves regularly. He wrote: Will what I am about to do or say bring me closer or will it push me away farther from the person with whom I am communicating? Of course, we’re just human and all of this is far “easier said than done.” But it’s not a bad level to aspire towards…

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Joel's picture

Being a positive role model is the most important goal for me as an educator and promotes a positive learning environment for my students. This is especially important to me being a male elementary school teacher in a female dominated field.


The Discipline Doctor's picture
The Discipline Doctor
Math teacher, teacher advocate, discipline coach

Mr. Sullo,
I am also not interested in arguments or trying to win debates. I think everyone who has been involved in this discussion with me has the same goal--to help teachers improve their classroom management skills in an effort to become better teachers overall.
I like your counter points to some of my statements. I will see if I can defend and clarify some of those things and leave it at that:
*I agree that my rule to "Respect the Ladies" may seem dated. Maybe that was a poor choice of words on my part. Some dated things can be better than the way things are now. My point is that many of the old ways of handling discipline are no longer as valid as they once were.
*My rule that "This isn't therapy time" is not just a description, it means that classtime is not the appropriate time for students to talk about their personal problems.
*There were 10 or fewer students in the video because we were acting. My typical class size is about 20 or so. I would have the exact rule and consequence structure if my classes had 5 or 40, however.
*I disagree that my 52 rules have little to do with my success. They are a key part. They are not the only part, however. What I do agree with is that caring about students and relationships is maybe the most important key to a teacher's success. I think most teachers would agree with that one. If I had said that in my original comment, though, I wouldn't have really added anything to the discussion. I chose my comment about rules because I knew that it may be a different approach than what people are used to discussing.

I enjoyed the discussion.

Enough said. I wish you continued success.

The Discipline Doctor's picture
The Discipline Doctor
Math teacher, teacher advocate, discipline coach

Mrs. Keller-Kyriakides

You make good points. The difference in punishment and discipline is huge. I have heard about other teachers who had success without having any structure and winging it when it came to discipline.

Believe it or not, I am actually suggesting that every teacher have 52 rules, or that every teacher try to be like me. What I am saying is that each teacher has the power to develop their own discipline style. I am a math teacher--very black and white thinker. Black and white rules work for me. It would drive me crazy to have to figure out what to do as each misbehavior happened and I would find it impossible to be fair and consistent.

This is not a battle of the tons of rules camp versus few rules camp. The mistake is in dismissing either one simply because it does not work for you, or that you have a theory that says your way is the only way. The real way for a teacher to have successful discipline is to figure out what works for them and know what they are going to do before it happens.

The Discipline Doctor's picture
The Discipline Doctor
Math teacher, teacher advocate, discipline coach

Dr. Garrett,

You seem like a very knowledgable person on the discipline topic. My cause for calling your comment "outdated" was mainly a reaction to your statement that "An environment that is dictated by too many rules is rigid, cold and likely to create an atmosphere of rebellion." The outdated pardigm that I am trying to change here is the traditional notion that good teachers only have 10 or fewer rules or something along those lines. As I said earlier, the number of rules has nothing to do with the rigitity of a classroom. It is all about the attitude(as evidenced by my Ron Clark example). My pardigm shift attempt here is that the focus should be changed from the number of rules to the enforcement of them.

Good discussion.

Brittany's picture


Overall I believe that having a good building relationship with students is the most important part to managing a class. If you a good relationship with students they will respect you more and be more willing to do what is told or expected of them in class.
Also like Joel said, being a good role model is so important, esp. with being a young new teacher I really believe that they look up to us a bit more in that sense than older teachers. Students tend to find us more relate-able to them since we are closer in age.
I also believe that having procedures and an organized class make all the difference. Having procedures gives students organization and knowledge of what to or not to do in particular situations.

The Discipline Doctor's picture
The Discipline Doctor
Math teacher, teacher advocate, discipline coach

I think we are starting to go around in circles now, but I guess we will have to agree to disagree at this point haha. I think many rules can work well with high schoolers(mine are mostly 11th and 12th). I also think that what is most comfortable for the teacher will often play a large part in what works. Great discussion.

Jennifer Hendren's picture

I'm a bit late in the discussion, however, I agree with many of the comments made. I have worked with ages from preschool to high school and have found that a foundation of firm, well prepared rules is necessary. Having this in place from the beginning of the school year sets a clear standard in the classroom. Consistent execution of the rules helps to maintain the respect fostered tin the classroom. Once these rules are in place, I feel the most vital piece of classroom management is developing relationships of trust and equality. If this is the ultimate goal of a student - teacher relationship, real learning can take place.

However, I realize students need to be held accountable for their actions, and held responsible for their learning. Love and Logic is a fantastic and simple way to teach students how to problem solve in a respectful manner.

I am grateful for the insights shared thus far. I continue to explore new methods and ideas to develop my skills, so thank you for your comments!!!

Mr. Jun's picture
Mr. Jun
Elementary Teacher from Philippines

Primarily, one of the best advices I got from my Principal was to stay firm and consistent inside the classroom. Once this kind of attitude has been established, the learners would firmly believe in the teacher.

Tom Stacho's picture
Tom Stacho
PBIS Trainer/Consultant at www.BehaviorInSchools.com

The best advice I ever received as a teacher/counselor was to learn how to manage transitions! Moving from the restroom back into the room, from a group discussion to independent work time, from reading into math are just a few examples of transitions. Little did I know at the time that you first had to determine what transitions you have during a typical school day! After that, each transition had to be broken down into steps, then they had to be explicitly taught, monitored and given feedback! Now I get to share how to create and teach transitions, routines and procedures using Teach-To's from Time To Teach. Let me know if you what more information on transitions as well as school-wide PBIS and classroom behavior management by me contacting through BehaviorInSchools.com. Tom

Marlene Biddinger's picture

Treat each student with respect and do not embarrass them in front of their peers. Talk to the student who is breaking the rules of your class by themselves. They will want to show off and be disrespectful to you in front of the group. Sometimes if you let them be your helper and give them a job their behavior will change. Let them know that you care about them and want them to learn. Ask them what can you do to help them be successful in your class.

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