Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Lesson 5: How to Manage the Classroom from Citizen Schools

Take control of the classroom by assigning roles and setting up learning procedures.

September 24, 2008

Some teachers are just born controllers. They're the ones who can turn a raucous classroom into a silent one with the bat of an eyelash. They demand attention and respect by just being there. How do these teachers do it? What's the trick? And how can the rest of us emulate these natural class constables?

Turn to classroom-management strategies. Classroom management refers to all the things an adult does to organize students, space, time, and materials so that instruction and student learning can take place. Through basic techniques -- such as assigning roles and setting procedures -- you can encourage positive behavior and order in the classroom.


Assigning Classroom Roles

Understanding student behavior is beyond the means of this tutorial. But you don't have to be an expert in human development to identify a restless, unmotivated, or shy kid. Educators often use role assignment to thwart or to encourage certain behaviors. By assigning roles in the classroom, you give students an added sense of ownership and responsibility.

The following is a list of role assignments you can give students based on their traits and their behavior. When assigning roles, try to highlight to the class each role's importance in establishing community.

Download the Roles and Responsibilities Chart (504KB)

Roles and Responsibilities

Agenda Master

  • What the student does in the role: posts the agenda, crosses off an activity when finished, and throws away agendas.
  • Whom to assign it to: a restless student, one who gets out of his or her chair frequently.

Time Keeper

  • What the student does in the role: makes sure the team is on time (using the agenda as a guide).
  • Whom to assign it to: someone with a short attention span and who easily gets off task.

Master of Supplies

  • What the student does in the role: carries the mentor's equipment and passes out supplies.
  • Whom to assign it to: someone who needs a little extra attention.

Collection Master

  • What the student does in the role: passes out and collects papers.
  • Whom to assign it to: someone who needs a little extra attention and who needs to feel special.

Ritual Starter

  • What the student does in the role: Initiates the ritual by passing out supplies or props, setting up, and reminding others about what to do.
  • Whom to assign it to: someone who needs to experience positive reinforcement and needs to be settled down.

Clean-Up Captain

  • What the student does in the role: makes sure the room is back in order.
  • Whom to assign it to: someone who finishes work early.

Chart Keeper

  • What the student does in the role: keeps track of everyone's progress.
  • Whom to assign it to: someone who is unmotivated.

Don't see all the roles you'd like to see on the chart? Feel free to make up roles specific to a task, particular subject, or assignment. And reassign roles as you see fit.

Establishing Procedures

Kids need routine for discipline and security. Set up a routine at the beginning of your apprenticeship by establishing and communicating classroom procedures.

Here are some examples:

  • Use a ritual when entering the learning space.
  • Start work immediately during homework or project time.
  • Hand out passes when a student is tardy.
  • Ask students to raise their hands to ask questions.
  • Introduce all classroom visitors.
  • Ask students to read silently when they finish early.
  • Handle problems at the conference corner.


Concluding Stats on Misbehavior

Often, just knowing why students misbehave can give you ideas to help remedy the problem. Take a look at some of these causes of misbehavior to help you curb the problem in the future. About 90 percent of student misbehavior is due to one or more of the following issues:

  • Poor general management
  • Inappropriate work that is above, below, or unrelated to a student's learning style
  • Boring instruction
  • Confusing instruction
  • Unclear expectations and consequences
  • A feeling of powerlessness
  • The physical environment (the room is too hot, too cold, too crowded, and so on)
  • Value clashes
  • Heavy emotional baggage

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Filed Under

  • Project-Based Learning (PBL)
  • Classroom Management
  • Curriculum Planning
  • 9-12 High School

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