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If punishment is such a great
deterrent of bad behavior, why is it
that the worst students are often
punished the most?

John-Paul Mathieu

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Table of Contents

3. Classroom management and key aspects

4. Understanding students and their basic needs
7. Preventing Misbehavior
12. Dealing with Misbehavior
14. Appendix of more resources on classroom management

What is Classroom Management?

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Classroom management is the all-encompassing ability to ensure

everything runs smoothly within the classroom. To do this, you must be
organized and give clear expectations and directions to students. This does
not only apply to the instruction of material to teach, but also expectations of
each and every student within the classroom. Managing an effective
classroom includes creating a safe and enjoyable environment where all who
enter strive to become better human beings. Whether its by forming new
friendships, gaining the ability to better understand yourself and learning to
deal with emotions, or just enriching your mind with new information. The
bottom line is, no matter how hard you try with coming up with lessons, if
the students do not see your classroom as a positive place to be and a place
they enjoy being in, they wont respect it and will more than likely act out.

Keys to Successful Classroom Management

Understanding that the environment itself has a huge impact on

student behavior.
Understanding that you are modeling and projecting behaviors. How
you respond to behavior; good or bad, helps students understand what
appropriate behavior is.
Understanding students and their individual needs physical or
emotional plays a large role in your ability to manage the classroom.
Forming emotional connections with your students will encourage them
to do well in academics and how they act.
Remembering that you are there to not just teach the material, but
show how they can become better human beings.
Have fun and smile! If you show you enjoy being there, they too will
enjoy the classroom more.

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Understanding Students
Why is it important to understand students?
Despite what many are taught to believe, people are not inherently bad.
Even if someone continually acts out, it does not mean they are bad, but
instead there is something causing them to act out. When it comes to our
students, we have to remember that they too are human and they have
basic needs if their needs arent met then they may act out, not do their
work, start picking on another student, or just act like a bad kid. So if you
can understand the student and find out what is bothering him/her then you
can find ways to prevent further issues.

What are these basic needs the students have?

Safety and Security If a student does not feel like they are in a safe
place, then chances are they wont participate in class. Oftentimes this
behavior would be seen as the student as being lazy or even just shy.
Neither of these may be the case. If your classroom can be a place
where they feel safe, then you may find that shy or lazy kid can be the
most outgoing and most hardworking child in class.

Belonging If a student doesnt feel like they belong in the class, then
once again they could be withdrawn and not do anything. Or, they may
try to belong by acting out so he can at least engage with the other
students. Creating an environment where all the students feel like they
belong will help ensure they work together, participate in class, and
reduce the tendency of acting out.

Attention Just like most people, students like to have attention be

paid to them. If a student is continually ignored or rarely interacts with
others, this could cause him to act out to gain that attention, even if
its negative attention. Or, the child could feel rejected and cause the
student to not even try.
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Competence No matter where you are from, what your background

is, or how old you are, every person needs a feeling of self-worth to
help build self-esteem. When we have low self-worth we lose
motivation for pretty much everything except for talking down to
ourselves. When in this mode you can become detached from the
people around you and detached from things that make you happy. It is
important to ensure the students have self-worth and as a teacher and
model, you can instill the students with great self-worth. Doing so will
greatly increase their participation, behavior, grades, and most
importantly better thoughts about themselves.

Power and/or control We all need to feel like we have at least

some control over whats happening around us, and if we dont it can
cause us to feel angry or helpless. Ensuring your students arent just
prisoners inside a classroom where you control every aspect of the
class will allow them to avoid those negative feelings which cause the
negative behavior. It can be as simple as letting them help in forming
rules of the class or consequences for not following the rules or even
as simple as making sure they know they can stop you at any time
without raising their hand to get clarification on something or get
something explained.

Fun If you arent havent fun or find any enjoyment out of doing
something, would you want to pay attention to someone talking about
what you dont enjoy or do work to improve your ability to do what
makes you bored? Chances are you wouldnt. As a result, as a teacher
if you find ways to make material fun then it will help students engage
with the material and engage in communication. This engagement will
help with their ability to do the work, improve their behavior, and
improve with building relationships around them.

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Revenge or Justice If you feel wronged or you perceive someone

else as being wronged, you may feel the need to lash out and either
defend yourself or the other person. It is important to be fair with all
your students so they dont feel that you are the enemy to their
existence where they want to bring you down a notch. When students
feel this way, it is important to find out what caused them to be in this
mode so you can find ways to heal the tear that has been formed
between you.

Meaning If you dont find meaning in doing something, then why

would you want to know more about it? If dont want to know more
about something, then why would pay attention? It is important to
ensure you give students meaning in the lessons you are trying to
teach. It could be a lesson on the material or a lesson on being a better
person. Making these lessons relevant to the students will increase
participation and motivation to partake in the lesson and reduce bad

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Preventing Misbehavior
Building Relationships
One of the most powerful tools you have as an educator for preventing
misbehavior is your ability to not only form relationships with your students,
but influencing the students to form relationships with each other. There is
absolutely nothing wrong with spending an entire first week of class
dedicated to getting everyone to know each other and just spend the time
for all to adjust to each other. You can also use this time to teach them how
to get to know someone.
Heres an example on how this could go. Once all students are there
and you introduce yourself, explain to them, You know, chances are if you
are like every single group of students to ever have existed, there are
probably people in this class that youve been in the same classrooms for 2,
3, 4, or even 5 years, and youve probably never spoken to them about
anything other than the class or even spoken to at all. So lets all get up and
find someone across the room to talk to, but before you do, let me explain
how we will do this.
First off, youll smile (pause, smile and wait a couple seconds and
giggle, chances are they will mimic the giggle and lighten the mood) then
youll introduce yourself and say something along the lines, Good Daaay,
Person! How has your day been so far? Then after the introduction, Id like
you talk to each other about at least one thing you guys like to do. The thing
is however, is not to be afraid to say any type of hobby. For example, sure
Im in my mid-thirties, but I like to play World of Warcraft or Heroes of the
Storm. Its not the most exciting thing, but its what I like and the thing is
what we like is what makes us who we are. So dont be afraid to say
anything. Well do this and talk for a while, then well go around the room
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and youll introduce the new person you met to all of us and tell us what you
liked about your interaction with them.
This of course was just one example of what you could do. But the
point is, you want to create a class where the room itself is seen as a place
where they can all enjoy each other, be friendly, and feel like they all belong.
If they have these relationships with you and each other then it almost
becomes a sacred place where they dont want to defile it with negative
Pedro Neguera, a specialist said it best after doing his study of urban
schools, The best behaved urban schools are without metal detectors, but
instead have a strong sense of community. In these schools, students view it
as sacred territory, too special to be spoiled by crime and violence.

Setting the Correct Standards

Rules can be an arbitrary thing and if you dont agree to the rules or
punishments for breaking the rules, then you are likely not going to follow
the rules. As a result, you can create these rules by letting the students have
input on the creation of the rules. Luckily, students already know what
should be the rules because theyve heard the same rules for years on end
like no interrupting others, treating others respectfully, not using phone, etc.
If these are rules you want in your classroom, you can have them and the
students will follow them if they are the ones that come up with it. Luckily,
you can guide them in the creation of these rules and make them think they
came up with them, which will help get the students to follow them.
For example, lets say you want the rules to be no making fun of
others. You can start out by saying, Hey guys, what about this sort of thing?
Really quick, I just want you to close your eyes and listen to the words and
how they are said. So here goes Youre like, stupid! Why would even ask a
dumb question like that? I cant believe you dont understand whats going
on! Why are you even here, go home! . What do you guys think, that
probably doesnt feel good at all to be talked to like that. Did any of you like
that? Ok, lets try it again Wow, thats an awesome question! I never
thought of that! Heck yeah man, youre awesome, Im glad youre here!
GreatJob! Dude, like, you just made my day!... What do you guys think,
does it feel better to be spoken to like that? Feels kind of good right? So what

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you guys think, should we use a rule that says no negative talking to
Chances are, they would agree to that rule and they would be more
likely to follow it and treat each other at least a bit better. The thing is, you
can do this with many rules, including the rules that are typically broken. But
if they are involved in the process in coming up with the rules, they will have
a much higher tendency to follow them.

Procedures are different than rules in that they are basically routines to
ensure students either get on task or stay on task and they help create
classroom structure. It is important to be consistent with the procedures so
students will constantly follow your chosen procedure. Typically, the most
effective procedures are the least invasive procedures not only that, but
just like rules, if you allow the students to help create these procedures they
will be more likely to follow the procedures.
For example, suppose you want to come up with an action you can do
when the class is getting too rowdy. Without a procedure, the common way
to deal with the loudness is to say to the class Quiet down or something
along those lines. Some may comply and calm down, but some may just flat
out ignore what you said.
Now instead of going about it that way, when the class was in a good
mood or calm you can bring up the issue of what to do when the class gets
too loud. You could ask them what sort of signal theyd want you do send out
to clearly let them know they need to tone it down a notch. They could come
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up with something like turning off the lights or having you clap your hands or
something completely different. Either way, as long as they all agree to it
(including yourself) the chances of them following the procedure will vastly
increase and it will help prevent future excessive noise.

Showing You Care and Active Listening

When students act out or just dont do anything in your class, there is
typically a reason for it. Whether they arent having a personal need met or
there is just something going on their lives outside of school; if you want to
prevent them from continuing with their actions, one of the best things to do
is to actually talk to them and listen to what they have to say. Now, thats not
to say you go up to the student and say, Why dont you listen to me when I
tell you what to do? I know whats best for you and I know how to make you
succeed in life, so you really should listen to me. But instead, you should go
about it in a completely different way.
For example, lets assume Timmy isnt doing any of the assignments
for your class. If you say to him, Timmy, if you dont do your work, you are
going to fail and youre going to have to repeat the class he most likely will
continue not doing his work. Instead, tell him youd like to sit down and talk
with him for a few minutes. Start off by asking how everything is going and
try to have a normal conversation with him like you would with any other
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person. In other words, get to know him not as a student, but as a person.
When doing so, show interest in what he has to say and find some common
ground between you. Once you do this, you can slowly start asking why he
isnt doing anything in your class.
When you start delving into the why he isnt doing anything, it is
imperative you use active listening skills. What this means is you want to
show understanding to what he has to say, reflect the emotions that he is
expressing, and try to get him to continue explaining keep the focus on him
and not what you want him to do. Doing this will show that you actually care
about him and what he has to say and its then that you can start working on
ways for him to do his work.
Using the strategy described will allow Timmy to see that you are an
ally to him and he will want to actually work with you. When people become
allies, there becomes a motivation to not let the other person down and its
no longer just about themselves. As a result, the likelihood that Timmy does
his work will dramatically increase.

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

As an educator one of the many goals you should have is helping the
students grow as a human being and teaching them emotional intelligence is
a key aspect of that. Luckily, by instilling them with increased emotional
intelligence, it will also prevent misbehavior. This can be done in a variety of
ways and when you notice they are picking up on what you are teaching, it
can actually make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
There are many aspects of emotional intelligence such as empathy,
understanding your own feelings, expressing your feelings, and even
regulating your feelings. How you act in your class as a teacher can have a
big impact on the development of their own emotional intelligence. You have
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to remember that you are a model, so if you are getting frustrated and lash
out at your students, they will see that an appropriate behavior for when you
are frustrated is to yell and scream. Alternatively, if you get frustrated and
you calmly let the students know how you feel and how its effecting you,
they will learn that its good to be able to express it to help keep the
frustration at bay.
Sometimes students act out because they havent learned the
appropriate responses to how they are feeling or they just havent learned
how to see how their actions are affecting other people. You can talk with
them and ask them how they would respond to something in a scenario and
then bring it back to them and help them understand how their actions are
the same in the scenario to help them learn empathy and help them learn
how to view things from a different perspective.
If you find yourself having to punish a student and when the
punishment is over you respond with some negative thing like, I hope that
teaches you not to do what you were doing, you teach them to hold onto
grudges. However, if you instead welcome them back and make things
pleasant for them, they will learn to let go of resentment and be able to
move on.
Ultimately, if the students have higher emotional intelligence, it will
drastically prevent misbehavior because they will have techniques to deal
with whats going on or theyll be able to see how misbehavior affects the
people around them. So if you are able to instill a high sense of emotional
intelligence, then your class will be much easier to manage.

Misbehavior Intervention (Dealing with

Minor Disruptions
If a student is causing a minor disruption to the class, the logical and
appropriate intervention to have a minor response to the disruption. A
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common mistake that is made my teachers when a student is doing

something minor like clicking a pen over and over, tapping on his desk, or
maybe just talking to their neighbor is to call out the student from the front
of the class and telling the student to stop doing whatever it is he is doing.
Instead, you could just walk over to the student or even just make eye
contact with the student for a prolonged period of time to let them know you
are aware of the behavior.
Of course, sometimes your minor response of letting them know what
they are doing may not be enough. In this case, you could up the ante by
quietly telling them, Id like you to please stop doing x activity. This will
serve the two purposes of clearly telling them what you want and also help
them save face by not calling them out in front of the class. If they continue
to do what they are doing, then instead of getting frustrated and jump to
punishing them, just calmly repeat what you said in the exact same way (as
in I would like behavior please and not Stop doing behavior).
Suppose they continue to do what they are doing, do you then punish
them? Well, not quite. Instead, you give them an ultimatum of what will
happen if they dont stop. The key to the ultimatum is to give a logical
consequence so if they are clicking on a pen then you say they will have to
swap pens with you with one that doesnt have the clicky thing. If they are
talking to a student, then you just move the student to a different spot for a
small amount of time. Basically, make it so the ultimatum would change
whats happening, but not be something that would make them feel
resentment and want to cause a power struggle.
Finally, if they continue to do it, dont remind them of the punishment,
but instead carry out the punishment right away. By carrying out the
punishment right away it will show to the other students that when you give
an ultimatum that you mean it, and they will get the punishment.

3-Step Intervention
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What was described on the previous page was an example of the 3

step intervention method. As we saw, just like the name implies it contains 3
simple steps.
Step 1: Tell them what you want
When carrying out the first step you have to clearly tell them what you
want. What this means is you always say in the form of I would like you to
do or stop x activity as opposed to just saying Stop it, Do this or that, or
even phrasing it as a question . By being explicit in what you want, it makes
sure they can completely process and understand in exactly what you want
done. Also, do not be aggressive with it and always remember to say please.
People respond to politeness much more positively than to aggression. If
they continue with it the behavior then repeat it if they continue, then
repeat but be more firm. If the behavior continues then move to step 2.
Step 2: Ultimatum
If they continue to do whatever they are doing and they dont stop
despite you telling them multiple times, then you need to give them an
ultimatum. In other words, If you dont stop, then this will happen. The
ultimatum has to be an appropriate ultimatum and it must be something that
is instant as opposed to what will happen in the future. So basically, if
someone keeps talking to another student, you dont say youll make them
sit in a different seat the next day, but instead theyll have to move now.
Also, the ultimatum shouldnt be so severe that they will refuse to do it
because this will potentially cause a power struggle between you and the
student. The ultimatum needs to just be something that will solve the
problem, not necessarily punish the student. If they continue to do the
behavior, then move to step 3.
Step 3: Carry out the ultimatum
As soon as they do the behavior after you give them the ultimatum,
carry out with what you said would happen. You have to set the precedent to
the class that when you say youll do something, youll actually do it. If they
find that they can continue to do whatever they want, then they will ignore
all future ultimatums or theyll see just how far they can go until you do what
you say.

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Major Disruptions
Major disruptions have a little variety on how you deal with them; it
just depends on the severity of the disruption. With that said a major key to
remember is you never ask why they are doing the disruption. For example,
if a student throws a paper ball, your response should never be Why are you
throwing stuff?. In this case, you can just use the 3 step intervention
method and chances are it will deal with the problem.
On the other hand, if someone is hitting, constantly touching another
student, or being verbally abusive to another student, then you start with
step 2 of the 3 step method. So, give them the ultimatum and the carry it out
of they do it again. No matter the outcome, its imperative that when its
over you go into prevention mode by performing a conference with the two
students either after class or when there is down time within the class.
While having the conference with the students you are acting as a
mediator between the two. Have each student give their side and calmly
help the other student understand the others perspective. Ensure both
students are clear with what they think and are clear with what they say.
Even if you know who started it, its important to not take sides and cause
blame. Use this conference as the perfect opportunity to increase both
students emotional intelligence to help understand the importance of the
empathy. When done correctly, then both students can walk away without
wanting revenge on the other student which will prevent further fighting.

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Great resources for all things teaching, including classroom
management strategies, teacher development, assessment strategies, etc.
In depth classroom management from the American Psychological

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