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R E - E S TA B L I S H I N G S T R U C T U R E

Ten Suggested Strategies

Before you Begin:
1. Believe that you can “start over” and reestablish structure in
your classroom. While recognizing that the first few months of the
school year have allowed some negative patterns to take hold, it is never
too late to assert your authority and establish an orderly classroom
environment. Your students this year need you to commit to change now.
Resist the urge to throw up your hands and wait until next year.
2. Have a clear plan for how things will change. In order to clearly
articulate and teach your expectations to students, your expectations
must be clear in your own mind. After reflecting on the highest priority
areas of your classroom and accessing various resources (other
colleagues, your PD, videos, etc.), create an action plan that clearly
outlines the steps you will take to start over.
3. Realize that change will not occur overnight. You will need to
devote time to teach and reinforce your new procedures, as you would
any academic skill. Lee Canter says it takes “at least two weeks of
consistent effort to begin the process of reteaching students how you
expect them to behave.” Don’t be afraid to prioritize teaching behavior in
the middle of the year; time spent fully addressing challenges now will
allow you to focus more on instruction in the future. Students will test the
new systems and try your commitment to change. Your determination will
make the difference.

S t r a t e g y # 1 : Te l l Yo u r S t u d e n t s i t i s a N e w “ D a y O n e . ”
Once your plan for new procedures and routines is crystal clear in your own
mind, have a discussion with your students to clearly explain how and why
things will be different from this point forward. It is important that when you
are doing this your tone is calm, confident, and matter of fact.
• Tell them that you will be raising your expectations for how smoothly
and orderly the class runs in order to allow more time for teaching and
o “We have been having some problems in this class. I am very
conscious of these problems and I’m sure you are as well.
Because we have to create a classroom where you can learn
what you need to learn this year, these problems have to stop.
Together, from this point forward, we are going to work toward a
classroom where I can teach and you can learn. Today and over
the next several days, we will spend some class time revisiting
the rules of the classroom and how things should happen in order
to maximize your learning. We’re going to start right now…”
• A confrontational approach like the following would probably be
counter-productive and would not motivate students to learn and work
together for change.
o “I can’t take it anymore. You all are acting up, not listening,
being disruptive, and not acting your age. From now on, things
are going to be different around here, so you better shape up or
expect to get shipped out.”

Strategy #2: Start with the Big ‘Uns.

Choose procedures that will have a high impact on the classroom structure
overall. You might start with how to enter the classroom and begin the
period/day, as that usually sets the tone for the rest of the class. If your
biggest problem is getting students to stop talking and listen to directions,
determining an appropriate “attention getting signal” and teaching your
expectations for student response to that should be high on your list. You
should probably teach procedures for teacher-directed activities (such as
asking questions during a lecture) before student-directed activities (such as
rotating through centers).

S t r a t e g y # 3 : Te a c h Yo u r N e w E x p e c t a t i o n s .
Teach your new expectations for one or two high priority classroom
procedures as you would any other academic content. Remember that it is
not enough to simply set expectations and communicate them to your
students – you need to teach them until they are learned. Teaching
behavioral expectations for procedures involves the same process as
teaching anything else, including modeling, checking for understanding, and
assessment. A sample lesson for teaching students the correct procedure for
entering the classroom is included at the end of this document.

S t r a t e g y # 4 : E x p e c t t o b e Te s t e d .
This is less of a strategy and more of a mindset, but it is important
nonetheless. You must expect testing of your new expectations. Be
prepared to be extremely consistent and to demand perfect execution.
Some students will have to be asked to repeat the procedure multiple times
(on this day one and on future days) to be convinced that you mean what
you say and you say what you mean.

S t r a t e g y # 5 : Re i n f o rc e a n d As s e s s U n d e rs t a n d i n g i n
C r e a t i v e Wa y s .
Sure, you need to model, ask students to demonstrate, and expect the whole
class to execute the procedure. But you can do more than that to reinforce
the correct procedure to students. Here are some ideas:
• Have students draw a comic strip of students following the procedure
correctly and incorrectly.
• Write skits and role plays have students perform in front of the class.
Make them funny.
• Provide written, humorous, scenarios for students to critique. Involve
famous people in them.
• Give quizzes. Make them multiple choice, with 2 of the 4 options being
ridiculous, off the wall answers.

S t r a t e g y # 6 : D o n ’ t Pu n i s h . J u s t Re p e a t .
The consequence for a poorly followed procedure is…to do it again. Robert
Kelty, New Mexico ’01, said that “the best thing I learned to do in my
classroom when teaching procedures was to calmly say, ‘Start over.’”
Consider this excerpt from the Classroom Management and Culture Course:

What happens if, after teaching a procedure, your students don’t

execute the procedure properly? If you expect your students to
line up silently with their hands clasped in front of them, and
Brittney and Sheldon are wiggling around and swinging their
arms like windmills, you should ask the class to look at the line,
determine what is wrong, and ask Brittney and Sheldon to return
to their seats and join the line properly. If you have taught your
students to pass in their papers in a certain way and they do so
incorrectly, do you give them all a five-minute detention after
school? No. You simply remind them of the correct process for
handing in papers and you ask them to do it again. The
“consequence” for not following a procedure properly is to repeat
the procedure. However, sometimes your students will violate a
rule while a procedure is happening. For example, your
procedure for entering class is to walk in silently, remove one’s
notebook from the shelf, sit down immediately, and begin the Do
Now. If two students jostle and loudly insult one another while
getting their notebooks from the shelf, they are not carrying out
the procedure properly, but more importantly, they are also
violating the rule Respect your classmates. The proper response
is to give students the consequence you would administer for
breaking that rule at any other time and to ask them to repeat
their entrance into the class correctly. Remember that rules are
always in effect, and breaking them at any time earns the
student the appropriate consequence.

S t r a t e g y # 7 : I n t ro d u c e O n e N e w P ro c e d u re E v e r y Fe w
Don’t overwhelm students with multiple procedures at once, but don’t just
introduce one and then wait three weeks to introduce the next. Repeat the
process of teaching a new high-priority procedure every few days. Again,
remember to teach your procedure as you would any content.
Strategy #8: Re m e m b e r the Connection Between
Instruction and Management.
If students have mastered your procedure for entering the classroom but the
warm-up activity is too challenging or so easy that students complete it in 60
seconds, the first 5 minutes of your class period could still spiral into chaos.
As asserted in the Classroom Management & Culture course, “students will
become disengaged – and then off task - if they are sitting at their desks
simply watching Anthony complete the math problem on the board during
the guided practice stage of your lesson. Students who finish an
independent activity and don’t have anything else to work on will find “other
things” to occupy their attention. When you plan, you should ask yourself
not just, ‘What will I be doing every minute of the class?’ but more
importantly, ‘What will my students be doing every minute of the day?’” The
connection between instruction and management cannot be understated.

S t r a t e g y # 9 : I n v o l v e Pa re n t s .
Communicate to parents that there will be changes in your classroom. Send
them a letter explaining your new procedures and your expectations for your
students. Provide suggestions for how they can support you at home (for
example, if you are no longer going to be loaning pencils out, ask parents to
make sure students have enough writing implements.) Ask
parents/caregivers to review the information with the child.

S t r a t e g y # 1 0 : Re - t e a c h Pro c e d u re s As N e e d e d … U n t i l t h e
Last Day of School.
Highly effective teachers who are committed to maximizing instructional
time realize that the consistent reinforcement of procedures is never done.
This is especially true after long holidays or if the procedure hasn’t been
used in a while. Remind students of the need for the procedure(s),
demonstrate the procedure your self, ask for a small group of volunteers to
model the process, critique their performance, and then ask the entire class
to complete the procedure properly.
Sample Lesson Plan for Teaching a New Procedure

Objective: Students will be able to enter the classroom while correctly

following a new procedure


Discuss the rationale for this new procedure:

“Every day, when students come in, it takes several minutes for people to
take their seats, get out their homework, and begin the warm up activity I
have on the board. When it is time to go over the warm up, most students
haven’t finished it because they have been talking too much to classmates.
We end up wasting a lot of time at the beginning of the period, and we rarely
complete what I have planned for the day. We cannot keep losing this much
time each day, as our time together is too precious to waste. So, here is how
we are going to enter the classroom and begin the day from now on…”
Intro to New Material

Narrate and simultaneously model how you want students to enter the
classroom. Go through each step, explaining what you are doing as you do it.

To check for understanding, ask one student to verbally repeat what you just
modeled, and ask another student to note whether their classmate correctly
repeated the process. Make sure you affirm the student if they are correct
and offer feedback for things they didn’t articulate correctly.
Guided Practice

Ask a small group of students to demonstrate the correct process for the rest
of the class. Ask the observers to comment on how accurately that small
group of students followed the process. Make sure you offer praise and
feedback as well; narrate the behavior you want to reinforce, “Janerio took
her notebook from the shelf and went directly to her seat.” “Darnell
immediately got his warm-up page out.”
Independent Practice

Ask the entire class to line up outside the classroom and then enter as you
have explained and other students have demonstrated. This is where you
need to be prepared to be especially calm, matter of fact, and 100%
consistent in your expectations. If even one student does the procedure
incorrectly, ask all students to return to the hallway to try again. KEEP saying
in a conversational tone, “we need to start over, that wasn’t correct. I know
you can do it properly!” (For an example of this process, see Fred Jones’
article at Do
not stop until your class as a whole has executed the procedure properly. Of
course, as students do pieces of the procedure correctly, offer lots of positive

Assess your students by asking three volunteers to demonstrate the process,

this time giving them pre-made scripts to follow, one that is slightly off, one
that is terribly wrong, and one that is perfect. Ask students to write down
what each student did that was incorrect. Collect these papers and review

Thank students for their effort and tell them that tomorrow they will be
expected to enter the classroom this way as well.