23 Brilliant Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques

And how to implement each so your classroom runs like clockwork

Sponsored By Blocksi
23 Brilliant Classroom Management Strategies and Techniques feature image

Peer into some classrooms, and they seem so easy to manage. Others, not so much. In reality, classroom management is one of the toughest things that teachers do, but it is a skill that you can develop and perfect over time. Use these teacher-tested management techniques to design and manage your own ideal classroom environment.

1. Work with a classroom management system that really “gets” today’s classrooms

While teachers don’t usually get to choose their own classroom management systems, sometimes one stands out enough to be brought to your administrators’ attention for consideration. We love Blocksi for how much more it provides teachers above and beyond the basics like attendance monitoring and grading software. For example, Blocksi allows teachers to monitor every student’s screen from the teacher dashboard, allowing you to ensure your class is on task during independent work times. Teachers can also engage in text conferences or video conferences with students in class or remotely, making quick, meaningful feedback a breeze. It also gives teachers the option to filter what websites and YouTube videos students can access, making sure students are safe and using their devices responsibly. It really is more like a classroom teacher’s co-pilot than a simple classroom management app.

2. Get to know your students

Classroom management often boils down to getting to know, and build relationships with, many tiny humans. Start each year by getting to know your students. Yes, that means learning who loves soccer and who hates gym class. But it also means understanding how each kid prefers to learn. Do they like to work alone or with others? Would they like to read about the ocean or the desert? Use this information to catch up with students (how was the soccer game?) and plan lessons that they will connect with.

Get to know your students with this student interest survey.

3. Communicate positively with families

TalkingPoints app on cell phone screen which is on a teacher's desk with supplies.

This doesn’t just mean calling home when there’s a problem. That’s important, of course, but so is sharing students’ successes with their families. Every parent wants to hear positive news about their child, and this reinforcement almost always makes its way back to the student. Try to contact at least one family each day to celebrate their child’s achievements.

If this sounds like a lot of work, we’ve got good news! Parent-teacher communication apps make things so much easier. One of our favorites, TalkingPoints, is a free app that focuses on family engagement, especially for under-resourced, multilingual communities. Parents and teachers text each other through their phones or a web browser, and the app provides any translation needed. Texting allows both parents and teachers to communicate on their own schedules, improving the process for everyone. You can learn more about TalkingPoints here, and when you’re ready to get started, sign up and start communicating for free today.

4. Create a learning space that matches your needs

These days, there are no set rules for what a classroom needs to look like. Think about your teaching style, and create a classroom with areas that match. Do you do a lot of group work? Use tables, or desks that can easily be rearranged. Be sure to provide spaces for students to work on their own comfortably, and accommodate any special needs. Consider asking students to help create the space that helps them learn, and be open to their suggestions.

5. Set clear expectations up front

two ways that teachers can update classroom routines including having task boxes for students and using hand sanitizer for hall passes

Most teachers start the year by sharing their classroom rules and procedures. If you really want students to abide by them, take some extra time to explain more specifically what you mean and why they matter. If your first rule is “respect each other,” students will likely need some clarification around what that means to you. Brainstorm a list together, or ask students to act out appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.

Take things a step further by having your students work together to create classroom rules that they all agree to follow. When you use techniques like giving kids buy-in and treating them like adults, it improves classroom management.

6. Establish a behavior management plan

Every single teacher must be prepared with specific plans for behavior issues, including consequences for poor choices. Determine what you’ll say and do (it can help to role-play some common scenarios with more experienced teachers in advance). Try to match consequences with behaviors, so they’re more meaningful for students. In the heat of the moment, it can be tough to hand out a consequence. Enforce the consequence without any emotion. “You did this, and the consequence is this.” This helps students see that the behavior is unacceptable, but the student is still valuable.

7. Be consistent, insistent, and persistent

Once you’ve established your rules and behavior management plan, stick with it, every single day. When you tell kids to stop talking and get back to work, but you don’t follow through, you are effectively telling them it doesn’t matter that much. This can lead to teachers raising their voices and saying things they regret. You don’t have to be mean—you just have to mean it.

8. Don’t yell at students

Seriously, no screaming, shouting, or yelling in the classroom. Most kids just tune it out anyway. Determine other methods for getting students’ attention, like doorbells, clapbacks, or hand signals. These classroom management strategies save your voice and lower everyone’s stress levels.

9. Incorporate movement whenever possible

Collage of Active Math Games

Sitting still is hard. Whenever possible, let kids get up and move around in your classroom, even just for a minute or two. This helps reset their brains, shake out the wiggles, and prepare to focus on learning again. Even better? Use active learning activities when you can. When moving and learning happen together, kids really benefit.

10. Accommodate all learners

People learn in a variety of different ways, so the best classroom management techniques include lots of variety too. Offer activities that work for multiple learning styles: Allow students to read a text, watch a video, have a discussion with their peers, do hands-on practice, and more. When a student struggles with material, try switching up the teaching and learning methods you’re using. The more opportunities you give students to succeed and feel confident in their learning, the better.

11. Understand special needs

What is a 504 plan?

So many classroom management challenges can be averted by considering and planning for the needs in your classroom. Regularly review IEP and 504 plans, and share any concerns or questions with the special ed team. Be transparent with these students so they know the plan—and they know you know it too. Encourage kids to remind you of their accommodations, so it’s a team effort. This reduces anxieties for everyone and empowers kids to ask for what they need.

12. Recognize and honor diversity

When students feel seen, their learning and achievement skyrockets. As you learn more about your students, look for ways to represent their diverse characteristics in your lessons. Highlight BIPOC scientists, LGBTQ+ authors and books, and multilingual learning resources. Educate yourself on the differences between equality and equity, and strive to understand the challenges many of your students face both in and out of the classroom.

13. Address individual problems individually

When a student struggles, we sometimes want to help them “save face”—or help ourselves avoid difficult conversations. So, we choose to punish the whole class, or spend extra time on a topic that only a few kids really need help with. Learn to privately address challenges directly with the student(s) affected. These conversations really do get easier over time and can help you build strong relationships all around.

14. Don’t take things personally

Kids come to school with all sorts of baggage and often take out their wider frustrations on teachers and fellow students. It can be tempting to take things personally and let your emotions take over. Instead, take a step back and return to your behavior management plan. Ask yourself, “What does this student need right now?” and go from there. In the rare case where you and a student actually do seem to have a personal conflict, remember to address that individually with them instead of getting into a shouting match in the classroom.

15. Focus on the facts

In the same vein, be sure that you’re truly addressing the problem you have, not the one you think you have. For instance, if it feels like one particular student is constantly interrupting the class, start keeping track. (Better yet, have another teacher or admin step in to observe and keep track for you.) It might not happen as often as you think, or it might be that there’s a pattern to the problem that suggests its own solution. Do your best to use classroom management techniques that approach situations with logic rather than emotion or frustration.

16. Stay organized

Rolling carts for math and reading in the classroom

Source: @suzannesplans

Teachers have a million different things to do during any given day, so organization is one of the most important classroom management strategies. There’s a reason so many teachers love their daily planners and can’t get enough classroom organization ideas. Here are some of our favorite articles to get you started:

17. Give students as much responsibility as possible

Examples of classroom jobs, including botanist and paper passer

One way to help with organization is to take some responsibilities off your plate. Delegation is one of the best classroom management strategies because it empowers your students. They can take over jobs like taking attendance, cleaning up workstations, passing out papers, and even grading each other’s homework. Stop looking for ways to do things for your students, and instead find ways they can do things for themselves.

18. Plan, plan, plan

Cacti teacher planner on desk and Floral teacher planner on desk.

Even if you aren’t required to submit lesson plans, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do them. There’s a lot to manage throughout the day, and not knowing what you are supposed to be teaching can easily destroy a good day. Develop plans that work for your teaching style, accommodate all learners, go along with curriculum standards, and pique the curiosity of your students. It may sound daunting, but the more you do it, the better you’ll get. A well-planned day is one of the best classroom management strategies for making an immediate positive impact. Plus it can make all the difference between being tired and flat-out exhausted.

19. Learn to be flexible

Then again, the best-laid plans sometimes get derailed by snow days, sick kids, escaped hamsters, and other unforeseen emergencies. Teachers have to be able to be flexible and make adjustments on the fly. Build extra time into every lesson plan for the unexpected, and keep a supply of early-finisher activities on hand too. When you utilize classroom management strategies that help you go with the flow, your life becomes so much easier.

20. Notice the good things

Feeling down or negative? There’s a good chance you’re only focusing on the perceived failures or struggles in your classroom. All too often we spend our days telling students (and ourselves!) what went wrong. Just as it takes practice to notice things that aren’t going well in the classroom so you can course-correct, you might need to work on noticing things that are going well. Get in the habit of making a daily list of successes, even if they’re as small as “every kid remembered to turn in their homework on their own” or “Luiz and Geena didn’t fight at all today.” Use that list to praise students personally or send positive texts to families.

21. Recognize achievements of all kinds

A hand holding a 'Your Teacher is Proud!' note on blue paper

Be lavish with your praise! We don’t always need to be problem-solving. Instead, build on the positives, which will then push out the negatives. For example, if you see kids working together to solve something, notice it out loud. “Nice teamwork, you two. Can you share why you decided to do this together instead of on your own?” This way you’ll get to hear their thinking, and other students will get to learn that it’s OK (and encouraged) to do things differently.

22. Focus on behavior over achievement

As you’re celebrating achievement, try to look for and praise the behaviors that led to it. This encourages kids to value a growth mindset, where getting better at something is just as important as being good at it in the first place. So if a student receives a C on a test but it’s a 10-point improvement over their last score, tell them you’re proud. Ask how they accomplished that gain, and encourage them to keep up the positive behavior.

23. Default to compassion

A kid shows up late. “Everything OK? We missed you.” A kid doesn’t have their homework for the fourth time this week. “Hey, is something going on that’s making it hard for you to get your work done? This is really important, and I want to make sure you’re able to do what you need to do.” A kid throws a tantrum in class. “Wow, you’re really struggling with self-control. Can you tell me why? Are you hungry or tired?” This is one of those strategies that can be a real game-changer with your most challenging students. Learn more at the link.

Classroom Management Techniques by Grade

Be sure to check out Blocksi to see all the tools and resources this classroom management system offers teachers and schools.

Is your classroom feeling out of control? Try these classroom management strategies and techniques to help get more authority and respect.