A Classroom Management Strategy For The First Days Of School

A Classroom Management Strategy For The First Days Of SchoolAt the start of a new school year, it’s common for teachers to send home a packet of information for parents.

This packet typically consists of school policies and procedures, daily schedules, papers to be signed, and hopefully a classroom management plan.

This is all fine and good.

But by throwing all this information together in a single packet, you’re missing an opportunity to get classroom management started with a bang.

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to send a pleasant behavioral shock wave through your new class of students and their parents.

After all, they’re ripe for a change.

The students who have had behavior problems in the past are either hopeful to turn over a new leaf or chomping at the bit to wrest control of the class from you as quickly as they can.

Either way, the strategy I’m going to share with you sets the tone for the upcoming school year and is an important first step to creating the class you really want.

The Classroom Management Packet

Instead of sending home one large packet to parents, send two smaller ones. Send the one with general information, papers to sign, and various schedules on the first day or two of school. The second packet, which will be classroom management related, send home later in the week or the beginning of the next one.

A classroom management packet has two purposes:

1. To establish your behavior expectations, putting both parents and students on notice that you will hold all students accountable for behavior that interferes with learning.

2. To get parents and students to sign-off on your classroom management plan and acknowledge their understanding of the steps taken if a student misbehaves. This eliminates future complaints about your handling of misbehavior.

Here’s what you should include in your packet:

A greeting

The first page of your packet should be a letter introducing yourself and welcoming families to your classroom. Be friendly and conversational. Briefly share something about yourself and how excited you are about the new school year.

Tell parents what’s in the packet, why you’re sending it home, and what they need to do with it (more on this below).

Your classroom management plan

Some teachers recommend creating a classroom management plan with student input. The reasoning being that if students are involved in making the rules, they’ll have ownership and be more likely to behave. Hogwash.

You’re the authority in the classroom. You set the tone. You make the rules. Therefore your classroom management plan should be prepared and included in this packet.

Your policy on bullying

Bullying is serious and therefore should be separate from your classroom management plan. To learn how to create a anti-bullying policy for your classroom, read the article Bullying In The Classroom: The Ultimate Guide To Stopping It.

Your homework and restroom policies

Keep these simple and straightforward, and put both on the same page. Have your homework policy stated on the top half of the page and your restroom policy on the bottom half.

Note: Creating a painless homework policy will the topic of be a future article.

A copy of a letter home

If you use a letter home as your third consequence—which I recommend—a copy of it should be included. That way, if parents receive such a letter during the school year, they’ll know what it means and why you’re sending it.

And that’s it.

A classroom management packet is quite simple. The key details, however, are what make it impactful.

Key Details

Teach your classroom management plan.

Much of your first week of school should be dedicated to teaching your classroom management plan. Your students need to know it backwards and forwards before a copy of it goes home to parents.

Teach your homework and restroom policies.

Detailed modeling and role-play are most effective for teaching your plan, policies, and routines. Again, let students experience the ins and outs of each one before sharing them with parents.

Send the packet home by itself.

On a day when nothing else is going home to parents, preferably during the second week of school, send your classroom management packet home with each student.

Assign as homework.

As the only homework assigned for that evening, ask your students to read through and discuss the packet with their parents.

Have it signed.

At the bottom of your introductory letter, have a place for both students and parents to sign, acknowledging their understanding of your classroom management plan and homework and restroom policies. It should read something like, “We have read, understood, and discussed Room 12’s classroom management packet.”

Include instructions for parents to cut along a dotted line, creating a return slip. Allow a full week before having the slips due back to you. Although they’ll probably never see the light of day, keep these signed slips safely tucked in a nearby folder. Just in case.

Present at back-to-school night.

The classroom management packet should be the basis of your presentation during back-to-school night. Yes, you can mention all the wonderful activities you’re planning and the academic goals you have for your students—and you should—but your teaching success hinges on your ability to manage your classroom.

Thus, it should be your number one priority.

Set The Tone Early

It’s much more difficult to manage a classroom that’s already out of control–like putting toothpaste back in the tube. It’s best to start the year off on the right foot by establishing your behavior expectations early.

The classroom management-only packet is a great way to do this. It gets students and parents on board and on record within the first few days of school.

And sets the table for a great year.

If you haven’t done so already, please join us. It’s free! Click here and begin receiving classroom management articles like this one in your email box every week.

, ,

22 Responses to A Classroom Management Strategy For The First Days Of School

  1. Lawrence Brennan July 16, 2012 at 10:35 am #

    Michael,

    The link to your restoom policy is broken: http://www.smartclassroommanagement.com/2010/05/01/a-better-restroom-policy/

    Would you let me know when the policy is available, please?

    Your blog has helped me decide to return to the classroom! Please keep posting your wisdom. I find your blog invaluable!

    With many thanks,

    -Lawrence Brennan

    • Michael Linsin July 16, 2012 at 4:30 pm #

      Hi Lawrence,

      The article about the restroom policy is no longer available. A few readers misunderstood the strategy, so I removed it. I hope to rewrite it in the future–only this time, in a way that is much clearer.

      :)Michael

  2. Bobbi Beckstrom July 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    I was unable to get to your sample letter home. Perhaps the link is broken? I am also interested in an article about restroom policy as well as suggestions for how to deal with very loud classes. I am appreciating your articles so much; keep them coming please! Thank you!!!
    Bobbi

    • Michael Linsin July 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      Hi Bobbi,

      I’m glad you like the articles. I’m sorry you’re having trouble downloading the sample letter. I checked the link and it’s working fine. The restroom policy article is no longer available. It’s the only article I’ve ever removed. A few readers misunderstood its intent, so I hope to write it again with greater clarity in the future. An article on noise levels is also on the list of future topics. Stay tuned!

      :)Michael

  3. Amy August 22, 2012 at 7:25 am #

    I like the idea about providing information about the classroom management plan to parents.
    Do you have a sample letter for that?
    Thanks.

    • Michael Linsin August 22, 2012 at 9:43 am #

      Hi Amy,

      The opening letter is a simple greeting. It should be friendly, personal, and conversational, and thus should come from you. Write it as speaking from the heart, and it will be perfect.

      :)Michael

  4. Alicia October 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

    I could not find an article for “painless homework”. Has it been written yet? I would love to know a good policy. I am required to accept late work and I am receiving too much of it.

    • Michael Linsin October 14, 2012 at 11:16 am #

      Hi Alicia,

      You can find the homework policy here.

  5. Cindy October 14, 2012 at 7:55 am #

    I can’t seem to find the updated restroom policy; perhaps you haven’t had a chance to do it yet. I am anxious to see what it entails.
    Thanks.

    • Michael Linsin October 14, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Hi Cindy,

      The updated restroom policy has yet to be written. 🙂

      Michael

  6. Holly July 23, 2013 at 4:30 am #

    Hello,

    It is now term 3 and I came across this article and would like to send a note home outlining classroom rules and the letter as a 3rd time consequence. Is this advisable so late in the year? I teach kindergarten and plan to use the angle of ‘as we are getting ready for yr 1 we decided to review our classroom rules as we are becoming more responsible’

    Thanks
    Holly 🙂

    • Michael Linsin July 23, 2013 at 6:38 am #

      Hi Holly,

      I think that would be fine. Just be sure and take the time to model, explain, and practice your classroom management plan.

      Michael

  7. Elizabeth Bertels October 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I had a question about the classroom management plan. I am a first year teacher and just now found your site (sooo wish I would have seen this in August). I was slightly confused and did not know what to expect when I first began the school year, so my classroom management plan is flaky at best. I have slowly been using your tips and strategies to help my classroom management skills and they have all worked wonderfully. My question is, would it be appropriate to re-vamp my classroom management plan mid semester? Or would it be more appropriate to wait til the semester or year is over to do so? I already have the same rules you do, but different consequences. Should I change those now or wait until a different time?

    Thank you so much for all that you do,

    Elizabeth Bertels

    • Michael Linsin October 24, 2013 at 6:27 am #

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Referencing your previous question, if you want to change your consequences, as long as you teach them thoroughly, mid semester would work fine. Remember, though, there is no magic to the consequences themselves. It’s all the other stuff that make for exceptional classroom management.

      Michael

  8. lilibeth nakazawa October 25, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    im so happy and appreciated what you wrote ,and shared to people for more knowledge and understanding regarding how to handle school classroom management plan.!

    • Michael Linsin October 26, 2013 at 7:21 am #

      Great, Lilibeth! Glad you’re a reader of the site.

      :)Michael

  9. Diane July 18, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I teach a class of 4 year olds. Do you think the classroom management plan would work with children of such a young age?

    • Michael Linsin July 18, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      Hi Diane,

      Yes, I do, but with some modification. For example, you may want to have two warnings before time-out instead of one. It’s also important that your students prove they understand your rules and consequences before putting them into effect.

      Michael

  10. Dan September 1, 2014 at 6:21 am #

    Hi Michael,
    Thank you very much for making this website. It has helped me immensely and I’m looking forward purchasing your books. Question: If a student reaches a level three consequence before I have sent the classroom mgmt. packet home, would you still recommend sending the letter home and calling the parent to warn them? Obviously I don’t want to make one of my first contacts with the parent a negative one but I do want to follow my classroom management plan from day one. I am thinking perhaps I send home the packet earlier. I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this.

    • Michael Linsin September 1, 2014 at 7:26 am #

      Hi Dan,

      Yes, even if it’s the first day of school, a parent(s) has a right to know if their child continued to misbehave despite receiving repeated consequences. Also, as long as you have taught your classroom management plan thoroughly, it’s okay to send your packet home within the first couple of days.

      Michael

  11. Johan Vargas August 27, 2015 at 7:43 pm #

    Good day. I was writing on the whiteboard explaining the topic when suddenly a student from behind threw something at me. I couldn`t see who was that someone. I didn´t really know how to react. What should I have done in this situation? Thanks in advance