Your First Days Of School Classroom Management Checklist

student photo by Guillermo Ossa

The first few days of a new school year are an important time for classroom management.

You have a captive group of students, fresh and open to your way of doing things.

But it won’t last.

You have to take advantage of it.

If you don’t get them on board your program in the first week or two, they’ll fall back into the same old habits, behaviors, and attitudes of the past—and then some.

No pressure.

Teach Framework Procedures

During the first few days of school, you don’t have to teach every classroom management procedure. In fact, you only have to teach a few. But those few are vital and should be taught more thoroughly than anything else.

You see…

Those important few form the basis, or framework, for successful classroom management. They prepare the way for all the other procedures, routines, and expectations to be taught.

Some of the procedures on the checklist below may not seem so important—like walking in line, for example. But walking in line is a barometer of how well things are going in your classroom and how ready your students are for further learning.

A sloppy, distracted line means that more of the same shoddy habits and behaviors are happening, and will continue to happen, in the classroom.

Happily, the inverse is also true.

First Days Of School Checklist

Start the year off right by teaching these framework procedures first:

  • Your classroom rules
  • Your consequences
  • Your restroom policy
  • Entering and leaving the classroom
  • Lining up
  • Walking in line
  • Sitting and listening during lessons
  • Raising their hand

And that’s it.

Yes, it’s a short and simple list. But the idea is to get your students heading in the right direction, doing things the right way, and readied for more advanced learning.

This checklist will do the trick.

Four Awesome Teaching Strategies

To teach classroom management procedures thoroughly, try the following four strategies:

1. Explain why.

Students are often resistant when asked to do something they don’t understand. “What’s the point?” is always rattling around in their heads. Explaining why cuts through this resistance.

This is especially true of classroom management. Your students will follow you just about anywhere… as long as you explain why.

2. Model.

There are few teaching strategies that rival the effectiveness of detailed modeling.

Have your students follow you as you model precisely how you want them to enter the classroom in the morning, how to raise their hand, and how you expect them to sit in time-out. The more you can become–even channel–a model student, the more effective the exercise will be.

3. Practice.

Give students a chance to “try it on” before asking for perfection, or even competence. Let them practice. Ask them to show you how to line up for lunch, how to ask a question, and how to get ready to go home at the end of the day.

Make them prove to you they’re able to apply what they’ve learned before asking them to do it for real.

4. Reteach.

If after the initial learning, and at any time during the school year, your students aren’t giving you exactly what you expect from them, stop everything and reteach. Make them do it again until they’re back on track.

If you let something–anything–go, you’re communicating to your students that what you originally told them, taught them, and asked of them, is no longer valid.

An Effective Combo

The checklist and the four strategies form an effective combination.

Use them and your students will retain the same open, eager, and mature attitude they bring with them on the first day of school.

Note: If you’re a Kindle user, Dream Class is now available for download at

Also, 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.

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21 Responses to Your First Days Of School Classroom Management Checklist

  1. Ginger Fleck August 14, 2010 at 9:52 pm #

    I love your weekly posts so much. As a new teacher, they really bring so much value into the classroom. I’m grateful to Rick Morris for turning me on to you!

    • Michael Linsin August 15, 2010 at 7:25 am #

      Thanks Ginger!


  2. Chrissy August 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm #

    I had the privilege of teaching with your sister during the last four years! This year, I am teaching full-day Kindergarten in a private school. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with all of us!!

    • Michael Linsin August 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

      Hi Chrissy,

      That’s great! Good luck in your new assignment.


  3. Bill Alexander August 31, 2010 at 12:21 am #

    Hi Michael,
    Once again you’ve hit the mark about classroom routines.
    I like the fact that you’ve included the four key strategies for making sure the rules work – the rules won’t work if they just remain as statements – teachers and students have to interact with the rules to make them work.
    I think your point about reteaching the rules to students is important. Some rsearch done recently in the UK suggests that the schools that have the most effective discipline programs take time every six or seven weeks to formally reteach the routines and procedures to their students.

    Good work, Michael, keep it up.

    • Michael Linsin August 31, 2010 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks Bill!

  4. Dave September 1, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    can the book and/or eBook of Dream Class be purchased at other sites besides Amazon?

    also can the eBook advertised on Amazon as the “Kindle eBook” be read by another eBook reader besides the Kindle?

    • Michael Linsin September 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

      Hi Dave,

      You can purchase Dream Class through us by clicking the Buy Now button on the Dream Class page. Soon, the book will be available to download through Nook, the ebook reader sold by Barnes & Noble. It is not available in PDF.


  5. Dave September 1, 2010 at 11:54 am #

    I forgot to ask this:
    “an eBook many times is a PDF” which can be read by Adobe Reader….
    Is the Dream Class eBook a PDF?

  6. Sarah M. August 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    I appreciate all your suggestions and most of them are wonderful for elementary school students, but I have 14-21 year olds who have been removed from every school they have ever been in. I teach at a residential treatment center Teaching them to line up is not going to cut it. Contacting their parents are hardly valid suggestions since most of their parents have given up on them and some of them are parents themselves! Do you have specific consequences for these type students. If I say to go to time out, or, I’ll talk to your parents, they will laugh at me. I agree that behavior management is extremely important, I just have no clue how to make that happen, and I have taught in “regular” schools for twenty years. Please help with more specifics for this demographic.

    • Michael Linsin August 7, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Hi Sarah,

      Creating a classroom your students look forward to coming to everyday is the key, regardless of the age group or situation or amount of parent support. In the end, your special circumstances are justifications standing in your way of having the classroom that both you and your students want. Time-out–or any other consequence–only works if your students feel like they’re missing something. They have to care. Your job is to make them care–which is the major focus of this website.


  7. Allison Rapp April 23, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    I really want to implement your strategies from the get-go when I begin my second year of teaching. I am confused as to when to start implementing consequences. Don’t the kids need some time to get them down pat before they start being held accountable? However, I don’t want to hold off too long before consequences come or else it is going to look like empty words. Clarification please?

    • Michael Linsin April 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi Allison,

      After spending an hour or so on the first day of school first teaching your classroom management plan, in most cases (kindergarten and some first grade classes excluded) you can and should start enforcing it. It’s the perfect time. Your students will be attentive and wanting to do well, so you’ll want to set the tone within the first morning of the new year.


  8. Sheryl July 14, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Do middle school students Need to be taught to walk in line or do they get a little more freedom? Do you have any articles pertinent to middle school and their hormonal, drama driven behaviors? Thank you I am enjoying your site.

    • Michael Linsin July 14, 2013 at 7:53 am #

      Hi Sheryl,

      They only need to walk in line if you need them to walk in line (i.e., going from one area of campus to another). The website is geared toward both elementary and middle school, with mostly obvious modifications on the upper and lower ends.


  9. Christina July 28, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    What is a good restroom policy for middle school students? The link for the restroom policy is not working.

    Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin July 29, 2013 at 7:33 am #

      Hi Christina,

      I removed the article, but hope to rewrite it. It’s on the list of future topics. Stay tuned. 🙂


  10. nur August 14, 2015 at 7:08 am #

    i think these tips are very helpful. I will definitely follow through with them for this new school year!

  11. Diana August 20, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Hi Michael,
    I’ve read your book on classroom management for specialists since I’m a k-5 art teacher. I’m still stumped on how it’s possible to teach, model, role-play every rule, consequence, and routine while still teaching art in 40 minutes??? In addition to every item mentioned above their are 6 art jobs for the students to learn. PLEASE ADVISE ! Thank you.

    • Michael Linsin August 20, 2015 at 11:40 am #

      Hi Diana,

      I recommend spending 15-20 minutes the first three or four class periods (p.92). Although it does cut into your time for other things, it’s well worth doing.


  12. jocelyn m. rosario October 28, 2015 at 5:10 am #

    nice one…looking forward for tomorrows topic…….pls. continue reaching teachers and supporting their needs. God bless….

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