How To Set Up A Simple, Effective Classroom Management Plan

Smart Classroom Management: How To Set Up A Simple, Effective Classroom Management PlanThe purpose of a classroom management plan is to hold students accountable for misbehavior—without having to yell, scold, or lecture.

When used correctly, a classroom management plan eliminates the need to use these and other stressful, counterproductive methods.

It allows you to demand impeccable behavior without causing friction and resentment.

Which then frees you to build meaningful and influential relationships with your students.

To set up a classroom management plan, you must first devise a set of rules that cover every conceivable misbehavior or disruption that could crop up in your classroom.

I recommend the following four rules:

  1. Listen and follow directions.
  2. Raise your hand before speaking or leaving your seat.
  3. Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
  4. Respect your classmates and your teacher.

Note: For our high school classroom management plan, click here.

These rules work because they make sense to students, they’re fully enforceable, and they cover all the bases. Also, because of their refreshing lack of ambiguity, they discourage arguing, complaining, and finger pointing.

They are what they are. You either break them or you don’t.

Next you’ll need a set of consequences to give your rules the muscle they need to effectively manage and control your classroom—because without consequences, rules are merely suggestions, destined to fall on deaf ears.

The best consequences are those that don’t interrupt the flow of your classroom, that are quick and easy to carry out, and that strongly dissuade students from misbehaving.

I recommend the following three consequences:

Note: When a student reaches the third consequence, they will also return to time-out. For every subsequent time they misbehave, they will cycle back to time-out.

Print both your rules and consequences on large poster board and display them prominently in your classroom. You will refer to your classroom management plan often, and thus your students need to be able to see them wherever they’re seated.

Set aside a desk or two for the sole purpose of time-out. The desk doesn’t have to be stuck in a corner or far away from the rest of the class. It just must be separated to some degree.

It is the symbolic separation from the rest of the class, and the feelings it evokes, that makes time-out effective. It’s not a separation of humiliation or gloomy punishment. It’s one of reflection, of personal disappointment, and of hope in returning quickly to the class they like being part of.

Create a simple form letter to send home to parents when students reach the third and final consequence. Keep it short and to the point. Refrain from giving your opinion or adding an angry note at the bottom. Just give the facts.

The consequences are in play throughout one single day. When the students arrive for school the next day, lessons have been learned, no grudges are held, and everyone starts fresh—with another chance to succeed, to grow, to be better than the day before.

To make your classroom management plan effective, it must be followed faithfully and carried out in a certain way. This is key, because there is no magic in the plan itself. It’s just a set of guidelines scrawled on a piece of paper.

How you use it is what gives the plan its power.

From how to give a warning to how to send a letter home to parents, everything you need to know to follow through with your classroom management plan can be found on this website.

I recommend reading through the articles in the Rules & Consequences and Time-Out categories of the archive. Together, they explain how to carry out your plan in a way that motivates all students to follow your rules.

Using this simple plan, you’ll never again have to rely on complicated, frustrating, and demoralizing methods and strategies so many teachers find themselves roped into.

Just follow the plan. Build relationships with your students. And love your job.

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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86 Responses to How To Set Up A Simple, Effective Classroom Management Plan

  1. Jessica August 6, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    These are great first day tips. I use these rules, with some modifications to include our all-school rules to maintain consistency. One rule I’ve also felt is a good one for younger children is: Respect your teacher, classmates and materials/classroom. I previously called it “be responsible”, but I like this version better. This helps deal with issues like misusing manipulatives, leaving materials or trash on the floor or in the bathroom, not putting books away properly, breaking or tearing book boxes, folders, or games, etc. and it reminds them that they are responsible for taking care of the educational space they are learning in.

    I love your site! Thanks so much for all of your tips! I reference your work a lot in my own blog, and I just bought your book. I am excited to read it!

    • Michael Linsin August 6, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      Thanks Jessica!

    • Emelyn October 6, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

      This article is quite interesting especially to the beginners in teaching, this is probably true and we can apply it to our areas. I love this article and i want to use it for my demonstration . But how would i know/get the APA references for this article? Need your help since it is very important for me and to my learners. Thanks in advance. God bless.

  2. Denise August 6, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    I’ve recently discovered your book and website and I’m looking forward to using them in class. But since I’m formerly a frustrated, lecturing teacher with resentful, out of control students, and I will have most of them again this year, will they take seriously this “new” me? And what do you recommend I do to make that happen? Thanks!

    • Michael Linsin August 7, 2011 at 5:06 am #

      Hi Denise,

      Yes, absolutely, they will accept the new you. The start of the year is the perfect time and the article above is the perfect way to start. In addition to the categories mentioned, be sure and read the articles in the Rapport & Influence and Classroom Management Tips categories as well.


  3. Jessica August 30, 2011 at 6:40 am #

    I love these rules and consequences and utilize them in my classroom. I am an elementary Spanish teacher, so I only see each class that I work with twice a week for thirty minutes. I have the “raise your hand before speaking” rule posted 90% of the time, unless I cover this up with the “talk quietly” sign, if we are working on a partner activity. When the “raise your hand before speaking” sign is up, though, some students will still whisper to one another about something that we are working on. I understand that I speak in Spanish the majority of the time and that some students may be confused by an activity (although the majority are routine activities), but I encourage them to ask me to explain something in English if they have a question, rather than whisper to their neighbor. Do you think it is OK for me to still give a student a warning if he/she is whispering to a neighbor about something related to class? If you could let me know, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin August 30, 2011 at 8:57 am #

      Hi Jessica,

      If it benefits your students to ask a neighbor, and it doesn’t interrupt your class, then specify for your students that it’s okay. Just be sure you define exactly when and how it’s acceptable. If it’s a disruption, however, or you prefer they ask you, then model for your class that it isn’t okay and that you’ll enforce a consequence if you see it.


  4. John Shelby September 2, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    I like the clear, straightforward rules and consequences, but I’m unclear on what happens after a letter home still has no effect. Lack of parent involvement is a big problem in my district.

    In a similar vein, when it comes to having the students repeat a “blown” procedure, I’m pretty sure that many, and then maybe most or even all of the students will just refuse. How should I respond to that?
    (This is an inner city high school).
    Thanks for your inspiring work!

    • Michael Linsin September 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      Hi John,

      Your classroom management plan is only a part–a small part–of creating a well-behaved classroom. When students outwardly and brazenly refuse to follow your rules and your directions, one of two things is at work. Either a.) It’s early in the year and you haven’t had a chance to prove you’re a leader worth following, or b.) They’ve already decided you’re not a leader worth following. In either case you have to convince them that you are. This website is about how to be that leader, how to create leverage, and how to behave, respond, and interact with students in a way that inspires them to want to behave. Read through the archive, paying close attention to the Difficult Students and the Rapport & Influence categories.


  5. Tiffany September 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm #

    Hello! I am currently student teaching in 4th grade, and I LOVE all of your ideas. We started school at the end of August, and my cooperating teacher never established rules with our class, other than the building-wide expectations. I believe this is contributing to a lot of behavior issues we have in our class. It’s a big class, 28 kids, and the talking/not paying attention is incredible. I don’t know what I can do from my position without stepping on my cooperating teacher’s toes. Do you have any advice? It’s only the 5th week of school and already my teacher has changed our class seating chart and arrangement 5 times in hopes that the chattiness will stop. Please help!

    • Michael Linsin September 22, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

      Hi Tiffany,

      If your cooperating teacher hasn’t established rules, then this is definitely the reason you have behavior issues. You’re in a tough position to be in. You don’t want to step on toes or create an uncomfortable situation. And you certainly want to be respectful to your cooperating teacher. It is, however, a great learning experience to see what can happen if you’re not committed to classroom management. I would continue to let the cooperating teacher take the lead, but when it comes to your turn to take over the class (for lengths of time), then I would establish your own rules and expectations of behavior. As you discovered, or already knew instinctively, the seating chart has nothing to do with chattiness.

      If you have further questions or want advice on getting through your student teaching experience unscathed, email me. I’m happy to help!


  6. Vance March 1, 2012 at 12:53 pm #


    This article is very helpful. I’m a long term sub that has 3 very big classes. I have troubles in each of those classes. Two classes have a mixture of sixth and eighth graders. The other has only 7th graders. This is my first year teaching so I’m always looking to strengthen my classroom management.

    How could I use a time out with a classroom full of middle school students? I have no room in my class to let them sit by themselves.

    Also what do you think about silent lunch and after school detention?

    • Michael Linsin March 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      Hi Vance,

      Time-out is a symbolic separation from a classroom they enjoy being a part of. It’s not so much a physical one. Thus, you don’t need much room. What you do need, however, is leverage. Read through the Time-Out category of the archive, and if you then have any questions, email me. I’m happy to help. Oh, and as for detention for middle schoolers…I’m all for it.


  7. Jesse Henderson March 29, 2012 at 9:40 am #


    I sure hope you get this quickly as i have a meeting with my sons teacher today on her use of sepration of my son in her class for 3 weeks now. Want advise on if this is normal practice? I am very upsest as this seems like a very lengthy form of punishment, and i fear this could and maybe hurting his confidence and self esteem. I was told originally he was irritating another student and didnt stop when asked to do so. All desks are placed in groups of four with his desk pulled from his group for the last 3 weeks. Please advise as cant find any info. Thanks

    • Michael Linsin March 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi Jesse,

      I think keeping students in a permanent time-out or separating them as their seating assignment (i.e., near the teacher’s desk or in front of the classroom) is a bad idea–for many reasons. It labels them, it communicates to them that they can’t improve, it gives them no way to change their circumstances, it doesn’t encourage them to want to improve, it makes them feel like the teacher has given up on them, and too many others to list here. Unfortunately, it is common practice.


  8. Jen April 23, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    I have, and read, your book. I’ve implemented many of your strategies. I have a few ?s, though. What if a student gets a letter to take home, and he/she continues with inappropriate behavior. Do they get another letter that same day? What do you suggest? I teach 1st grade, and I’ve found that many parents want a written explanation from me if I check that their child broke a certain rule(s). I find that I am writing so many long explanations, and that takes so long! If I have my students write their explanation, they do it sloppy and try to “sugarcoat” their misbehavior. What do you suggest I do about this? Thanks!

    • Michael Linsin April 24, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Hi Jen,

      A student who receives a letter home will remain in time-out for the remainder of the day. There is no reason to write long explanations–or any explanation beyond what rule was broken. Send the form letter home and if parents want details they can call or come in to see you. As long as you stick to the facts you’ll find that there is usually very little to say.


  9. Chennel August 19, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    As a special area teacher, I see each class of 30 once a week. Should the consequences start over each time they come to my class? If so, at what point should a note be sent home? Thanks.

    • Michael Linsin August 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm #

      Hi Chennel,

      Yes, each week every class should start fresh. Thus, you would send a note home only if a student reaches the third consequence within that once-per-week period. Of course, you always reserve the right to contact parents for students you find yourself enforcing consequences with every week.


  10. Jorge Villon September 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Hola Michael…
    Hi, I’m a teacher of music and also the children’s choir conductor at my school in Lima-Peru… I’ve started my carreer of teacher just a year ago and I have to recognize that at the beginning my job was stressful and out of any of the goals I wanted to achieve because I realized students were used to work only when my teacher collaborator raised her voice and shouted them what they had to do and even what to sing or play… But this year the Headmaster named me as the Head of music and I started to work in a very different perspective… And now I’m including your ideas and methodologies… And it’s amazing to see how students are now getting into the steps that I want for them… Today I had a choir rehearsal with 100 kids in the choir (I was alone because my collaborator was ill and didn’t come to school)… and I didn’t have to raise my voice nor yelling… I just showed them respect and got their attention by inspiring them with my new “class management plan” for the choir rehearsal… Thanks a lot and I’ll look forward to buy your book…

    • Michael Linsin September 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      Hi Jorge,

      That’s awesome! I’m so glad you shared your success with me and our readers. What a wonderful story and testament to the effectiveness of using calm and peaceful methods of classroom management—backed of course by a classroom management plan. Way to go!


  11. Katja November 24, 2012 at 3:05 am #

    I am starting out on a new path of supply teaching. In my own classes I have been really successful at establishing good relationships with students and any issues were usually resolved quickly because, I think, I was consistent in following through. Now I am in completely new territory and I see such differences in classroom set-ups and what consequently differences in how students react. Would setting up a simple plan as discussed above work with classes I only just met and might not again in a while?
    I think that students have a right to a good education whether it’s from their main teacher or a supply teacher, so I don’t just want to be a babysitter who gets paid rather well for it. It’s really about changing what I still remember as the day with the supply teacher: it’s permission for a day off at best and trying to have a go at the teacher at worst. I would like your advice here – is it worth making sure I establish rules when really class management needs time to bed in, and it might even overrule what’s already there? I’ve seen elaborate management plans on walls that I haven’t got a hope of following because I do not have the immediate knowledge where Miss Reid for 3rd warning delinquent resides and whether I can be sure the student will take herself off there without delay.

    • Michael Linsin November 24, 2012 at 9:56 am #

      Hi Katja,

      If the main teacher doesn’t leave instructions regarding his or her own classroom management plan, then yes, it’s important to establish your own rules—even if for just a day.


  12. Kim January 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    I have been in a classroom for 2 weeks and have been notified that I will be there for at least another 3 weeks perhaps longer (end of the year). The teacher is away on stress leave and I can see why. The class is very difficult to handle. There are only a handful that are the major problems but it can quickly spread to the majority in a hurry. I love your management plan but struggle with the idea of implementing it now if I am only there for the 3 weeks and it won’t be followed through especially if I send an information letter to parents. But I worry that if I don’t do anything and I end up staying longer, I will lose the respect of the students. I do follow most of your suggestions now, other than the letter home. Any suggestions?

    • Michael Linsin January 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm #

      Hi Kim,

      I think you can still send a letter home. Only, I would follow it up with a phone call in case parents have questions (that would otherwise be answered with an information packet).


  13. Jocelyn June 26, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I really find the information on your site valuable. Thank you for sharing!
    My question is: if a student breaks a rule at recess and I am not on supervision (I hear about it once recess is over in a “pile-up” at the doorway), should they get a time-out in the classroom like they would normally? I find that recess-problems take up so much of my time and energy!

    • Michael Linsin June 27, 2013 at 6:23 am #

      Hi Jocelyn,

      This is a question I hope to address in a future article, but yes, if a student can’t behave at recess, then there should be a consequence.


  14. Kristen Rocchio August 6, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    Hi there,

    I have been reading through many different articles on your website and have been enjoying a lot of what you have to offer. I am looking forward to applying many of your strategies this school year.

    I have a question regarding “sponge activities” In other words, activities students can preform once they are finished the assigned work (as we all know – there are always early finishers!)

    Is there any routine that has worked for you and is tried and true? Something they can do without asking a teacher for clarification or direction, and something that will consume their time for as long as needed?

    Often, I find a biggest challenges is keeping early finishers busy long enough for the bulk of the class to complete work.

    Thank you so much, I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

    • Michael Linsin August 6, 2013 at 11:59 am #

      Hi Kristen,

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the site! Your question is too big to answer and do it justice in the limited time and space we have here. But I’ll be sure and put it on the list of future topics. 🙂


  15. MARIO September 14, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Hello Michael. I’ve be reading through your page and have found good advice. However I want to ask you about the consequences listed here, do they work on high school students as well as primary? Time out for example? I’m a 8th grade teacher and I’m faced with a very challenging set of students. They are the kind that just enjoy challenging authority, both boys and girls. Thus far they ate the only group to give me this kind of trouble.

    • Michael Linsin September 15, 2013 at 8:52 am #

      Hi Mario,

      I recommend the same consequences for 8th grade students. However, you may or may not want to call time-out, time-out. It depends on you, your personality and presence, and the maturity level of your students.


  16. Victoria March 21, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I am a student teacher at an inner-city, title one school and a HUGE fan of your blog. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with so many people at no cost!

    My question is are you familiar with the Class Dojo management system and what are your thoughts on it? This is the management system that is used by most teachers at my school.


    • Michael Linsin March 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm #

      Hi Victoria,

      I’m not familiar enough with it to offer an opinion.


  17. Jennifer April 5, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

    Thank you so much for this article! I implemented the rules and consequences in my 8th grade classroom this year. I have had most of these students in previous years and allowed them to come up with the rules. Your information reminded me that when these kids get into the real world they will not be negotiating the rules of their jobs! I think we have set ourselves up in the past by asking kids to develop the rules and consequences. I have a much better handle on what happens within my room because the rules and consequences are clear cut and easy to follow.
    During my evaluation my administrator asked what the difference is and I believe strongly that it is this system that I have in place!

    Thanks so much!!

    • Michael Linsin April 5, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Awesome, Jennifer! Thanks for sharing!


  18. Julie April 5, 2014 at 8:45 pm #

    How different does it need to be when you have children with diagnosed special needs? Eg. ASD and other learning disorders.

    • Michael Linsin April 6, 2014 at 7:39 am #

      Hi Julie,

      It depends on the student. It can be anywhere from no change to substantial modification. I hope to write about this topic in the future.


  19. Joy April 6, 2014 at 4:01 am #

    Thank you for your common-sense approach.

    Just to clarify- there is no consequence, per se if the letter is brought back unsigned. Each day starts fresh, regardless, correct?


    • Michael Linsin April 6, 2014 at 7:42 am #

      Hi Joy,

      That is correct, but you must, must, must get the letter back.


  20. Laura April 6, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Hi Michael,
    As a second year art teacher in elementary I really appreciate this black and white advice. I do find a problem sometimes with time-out, only because it keeps the student from completing their artwork, which they probably haven’t been doing so hot at in the first place assuming they are goofing off or talking instead of art-making. This creates a problem for me because I then have to find extra time for the student to complete their project, and I either end up letting them go back to their seat too soon so they can finish (then the message is… sit out for five minutes and then there’s no real consequence) or, I have to find extra time in my schedule to make sure the student then finishes his/her project. And with 300 kids weekly this quickly becomes burdensome. Any ideas?

    • Michael Linsin April 6, 2014 at 7:20 am #

      Hi Laura,

      I have a book coming out next month specifically for art, music, and PE teachers that should answer all your questions. The key for you is to make sure art-making is something they want to do–so much so that they refuse to risk even a minute whiling away in time-out. As for making sure each of your students gets every opportunity–even outside the time constraints of the class–to complete their project . . . why? This is the main problem. If a student sits in time-out, but then you make up the time for them to do something that should be a great privilege, there is no consequence and the misbehavior will continue.


  21. Nicole May 4, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    After having my roughest class so far in eight years. I’ve began thinking about changing careers or districts. I currently teach in a very poor urban school. Your website has given me hope and brought happy tears to my eyes. Thank you.

    • Michael Linsin May 4, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

      You’re welcome, Nicole.


  22. jeff whalen June 30, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    Are these suggestions for high school & young adults?

    • Michael Linsin June 30, 2014 at 6:13 am #

      Hi Jeff,

      They can be, with some modifications. The site is written, however, primarily for K-8 teachers.


  23. Dominika August 20, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Hi Michael,
    I am so glad I stumbled upon your site. I am looking forward to putting your ideas into practice when school starts in 2 weeks.

    I wanted to ask the following: I will be teaching a combined Grade 1 and 2 class and am wondering if the hierarchy of consequences stays intact for the entire day or resets itself at say lunch? For example if a student breaks 2 rules before lunch and are at the time out consequence, should they be given a parent letter if another rule is broken right before home time?

    Do you think that getting a fresh start for the second part of the day is too lenient? Thanks so much!

    • Michael Linsin August 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      Hi Dominika,

      They stay intact for the entire day. It’s not so much that resetting midday is too lenient. It’s that you would be settling for less than what is possible, less than what your students are capable of, and less of what you need to have the class you want.


  24. Sarah M. October 11, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    Hi Michael,
    I have written before, but I still would like your advice. I have high school special education students and when I put these rules up they say I am treating them like little kids. I kind of get their point. Also, since it is also a residential treatment school, parental contact is futile. These students were given a choice in court to either go to this school or go to prison. I will follow some of the suggestions you gave John Shelby. You probably can’t help me because that isn’t your focus, but I wish you would write a book for high school teachers and their students. Maybe I need a behavior plan.

  25. Concy October 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    I found the rules and the consequence working with my class . I am also a student teacher. but planning is getting me drain out. because need to use different strategies but what am lacking of is resources and activities for student . am in a 2nd grade in Toledo a part of Belize. i don’t have a cooperating teacher to work along with. but am surviving because 6 week has gwan with less misbehaving student. how can you help?

  26. Lorraine October 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    You mentioned something about middle school detention in a response above, but you didn’t talk about silent lunch. I was subjected to this in junior high school, and in looking back at it now, it seemed like cruel and unusual punishment. I feel like middle school-aged children NEED to have that time of social release. Taking away the one time of the day that is “theirs” seems to me a recipe for disaster.

  27. Rhiannon February 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I’m currently a teacher candidate doing my clinical experience and I’m about to start my second rotation, which will be in a 6th grade ELA classroom. There are 2 classes of about 32 students each that I’ll be working with every day. The students in these classes are pretty out of control – they are mean and rude to each other, argue all the time, they are rude to the teacher (one student even told the teacher she was going to punch her the other day). The teacher told me she doesn’t know what to do anymore and if I had any ideas to go ahead and try them. So my question is… is there even anything I can do, since I’m stepping in so late in the year, and I’ll only be there for 4 weeks? Any advice you have is appreciated!

    • Michael Linsin February 8, 2015 at 2:58 pm #

      Hi Rhiannon,

      Yes, absolutely. With the right skills, you can have an affect on behavior in a matter of minutes. I encourage you to read through our archive as much as you can. The more prepared you are, the better your experience.


  28. Rhiannon February 9, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Thank you Michael, I’ve been reading through the archives and I’m going to do my best! I had my first day there today and the kids are definitely a handful.

    A challenge we’re going to face is that there is absolutely no room to put more than 2 “time-out” desks in the back of the room – there are too many students and the room is simply too small – but I anticipate that in the beginning there are going to be several students at a time in time-out. The only solution I’ve thought of is to have students stand in the back rather than sitting down. Obviously I won’t leave them there for 20 minutes if they are having to stand, but I think 10 minutes or so should be OK… do you see any issues with doing that?

    • Michael Linsin February 10, 2015 at 7:16 am #

      Hi Rhiannon,

      Yes, I would not ask them to stand. You have to find a way to have more than two places for time-out—just in case. The truth is, if you teach your classroom management plan thoroughly, you shouldn’t have need for more than two, even in the beginning.


  29. monica March 2, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    Do you use these same consequences at the high school level?

    • Michael Linsin March 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

      Hi Monica,

      No, in most circumstances the consequences would have to be modified for high school students.


  30. Florence March 11, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Dear Michael,

    I teach English as a Foreign Language to pupils aged 11-12, in 5 different schools. Your management plan is great and has been a powerful tool in 4 of the schools. Thank you!

    However, in one of the schools, it is not effective. The kids are talking NON STOP. They are not listening to anything I say. I cannot get silence. Every 10 minutes I raise my voice and tell them to stop (I do not see which one is talking, since all of them are talking).
    I give a warning to any student I actually see doing something wrong. I cannot give ‘time out’ because the one who has to sit on a chair will inevitably act silly to make his friends laugh – and there are 30 students in the classroom, all talking and laughing ALL THE TIME!
    Therefore a warning is followed by some work to do home, with a note for the parents in the student’s diary. This is the current practice in my country (Belgium). However, they don’t care. They go on chatting. Their parents sign the note I have written, the student turns in the additional homework I gave – and that’s it. The worst thing is that there are 30 kids in this group, so you can imagine the level of noise.
    I am not a different person in my 4 other schools, and I am wondering why it is not working with these ones. According to their main teacher, the same happens in all the ‘special’ classes: religion, ethics, sports. She thinks that happens because the parents do not care and tell them kids that if they fail English, no problem (which is true, they will pass in the next class anyway). The kids seem to be unmanageable – can you believe that at such an early age? In the other schools I work in, some kids come from terrible backgrounds, with uncaring parents etc, but yet – they are respectful towards me.
    I have spoken to the school director and she replied that if the main teacher can get respect, I should be able to get it to, it is up to me to find a way. I suspect this is the core of my problem – kids know it will not get any further.
    Today I really yelled at them and told them they should be ashamed to be so disrespectful and their parents should be ashamed too!
    The former teacher resigned for the same reasons. I have spoken to colleagues teaching EFL like me and none of them wants to go work in that school!
    Any comments? I am seriously considering either resigning or giving them work to do and let them chat, since nobody seems to care.
    I do not want to end up every lesson with my heart beating fast and a headache and my stomach burning – as it happened this morning.
    Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin March 11, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

      Hi Florence,

      I recommend a somewhat different approach for specialist teachers like yourself than you’ll find here on the website. My best advice is to get a copy of Classroom Management for Art, Music, and PE Teachers (Available at Amazon France). I think you’ll find what you’re looking for. 🙂


  31. Matthew August 6, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    Hi Michael,

    I have a question about the resetting of the consequence hierarchy. Would it reset daily in a middle school setting where you only have your students for 50 minutes a day? I’m running the what-ifs through my head right now and wondering what if a student receives a warning every day but never goes beyond that? On one hand, I would be fine with this as it means the student’s behavior never escalated. However, on the other hand, I’m big on communicating with parents and I want them to be aware that Johnny is misbehaving on a daily basis which wouldn’t happen automatically in this case. I know that if the student’s misbehavior is reoccurring that most likely he would move up the hierarchy at some point even during the 50 minute period. However, having previously taught elementary school where I had students for a longer period of time, I’m concerned that I won’t be able to hold them accountable enough during a 50 minute period (if that makes sense). What are your thoughts on this?

    • Michael Linsin August 7, 2015 at 7:07 am #

      Hi Matthew,

      As part of your plan–and this is something you would include in your CM lessons in the first week of school–parents have a right to know if misbehavior is happening again and again, even if only a warning. Thus, if it becomes a recurrent problem, you’ll contact parents.


  32. Werner August 10, 2015 at 12:48 am #

    Hi Michael

    I read through the articles you published. I have need some advice from you about discipline in the classroom. I currently have a class of 43 learners in front of me and all the methods that I tried to apply discipline in my class seems not to work. Even the time out does not seem to work due to the lack of space I have in my class. And when we get to the stage where I notify the parents , the parents just don’t care. What do you suggest I need to do, because it is at a stage where it really gets frustrating for me to teach. Please help.


    • Michael Linsin August 10, 2015 at 7:16 am #

      Hi Werner,

      The solution isn’t any one thing. You’re essentially asking how to manage your classroom, and I think you’ve come to the right place. But there is a lot of reading you need to do. After working your way through the Classroom Management Plan and Rules & Consequences category of the archive, I recommend Procedures & Routines and then on from there. You may also want to check out The Classroom Management Secret.


  33. Tracy January 9, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Hi Michael. I’m a fairly new teacher and like your ideas. I keep looking for ways to use them in secondary classes. For instance, time out doesn’t really work there. Any ideas?

    • Michael Linsin January 9, 2016 at 7:18 pm #

      Hi Tracy,

      Yes, I don’t recommend time-out for high school students. I’m planning a classroom management plan ebook for high school teachers, and hope for it to be available before next school year. Stay tuned.


  34. Janice Laue March 11, 2016 at 11:26 am #

    The article was very good. It gave good ideas on classroom management I could use in library. It shows the students what is expected of them and the consequences..

  35. Donna March 21, 2016 at 6:04 am #

    Hi Michael,
    What do you do in a situation where the school has a behavior management plan implemented already? My school has an RTC where students are asked the questions as their warning, then if they repeat their offence or do something else they are asked to leave the classroom, go to the rtc classroom and make a behavior plan that they have to negotiate with the teacher before they can come back in to the class. It is a school wide policy, how would you balance it with your classroom management plan?

    • Michael Linsin March 21, 2016 at 7:21 am #

      Hi Donna,

      A classroom management plan is important, but it’s a small part of effective classroom management. It’s all the other stuff–what this website is principally about–that makes your plan effective. Thus, although I don’t agree in questioning students as part of a warning, you should be fine using your school’s plan.


  36. Gretta March 23, 2016 at 6:28 am #

    I love all of your articles and I’m very excited to implement a classroom management plan. I recently became a director of an afterschool program and wonder if you could help me alter the rules a little bit for afterschool children. I’m not sure raising their hands before they speak is as important in an afterschool program as it is during the school day, but tell me if you think differently. It’s definitely more casual than the school day but there are some children behaving a bit out of control, so rules and implementing them are something we really need.

    • Michael Linsin March 23, 2016 at 6:50 am #

      Hi Gretta,

      If you feel it isn’t important in your program, then you shouldn’t use the rule. Your rules should reflect your vision of what you want, which may look different than detailed in the article above.


  37. Janie April 18, 2016 at 6:57 am #

    I think this is a great management plan,But im only a 7th grader in 2 period doing a classroom management plan project.But its good 🙂

  38. Dillon May 28, 2016 at 3:17 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    I have been following your posts for a couple of years and have benefited tremendously from applying your strategies and overall approach. Your new book is awesome too! I now have Dream Class and Happy Teacher Habits. I’ve also given Dream Class to up-and-coming teachers, as I wish I’d had such a straightforward guide to excellent teaching when I first began. So thanks for sharing what you have learned! Quick question…hands and feet to yourself…what about friends entering the room from recess with arms around each other, and high-fives…do you tease apart acceptable vs not acceptable contact?

    • Michael Linsin May 28, 2016 at 5:15 pm #

      Hi Dillon,

      You can and should define clearly and narrowly each rule so there are no misunderstandings. So, yes, if this behavior common at your school, and you want to allow it, then be sure and communicate that it’s perfectly okay and does not violate the rule.


  39. Elaina July 27, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    I’m looking to implement this management plan or a similar one next year. I teach 6th grade so I don’t know that “time out” would be effective. Do you have any suggestions for older students? Do you recommend that students get a clean slate every day?

    • Michael Linsin July 27, 2016 at 5:23 pm #

      Hi Elaina,

      I do recommend time-out for sixth grade. However, if you’re interested in learning about an alternative, please check out The Smart Classroom Management Plan For High School Teachers, which also includes middle school. And yes, I recommend a clean slate every day.


  40. Heather November 18, 2016 at 5:51 am #

    Hi Michael,

    I’m teaching in a private school in another country and my principal loved my implementation of your rules and consequences until some of the parents failed to appreciate the letters home. Now my principal wants me to stop sending letters home with some students, because she is afraid their tuition will be pulled. What is a good alternative punishment that I might be able to implement in class?

    Any ideas would be appreciated.

    • Michael Linsin November 18, 2016 at 8:58 am #

      Hi Heather,

      Along with sending the student back to time-out, I recommend calling parents instead of sending the letter home. If a student misbehaves and breaks class rules three times in one day, parents have a right to know.


  41. Heather November 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm #

    Thanks so much! I will try it!

  42. Jane November 25, 2016 at 7:53 am #

    Thank you for your blog, it has been helpful to me as I think about classroom management. I am a second-year middle school teacher having trouble with my 8th grade class, whom I also taught last year (my first year). I also have trouble staying consistent and knowing when to apply consequences, so I have some specific questions about your system.

    1. Do you have any suggestions about starting this system mid-year? I went from having a similar discipline code that you suggest (but I was having trouble consistently enforcing it) to more of an honor system where we as a class defined expected behaviors. Needless to say, that is a huge mess and I need to go back to rules and consequences but make a commitment to being consistent.

    Here come the specifics about the rules and consequences you suggest…
    2. If you ask for the class’s attention and a student continues talking for a few seconds after, do you enforce a consequence?

    3. If a student is non-compliant and refuses to participate in an activity (I have a student with bipolar disorder who rarely comes to school, and when she does, she keeps her head down all day), would this result in a consequence? Technically, the student is not following directions.

    4.If a student whispers to another student while the teacher is talking, does this result in a consequence?

    5. If a student whispers to another student during independent work time when I have stated that my expectation is a voice level 0, does this result in a consequence?

    6. How do I handle more widespread chatter during independent work time when I have stated that my expectation is a voice level 0?

    Thank you so much, and Happy Thanksgiving!