How To Teach Classroom Management On The First Day Of School

How To Teach Classroom Management On The First Day Of SchoolAlthough classroom management will make up only part of your first day of school, doing it right is essential.

Because it sets the boundaries within which inspired teaching can take place.

It establishes an impenetrable wall, safeguarding your students from distraction, interruption, bullying, disrespect, and the like.

To be most effective, you mustn’t ease your way into it. You mustn’t tiptoe your way around it or add it as an unpleasant aside.

No, you must set your feet, narrow your eyes, and teach classroom management in a way your students won’t soon forget.

Here’s how:

Make a commitment.

Before your students arrive, make an ironclad commitment to yourself to abide by the guidelines set forth in your classroom management plan. This will give your instruction a level of conviction your students need to see in order to trust you and buy into your plan.

Start early.

The earlier in the day you can begin your classroom management lesson the more it will communicate its importance. This doesn’t mean, however, that you must start immediately. Within the first hour is a good rule of thumb.

Make a promise, part 1.

To begin your lesson, make a promise to your students that you will uphold your classroom management plan every minute of every day, no exceptions. Go on record. Lay your reputation on the line. Express your commitment to them and to protecting their education.

Make a promise, part 2.

Now promise your students that you will always treat them with respect. Promise that you will never yell, scold, or humiliate them in any way. This public declaration will instantly put them in your corner, eager to support your plan.

Communicate its purpose.

Many teachers present rules and consequences as if they were bad news. The truth, however, is the exact opposite. Your classroom management plan is the very thing that ensures your students’ freedom to learn and enjoy school without interference. It must be presented as such.

Teach with gusto.

If you don’t feel a surge of energy as you begin your lesson, then you’re not ready to teach classroom management. Managing behavior effectively means everything to your success. Thus, you must convey its sacred importance with passion.

Refer to a visual.

Your rules and consequences should be posted prominently, not hidden behind a door or banished to a far corner. Write them poster-size in your own script and place them high upon the front wall of your classroom.

Give an impassioned review.

To introduce your classroom management plan, provide an impassioned, full-picture review of your rules and consequences. Although you’ll do no modeling at this point, your words must be delivered with boldness, conviction, and zeal.

Show the progression.

Provide an example of a misbehaving student progressing from an initial warning to the return of a signed letter. In other words, let your students eyewitness exactly, and in a highly detailed way, what will happen if they break your class rules.

Model in their shoes.

The lesson is most effective if you pretend to be the misbehaving student. Sit at one of their desks and call out without raising your hand, side-talk with a classmate, or engage in any other common misbehavior. You can even have a student play the part of the teacher.

Leave no stone unturned.

The idea behind teaching classroom management so thoroughly right out of the gate is to remove any and all excuses for poor behavior before they gain a toehold and become part of the culture of your classroom.

Encourage questions.

When you finish your lesson be sure and give your students a chance to ask questions. No part of your plan should be secret. No part should be unclear, nuanced, or difficult to defend. Openness and transparency are strengths your students will respect and find comfort in.


Most students are used to a haphazard form of classroom management. They’re used to uncertainty and ambiguity. They’re used to inconsistency and shifting definitions of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

They’re used to teachers who say one thing and do another, and accountability based on moods, whims, and angry confrontations.

Your job on the first day of school is to set the record straight.

It’s to show your students precisely where your boundary lines are, what they look like, and what will happen if they cross them. No surprises. No misunderstandings. No broken promises.

Just comfort in knowing that they’re free to learn and love school.

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.

, ,

23 Responses to How To Teach Classroom Management On The First Day Of School

  1. Joyce August 16, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Love your website and shared it with many colleagues. I am looking forward to using your ideas again this year. Now I have a question. What should I do when a child is in time-out when it is time to dismiss? Since each day is a new day, should they just come out so they could leave, or should they return the next day?


    • Michael Linsin August 17, 2014 at 7:04 am #

      Hi Joyce,

      You let them line up and leave with their class. You do not place them back in time-out the next day.


  2. cristina juarez August 16, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Reading this reminds me of my role as a classroom manager…

  3. Marsha August 16, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    Dear Michael,

    Do you recommend a set of separate class rules for a science lab or just adding on to the five you suggest?
    Marsha Kanan
    (1st year teacher, grades 5-7 science)

    • Michael Linsin August 17, 2014 at 7:11 am #

      Hi Marsha,

      If you have separate behavior rules specific to your science lab, and for which the four I recommend don’t cover, then it’s best to add them.


  4. Emily Morris August 17, 2014 at 7:28 am #

    This is one if your best articles yet. Very helpful and inspiring.

    I presented rules and consequences in back to school night (and will do exactly this article on the first day of school). One student is the child of a fellow teacher and she says he’s determined to never rreach a Time Out. Apparently he has never had in his schooling so specific a consequence and it seems to resonate with him nice and clearly!

    • Michael Linsin August 17, 2014 at 7:49 am #

      Excellent, Emily! Thanks for sharing.


  5. Cathy December 26, 2014 at 9:11 am #

    What if you have major burnout,

    • Michael Linsin December 26, 2014 at 10:49 am #

      Hi Cathy,

      This is a topic already on the list of future articles. Stay tuned!


  6. Sunil Yadav July 19, 2015 at 6:43 am #

    Its valuable input for every observation is we have to frame rules related to specific class, country and society.

  7. Diana August 7, 2015 at 6:12 am #

    Hi Michael,
    As an art specialist at elementary level what is your opinion about combining Whole Brain Teaching with your Classroom
    Mgmt philosophy ? Do you think it’s too much to take on as a specialist teaching 450 kids?

    • Michael Linsin August 7, 2015 at 7:02 am #

      Hi Diana,

      I don’t know enough about Whole Brain Teaching to offer a professional opinion.


  8. Nancy Murawski October 14, 2015 at 7:10 am #

    Hi Michael-
    Do your rules come from the students or do you just start with them already listed?

  9. Terrie Vargas June 11, 2016 at 1:11 pm #

    How do these consequences and actions work on pre-k students ages 4-5? Do you make any changes do to their age, maturity, and level of understanding?

  10. Shari Miller August 3, 2016 at 7:31 pm #


    I just wanted to say that the $7 I spent on the high school edition of the Smart Classroom Management Plan is probably the best purchase I’ve made in the twenty years I’ve been teaching. This is the best, easiest-to-follow, kindest, most loving, firm but fair classroom management plan I’ve ever come across. Thank you for taking the time to write down your ideas. You’re awesome!


    • Michael Linsin August 4, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      It’s my pleasure, Shari! Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad you like the plan.


  11. Mary A. August 12, 2016 at 6:53 pm #

    I knew I was going to get a very rough early elementary group this school year. I have been teaching 18 years and have had success with my own classroom management methods. However, I knew I would have to do something different for this new group of students. I came across your website and became engrossed in reading the various articles relating to classroom management. To say that I was skeptical would be an understatement. I was skeptical to the point of scoffing. Even still, I decided to give many of your suggestions a try because I literally had no choice. I read several articles here on the website as well as the book The Classroom Management Secret. I wrote a list of what I considered to be the most important things to remember for students who (not all but many) have been poorly trained, disrespectful, defiant, easily distracted, and who dismiss authority figures. I was determined to stick to the plan as suggested. I read and reread my important points. I implemented my new way of being on day one and now after 8 days, I can see that it has really had a calming effect. They are still rough but it is still August. I actually think they may learn to operate differently in the world. I have to say that I am impressed and grateful. I am ever hopeful for the rest of this school year.

    • Michael Linsin August 13, 2016 at 10:51 am #

      Hi Mary,

      I’m so glad you found us and were willing to give our approach a try. As you keep learning and become more proficient with the strategies, it will only get better.


  12. Norma August 22, 2016 at 6:34 pm #


    I’m a Mexican English teacher and I’ve taught English for many years, but I started teaching preschoolers a year ago and I have to admit that I’m still in the process of learning how to do it and how to deal with the different kind of students since the restless one who doesnt’ respect rules and limits to the one that is eager to learn and follows directions I teach at a private school in Mexico where English is just one more subject at school. It’s even harder when students’ mother tongue is Spanish and they have no English around them. difficult to get them understand a bit of what I’ saying, they want me to speak Spanish and at times it’s really frustrating when I do my best so they understand what Im trying to say and they are clueless and its’ even harder to have the classroom management since they wont get any of the rules or consequences.
    It’d be really nice if you helped me with some.suggestions or any piece of advice.

    Thank you.

    Norma Rodriguez.

    • Michael Linsin August 23, 2016 at 7:13 am #

      Hi Norma,

      This is a question that I could only answer reliably after speaking to you. However, I would definitely teach the rules in Spanish if it will allow them to understand.


  13. Ariel September 16, 2016 at 3:22 am #

    I am a first year teacher at a high school (I taught at an elementary school for half a year this previous school year).
    I knew ahead of time that I would have a rough class of 9th graders, but after reading several articles on this website I realize I’ve been emotional, inconsistent, and have thus watched the students respect for me dwindle into near nothingness (and it’s only the end of the 3rd week).
    I will be trying these strategies I have been reading from your website from now on. Is it possible to bring a classroom back to peace when it had descended in chaos day in and day out?

    • Michael Linsin September 16, 2016 at 7:54 am #

      Hi Ariel,

      Yes, definitely, no matter how bad it’s gotten.


Leave a Reply