How To Begin 2015 On The Right Classroom Management Foot

How To Begin 2015 Classroom ManagementTime away from you, from their friends, and from the daily routine has a way of wiping the slate clean.

It has a way of distancing and repositioning.

It has a way of changing perspectives, healing wounds, and renewing spirits.

Students return from extended breaks more open, more relaxed, and more appreciative of school.

They tend to sit up straighter and listen more readily.

All of which affords you an opportunity.

It affords you an opportunity to establish—or reestablish—who you are, what you’re about, and what it means to be a member of your classroom.

It affords you an opportunity to ensure that they remain so receptive and contented.

Because it doesn’t last long. If left alone, if allowed to drift into familiarity, by midday unwanted behaviors will begin to arise. By midweek your students will revert back to whoever they were, however they behaved, and whatever you accepted before the break.

So you must strike while the iron is hot. You must strike the moment they arrive at your door.

Here’s how:

Greet each student.

It’s easy to get so caught up in starting anew, so determined to implement a fresh approach, that you forget to make a personal connection. So greet your students at the door. Stop each one before they enter, look them in the eye, and tell them how glad you are to see them.

These fleeting moments cost nothing, but mean so much. They build instant rapport and likability and launch a chain of reciprocal kindness and thoughtfulness that will spread throughout your classroom.

They also draw your students to you, on your side, and into your circle of influence—trusting that whatever you have in store for them is in their best interest.

Model and practice the first routine.

As soon as your students sit down, begin modeling how you expect them to enter the classroom each morning.

Throw on your coat and a backpack and show them precisely how to walk into the room, put away their materials, check their mailboxes, ready their homework, start their initial assignment, etc.

Be as detailed as possible, leaving nothing to chance. After asking a few students to model, send your entire class outside to practice.

By reviewing and perfecting a common routine first thing in the morning, you’ll be sending a message of excellence that will transfer to everything they do—behavior, work habits, attentiveness, and so much more.

Enjoy their company.

Spend some time enjoying your students and getting reacquainted. Allow them to share their holiday experiences, and share some of your own. Be open and personable and let them see the real you.

You’re not only modeling how to have polite conversations, and gently drawing them back into the flow of learning and participation, but you’re also building critical rapport.

It’s your relationship with your students, after all, that provides the leverage and influence you must have to effectively curb misbehavior. It’s your leadership and influential presence that cause students to want to please you and behave for you.

Unscripted moments just visiting and enjoying each other is time well spent.

Reteach your plan.

After wrapping up your chat, teach your classroom management plan as if it’s the first time.

Review each rule and consequence in detail. Model the most common misbehaviors you’ve witnessed so far, and walk them through the steps a student would take from initial warning to letter home. Leave nothing to chance and no room for excuses.

After taking questions and checking for understanding, promise your students that you will protect their right to learn and enjoy school by following your classroom management plan as it’s written—no exceptions.

Establish a calm, easy pace.

As you move on to the rest of your day, keep in mind your demeanor, pace, and temperament. They have a profound effect on behavior and learning and demonstrate a major difference between exceptional teachers and those who struggle.

Teachers who struggle with classroom management tend to do everything too fast and with an undercurrent of tension, which causes excitability, distraction, and misbehavior.

Establishing a calm, easy pace, on the other hand, is reassuring to students. It frees and energizes. It promotes an environment students love being part of and that is most conducive to learning.

A Greater Whole

Unless your class had completely fallen off the rails before vacation, there is little reason to approach the first day back as if it’s the first day of school.

In most cases, a detailed review of key expectations is all that is needed to take advantage of your suddenly eager group. But it must be accompanied by a commitment to classroom management principles that are best for all students and proven to work.

Here at Smart Classroom Management we endeavor to make every article written and every strategy explained effective in and of themselves. We want you to be able to learn a new idea or fresh approach over the weekend and apply it successfully on Monday.

However, it’s important to note that all of the tips, strategies, and solutions we recommend fit into a greater whole. And it is this whole where you’ll discover the teaching experience you’ve always wanted.

So I encourage you to pick up one of our books, spend some time in our archive, and/or sign up for personal coaching.

Your success is our only success.

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.


32 Responses to How To Begin 2015 On The Right Classroom Management Foot

  1. Marcia January 3, 2015 at 11:04 am #

    Hello, Michael,

    I hope you have had a wonderful break and I wish you a great 2015.

    Thank you very much for coming up with the right article for the right occasion (again). As usual, you hit all the right notes.

    Keep up the good work in 2015.


    • Michael Linsin January 3, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

      Thanks Marcia! I’ll do my best.


  2. vivace January 3, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    Can I have your thoughts on the use of a token economy. My class is comprised of (3-6 gradeers) students with moderate to severe, AUT. I have some serious behavior challenges. I am new to teaching. I use a lot of positive reinforcement. I use a lot of praise. Some issues include: calling out, profanity, inappropriate hand play(some of which I believe to be stimming). Out of seat, off task and not finishing assignments. We have seen lots of improvement in behaviors. But I want to really tighten up ship when I start the next year.

    • Michael Linsin January 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      Hi Vivace,

      I’m glad you found us! Although here at SCM we don’t recommend a token economy (a topic currently on the list of future articles), it may indeed be appropriate for your population. How much or how little and what it would look like wouldn’t be appropriate for me to say given that I don’t have extensive experience in special education.


  3. vivace January 3, 2015 at 11:44 am #

    May I also say I am very happy to have found your site. I am reading everything! Also, in my first comment I mean starting off this new year. Thanks

  4. Ashlee January 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    This was an awesome read! I’m sending this to my principal, staff, and friends! Thank you so much Michael =)

    • Michael Linsin January 3, 2015 at 12:49 pm #

      I’m glad you like it, Ashlee! Thank you.


  5. Abbie January 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm #

    Thank you for another wonderful post. Your class management philosophy & techniques help me to be my best, most peaceful teaching self. My students respond with care and respect. A spirit of fun and hard work pervades our class thanks to your ideas & your hard work on this great website. Every week, your positive, helpful posts help me prepare for the week ahead. Thanks, and here’s to a great year ahead!

    • Michael Linsin January 3, 2015 at 4:15 pm #

      It’s my pleasure, Abbie! I’m so happy to hear of your success!


  6. Daryl January 3, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

    Thanks Michael for this very relevant and important post for this time of year. This is the exact message that I was going to include in my welcome back message to our school staff. I will be attaching your article to that message now to help set the new year on the right course. Thanks for the hard work you place in your website. I refer to it often to help build my knowledge to support the teachers in our school.

    • Michael Linsin January 3, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

      Excellent Daryl! Good to hear.


  7. Joyce January 3, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    Thank you for the new article. I always revisit my rules and expectations right after an extended vacation. I plan to do it again, which will be more effective with the knowledge from this article.

    I have been having issues with the noise level in my classroom. I have used the Voice Level idea from your previous article. My question is, should I be giving warnings when the noise level gets too high? It seems like I would be giving about 20 warnings (I have 31 students) in one period! I have modeled and practiced the different levels with them. I want to take care of this while I am reviewing the plan for the new year. Any other suggestions? I even recorded them so they could hear that they were really at level 3 when I assigned level 1.

    • Michael Linsin January 3, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

      Hi Joyce,

      You should give warnings if you’re at level zero or level one. For level three you would simply stop your class for a 30-second recalibration. If you find yourself giving more than an occasional warning, then it’s a clear sign there is a problem elsewhere–likely the depth and thoroughness of your original lesson. My suggestion is to reteach and then practice until your students prove they understand.


  8. Vivace January 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    Thanks Michael for the feedback. I really appreciate it. What I am reading has provided me with some techniques I cannot wait to try. I will be looking forward to future articles. Thanks again!

  9. Bonnie January 6, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Thank you so much as I am in the middle of reading your book and it already has helped tremendously. I believe in your philoopshies and just switched from a 4th grade class to an 8th grade class. I did not realize how much my reputation had made my job so much easier at my old school until I switch! Thanks!

    • Michael Linsin January 6, 2015 at 7:35 pm #

      You’re welcome, Bonnie!


  10. Leah January 6, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Hi there,
    I recently stumbled upon your website and it has some great ideas. I’m still a fairly new teacher and classroom management is something I have always struggled with, perhaps because I am too nice by nature. Anyways today was the first day back and I introduced the classroom management plan in your one article. It seemed to work pretty good, even though I gave a ton of warnings throughout the day.

    My question is about the student I’ve been struggling with previously. He would actually go to the time outs, but when it was time to be done the time out he wouldn’t come back to the group until he decided it was time and then by the end of the day his listening skills are pretty much nill. So because he wouldn’t do his work after the initial time out, I gave him another one during the recess time and kept him in it until he could talk to me nicely. Any advice for this situation?

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2015 at 8:32 am #

      Hi Leah,

      Because the solution is a comprehensive approach rather than a single strategy, I’m going to refer you to the Difficult Student category of the archive. If after reading through the many articles, you have any questions, email me. I’m happy to help!


  11. Andrea January 7, 2015 at 6:34 am #

    As a music teacher, things get really busy in December, with performances, field trips and report cards. I could feel a few classes slipping away from me and decided to follow your advice on recalibrating my classes this week. All it took was a few non-emotional time outs (“so sorry, that’s consequence number 2”) to get the message across that I was back in control. I will follow through on my resolution to be consistent and hopefully maintain the momentum until June. Thanks for the terrific advice!

    • Michael Linsin January 7, 2015 at 8:27 am #

      You’re welcome, Andrea! Way to go!


  12. Leah January 7, 2015 at 10:16 pm #

    Okay thank you. I did read a few of those articles already. I am trying to read them as fast as possible! 🙂 I was hoping just the normal plan would work with him, but not so far. Today was my second day using the plan and the way my other students cleaned the room was the best I have seen so far!

    • Michael Linsin January 8, 2015 at 8:25 am #

      Sounds good, Leah! In all but the rarest circumstances, once you’re able to get a grip on truly effective classroom management, all of your students will come on board. I suspect this will be the case with him.


  13. gk1 January 8, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

    Bravo, again, Michael! This one came at just the right time. Perfect! Please keep them coming.

    • Michael Linsin January 9, 2015 at 8:23 am #

      Will do, gk1!


  14. Greg January 14, 2015 at 12:24 am #

    Great, great, article, again, Michael!

    If I may offer on what works best for me in reading your articles;
    Just like as teachers we are teaching our students to closely read and reread an important passage or article, when I reread Michael’s articles I often find a clearer meaning of what is written than I did after I read the article for the first time. For example, a purposeful comma can change the tone of the article since they are so thoughtfully written. So, my advice to the readers, read and reread again to get the full meaning.

    Michael, how about writing another book titles Dream Classes? Maybe the continuance of Dream Class as teachers progress through the years of teaching?

    • Michael Linsin January 14, 2015 at 8:18 am #

      Hi Greg,

      Thanks for sharing your advice to our readers! I like your idea for Dream Class. I’ll give it some thought. We’re still trying to nail down the details for the next project. Hopefully, we’ll have something new available in spring of 2016.


  15. Sherri January 19, 2015 at 10:53 am #

    I am a special education teacher and find your articles spot on. I have been surrounded with the teachers who make excuses for the behavior, have given up or overuse tangible rewards as a way of managing their classroom. I found SCM after the start of the year and look forward to putting these techniques into action from the beginning of the year. Although they have worked wonders being implemented half way through the year. Thank you!

    • Michael Linsin January 19, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

      You’re welcome, Sherry! Thanks for sharing your success with me. It will only get better and better. Way to go!


  16. karen March 29, 2015 at 7:46 am #

    I have been perusing your site for a couple of days now. Good tips and food for thought–although as a high school teacher it became apparent after a while that most of them are filtered through a grade school lens.

  17. Susan October 1, 2016 at 10:17 am #

    Students seem to regard the use of phones in class as a civil right. What do you recommend as a way to curb the behavior and the angry response when a teacher confiscates a phone?