The #1 Classroom Management Skill

“What are we doing today?”

“Where do I put this note from my mom?”

“Where does my homework go?”

“When is lunch?”

“Are we having homework tonight?”

Have you ever heard these types of questions from your students? If you have, you are not alone. These questions can certainly be trying. When asked often enough they can cause feelings of frustration and they can be exhausting.

Students usually don’t ask these questions to “bug” their teachers. They ask because they don’t what to do! The students who ask these questions may feel confused, insecure or uncomfortable. They will feel this way because the environment is inconsistent and unpredictable.

Teachers can decrease these negative feelings by creating a more structured, predictable classroom. This can be done by establishing and teaching procedures and routines at times of the day that are chaotic. How will teachers know when those times are? They are the times we hear those irritating questions. Not only will procedures decrease everyone’s negative feelings, but they will increase teaching and learning time.

A school administrator recently asked me for my advice regarding school discipline. He asked me what one classroom management skill or practice would most increase classroom learning if practiced district wide in every classroom.

My response was that if every student knew what to do when they entered the classroom, learning would be significantly enhanced. In order to do this, the teachers must establish a classroom procedure or routine that has been taught and re-taught so when the students enter the room their learning begins without direction from the teacher. This would send a powerful message to students that learning commences the second they walk into the room.

We would encourage all of you to establish an opening procedure as well as any other procedure that will help create a more structured classroom. We promise you will feel the improved atmosphere.


December 1, 2010. Uncategorized.


  1. Terri R. replied:

    I agree! Establishing a morning routine is one aspect of my teaching day that runs extremely smoothly. It also feels good when the principal or a parent volunteer enters the room and the children are quietly seated and on task. I am able to take attendance, the lunch and milk count, and check in homework before the bell rings! Now I need to make the end of the day procedure as effective as the beginning.

  2. Caroline Polifka replied:

    Yes, establishing routines is a definite must at the beginning of the school year. Reading The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong has helped me to set and establish routines in the classroom. There is a part in the book that talks about having your classroom run so smoothly by the routines that are in place that the children could run the classroom when a sub comes. That is always a goal of mine and especially this year as I prepare to have a long-term sub. I know how important it will be to have these routines in place as a sub transitions into our classroom and then when I transition back into the classroom after my maternity leave. I agree with Terri that the end of the day procedures are usually not as smooth as the start of the day and that is an area I can definitely improve.

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