Effectively Managing Classroom Behaviour


It’s November and that means that the school year is well underway. As schedules continue to get busier and holidays begin to build excitement among your students, we want to help you keep your classrooms well-managed and problem-behaviour free! In this month’s Tip, we’ve included easy-to-implement strategies for maintaining positive and well-managed classroom environments as a quick resource for you from now until June.

Proactive strategies for effective classroom management:

Listed below are four areas in which proactive intervention strategies can be used to decrease off-task student behaviour and increase student engagement. By implementing proactive strategies you are taking a step toward preventing disruptive behaviour before it occurs.

Establishing classroom rules & procedures:

Classroom rules should be used in every classroom to identify general standards for expected classroom behaviour. It is important that students are explicitly taught each classroom rule when they are introduced and that they are reminded of the rules throughout the school year.

Explicit teaching of classroom rules involves:

  • A visual presentation of the rules
  • Checking for student understanding by providing (or having them generate) examples and non-examples of each rule
  • Identifying which rule is being followed in response to appropriate student behaviour (e.g., “Johnny, I really like how you are following rule #1 and paying attention when I’m talking”)

Setting up effective seating plans:

It is important to remember that for students to maintain focus on teacher instruction, they must be facing the teacher when instruction is delivered. If they cannot easily look and listen to what the teacher is saying, they are less likely to actively listen.

One seating plan that enables all students to face the front of the room is a semicircular desk arrangement, shown above.

This seating plan has been demonstrated to promote student engagement for at risk students and increase hand-raising behaviour by having all students face the teacher.

Managing transitions:

Incidences of disruptive behaviour are also more likely to occur during transition times. As such, it is in the teacher’s and students’ best interest to keep transitions as efficient as possible. Efficient transitions can be taught to students through direct instruction, guided practice, and feedback. Like classroom rules, it is important to demonstrate expected behaviour for transitions and provide positive feedback to students who demonstrate expected behaviour.

Before any transition, give students clear, step-by-step instructions:

  1. What to put away (e.g., “Put away your independent reading books”)
  2. What to get out (e.g., “Take out your math textbook, notebook, and a pencil.”)
  3. How to set up the materials that will be needed (e.g., “Open your textbook to page 87, and leave your notebook and pencil in the corner of your desk.”)
  4. How to indicate that all steps have been completed (e.g., “Look up here when you’re ready”)
  5. A cue when to start the transition (e.g., “Go!”)

A visual checklist can also be provided on the blackboard for students to reference as they carry out each step.

There are key components to delivering both praise and directives to students that will enhance the impact of your communication on student behaviour:

When delivering praise, try to:

  • Specify the behavior that you are praising.
  • Praise behavior immediately after it has occurred.
  • Praise student effort rather than skill level.

When asking a student to do someting, try to:

  1. Be very clear about what you are asking your student to do
  2. Use a positively framed statement
  3. Use a firm but calm voice
  4. Be somewhat close to the student (within 3 feet of the student)
  5. Engage in eye contact with the student before making your request
  6. Praise for compliance once the student performs the requested task or behaviour

Take home message

Good classroom management is a direct, proactive intervention that prevents problem behaviour before it occurs. Keep your students on-task by setting up their environments and using teaching techniques that promote student engagement.



Adapted from Effective School Interventions, Second Edition: Evidence-Based Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes by Nathalie Rathvon (2008). ISBN: 978-1572309678