The Missing Piece in Your Classroom Management Plan

Chad OstrowskiBlog, Class Management, Engagement, Innovation

The Missing Piece in Your Classroom Management Plan

In This Post:

  • Many teachers, when they hear the term “classroom management,” think of things like rules, procedures, behavior, or tricks they’ve learned over the years.
  • There is one component that is oddly overlooked.
  • When you work WITH students, instead of against them, the entire equation changes.
  • Define roles and expectations for both you and your students, talk about why routines and systems exist for the benefit of everyone, and always provide reminders for routines instead of punishments for breaking rules.
  • The worst thing you can do as a teacher is define your role as “you” vs. “them.” Students can feel this adversarial relationship.
  • Sometimes you need to pause the lesson, and discuss what’s happening that doesn’t meet the agreed expectations.

Classroom management is a complex and multifaceted component of any classroom. Many teachers, when they hear the term “management,” think of things like rules, procedures, behavior, or tricks they’ve learned over the years. While these are all probably part of your idea of management, there is one component that is often overlooked…YOUR STUDENTS! 

Of all the pieces and parts of your classroom management strategy, your students and their contribution to solutions are a couple of your best tools for success!

Let’s look at a few ways you can take advantage of the amazing resource you have sitting in your classroom!

Build Relationships.

One of my favorite quotes is, “Students don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This is even supported in research by leaders in the field such as John Hattie.

While I realize you can’t be best friends with all of your students, that doesn’t mean you can’t foster a relationship of trust that you have their best interests in mind. The worst thing you can do as a teacher is define your role as “you” vs. “them.” Students can feel this adversarial relationship. They are the reason we teach and when you build proper, appropriate, and positive relationships  with learners they will be less likely to create management issues or disrespect you or your expectations.

When there are common goals for students and teachers, and you create student-centered practices, classroom management can become much less of a worry. Click To Tweet

Work With Students, NOT Against Them.

I’ve heard a lot of crazy things in my years, like “don’t be their friend,” “don’t smile until winter break,” “control your classroom.” While all of these things are founded on potentially good intentions, they create the picture of a “teacher v. student” vibe and a very teacher-centered classroom.

The hardest thing you can do is “control” a room of students. One of the most thrilling things you can experience is when you “lead” and “learn” WITH a room full of students. When you work WITH students, instead of against them, the entire equation changes.

Define roles and expectations for both you and your students, talk about why systems exist, and always provide reminders, instead of punishments, for breaking rules.

When there are common goals for students and teachers, and you create student-centered practices, classroom management can become much less of a worry.

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Master your classroom management with this online course.

Don’t be afraid to pause and have a conversation.

We’ve all had those days when things just aren’t going well. Many times we try to just grin and get through it. One of the best things you can do in these scenarios though, is talk to your students. Pause the lesson, and discuss what’s happening that doesn’t meet the agreed expectations. Maybe your students will be able to tell you why they are frustrated, confused, or acting out. Many times just “pausing” and making their behavior explicit can help in and of itself. This is also a time to reset expectations if needed, and can be a great way to get things back on track!

So the next time you’re thinking of your classroom management, or an issue you might be having, don’t forget the best resource you have is the one sitting in front of you every, single, day.


Chad Ostrowski is the co-founder of the Teach Better Team and the creator of The Grid Method, but he is a middle school science teacher at heart. He now travels the country sharing his story, working with teachers, schools, and districts to help them to reach more students.