Classroom Management Study Guide

Maggie Bruski

Has this situation ever happened to you? You’ve spent hours developing lesson plans for the week, they are engaging, have embedded, ongoing assessment and are tailored to meet the needs of all your students. You step in front of your class on Monday morning, excited and bright-eyed, ready to tackle those state standards and wham, seemingly out of nowhere, Johnny throws his pen at Suzy. Suzy retaliates with choice words, and Johnny’s best friend interrupts her with his own verbal onslaught. You try to settle things down, but the class is in an uproar. Finally, after much effort and precious time, your students are back on track and ready to learn. For now.

With many teachers and students hitting the books once again, the beginning of the school year is an ideal time to revisit a key component of effective teaching: classroom management. There is no silver bullet when it comes to managing student behavior and organizing your classroom routines and layouts, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t solid, research-based practices that a teacher can draw upon. This month’s SEED PAK featured resource, Classroom Management and Organization, shares simple yet impactful strategies that have been used by the innovation coach team as part of the BOCES teacher induction program. Ideal for teachers new to the profession and those who might need support in re-thinking their rules, routines, and expectations for student behavior, this chapter from the ASCD book, Handbook for Qualities of Effective Teachers, is a highly valuable study guide designed to spur reflection and professional growth.

This resource not only presents fundamental information about classroom management, it prompts genuine reflection. The case study of new teacher, Mandrel Epps, gives readers the opportunity to evaluate another teacher’s rules, routines and student expectations in a way that is much like being a fly on Epps’ classroom wall. It allows teachers to think about his situation and wonder what they might do, which is a unique way to reflect on one’s own practice. It is this opportunity that led me to feature this resource, which in all actuality is truly a classroom management study guide.

How Might You Use the Tools in this Resource?

So what does this mean for teachers using this study guide? Throughout the reading, you should be on the lookout for the “Reflect on the Teacher” questions. Whether you write down your thoughts in a journal, or set some time aside during the drive home for reflection, or perhaps even discuss it with a friend, these prompts can really lead to some insights into your own practice. Seen below is the first of these prompts, which asks readers to consider his classroom rules:

In addition to reflecting, teachers are also encouraged to “Consider the Scenario” (seen below) and specifically analyze Mr. Epps’ positive attributes and areas for improvement. This activity might lead to identifying your own areas of need, allowing you to refine your classroom management practices.

Another thoughtful aspect of this resource is the authors’ perspectives on the case study. Teachers reviewing this on their own might find this segment extremely valuable, allowing them insight into a veteran teacher’s responses. I like that the author shares that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to these proposed scenarios:

Finally, blackline masters of the templates from the reading are provided, so that teachers can use them to start planning their own rules and routines:

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The case study of Mr. Epps is a very helpful tool, not only for a beginning teacher but for any teacher with an eye on refining their classroom management. Once again, keep in mind that this book chapter does not provide a silver bullet, but a big picture overview of some things that a teacher might think about in terms of their classroom management. What really sets this resource above others are the tools for reflection.

Do you have a “Suzy and Johnny” driving you nuts on a daily basis? Does your classroom management need a shot in the arm? How might you use Mandrell Epps’ case study to help you? Could you work with a friend, co-worker or mentor to analyze the case study using the “Reflect on the Teacher” bits?


Tiffany Trevenen's picture
Tiffany Trevenen
This is great Maggie! Great resource to get back on track during HallowThanksMus! It will be great again during Happy Testing Season. I'm digging in!