Four Classroom Management Secrets

Rebecca Maymi

Four classroom management secrets you don’t want miss out on! 

There are a million classroom management techniques and strategies out there in the universe. Various admin have put our campuses through the ringer of any number of them. Here’s four books that have helped with my classroom management and may prove useful in August.

  • 1. Boys Town
  • via GIPHY

    The aspect I like most about Boys Town discusses how your vocabulary and grammar effect your campus in a positive way. I use just one thing from my time with Boys Town; but it is powerful, clear and the best part is you can start using it right away.

    “You’re running, I need you to walk.”

    It’s that simple. I use this (or a variant of it) every single day to great effect. After you've used it a few times you’re going to feel like a wizard of the teaching world. This statement is effective because rather than framing the situation negatively right away, you’re simply informing the student of their mistake and providing them with the correct alternative. Instead of saying “Stop running!” (beginning and ending with a negative) you’re saying “This is what you’re doing, this is what you need to do.”

    State the misbehavior clearly, no fluff, or overdramatic energy necessary. “You’re talking”, “You’re by the door”. Then add the expectation. “ I need you to work quietly/listen.” “I need you sit down in your assigned seat.” Nine times out of ten, the student stops the misbehavior right away. No really... right away. As soon as they choose to redirect their behavior, praise them with a sincere, professional and quick: “Thank You."

  • 2. Capturing Kids Hearts
  • via GIPHY

    Capturing Kids Hearts uses four questions that can redirect misbehavior.  I see these as just another tool in my tool box for my classroom management strategies rather than a holistic system in and of itself. I typically only use these for atypical situations or isolated situations with kids I already have a positive relationship with. Disclaimer: This doesn’t always work and sometimes it even backfires; but, if I can read the student well enough, these questions can be a lifesaver.

    The questions help the student express that they know what behavior is expected and that they already know how to fix it. During the conversation the teacher must use eye contact, an appropriate proximity, the student’s name, and use a low unemotional tone. I love this because it allows me AND the student to react to each other clearly in a moment of tension.

    1. What are you doing?
    2. What are you supposed to be doing?
    3. Are you doing it?
    4. What are you going to do about it? 


    3. Restorative Learning

    via GIPHY

    Our campus has book studies every semester. Last semester our group got a book called Better than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management (Smith, Fisher, Frey 2015). It’s a skinny, 150 page book full of positive strategies for restoring peace on a campus, a classroom and small groups (like a theatre company). I highly recommend this book for educators in a leadership position on campus.

    The book is separated into three sections peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building. The "restorative practice" is from the peacemaking section which focuses on the student making the choice to make amends, apologize and make a commitment not to repeat the offense. Just like the Capturing Kid’s Hearts strategy, there is a flexible script to guide the teacher to work with the student to restore a damaged relationship.

    Phase one: Unwind
    The teacher has the opportunity to help the student voice their feelings in private and calm down from the hurt they’ve experienced.

  • Are you alright?
  • How are you feeling now?
  • What do you need now?
  • How can I help?

  • Phase two: Rewind
    The teacher walks the student to accepting responsibility for their actions and express empathy for others.

  • What led up to this?
  • Whom did this affect and how?
  • What do you think about it now?
  • How can we make this right?

  • Phase three: Wind-up
    The teacher’s questions help to empower the student to share their perspective through the healing process.

  • How did you feel when that happened?
  • What do you need to see happen now?
  • What can you do in such situations?

  • Check out the book here: Better Than Carrots or Sticks

  • 4. Picture This! - A clean room all the time!

  • via GIPHY

    Ever feel like your classroom is messy all the time? Mess and disorganization, is not inevitable, there’s actually a really easy fix. Rick Smith, who has written several books and has spoken about classroom management, has a book entitled Picture This! is an effective guide to tidying your room and saving your voice. This is a really cool idea that works across grade levels. (Parenting Bonus: My science teacher friend says she uses this at home in her kids’ play room and it has changed their lives!) Here’s how it works:

    Snap clear pictures of how parts of your room should look and then post it next to or on the area that needs constant tidying.

    I put pictures next to the bookshelf where the kids keep their folders, on the materials table by the door, and on the table caddie. Some of the pictures have a permanent place in my room, some go up and down depending on projects. I found that labels or coloring coding doesn’t always work as effective as this does. The constant and friendly visual aids around the room gives the kids a chance of work with autonomy in your classroom while helping ensure it ends up exactly how you want it.

    Check out the book, it has a million ways to raise autonomy in your class by using different procedures.

    You can find it here: Picture This!


    For some teachers, using just one of these strategies year round works exceptionally well; for others, like myself and my husband, a combo-strategy is most effective. We like to take bits and pieces of different strategies and the learned experience of the teachers around us everyday to better our classroom environment.

    What strategies do you use? What has been effective and you swear by? What hasn't worked so well, or worse, backfired? Let us know in the comments below!

    Leave a Comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published