Classroom management “involves careful monitoring of the total environment,
including instruction and student learning, in such a way as to promote an atmosphere
where learning can take place” (Synder). It is crucial for teachers to be well aware of
how they want and need to manage their classroom (Personal Interview, Teacher 4). A
well managed classroom involves motivation from the teacher, set rules and
consequences, good communication with parents, routines, and a non-threatening
environment for students.
This project was compiled, through research, to show an example of how a third
grade teacher can maintain a well-rounded classroom environment. The first part of the
project starts with a definition of classroom management, moves on to rules and
consequences, continues with classroom environment and motivation, and ends with
parent and teacher communication. The second part consists of multiple appendices that
exemplify the topics discussed in the paper. Some examples include, a listing of
classroom rules and consequences, a classroom set-up, and newsletters to parents. This
project took a lot of hard work and dedication, showing just how much work goes into
creating a first-rate third grade classroom.
Classroom management, according to Robert J. Sternberg and Wendy M.
Williams, is “defined as a set of techniques and skills that allow a teacher to control
students effectively in order to create a positive learning environment for all students,”
(Sternberg and Williams, 384). It is important that teachers understand all aspects of
classroom management to ensure the positive learning environment for students that
Sternberg and Williams describe.
The different aspects that go into classroom management include: parent
communication and involvement, establishing classroom rules and consequences,
establishing a routine with your class, knowing what cues work with your students, and
knowing the wants and needs of the students (Monsour, Lecture). Along with the teacher
understanding all the different areas surrounding classroom management, students need
to be well aware of what is the basis of their learning environment. This will ensure that
the students are in agreement to their responsibilities as well as the teacher’s.
As long as both the teacher and the students are committing to their learning
environment, all will “…feel valued as individuals, safe to think and explore, and
challenged to grow,” (Paper written by teacher 3). The establishment of classroom
management is key in creating an effective learning environment for every classroom.
Rules are an important aspect to every classroom. They help to establish grounds
for behavior and work ethic among students. According to Peggy Pastor, from the article
“School Discipline and the Character of Our Schools” rules are key in aiding students to
learn to make decent choices and be held responsible for them (Pastor, 2). There is a
very unique method teacher 1 uses to obtain classroom rules. She calls it the “RIGHT”
stuff model; respect, integrity, generosity, honesty, and trust. She stated, “As a class, we
create rules and expectations for the class. We agree on respecting each individual and
his/her property. We agree to ensure that each person can be an active part of the
learning community.” (Personal Interview). Teacher 1 says they get together as a class
creating a big list of classroom and school rules and then group them into five basic rules
to be put to use (Personal Interview). This method of congregating as a classroom and
creating a master list of rules tends to be commonly used, as teacher 4 does this as well.
This teacher makes sure the rules follow the guidelines created not only by the students,
but also the school (Personal Interview).
The “rules for rules,” documented by Chuck LaBounty aids teachers in the
succession of establishing classroom rules. LaBounty’s list includes:
1. Keep only a few rules, if possible no more than five.
It is harder for students, especially young ones, to follow and abide by
numerous rules. The more basic and few the rules are, the easier it will be for
the students to remember them.
2. Express the rules positively.
Making rules sound like commands helps the students from thinking
negatively about following them. Such an example could be, “Please listen
when others are speaking,” instead of “Don’t interrupt,” (Monsour, Lecture).
3. Post the rules where they can be seen.
Students are most likely to know and follow the rules if they are constantly
reminded of them. A good way of doing this is by posting them at eye level,
and having them be bold and very noticeable. Pictures and bright colors help
to attract attention and aid younger students in understanding them better.
4. Occasionally reward for rule following.
Rewards can reverse their original intent if used too often. Students like
receiving rewards because it makes them feel like they have accomplished
something important. When rewards are given randomly, students follow the
rules anxiously waiting for when the next reward will come.
5. Let students help in deciding the classroom rules.
By allowing the students to help in establishing the classroom rules, they are
better able to understand and know that they are capable of following them.
Students feel important when they are involved in important classroom
matters. Teacher 4 stated that having the students arrange the rules with her
helps “support the student handbook and school behavior guidelines,”
(Personal Interview). (Monsour, Lecture).
Many classrooms contain a general set of rules, which abide by these standards.
Such rules could include:
1. Respect Others
2. Use Time Wisely
3. Act Responsibly
4. Behave in a Safe Manner
These rules are excellent in not only the classroom, but also for when students are outside
of the classroom. The more the students are exposed to these rules, the better chance they
have of making them habit. Such rules work well with middle level elementary school
students. These types of rules are very common in many classrooms, including those
from observation sites. It is very apparent that LaBounty’s guidelines are met because
the rules are concise and few.
Consequences are a very important part of discipline. If a child doesn’t follow the
rules and expectations, he or she must be given a consequence to show them that the rules
must be followed. Cooperating teacher 2 says that consequences “come after a student
has been warned verbally and still doesn’t comply” (Personal Interview). There are
several helpful guidelines for consequences that have been found from several resources.
“Assertive discipline” utilizes several guidelines. There should be a maximum of
five consequences. In case the student severely disrupts the class, there should be a
“severe clause” where the student is immediately sent to the principal. The principal
should always be the last resort in the consequence plan. Before the plan is utilized, the
principal must approve it and a copy should be sent to the parents. The principal and the
teacher should determine what will happen when the student is sent to the office. This
plan applies to all students. If a teacher uses the name and checks system, all names and
checks should be erased at the end of the day. Never erase a name or check as a reward
for a student’s improved behavior! If after three days the plan isn’t working with more
than one student, the teacher should make the plan stricter. Also, the teacher should share
changes in the plan with the principal (Monsour, Lecture).
Consequences are often seen as punishment. A teacher should be careful when
he/she goes about creating consequences. There are harmful side effects to punishment
according to Chuck LaBounty. First, punishment generates unhappiness and resentment
that could last a long time. It encourages lateness coming to class and dropping out of
school to avoid and escape punishment. It presents the teacher as an undesirable role
model; those who are punished often punish others. Finally, punishment can lead to
escalation; the punished may retaliate (Monsour, Lecture).
LaBounty also states that there are some effective ways of using punishment. Use
it immediately after the undesired behavior occurs and punish each occurrence. Indicate
to the child which behavior is being punished to avoid confusion. Unless an undesired
behavior violates a clearly set rule, a teacher should warn the student once before
punishing him/her. Avoid punishing emotional behavior. Let the student calm down
first. The punishment will go a lot smoother this way. Don’t punish with extra school
work. This will result in the student hating homework and will avoid doing it in the
future. Finally, avoid following punishment with a reward. The punishment might not
be that bad and the student could learn that if he/she does this behavior, he/she goes
through a mild punishment and then gets a good reward (Monsour, Lecture).
There are four methods of humane punishment, again stated from Chuck
LaBounty. The first is positive practice, when the student is showed an alternate desired
behavior instead of the one he/she is being punished for and then he/she must practice it.
For example, a student who was running in the hall is told to go back and walk. The
second method is overcorrection where the student does a behavior over and over again.
An example would be if a child colored on his/her desk, then he/she cleans the desks and
all the other desks. Third is time out. Choose a place for time out that is isolated from
the other students. Tell the student that you are punishing the behavior, not him/her.
Show that you expect better behavior after time out is over. Do not place a student in
time out any longer than ten minutes. Finally, there is soft reprimand. This is quietly
telling a student to get back on task. Only the student you are reprimanding should hear
it. Be firm but not severe. Combine this with frequent praise for proper behavior
Lee Canter believes that a teacher should choose consequences with which he/she
is comfortable. They should be appropriate for students’ needs and they should be in
their best interests. “Students should never be made to stand in front of the class as
objects of ridicule or be degraded in any way” (Canter, 58). Canter designed the
assertive discipline method; the method that uses names and checks on the board as well
as marbles in a jar. He believes that names and checks are a good way of disciplining
children without interrupting the teaching. Recently, however, parents and some
educators have seen this method as a way of humiliating students. So instead Canter
suggests that teachers should write the students name on a clipboard or in the attendance
book and tell the student that he/she broke a rule and that they have a warning or a check
Some tips for preventive disciplining from Scott Halverson are very basic.
1. Be consistent and prompt in enforcing your consequences.
2. Enforce calmly, slowly using lots of eye contact and proximity control.
3. Use logical consequences which teach, not punish.
4. Never lose control of your emotions. How can we expect students to
control themselves if we cannot control ourselves?
5. Avoid disciplining in front of an audience. Students do not back down
very easily when they are on stage.
6. Consequences should relate to the rules.
7. Have a range of alternatives, as not all consequences work with all
students [Halverson, 1].
There are many different consequences that a teacher can use. A teacher can talk to the
student, remove him/her from the classroom, call the parents, have the student fill out a
behavior plan, or lose a class privilege such as recess or computer time. Cooperating
teacher 1 says, “We do have a discipline policy at [our school]. Five discipline slips
result in an hour of detention on Thursday afternoons. A child receives a discipline slip
for being disrespectful (verbally, physically), being disruptive in class and on school
grounds, coming to school unprepared, etc. There is no physical aggression allowed on
school grounds. This sort of behavior results in suspension” (Personal Interview). The
consequences determined for a third grade classroom are as follows:
1. A verbal warning is given.
2. The student has a talk with the teacher either before lunch, during recess,
after school, or during school, depending on when the behavior occurred.
3. Ten minutes taken from recess, during which time the student fills out a
4. A call to the parents is made.
5. A parent/teacher conference; where a plan/solution is created. A contract will
be filled out at this time as well.
Consequences, if used properly and firmly, can help students understand why the
rules are important to follow and why the behavior they did is inappropriate.
A positive, warm classroom environment is a key element in a successful year. It
is important that the classroom is safe and comfortable for the students. It should be
inviting. The physical layout is essential in creating this environment. There are six
factors to a great physical layout according to Good and Brophy.
1. Security and environment: Add elements of softness to the room. Create a
“retreat” area that is free from interference for the students.
2. Social contact: Decide on the amount of interaction you want among the
students. Think about whether you are making contact with all your
3. Symbolic identification: Personalize your classroom space so that it
communicates information about you and your students.
4. Task instrumentality: Make sure frequently used materials are accessible
to students. Plan pathways around the room to avoid congestion and
distraction. Offer students a personal space in which to keep belongings.
5. Pleasure: Use a variety of colors and textures all around the room to create
an aesthetically pleasing environment.
6. Growth: Stock your room with a variety of materials and create a library
corner so the students can grow in their reading and other subjects [Good
and Brophy, 445-446].
A good seating arrangement is important in classroom environment. The students
should all be able to see the board properly. Avoid distractions by splitting up students
who disrupt the class repeatedly by talking to each other. A horseshoe arrangement lets
the students all face each other. It encourages whole group learning. Placing the students
in groups of two is a good way of developing friendships. The students can bond with
the person they are sitting next to. Another type of seating arrangement is in groups of
four or six. Groups encourage group interaction. They can develop skills in working as a
team. Cooperating teacher 2 likes the students to “sit in a number of different
arrangements throughout the year. I often find one arrangement works better than others.
When I find one that seems to work, I stick with it and make changes if needed”
Routines in the classroom give it structure for a more smoothly running
environment. A teacher should have many routines throughout the day. This includes
how to line up before the class goes somewhere, how to behave in the hallways, what to
do when they come into the classroom before school and when they leave for the day.
There should be a daily schedule and a weekly schedule. Rules and consequences should
be clearly posted in the room where everyone can see them. The children can have
assignment planners that both the teacher and the child’s parents or guardians can sign
every day or week. There should be specific passes placed in a good position for the
children to take when appropriate. A substitute file for when the teacher is gone should
include a seating chart, lesson plans, a daily schedule, etc. All of these routines and more
should be planned out before school begins; although, the class can be involved in
creating some of the routines. If a teacher keeps all these factors in mind, he or she can
create a wonderful classroom environment.
Being able to motivate students in a classroom is not an easy task for most
teachers; having the knowledge of the different types and theories of motivation helps
this task become easier. A reason to incorporate motivation into your classroom is due to
the direct correlation of motivation to academic achievement. Studies have proven that
with better motivation in the classroom, students have a higher chance of staying in
school and performing better on tests. Attribution theory and intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation are two theories of motivation. (Sternberg and Williams, 347).
Motivating students with rewards is extrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is
when a student does something because someone else wants them to or they will get
something out of it. In their classroom teachers can have a reward menu for students.
When a student displays “super star” behavior they get to choose the reward they prefer
off the menu. Rewards will include:
2. Positive note home
3. Privilege coupon-the student will receive a coupon for good behavior and a
coupon is good for one of the items that follow:
a. Piece of candy
b. Extra computer time
c. Stickers/small rewards
d. First in line
e. Class party-for good class behavior
Also, as a teacher, you can give out award certificates as a form of external rewards.
Awards certificates are a good way to make the student and their parents feel proud about
what they have accomplished. The problem with external rewards is that students become
convinced that the reason they do the work is for the reward. Then when the reward is
gone, they do not do the work. (Lynch, 155). Studies show that the use of external
rewards may damage intrinsic motivation. For example, if a student knows that every
time they get a math problem right they get a piece of candy; the candy will soon start to
be their only motivation to get the problem right. This is not teaching the student to be
motivated because they understand the problem or get it right, it motivates them to get the
candy. Extrinsic motivation works well at a younger level so they want to please their
teachers and impress their parents, but as students get older they realize their sense of
accomplishment is a big enough reward.
Intrinsic motivation is where a student completes something because they want to
complete it. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a type of intrinsic motivation; it is a prophecy
that is a prediction that, if accepted, works to make itself come true (Good and Brophy,
379). For example, if the student has an older sibling that was a troublemaker, the
teacher may have an expected behavior for the student to be a troublemaker also. The
self-esteem of a student is affected by a self-fulfilling prophecy because it causes changes
in a student’s behavior. If a negative expectation is portrayed, a student will adapt to this
expectation and perform at a lower level. This performance will cause a drop in self-
concept, confidence and self-esteem. If there is a positive expectation of the student, the
student will perform better and become more confident about him or herself, therefore,
the student’s self-esteem grows. Douglas Lynch describes four good ways to enhance
internal motivation (Lynch, 156).
1. Provide success and closure
a. The work that the students do should be moderately difficult to
encourage curiosity and challenge and build toward a “concrete
2. Positive introductions
a. Teachers should tell their students that the vocabulary words they are
learning are words they’ll be using in every day life. The student will
be more interested in learning them if they have value.
3. Helpful feedback
a. Teachers need to give more feedback besides “right or wrong” to their
students to allow the students to learn from their mistakes.
4. Choices with responsibility
a. This need is met when teachers give students choices coupled with
responsibilities. For example, letting them choose any book from the
library as long as they read one.
The beliefs children have about why they succeeded or failed are called
attributions and they are influenced by teacher comments and the environment the student
is put in. There are two types of attributions: effort attributions and ability attributions.
Students who acquire effort attributions have self-discipline where as students who
acquire ability attributions have no self-discipline and are unconcerned. Internal
motivation is highly influenced by effort attributions, where the student believes that how
well they do in school is under their control. (Lynch, 156). Locus of control is an
example of the differences between effort and ability attributions. Students with effort
attributions will look at their performances as being caused by external factors such as
ability and effort. (Good and Brophy, 356). For example, if they failed a test they would
say, “I didn’t study hard enough for the test,” using effort to explain their behavior and
“I’m good/bad in science,” using ability to explain their behavior. A student with ability
attributions will look at their performances as being caused by internal factors such as
task difficulty and luck. For example, if the student passed a test they would say, “I
guessed right,” using luck to explain their behavior and they would say, “The test was
easy,” using task difficulty to explain their behavior. (Monsour, Lecture). Every student
has his or her own motivation for grades. Students with an internal locus of control tend
to get higher grades due to the time spent in intellectual activity compared to the students
with an external locus of control who only study to pass the test. (Good and Brophy,
Motivated students will succeed. “Highly motivated people can accomplish remarkable
feats, and regardless of how brilliant they may be, poorly motivated people tend to go
nowhere” (Sternberg and Williams, 347). So an average student who is highly motivated
by their teachers can succeed in the classroom, and with a lack of motivation even a
talented student can fail.
“Parents are the most important people in a child’s life. Their love, affection,
support and approval are a fundamental need of all children. And because parents are #1
in importance, they are also #1 in the ability to influence and motivate their children”
(Canter and Canter, 3). This quote describes why parent communication and involvement
is an essential part to any successful classroom. Students do better in school when they
feel supported and motivated by their parents at home. For teachers, it is important to
work as a team with the students and parents so that each child can reach his/her
In order to communicate and involve parents, however, the teacher must first
address any barriers that may be present. Some of these barriers include a lack of time on
both the parents’ and teacher’s part, uncertainty on the parents’ behalf concerning how
they should help, cultural differences which can affect how teachers are able to
communicate and how parents interpret or view what the teacher says, parents’ previous
negative experiences with school, and also the socioeconomic status of the students’
families (Monsour, Lecture). By recognizing these barriers and working individually
with each family, it is possible for teachers to eliminate the barriers, thus creating an
environment where parents want to be involved.
There are many different ways teachers can communicate with parents. One of the
most effective ways to start a good communication system is to make contact with
parents before the school year begins. Teacher 3 says, “Making a connection early is key”
(Personal Interview). Sending a letter to welcome students and introduce the teacher to
the parents is a great way to motivate everyone for the upcoming year. Also, having a
back-to-school night will allow the teacher to meet the parents and establish involvement.
During the back-to-school night the teacher can talk to parents about the classroom rules
and expectations, discipline plans, homework policies, events that will take place during
the year, and parent volunteer opportunities. The teacher can also give out his/her contact
information, get parental input, gain support, and express confidence and enthusiasm for
the year ahead.
Once a teacher has started communicating with parents it is important to
communicate on a regular basis to keep parents involved. One form of regular
communication that is frequently used is a weekly newsletter. A newsletter can inform
parents of what is going on in the classroom, special events for the week, spelling words,
and any other topics the teacher would like to address. Another way a teacher can
communicate regularly with parents is through the students’ assignment notebooks. By
having parents look over their child’s notebook each night it automatically makes them
aware of what their child is learning and since the teacher also checks notebooks daily it
gives parents the opportunity to write a note to the teacher and communicate on a daily
basis. Finally, one of the best forms of regular communication is a parent-teacher
conference in the fall and spring of each year. If the teacher is prepared for the
conference, a lot can be accomplished. Canter and Canter recommend filling out a
conference form for each student before hand outlining all of the issues to be discussed
including the strengths and weaknesses of the student academically and socially,
documentation of any problems, samples of the student’s work, grades, and a spot to
write down any parent input (196-197). Teacher 3 said she even tries to anticipate what
the parents will want to know and thinks about any past experiences she has had when
dealing with the parents in order to prepare (Personal Interview). During the conference
it is important for the teacher to be well organized and to be in an appropriate
environment. Teacher 3, for example, has calming music playing quietly in the
background, keeps a folder for each child containing all of the discussion material, sits at
the same level as the parents, and tries to sit close to the parents rather than across a table
so as not to define parent-teacher space (Personal Observation). With careful planning,
parent-teacher conferences can help to keep parents involved all year long.
Along with communication being regular, it should also be positive so that
parents look forward to their involvement and stay supportive of the teacher. Positive
communication shows parents that the teacher is concerned for their child and wants to
see him/her excel. Some of the ways a teacher can communicate positively with parents
is through phone calls or notes regarding good behavior, student birthday cards or get-
well cards, thank you notes to students and parents, e-mails, and even home visits (as
long as the teacher is accompanied by another faculty member). Positive communication
is important, though, the teacher needs to know that it takes time and effort. The teacher
will need to make a conscious effort to do it. During an interview, teacher #1 said she
spends about 1 1/2 hours each week outside of the classroom communicating with
parents. “I try to make about three calls each night to parents. Reinforcing positive
behavior is important too!” (Personal Interview). Recognizing a student’s
accomplishments and good behavior will motivate the student as well as the parents. It is
worth the extra effort because it will make it much easier to communicate if a problem
Major or minor, problems will inevitably arise each year and during these
problems parent communication becomes increasingly important. In order to be involved,
parents need to be made aware of any problems that their child is having at school. Many
times parents can give the teacher helpful input as to why the problem started and/or how
it can best be solved. In the video “Confident Parent Conferences,” by Carter and
Associates, the following outline is given for conducting a problem-solving conference:
1. Start with a statement of concern. Use “I” statements and be specific.
2. Describe the problem/behavior and show documentation.
3. Describe what you have done at school.
4. Get parental input on the problem.
5. Get parental input on the solution.
6. Describe what you’ll do as the teacher.
7. Explain what the parents must do.
8. Tell parents about a follow-up.
9. Re-cap the conference.
10. Show confidence that the problem can be worked out.
By following these steps a teacher should be able to work with the parents as a team to
find a solution to the problem. However, in some cases the conference is not enough and
then the teacher should consider a home-school contract. “A home-school contract is a
written agreement between teachers, students, and parents” (Canter and Canter, 164). The
contract sets down specific guidelines for home and school to help solve the problem.
The following is what should be included in a home-school contract (Montour, lecture):
1. Introduce the concept of the contract.
2. Determine how the student should behave.
3. Determine the teacher’s positive consequences at school.
4. Determine the parents’ positive consequences at home.
5. Determine the teacher’s negative consequences at school.
6. Determine the parents’ negative consequences at home.
7. Determine the length of the contract.
8. Review the terms of the contract.
9. Sign the contract (teacher, parents and student).
Once the contract has been made, frequent communication should continue for the length
of the contract.
As stated previously, parent communication and involvement is key to a
successful classroom. It is a teacher’s responsibility to work to break down barriers and
involve parents in their child’s education through communicating. Regular, positive
communication as well as problem-solving communication is needed to ensure on going
involvement and awareness on the parents’ part. It is a well-known fact that a stool is
sturdy with three legs, but falls with only two and likewise a student needs both the
teacher and parents to act as the other legs in his/her education in order to grow and excel
in the classroom.
This project took a lot of hard work on behalf of every group member. Due to all
of our dedication, the project was completed efficiently and successfully. Working on
this project opened our eyes to how difficult, yet rewarding, our job as an educator will
be. We feel we will now be better prepared and knowledgeable with managing our future
classrooms. By working in a group we were able to see the various ideas and different
perspectives, which enabled us to be more open-minded and realize there are many ways
to accomplish the same task. “Effective classroom management is an essential part of
every learning community” (Paper written by teacher 3).
Canter, Lee. “Assertive Discipline – More Than Names on the Board and Marbles in a
Jar.” Educational Psychology Packet.
Canter, Lee and Marlene Canter. Parents On Your Side. Santa Monica: Lee Canter and
Good, Thomas, and Jere Brophy. Contemporary Educational Psychology. New York:
Longman Publishers, 1995.
Halverson, Scott. “Tips for Preventive Discipline.” Educational Psychology Packet.
Lynch, Douglus. “Teaching Students to be Internally Motivated.” Educational
Monsour, Florence. Educational Psychology Lecture Notes.
Pastor, Peggy. “School Discipline and the Character of our Schools.” Phi Delta Kappan.
83.9 (2002): 658-661.
Personal Interviews. Dael Hunnicutt-4th
grade (1), Mary Romsos-3rd
grade (2), Heather
grade (3), Alison Svendsen-3rd
Sternberg, Robert, and Wendy Williams. Educational Psychology. Boston: Allyn and
Synder, David. “Classroom Management for Student Teachers.” Music Educators
Journal. 84.4 (1998): 37-40.