MCCESC Teaching & Learning

August Focus: Classroom Management

Welcome Back!

Just as you are excited to start a new year in the classroom, we are excited to serve our districts within Madison and Champaign Counties. Beginning this year, we will be creating a monthly focus newsletter. These will be available on our department website, as well.



Letting your students know what you expect of them from Day 1 is important for classroom management. Students need to know their boundaries - what can they do? What can they get away with? Where is the line drawn?

Sharing your expectations is not the same as classroom rules. And it certainly does not have to be a boring list that you read through. Consider a presentation of expectations that appeals to your grade level of students. Here you can link to a Bitmoji presentation on expectations used in a middle school classroom. Here you can link to a GIF presentation.

If you presented it as an expectation for your classroom, stick to it! The harder you work to establish these routines at the beginning of the year, the less effort you will have to put forth later in the school year.


A classroom with set routines is one that spends less time on transitions and more time on instruction. If you start working on routines on Day 1, by the end of the first month, your classroom should be a well-oiled machine.

Easily-established routines:

  • Walk into the classroom quietly and ready to start. Practice this. Send them into the hallway if they are loud or rowdy when entering. Keep trying until they get it. You may have to do several trials on Mondays or after long breaks.

  • Practice passing papers in. Make it game. Have each student pass his/her paper to the person in front. That person places their paper on top. And then that person passes two papers forward, and the person in front puts his/hers on top of the pile. By the time it reaches the front, they papers are in order so that when you pass them back, they’ll all be in order - less time for you walking around the room handing back papers.

  • Write your abbreviated agenda for the class on the board. Eliminate those “what are we doing today” questions and get students in the habit of referring to the agenda. If you keep a similar schedule each day, students will be able to transition more easily. For instance, a math class might look like the following:

    • Warm-up

    • Exploration

    • Lesson

    • Practice

    • Exit Slip

Don’t give up! It will take some time to establish these routines, but front-loading at the beginning of the year will save you valuable time later in the year.

Science Classroom: Team Charters

In the Science classroom, most days are spent working collaboratively in groups. One of the problems as educators we face is dealing with dysfunctional groups. I was spending too much time dealing with issues within the group and not enough time on facilitating the students through the content. So, one option is to create a team charter. Team Charters are often used in the business world to set norms and increase productivity. So, why not use this same idea in your classroom? Spend some time at the beginning of the year to establish routines and clear defined expectations and you will spend less time dealing with those dysfunctional groups and more time TEACHING.

What is a team Charter?- A team charter is a document that defines the purpose of the team, how the team will work together, and what outcomes you expect to have. The team charter helps the team work together, learn together, allows everyone to be respected, and the team to have successful outcomes when working collaboratively. The team charter is basically the ground rules you will use when working in collaborative groups. Team charters can be very effective because the students are the ones that are generating the expectations for the way the class will be run. Also, having the students design protocols for handling conflicts when they arise give them ownership and will increase their conflict resolution capabilities. I also highly recommend that the expectations and the protocols for conflict resolutions be posted so the students and the teacher can refer to them as needed. I made an anchor chart for each expectation or protocol that the students agreed to.

Things to include in your Team Charter

  • Who are the members of the team?

  • What is the purpose of this team?

  • What are the responsibilities of each group member?

  • What are some obstacles that we may encounter? How will we deal with these obstacles when they arise?

  • Skills that are important to creating functional collaborative groups. Skills that my students found important were: How to be an Active Listener, How to give each other Effective Feedback, How to Encourage Participation, How to Disagree Appropriately, How to Reach Consensus

  • Student generated protocol for conflict resolution

Big picture