My Classroom Management Philosophy

Kyler Verhelst


Throughout the semester, I have learned so much about classroom management. I've also learned a lot about myself and my own take on classroom management. Before I took this class, I thought that I would have to "fit in" to a certain model or follow a certain theorist. Now I realize that my own management can be unique to me! I have pulled together information from many different models and theorists to create my own classroom management philosophy.

I would like to put a heavy emphasis on a classroom community when I'm a teacher. Dreikurs says that all students want to be belong. I want my classroom to be a safe place where students will feel at home. I also want parents to be involved in my classroom. The people who care for my students are going to have such a big impact on them, so I want them to be in the know and be able to help their children accomplish their goals. Jane Nelsen emphasizes the importance of effective communication with students and parents. Rules and procedures need to be effectively communicated with students on the first day of school. Harry Wong suggests that that day will set the tone for the school year. That adds a lot of pressure, but he is right! I also like Wong's idea about seating assignments. I can see how that can prevent misbehaviors and provide a simple way to take role. That can save teachers value time, which Fred Jone's is all about! I want to use my time wisely while in the classroom.

Of course I want my kids to succeed in my classroom, and I will do whatever it takes to get them there! One way to help children along the way is to encourage them. Nelsen also puts a huge emphasis on encouragement over praise. Encouragement is more personal to the student. Encouraging an effort can ultimately make students more apt to task risks and attempt more challenging tasks. I'm not big on incentives because I would like my students to understand the true value of learning.

I know that as the teacher, I will have a lot of pressure on myself to perform as well. Fay and Funk say that teachers should always model desired behavior with enthusiasm. One strategy for doing this is to "think aloud". Ginnot states that teachers are the decisive factor in a classroom. Alfie Kohn has written articles about how we should start examining ourselves when it comes to misbehavior. There will be a lot of pressure to perform and model good behavior. The students desire my absolute best, regardless of what I may be going through personally, so that's what I'm going to give them!

As far as my discipline goes, I like Jane Nelsen's model of "Positive Discipline". The reason I like it so much is because it has a heavy emphasis on long term solutions. Some behavior can just be redirected, but more serious misbehaviors need to be investigated. Teachers should find out the root of the problem and work to fix it for good.

As a teacher, my ultimate goal is for my students to succeed. They can in an organized, learning conducive environment. I will need smooth transitions and clear rules and procedures according to Jones. Even things like where supplies are placed it the classroom can contribute to how a classroom runs. Kounin emphasized "withitness". Teachers truly need to know what's going on at all times in the classroom. They can't lose that momentum. I want a smooth, effective classroom one day. I know that the immense amount of resources I've collected in my portfolio will help when I become a teacher. I'm sure philosophies change all the time with experience. But these are the things that I value and want to incorporate in my future classroom.

Structure of the Learning Environment & Strategies for Building Relationships

A Conducive Learning Environment

  • Safe
  • Comfortable
  • Active
  • Encouraging
  • Caring
  • Risk-taking
  • Loving
  • Empathetic
  • Time efficient

Teacher-Student Relationships

The biggest thing that I want to emphasize in my classroom is the concept of community. According to Ginot, if children know that they are loved and cared about, they will be more apt to take risks. I want all my students to know that I am their number one fan and want them to succeed. I also want them to realize that they will have twenty-five other classmates in class that will want the same thing. One specific thing I will do to make my students feel valued is letting them contribute to making up the rules and procedures in our classroom. The classroom will run more smoothly if students believe that they are the ones who came up with the rules. Asking for their input shows you care about their preferences. Another great community building activity that I have seen is a class meeting. That is a great way to come together and share accomplishments, concerns or problems. It's a safe way to make sure everyone's voice is heard. The way teacher's communicate also effects the relationships with students. I like the concept of congruent communication. I would never want a student to feel attacked or accused. If there is a problem, I want them to understand that I will help them come up with a solution to fix it.

As a teacher, it is extremely important to build relationships with students. I will need to find a balance between high dominance and high cooperation in my classroom.

That relationship is important because

  • 12-22% of students have emotional or behavioral disorders
  • 40% are at risk for failure
  • 60-70% of students are abused
  • 18% have special needs
It is important for the teacher to be there for the children and be someone they can depend on to have their best interest at heart.

Sometimes behaviors occur because of the breakdown of teacher-student relationships. I plan on having a set of "helping skills"

  • Communication skills
  • Positive Responses
  • Feedback
  • Personal Interest

Student-Student Relationships:

Because I want my classroom to feel like a community, I want all of my students to get along and support each other. Of course this won't happen all of the time. But it should still be valued. I have seen children be cruel in my practicum settings. I have seen the aftermath of that! Dreikurs suggests that all students just want to belong. I agree with that! I want my students to be a team and work together. I never want anyone to be left out!

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Expectations, Rules and Procedures

As I stated above, I want to involve the students in the rule making process because I want them to feel valued. However, I do agree with Harry Wong about the concepts of rules and procedures. Rules and procedures have to be established on the first day of school. You have to set the tone for the rest of the year and tell the students what will be expected of them. Sometimes children are misbehaving simply because they don't know the rule. Rules don't just come naturally to students. I will have to teach them and practice them in my classroom! Procedures need to be designed with safety and efficiency in mind. Procedures are what make the class run smoothly. I plan on using signals in my classroom, such as clapping, to get the attention of the class. I also plan on using the countdown strategy to signal that an activity is ending. Everyone has to know what is expected of them! I plan on having very clear rules and expectations for my students. The purpose of the rules below is to maintain a safe, productive learning environment for my students.
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Preventative Strategies, Recognition and Motivational Techniques for Managing Student Behavior

Preventative Strategies

One preventative strategy that I have seen for misbehavior is a seating chart. This can stop a minor problem before it even begins! Also, a set of clear expectations for activities can remind children what they need to be doing. In my practicum, I have seen students off task simply because they don't know what they should be doing. Ultimately, your students can be self-disciplined.

  • Remove or limit conditions that tend to promote misbehavior.
  • Teach students how to behave appropriately and support their efforts to do so.
  • Intervene helpfully when students misbehave by directing them back to proper behavior.

Recognition and Motivation

I want to recognize my students for all of their hard work and accomplishments! However, through this class, I have learned that there is a lot of empty praise going on right now in classrooms. I have seen it, and I am guilty of it. Jane Nelsen has great resources for encouraging students instead of praising them. I want to encourage the deed, not the doer. Recognizing students' efforts (whether successful or not) can lead them to take on more risky, challenging tasks. That's what encouragement is after all: developing courage. I don't want my students to just be praised after a job well done, I want to encourage them along the way. That will lead to a better self-concept for the students. They won't feel valued based on their performance.

I think incentives can be okay sometimes, but I don't plan on using them that much in my classroom. External rewards can cause students to be extrinsically motivated rather than intrinsically motivated. That means students may only try hard just to get a "thing". What will happen when they are no longer offered incentives for working hard when they are older? Students have to recognize the value of learning and the internal payoff of working hard! I hope to convey that to my students.

Developing Rapport with Students

Students want to listen from someone that they respect. I think the best way to earn a child's respect is to be nice to them and make them feel important and special. A teacher should always model desired actions and behavior. If you speak disrespectfully to students, but punish them when they do the same to you, you create a double standard. A teacher is an example all the time! Ginott stated that the teacher is the decisive factor in the classroom. That's a lot of pressure. But we have high expectations of our students, so they should have high expectations of us!

Instructional Strategies


A teacher is like a performer. It will be my responsible to keep students engaged in my classroom. Like Alfie Kohn, I think that teachers hold a lot of responsibility concerning student behavior. I plan on being extremely energetic and happy in my classroom. Even if I'm having the worst day, I will leave my problems at the door. It's not a child's fault that everything is going wrong in my day, and their learning definitely shouldn't be hindered from that. Excitement is also a big part of engagement. How can I expect my students to be excited to learn if I'm not? I really like two strategies for active learning. First of all, hands on activities can be a great way to get students up and moving and involved in their learning. It's a nice break from just sitting there and listening to the teacher. Second of all, making learning meaningful is a great way to get a lot of involvement from students. Let them choose which topics to read or write about sometimes. They will have a greater interest and more willingness to learn! I plan on considering my students' preferences when selecting lessons. I want learning to be meaningful and authentic.

Whole Group Instruction

The key to productive whole group instruction is a clear understanding of basic classroom rules and procedures. My practicum teacher tells her students to be "star" students during instruction.

Stay seated and quiet

Try your best

Act responsible and respectful

Raise your hand

Those broad categories can prevent many problems during whole group instruction. They provide clear expectations for behavior during this time.

Group Work

From personal experience, I know that group work can go wrong. People can get in fights, someone doesn't contribute, or someone ends up doing all the work. To make sure that these things don't happen in my classroom, I'm going to teach my students how to work in a group. I won't just suspect that they will know how. Again, expectations will be very clear in my classroom. I plan on having an anchor chart posted about group work.

Give thoughtful feedback

Respect others and their thoughts

On task all of the time

Use soft voices


Stay with your group

Independent Work

For individual work, I will expect my students to work quietly, stay on task, ask for help when needed and be efficient. They will need to be quiet so that their classmates can work on their work too. However, they should feel free to ask any question that they need. In my practicum setting, my teacher emphasizes that the students should be quality producers when they work, or else they are wasting a value resource: time. I would like to emphasize that in my classroom as well! It's a great thing to encourage students to be all year long.


I liked how Fred Jones focused on smooth transitions and less wasted time. He stated that it can take 7 minutes to start class. He also said that speeding up your transitions can give you up to 10 more minutes of learning time for every class period. That is huge! Time is so valuable in a classroom.

Tips for smooth transitions:

  • Let the children know what is going on
Tell them how long they have for each activity and let them know how many more

minutes they'll have throughout. Don't surprise them by transitioning to another

activity out of the blue.

  • Preferred Activity Time
Offer this as an incentive for students to efficiently transition from one thing to

another. Make the students want to save that time!

  • Practice Transitions
At the beginning of the year, put a heavy emphasis on these types of things! I may

have to make my students practice lining up over and over. But if that's what it

takes, I will do it!

Behavior Management

Reinforcement of Positive Behaviors

  • "Catch them being good"
Don't only look for misbehaviors. If you see a child acting right, let them know!
  • Short, verbal affirmations
Thank the student for doing something, tell the class that you like when they did it
  • Gestures
High fives, winks, smiles, nods, pat on the shoulder

Redirection Strategies for Misbehavior

  • Proximity
If I notice a student not paying attention during instruction, I can simply walk over and stand by his desk. In most cases, that causes the student to perk up and listen again.

  • Simple Gestures
Small things like laying your hand on a student's back or tapping their desk can get them back on task or make them stop talking.
  • "Withitness"
With a room full of 30 students, I will have to be with it! Teachers need eyes on the back of their heads. It's important to know what all of your students are up to during class. You can't let misbehavior go undetected.
  • Ripple Effect
Kounin talks about the 'ripple effect'. If students are talking while you are talking, point out a student that is not. Say, "I love how Sally is being respectful and listening with open ears and a closed mouth while I am talking." That will cause other students to stop talking and listen.
  • Explicitly state what they should be doing
If you see a student not following directions, explicitly tell them what they should be doing instead of what they are doing.
  • Have students acknowledge their behavior
I watched this happen in my practicum setting. When a child was reading instead of listening to instruction, the teacher asked her what she was doing. The student told her that she was reading her library book .The teacher then asked if that was what she should be doing right now and the student said no she should be listening and put her book away.
  • Break
If many attempts of redirection don't work, it may be time to take a "brain break". This isn't just for kindergarteners! I have done it in some of my 3 hour college classes. Have the students get up and stretch or dance. Once they get some movement and energy out, they will be ready to learn again.

Escalation of Interventions

  • Withhold a privilege or desired activity
  • Isolate or remove student
  • Use a penalty
  • Referral to the school office
  • Confer with a parent
  • Individual contract with student
If one of these intervention strategies isn't working, I will move on down the list. I don't want to send children to the office unless I absolutely have to. In my eyes, that can show defeat or loss of power. You are letting your class know that you can't handle that behavior anymore and you had to let someone else do it.


In my practicum setting, I have seen the teacher use a "clip chart". All the students start in the middle at the beginning of the day and they clip up or down based on their behavior. I like this system of consequences because it allows the student to move back up if they move down. They have the opportunity to redeem themselves. I will incorporate this strategy in my classroom every day. If a behavior persists, I will refer to the hierarchy of interventions above.

The Influence and Relationships with Family

Every student comes from a different background. Everyone's family is different and sometimes teachers won't be fully aware about what goes on at home. In my class, I want the parents to be actively involved. I remember in elementary school, my teachers encouraged my parents to be involved in my learning. My dad would come eat lunch with me and my mom would help set up parties for our class. My teacher also encouraged parents to come on fun, busy days. A lot of parents would come help us with supplies for big projects or performances. I think communication between parents and teachers is crucial to a child's success! They need to be on board with you and hold their children to the same learning standard you do. Because we live in such a technology based society, I would like to send out texts and emails to my parents letting them know when we begin a new unit, a weekly update, or upcoming due dates. It's so easy to keep parents informed these days! If a student is having behavior problems, parent involvement can sometimes be essential to fixing it. I want good, approachable relationships with my parents. I think the school as a whole will provide some ways to do this such as family nights, performances and conferences. I want my students' parents to feel like we are a team!

Tell them what is expected

Aim for success together

Let them know if there is a behavior issue

Keep them informed

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Organization of the Physical Arrangement


In my classroom, I would like my students to be grouped together. I don't want rows in my class. I would like tables or groups of desks. However, I agree with Wong and think that students need assigned seats. I view assigned seating as way to prevent misbehaviors. If you know that two particular students can't stay on task while they're sitting by one another, simply separate them! Also, seating arrangements provide an efficient, non-disruptive way of taking roll.


Below, I provided an example of a classroom setup that I like. I included the teacher desk. I tried not to put it in the complete corner of the room. I want to be accessible to my students if they need me. In the front of the room, I put a large rug in front of the projector. I want to have a common space where I can read to students or conduct class meetings. A kidney table is on the other side of the room. I would do guided reading there. I tried to keep it far away from the noisy parts of the classroom. I placed in my the library and reading area. I like the idea of having a bin in the middle of each table that includes paper, pencils, scissors, etc. This will prevent students from getting up to get supplies or sharpen a pencil during a lesson. Materials that aren't used as often will be in a storage cabinet, but I would pull them out beforehand if I knew we would need them.

Zones of Learning

  • Quiet Zone
  • Discovery Zone
  • Reading Zone
  • Art Zone
  • Library
  • Supplies
  • Math zone
  • Geography (map) zone
  • Community zone
Lists of birthdays, pictures, artwork, student work, class helpers
  • Personal Zone

Cubbies, coat rack

Description of My Classroom

I want my classroom to be a welcoming, exciting place. However, I don't want it to be over the top with bright decorations, because I know that can make students hyper! I want a lot of useful anchor charts on the wall as well as examples of student work. Students should feel at home in the classroom, so I want to make sure they feel like it is our classroom instead of mine. I want it to be safe physically and emotionally. I hope it will be clean for the most part and organized. During quiet times, I will turn the lights down and let the students relax. My number one priority will be to make sure the students feel good about being there!

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