Set Clear Expecations: Effective Classroom Management Techniques

January 4, 2021
Teacher at a table surrounded by students smiling

Student behaviors like shouting, not paying attention, avoiding work, disrespect, refusal, and engaging in power struggles take your focus away from teaching and students’ focus away from learning. The following classroom management strategies can be used to help maintain student focus and create student consistency around class expectations.

Understand your students.

Get to know each student as an individual. Build rapport with them based on trust and understanding. Be sure to let your compassion for each student reflect through your nonverbal behavior and your paraverbal communication.

Practice patience with Rational Detachment.

Keep in mind that you have a choice about how you respond to a student in distress. Choose not to take the behavior personally, and use positive self-talk. For example, instead of thinking, “I can’t take this disrespect anymore,” think, “I’ve seen this before. This behavior is not about me. What is it about and how can I help?”

Set effective limits.

Review and post your classroom expectations so that they are clearly visible. Expectations should be clear, simple, and stated positively as what you “can do.” For example, instead of saying, “No side talk,” say “Please raise your hand to add to the conversation.”

Keep to the schedule you set.

Following your own expectations is key to modeling timeliness and productivity. The more organized you are, the more opportunity there is to focus on teaching and learning. This will help your students respect schedules and work within designated time frames. Remember that while, as a general rule, consistency is important, it may sometimes be appropriate to address a student’s needs even if it interferes with the schedule or routine.

Be aware of the causes of behavior.

Be mindful of Precipitating Factors—preexisting circumstances that cause distress behavior—and early warning signs to help you focus on prevention. If a student seems consistently irritable or inattentive in the morning, could hunger be causing the behavior? Could you make sure the student gets breakfast in the cafeteria before class or keep granola bars in your desk? Keep in mind, classroom management is not just about avoiding student disruptions but about creating an environment that enables students to focus on learning.

Classroom Management Tips: Remain Calm & Respond Right When A Student Challenges

Download this free guide on how to remain calm and respond effectively in the face of a challenging student.


Engage with students.

When a student is inattentive, rowdy, or challenging, it distracts others. As you’re teaching, try making friendly eye contact with the student. Encourage them to focus on what is being taught by asking questions and using names. Remember that sometimes disruption is just misguided energy that simply needs to be invited into the conversation.

When students know what to expect from you, and what you expect from them, they’re more likely to be productive learners. Put these effective classroom management tips to use to manage disruptive behavior with confidence.

Are you looking for techniques for managing challenging classroom behavior? CPI’s Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program and resources provide classroom management strategies and verbal intervention strategies that enable teachers and staff to handle disruptive student behavior. CPI programs can be tailored for classroom management based on your school’s and students’ needs.

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