Classroom Management

Classroom Management

Classroom management is “the process by which teachers and schools create and maintain appropriate behavior of students in classroom settings. The purpose of implementing classroom management strategies is to enhance prosocial behavior and increase student academic engagement” (Emmer & Sabornie, 2015; Everston & Weinstein, 2006 cited in Kratochwill, DeRoos, & Blair, 2018). The following resources are premised on the principles of prevention and being proactive.

First Class, Preparing the Classroom Environment

  • Review your classroom set up. What is the physical structure of your classroom? What does this communicate to students? Can you move desks around?
  • Use an ice-breaker or connection activity to support learning your students’ names. Ask for clarification on pronunciation to ensure you are correct. It will communicate to the students you are willing to learn and will go a long way to establishing trust.
  • Use an activity to get to know your students (for instance, the Interest Inventory). Providing students with an opportunity to respond to a set of questions anonymously may support them to communicate information they may feel uncomfortable to do in the large group or face-to-face.
  • Indicate how students can reach and communicate with you (for instance, if use of email is agreeable, indicate the features/aspects you expect to be included such as, full name, student ID number, course title, etc.). The DC Connect template also provides guidelines for students about how to write an appropriate email.
  • Become familiar with the college, School, and program policy or guidelines on student conduct and review the program guide (found in MyCampus) for program specific guidelines.
  • Establish, as a group, guidelines for respectful and professional classroom conduct, which outlines what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior. Be consistent in your application.
  • Have confidence and be as prepared as possible.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Encourage and remind students to be respectful and professional on campus and in the classroom.
  • Gather feedback from students to inform your pedagogy and establish trust with the group.
  • If an unwarranted and disruptive behavior continues, ask the student(s) to leave and contact Campus Safety. If a student refuses to leave contact Campus Safety. Inform the School office in either case.
  • Address minor disruptions immediately by using some of the strategies listed in this handout.
  • Speak privately with the student(s). Describe the disruptive behavior and explain why it is challenging.

Additional Resources:


Situations, Scenarios, and Strategies


#1: Disengagement or Lack of Attention

You are presenting content and you notice students are not engaged. They may be distracted, sleeping, talking, or using their cell phones for off-task purposes.

What to do:

Use an active learning strategy such as Think-Pair-Share to get students back on task. You may also consider Distract the Distractor as a strategy to redirect students.

Invite the student to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion. Refer students to DC services and resources.

What to avoid:

Calling out an individual student in front of the class.

Making judgements and assumptions about the disengagement or lack of attention. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

#2 Disrespectful or Confrontational

You are presenting content and a student uses disrespectful language towards you or a classmate.

What to do:

Recognize the student’s comment and attempt to refocus the discussion: “I hear what you are saying and acknowledge your point of view.” Then redirect the student(s) to the topic at hand.

Invite the student to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion. Refer students to DC services and resources.

Contact your Executive or Associate Dean to inform and discuss mechanisms for support.

What to avoid:

Escalating the confrontation by using accusatory or confrontational language or an anxious tone of voice. Try to remain calm.

Making judgements and assumptions. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

#3 Lateness

A student is late every week, sometimes by 15 or 30 minutes.

What to do:

If you asked students to complete the Interest Inventory activity, review the responses from the student. Lateness could be attributed to other factors that could be addressed by reaching out to the student to discuss.

Invite the student to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion. Refer students to DC services and resources.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to remind students about the late policy or expectations outlined in the course outline or the set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct established by the group.

What to avoid:

Calling out an individual student in front of the group.

Making judgements and assumptions. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

#4 Group Work

You asked students to work in groups, however, some members are doing things off task or student(s) is monopolizing the group discussion.

What to do:

Approach the group and redirect them to focus on the task. Consider asking for a status report or how much more time they require to complete the task.

Using group contracts to define the student’s role and responsibility could support the group members to remain on task and to feel confident they have completed the task appropriately.

Invite the students to speak with you to discuss. If the group has established a set of guidelines for respectful and professional conduct, use it as a starting point for the discussion. Refer students to DC services and resources.

What to avoid:

Calling attention to the disruptive students in front of the entire class. Asking them to share with the group what they were discussing.

Making judgements and assumptions about the disengagement or lack of attention. Lives are getting increasingly more complicated. Beginning with this premise can go a long way when approaching anyone.

Contact cafe@durhamcollege.ca for resources cited in this document.