Johns Hopkins University Secondary Support Initiative (JHUSSI)  

Classroom Management



The best way to prevent a problem is to be proactive. This wisdom can be applied to any field: personal health, automobile maintenance, foreign policy, or classroom management. The person with a proactive approach to problem solving will have more command of the factors that influence their life. Teachers are no exception to this rule. Proactive teachers anticipate the areas within their control and plan for an organized and structured classroom. A proactive approach to teaching creates a positive learning environment through diligent instruction and disciplinary strategies that instill students with self control (Henley, 2010).


From the first day of school onward, the proactive teacher establishes a positive approach to classroom management by focusing on three priorities: encouraging camaraderie and personal responsibility through a community environment, preventing behavior that disrupts the learning environment, and utilizing positive behavior supports to prevent misbehavior and teach pro-social skills (Henley, 2010). These three priorities complement one another and are combined with instruction, discipline, and structure to form a holistic approach to classroom management.   



Establishing a community within the classroom will cultivate healthy relationships between the teacher and their pupils, as well as amongst the students themselves. A supportive classroom community will breed a culture of caring, kindness, and respect. Further bolstering the community environment of the classroom is the prevention of behavior that disrupts an individual student’s work or the learning of their peers. Preventive discipline-oriented teaching develops classroom cohesiveness and creates respectful students who are committed to the goals of the group. Teachers can motivate students’ to behave appropriately in academic and social settings through the use of positive behavior intervention supports. The goal of positive behavior intervention supports is to correct misconduct through evidence-based, non-punitive strategies that teach social skills as a conduit for behavior change. The student must find the consequences of appropriate behavior more desirable than the gratification received from disobedience. Instead of punishing misbehavior, a proactive approach to discipline teaches students to manage their feelings, exhibit appropriate conduct, and display respect for others (Henley, 2010).


While a teacher can develop strategies to foster a community environment and manage student discipline, behavior problems are most effectively prevented through quality instruction (Henley, 2010). No other classroom management strategy is as pertinent as quality instruction. A teacher can plan for the school year by researching their students, designing a well organized classroom, and developing conscientious behavior management procedures, but if they are lacking effective instruction techniques, they will struggle to keep their students on task. Students need to be engaged in their learning and challenged by the material. They need to feel that the lessons being taught are relevant to their lives and beneficial to their betterment. Or in the very least, they should find the lessons entertaining, and they should feel gratified when completing tasks. If students have no interest in the teacher’s instruction, they can easily become bored, distracted, and disruptive. With these considerations in mind, teaching and curriculum strategies should be the first issue addressed when developing an approach to classroom management (Kauffman, Pullen, Mostert, & Trent, 2011).


Kauffman et al. (2011) outline the guidelines for best instructional practices in the CLOCS-RAM mnemonic device. CLOCS-RAM depicts the steps a teacher should follow to ensure that their methods are effectively engaging students in their instruction: Clarity, Level, Opportunities, Consequences, Sequence, Relevance, Application, and Monitoring. Each component of CLOCS-RAM is reviewed in greater detail below. 




When instructing students to complete a task, the teacher must be clear with their directions. There should be no doubt in the student’s mind about their teacher’s expectations. Instructions should be firm but polite, using syntax that is understandable to the student. If the student is not grasping the direction, the teacher should provide examples and demonstrations to help the student better comprehend the task (Kauffman et al., 2011).




When a student is instructed to complete assignments that are redundant or exceedingly simple, they will become bored and disinterested. When instructed to complete tasks that are too difficult, they will become overwhelmed and disengaged. Ideally, a student should find the material covered in a lesson challenging yet achievable. The teacher must assure that the work they are assigning matches each student’s performance level (Kauffman et al., 2011).




When lecturing or delivering instruction, the teacher must afford all students with ample opportunities for participation. Giving students a chance to contribute keeps them actively engaged in the lesson. To accomplish this, the teacher needs to be creative in providing opportunities for all students to participate in class discussions (Kauffman et al., 2011).




The student is more likely to remain on task if the rewards for appropriate conduct
outweighs the pleasure derived from misbehavior (Cipani, 2008). Consequences for acceptable performance should be delivered frequently and in a manner that is motivating. The teacher should strive to use natural positive reinforcers to reward student achievement and promote intrinsic social gratification for proper behavior. Group contingencies can also be used to promote teamwork and pro-social habits (Kauffman et al., 2011).




Lessons and coursework should follow a logical sequence. The material should be presented in steps so that the student can build skills and problem solving strategies in increments. Since each student has a unique learning style, each student will progress through the steps at a different rate. Some students may need further tutoring to fully grasp an idea before they are able to move on (Kauffman et al., 2011).




The teacher should make every effort to relate all lessons to the student’s life in a way
that makes the material seem relevant and important. The teacher must be aware that the student might not view certain topics as worthwhile or deserving of attention. Combating this notion requires a degree of creativity that is necessary for student engagement (Kauffman et al., 2011).




Effective instruction does not assess the student’s understanding of their ability to memorize facts. Rather, the teacher guides the student to develop memory and problem solving strategies that can be applied to any subject. The application of academic skills promotes forward thinking and instills the student with the habits of a lifelong learner (Kauffman et al., 2011).


The teacher must always be aware of each student’s level of understanding in the curriculum. This is accomplished through continuous assessment and monitoring. By documenting student progress, the teacher can track the strengths and weaknesses of their pupils and focus on remediation when necessary (Kauffman et al., 2011).

To address the effectiveness of classroom management strategies, the teacher must first reflect upon their instructional techniques. The CLOCS-RAM mnemonic is not inclusive of all the characteristics of best instructional practices, but it serves as a framework for the teacher to begin to contemplate their methods. The absence of any one component of CLOCS-RAM is indicative of less than optimal instruction (Kauffman et al., 2011).


The following lessons highlight strategies teachers can employ to develop proactive problem solving skills, foster a pro-social classroom community, and employ quality instructional practices. Additionally, this module includes information on assessing problem behaviors and developing strategies reinforce positive behavior by developing a functional behavior assessment and behavior intervention plan.