CorePlanner Blog


Four Tips for Managing Your Classroom

Children (and adults!) thrive in structured environments. Maslow’s hierarchy of need sits on a platform of physiological needs. Before all else, our physical space must feel adequate and secure. It’s crucial that educators consider this need as they plan how to best manage their classroom.

As we know, each classroom is like its own empire. Like any nation-state a classroom requires regulations, clear authoritative bodies and basic utilities, otherwise anarchy ensues.

So much can be learned in the first weeks of school. Each “empire” will make clear their unique needs and strengths. After my first few weeks of teaching I reflect on what’s working and what additional supports my class needs to meet the expectations I’m setting for them. If management is an issue, I default to one of two things:

1. The instruction needs to be tightened up
2. The material is not on the appropriate level for the students

We’ll discuss leveling in a separate post. Today I want to recommend some tricks for tightening up your instruction if you have an “empire” that is drifting into chaos.

• Write your agenda on the board.

I write my agenda, include detailed time for each activity (ex: warm-up 5 mins; guided practice 11 mins), and cross off each item as we move through the lesson. It anchors me in the flow of my teaching and keeps my pacing on point. Students appreciate knowing how long each part of the lesson will last, what comes next and where they stand. I can always feel that something is off on the days I forget to write the agenda on the board!

• Use a timer.

Your timer, which I suggest you use in a way that students can follow along, is your agenda’s best friend. Also, it sends the message to kids that your words have meaning. That warm-up will really only be 5 minutes.  Google has a timer, just type “timer” into the search bar and you can set it for the time that you want.

• Get student helpers.

I have a teacher friend who solicits job applications from students at the beginning of the year. She tells them which positions for class jobs are available, asks them to submit a formal application explaining their relevant experience, she provides monthly compensation and even fires students who don’t show up for work.

These students thrive with the extra responsibility and can be such a huge help during those log-jam moments (hello, attendance!).

• Set up a consequence/reward ladder and follow it.

Track it and tell students how they are doing. Make marks on the board so students know where they stand. Or, just use ClassDojo. It’s my favorite and it’s super kid-friendly.

What recommendations can you make? Any tricks for tightening up your instruction? I always learn so much from fellow educators.

-¬‐ Annie Krut, M.Ed.

Annie is on a mission to teach kids the skills they need to be happy. She’s using neuroscience, the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Get the curriculum at and join the conversation on Twitter: @eighthugs