Gaining and Maintaining control of students in a classroom


“The lasting impressing is made within the first 15 to 45 seconds of interaction(Santrock,).” It is important that the first impression a teacher makes on their students is one of control, expertise, and fairness. The teacher wants their students to feel comfortable but also know who is in control of the classroom.

Teachers are the control mechanism in a classroom and are often in a “fishbowl().” Being in this “fishbowl” means that teachers need to maintain control by example. They need to be calm and collected in difficult situations, speak to the students with high expectations, and avoid power struggles (Sprick, Daniels, 2010). One way of communicating high expectations as part of the first impression is to be sure that in the first few days of class everything is well organized, desks in rows, and being fairly businesslike in the way the teacher addresses her class. For younger children, in elementary school, having the children put their desks back in the neat rows, push in their chairs, and tidy up their area before leaving for lunch, recess, or the end of the day is one way to show that you expect them to respect their classroom without being threatening or having to use any disciplinary tactics. Enacting this practice would best be done through planning ahead. The first day, when the teacher knows that a break is coming, taking five minutes to explain that she what she wants the children to do, neaten up their space, and that no one will leave for the upcoming activity until everyone has done as they are asked will encourage the students to work as a group and neaten up the classroom. These group contingencies are also an effective way of encouraging good behavior because of peer pressure (Hulac, Benson, 2010). If one person does not neaten up their desk, no one can move onto the next activity.

One preventative activity that would help with behavior would be a chip or gold star system. When students are good for a given period of time, for elementary children, the morning until recess, they receive a gold star or chip. If children are being disruptive in class, the gold star or chip can be taken away. The student with the most gold stars or chips at a given point in the day or week can do something special, like take home a class stuffed animal for the night, feed a classroom pet, or lead the line to lunch to recognize that child for their good behavior and positive participation in class. To implement this system, the teacher would have to clearly explain their classroom expectations and a child would get a gold star or chip as well as why a child would lose a gold star or chip and the reward a child would receive for having the most gold stars or chips. To involve the student and promote a classroom community, the teacher could have the children help come up with why they should receive gold stars or chips as well as why they think they should lose them in the classroom. By including the students in making classroom rules, the students respect the rules more (Santrock, 2009).

Maintaining classroom management throughout the year would be done by making sure after the first impression is made, the children know their first impression was right. Continuing to be fair, calm, and controlled in class is one way of keeping children aware of who is in control. Another strategy is to continue to set up activities that have contingencies, for example, if the class completes this math assignment then there will be no math homework for anyone tonight, but if one person does not complete this assignment then everyone will have math homework tonight. This is one way of encouraging the children to continue to work as a group as well as getting the students to do what is expected of them. Continuing the gold star or chip activity through the year is another way of keeping the children under control. Taking time to talk to the students about behavior and what they expect from class throughout the year is also a way of keeping the students involved in the classroom and maintaining their respect for the rules of the classroom. If the teacher finds that more rules need to be made or rules need to altered, talking to the students about them would help the students to understand why the rules have changed or why rules have been added to the list. For example, if the students were previously allowed to sit where ever they wanted but a group of students kept sitting together and causing disruption in the classroom, the teacher may want to implement a seating chart. Instead of just having the students sit in assigned seats one day, the teacher might want to start with an activity such as decorating a paper with their name on it and then explaining that these will be the name tags on their new seats. While the art activity may be fun for the children, the teacher can also take the time during the activity to talk to the students about the disruption that has been taking place in class and then assign the seats to the students. The name tags might make the students feel like the seats are their own personal space and make them respect that space more while making it so that they are sitting where the teacher wants them in a positive way while still knowing that disrupting the class was not acceptable.

Good behavior is easily encouraged in a classroom by letting the students know the teacher is in control of the classroom, that their teacher is fair, and that their teacher has high expectations of them. Group activities, contingencies, and leading by example are the best ways of gaining control in a classroom. To keep the control once it is earned, the teacher should continue to be an example, be consistent, but also be flexible to the needs of the classroom. If something does not work, the teacher needs to bend their strategy until they find what works best with their group of students.


Hulac, D., & Benson, N. (2010). The Use of Group Contingencies for Preventing and Managing Disruptive Behaviors. Intervention in School and Clinic,45(4), 257-262. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID:1974321451).

Santrock, J. (2009). Educational Psychology (4th Edition), McGraw Hill Publishing

Sprick, R., & Daniels, K.. (2010, September). Managing Student BEHAVIOR. Principal Leadership, 11(1), 18-21. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from Research Library. (Document ID: 2123461631).

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