The core ingredient for successful teaching

What do most, if not all, successful teachers have in common? They recognize and establish an effective classroom management plan that works for them and their students. Last week, a group of ATT teachers, ranging from veterans to newbies, completed Mrs. Aliza Rosenbaum’s two-part workshop on classroom management that works.

Mrs. Rosenbaum started her presentation discussing how teachers need to evaluate what’s working and what needs strengthening in their current classroom management plans. Next, she listed the top five management constructs and then discussed them in detail:

  1. Rules: Establish and teach classroom rules to communicate expectations for behavior.
  2. Routines: Build structure and establish routines to help guide students in a wide variety of situations.
  3. Praise: Reinforce positive behavior using praise and other means. 
  4. Misbehavior: Impose logical consequences consistently for misbehavior.
  5. Engagement:  Foster and maintain student engagement by teaching interesting lessons that include opportunities for active student participation.  

Establishing Classroom Rules:

A teacher needs to articulate a classroom’s core values and define for students what those values look and sound like in action. Mrs. Rosenbaum emphasized that modeling and practicing the rules are key to success. Teachers cannot assume that a one-time discussion will remain with most students long term.

Establishing Routines:

When planning routines, consider creating specific sets of rules and procedures surrounding specific activities:

  • Greeting students at the start of class.
  • Supply organization.
  • Middle of class needs (bathroom breaks, sharpening pencils, missing supplies).
  • Work protocols (independent, partner, group), transitions (consider non-verbal cues), and end of class closure.

Mrs. Rosenbaum also stressed that when a teacher introduces, models, and practices rules and routines, it is important to consider the beliefs the teacher conveys about him/herself, one’s stance and tone of voice, pacing, involvement of students in practicing, visuals, and tools to be used.

Praise students using a 4:1 ratio of praise to corrective statements:

Teachers need to notice and comment on what is happening in the classroom. Statements should be objective and can be nonverbal (hand-signals). Remember to create a growth mindset by praising process, not product as well as praising effort, not ability. Some examples include: I love the way… I noticed that…

Remember, praise helps decrease student misbehavior.


Before misbehavior happens, anticipate what might come up. Consider using cues to get behaviors on track – nonverbal cues, proximity, redirection, private reminders, on-the-spot objective corrections, when-then statement. Mrs. Rosenbaum shared a handout with 30 logical classroom consequence ideas including ideas for:

  • Restorative justice that requires a student to make amends after wrongdoing -if “you break it, you fix it” – clean a mess, apologize after hurting someone’s feelings, hold a “practice academy” for correcting behavior, have students write an action plan for themselves
  • Loss of rewards after inappropriate behavior – loss of a privilege, cannot join a fun activity
  • Logical consequences like moving a child’s seat, call to parents

Ideas for student engagement:

Mrs. Rosenbaum concluded her workshop series stressing the importance of student engagement stating that  research shows that when students are physically, emotionally, and mentally engaged in their learning, they will be less likely to disrupt the learning and will achieve better learning outcomes. She provided examples to increase student engagement:

  • “White boards up” – this gets every student involved. All students respond on a small personal whiteboard at the same time.
  • Calling sticks – popsicle sticks with student names are used to encourage calling on each and every student in the classroom.
  • Spinning wheel – containing  student names. Teacher spins the wheel to identify student who will respond.
  • Active listening notes
  • Turn and talk to your neighbor
  • Give one/get one – involve students by have them approach another student and request a response on their chart. Students in turn offer their own response to share.
  • Station rotation activities
  • Movement activities

Mrs. Rosenbaum’s last thoughts contained words of encouragement suggesting instituting one new strategy and being consistent in making a positive change in one’s practice. The participants left excited to return to their classrooms with practical steps to make the classroom experience even better for every student.