Classroom Behavior Management Checklist

    Uninformed/untrained teachers often view discipline as being an iron-handed approach in which they control, demean, or berate students into compliance.  However, negative disciplinary consequences are continually being removed from our "bag of tricks" by school boards, legal decisions and children's rights advocates.  More importantly, research shows that while a punitive, coersive approach toward behavior management may gain superficial compliance, students  feel alienated from those teachers (and school in general), lose motivation to achieve, and resist changing the undesireable behavior.

    Skilled behavior managers have learned to entice rather than coerce their students into behaving appropriately.  Research indicates that behavior is more likely to change for the better when kids are guided and directed to show an appropriate behavior, and then positively recognized (e.g., praise, thanks, rewards) for having done so.  This approach also promotes a more cooperative and productive atmosphere in the classroom and builds a positive emotional bond between teachers and students. The days when a stern teacher who kept students "under the thumb" was respected are gone. The educator who yells or demeans needs to learn more about effective positive techniques that make kids feel good about schools, teachers, and themselves.  Our web site ( is full of these positive, respectful, and effective interventions.

DIRECTIONS: Consider each of the recommendations below and rate yourself as being "S" (skilled in that area) or "N" (needing improvement).  Use those items with an "N" rating to set goals for professional growth. While there are always exceptions to these guidelines, one should be able to justify variations with an argument other than "You gotta be tough with these kids.  It's all they understand."    Educators should take the roles of leader and mentor, not prison guard.  Teaching is much more fun and rewarding for all parties when teachers lead rather than drag youth into learning and pro-social behavior.

The Plan

___ I have a comprehensive behavior management plan which includes:
            -positively stated rules that tell students what they ought to be doing.

            -rules which are in addition to, not redundant of school rules

            -a listing of consequences proceeding from mild penalties to removal from the room

            -ways to recognize and thank students for having displayed appropriate behavior

(For more information see the link on the home page of  titled "How to create your own behavior management system")

___ I have submitted my behavior management plan to my administrator and scheduled a meeting to
        review the plan.  If the plan is approved, I will ask for his/her support when a student has

        reached the last step of my consequence list (removal from the classroom to the school office).


The Implementation of the Plan

___ My plan applies equally to all students.  I do not allow myself to be intimidated by certain
        students.  I do not let crying or pleas for leniency keep me from administering consequences

        (unless I have made a mistake in judgement).

____ I see the humor in situations and chuckle at some of the things my students do.  I don't penalize
        "nutty" behavior that will go away in a second.

___ I use humor or distraction to redirect mild misbehavior.

___ I avoid "empty comments" (e.g., "Your book bag is in the aisle."; "You're talking.") unless I am
        purposefully trying to give hints to behave (For more information, see the link on the home page of

   titled "Nice things to try...").

___ When students are misbehaving, I give them clear, firm directions to do something (e.g., "Open
        your book to page 67."; "Please go to your seat now.") or I ask "What should you be doing

        right now?" (If they don't know, I give hints or politely tell them.)

___ If my direction is not followed, I administer the first consequence from my list. I continue through
        the list until I gain compliance.  I encourage that compliance all along the way rather than using

        the next consequence to threaten students.

___ I CONSISTENTLY enforce rules by moving through the hierarchy of consequences.

__ I  am in control of my emotions when disciplining.

        __ I  NEVER (ever) yell at students (except situations in which someone is in danger).

        __ I  use respectful terminology when disciplining my students.

        __ I  use a calm, firm, respectful tone of voice when administering consequences.

__ I NEVER "nag" or lecture students who have misbehaved (Because they stop listening after the
        4th word).

___ I NEVER plead with students to behave.  They obey my direction or receive a penalty from the
        list of consequences.  Compliance to my direction is met by a polite "Thank you".

___ If I decide that it is best to purposefully ignore a student's behavior, I am praising other students
        for showing appropriate behavior.

___ I constantly watch for opportunities to positively react to students who are behaving.

___ I am a good role model for the courteous and respectful behavior I desire from my students.

Prevention Instead of Reaction

___ I pleasantly greet my students at the classroom door to keep rowdy behavior from entering my
        room.  Students must first calm themselves before entering.

___ A "Do now" activity is written on the board for students to see as they enter the room.  They
        know that they are to begin that short, simple assignment immediately (before the bell sounds).

        This activity focuses students and prepares them for the upcoming lesson.

___ Although I'm flexible in my approach to kids, my classroom is a structured place.

___ I have standardized routines for dismissal, assignment submission, pencil sharpening, bathroom
        use, asking questions, lining up, etc.

___ I maintain a warm, helpful, and positive learning environment.

Managing Behavior By The Way I Teach

___ I am organized and prepared for each lesson.

___ My lessons are well paced.  I start promptly, keep things moving, and allow a few minutes
        before the bell for a quick review and/or clean up.

__ I vary my methods. I know that teaching involves more than giving out dittos and photocopies.

___ I make my lessons interesting in order to motivate the students (e.g., multi-media use,
        "hands-on"activities, humor, movement, relating material to student interests, etc.)

___ I relate the lesson material to the students' lives so that they see the relevance of learning it.

___ I ask the question before I select a student to answer it. (Otherwise, the other students will
        stop listening/thinking)

Outside of the Classroom

___ Knowing that students behave better for teachers they like, I get to know my pupils on a
        somewhat personal basis and speak with them outside of class. I realize that kids don't listen to

        the message unless they like the messenger.

___ I seek new teaching ideas and positive ways to manage behavior.  I don't just go to the teacher's
        lounge to complain.  I brainstorm with colleagues on better ways to handle concerns.

___ I have set goals for myself in the area of respectful and effective behavior management.  I will
        learn and use more positive ways to promote appropriate student behavior.

If you've had problems with discipline

1)     Decide to "take charge. Devise rules and post them. Develop a series of 3 to 6 consequences, each more severe than the preceding. The first will be a "reminder" to engage in the appropriate behavior (Tell students what they SHOULD be doing, NOT what they are doing wrong).  The last penalty will result in a removal from the classroom. (For more information, see the link on the home page of  titled "How to create your own behavior management system).

2)     The morning of the new approach, review what you will say to your students.  Dress in an outfit that makes you look and feel confident.

3)     On the way to school, listen to music that gives you energy and confidence.

4)     Force yourself to be outgoing as your kids enter the room. Greet them confidently and comment on something positive about them.  This action makes it clear that they are entering territory in which you are the leader.

5)     Talk about future expectations with your students. Present your behavior management system. Implement it immediately.

6)     Do something about every misbehavior.  Stop threatening, nagging and giving another chance.  React to each misbehavior calmly.  Go through your series of consequences.  Be consistent.  Do not abandon your program.  Look around for students who are doing what you require...REMEMBER TO CATCH 'EM BEING GOOD!

7)     Expect 1-3 days of complaints, defiance, and subtrafuge until your students realize that you are going to stand firm in support of the new program.  The final results will make these difficult days worth the effort.  "Loosen up" as kids fall into line and abide by the new system.

Fetch Dr. Mac's Home Page