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5 Principles of Outstanding Classroom Management

A teacher engages his students in a math lesson.

When we asked our community for their best classroom management practices, over 700 ideas rolled in.

Effective classroom management requires awareness, patience, good timing, boundaries, and instinct. There’s nothing easy about shepherding a large group of easily distractible young people with different skills and temperaments along a meaningful learning journey.

So how do master teachers do it?

To get a deeper understanding of experienced teachers’ go-to classroom management strategies, we took an informal poll on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Unsurprisingly, there is no silver bullet for classroom management success. That said, as we pored over the more than 700 responses, we did see some clear trends. Here are the most often cited and creative approaches.

1. Take Care of Yourself to Take Care of Your Students

As the airline safety videos say: Put on your own oxygen mask first.

To learn effectively, your students need a healthy you, said our experienced teachers. So get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and take steps to attend to your own well-being. In her first year of teaching, Jessica Sachs “was working 15-hour days and was completely stressed out. My husband finally said to me, ‘The most important thing that you do at school is make decisions. If you are too tired to do that properly, it won’t matter how well-prepared you were the night before.’” A few deep breaths can go a long way to helping you identify frustration before you act on it. Mindy Jones, a middle school teacher from Brownsville, Tennessee, notes that “a moment of patience in a moment of frustration saves you a hundred moments of regret.”

Countless studies corroborate the idea that self-care reduces stress, which can deplete your energy and impair your judgment. While self-care is more of a habit or practice for your own well-being than an actual classroom management strategy, the benefits include improved executive function, greater empathy, and increased resilience—all qualities that will empower you to make better decisionswhen confronted with challenging classroom situations.

2. Focus on Building Relationships

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