Schoolwide Classroom/Mgmt

Strategies to Prepare Classrooms for Substitute Teachers

Substitute teachers have one of the toughest jobs in the world. They are often expected to cover a classroom full of unknown students on very short notice.

Jim's Hints

Create a Classroom Information Binder. One excellent idea to help substitute teachers to exert greater control in the classroom is for every teacher to prepare an information binder designed explicitly for use by substitute instructors. At a minimum, the binder should include:

  • A student seating chart
  • Building floorplan
  • Copies of hall passes and office referral forms
  • Phone numbers that the substitute should know
  • Updated lesson plan
  • Schoolwide emergency procedures

Check in on the Substitute During the Day. With more and more classrooms equipped with telephones, some teachers exert a bit of extra classroom control when a substitute is covering their room by calling in at several points during the day. Substitutes are likely to appreciate these phone calls greatly! If they have questions about the classroom lesson or need to know what school-wide procedures to follow, the teacher can quickly supply this information. The teacher may also be able to advise the substitute about how to deal with a particularly challenging student's behavior or even problem -solve on the phone directly with the student.

Smooth Classroom Traffic

This classwide program can help to reduce noise levels and head off disruptive behaviors before they occur.


Make a poster of a traffic light with red (top), yellow (middle), and green (bottom) lights. Put 3 Velcro tabs on the left side of the poster, lined up with each of the lights. Make a pointer out of tag-board. Put a Velcro strip on the pointer so that it will stick to any of the three tabs on the poster.

Jim's Hints

As your class shows that it is able to lower noise levels and improve behaviors, you can gradually decrease the number of "Traffic Points" that you assign while increasing the minimum number of continuous minutes of green-light behavior required to earn those points.

School-Wide Strategies for Managing... BUS CONDUCT

Traveling by school bus is one of the safest methods of transportation. In fact, according to the School Bus Information Council, children have a much lower risk of serious injury when riding the school bus than when traveling via passenger car, train, or airline. Bus drivers deserve a great deal of credit for maintaining such a strong safety record, especially when one considers the extreme challenges of supervising a school bus full of young riders.

Jim's Hints

A Kid's Guide to Safety in the Car & On the Road.  Check out this directory of links to safety information for kids on car and bus travel.

From Down Under: Bus Safety Resources. The New Zealand Ministry of Education has posted excellent resources to promote safety on the bus, including a sample student ‘code of conduct’ and a two-page behavior reference guide for bus drivers.

Riding the School Bus European-Style. The US Department of Defense Dependents Schools/Europe hosts a resource page that contains a model school bus behavior management policy and a student handout on appropriate bus behaviors (‘An unruly bus is an unsafe bus!’)

School Bus Safety Tips from CarsDirect. This webpage provides advice to students for safely getting on and off the bus, crossing the street, and riding the bus.

Respectful Classroom

This intervention uses review of classroom behavioral expectations, daily prompts, and (optional) student self-monitoring ' spot-checks' to improve classroom behaviors.

Jim's Hints

This strategy gives you the option of including student self-monitoring and reward elements if you choose. The Respectful Classroom intervention is likely to work without these added components but will probably be quite a bit more effective if it includes them.

As student behaviors improve, you may want to gradually 'fade' the procedure by only occasionally reviewing the expected behaviors at the start of class and by having students self-monitor less frequently than once per week.

If you are having students self-monitor and are finding that a student chronically exaggerates his or her behavior ratings, you may want to call that student routinely for 'spot-checks' until the student learns to rate his or her behaviors more accurately.

Preventing Graffiti and Vandalism: Enlisting the Power of Classrooms

Graffiti and vandalism can cost a school a great deal of money in repairs.

Jim's Hints

Build Student Excitement With an Assembly. If multiple classrooms will be participating in the Adopt-a-School-Location program, schools can introduce the program in an assembly to generate greater visibility and enthusiasm for the initiative.

Encourage Classrooms to Help to Implement the Program. Teachers can tap student creativity and strengthen their classroom's commitment to the location-adoption project by having students assist in carrying out the program. Students, for example, might design their own 'site-adoption' posters or visit their adopted location on a daily basis to evaluate its appearance (using a 'quality' checklist of their own creation). Students might also be enlisted in a service-learning project to make repairs or improvements to a school setting. A classroom responsible for a wall on the exterior of the school that is a popular target for graffiti, for example, might solicit a small grant from a local foundation, use the money to purchase paint from a neighborhood hardware store, and work together under the art teacher's supervision to cover the wall with an inspirational mural.

Use Public Announcements and Newsletters to Build Interest. A school can deepen student investment in the adopt-a-location program in inventive ways. A building may make daily announcements over the public address system, for example, of classrooms who earned prize points because of the good condition of their adopted locations or deliver weekly reports of those five classrooms with the longest string of uninterrupted days of having prize points awarded. The same information can be written up for school newsletters.

Positive Peer Reports: Changing Negative Behaviors By Rewarding Student Compliments

Somestudents thrive on peer attention-and will do whatever they have to in order to get it.

Jim's Hints

Use Positive Peer Reporting to Improve the Whole Classroom Climate. As a teacher, you may want to adopt the Positive Peer Reporting strategy in your classroom even if you do not have students who regularly seek negative attention. All students can benefit from the chance to practice giving and receiving compliments. You may also find that, once the intervention is in place, your students begin to be more complimentary toward one another and use fewer putdowns.

Extend Positive Peer Reporting to Less Structured Situations. Once this strategy is in place and effective, you can experiment with extending it to school settings or situations in which there is less structure and direct adult supervision (generalization). You may announce, for example, that the class can earn a certain number of additional bonus points each day for each sincere compliment that you observe being used in cooperative learning groups, free time, while students are in the lunch line, etc. (Of course, you would also remind students that you are the sole judge of whether bonus points are to be given.) You can make this generalization strategy more effective by sharing specific instances in which you saw students giving praise or compliments. (E.g., "I am giving a point to the class because, on the playground, I saw Jacob teaching some of the younger kids how to play freeze tag. He also complimented them on how quickly they learned the rule. I bet it made them feel good to have an older student pay that kind of attention to them.")

Surprise Students With 'Mystery List' Days. To maintain interest in this intervention, you might occasionally have a 'mystery list' day. Tell students that they need to be very observant of their peers that day because you will not be announcing the list of students chosen to be complimented until the end of the period or school day.

Good Behavior Game

The Good Behavior Game is an approach to the management of classrooms behaviors that rewards children for displaying appropriate on-task behaviors during instructional times.

Jim's Hints

The Good Behavior Game is an effective strategy for managing a classroom-but don't overdo it! Allow breaks from the Game during the school day. A caution should be kept in mind when involving your students in the Good Behavior Game: Generally, the Game should be scheduled for a maximum of 1-2 hours per day in any classroom. After all, students will need some time to relax, socialize, and "be kids."

Of course, minimum standards of acceptable classroom conduct remain in place whether the Game is in effect or not.

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