Classroom Management: Managing with Class

In order to be different, one must be irreplaceable.
-Coco Chanel

Being different has it's good and bad sides. While the majority of people feel that student engagement is the best way to stay in control, another 12% voted that rules and procedures are the secret.

I love order. I love lists, organization, alphabetizing, color coordinating, and numbers. Rules should come naturally to me, right? And they...don't. I like rules but enforcing them? Not so much. I'll admit, I'm too nice and I play favorites. I give way too many second chances and after every broken rule I think, "Is it really that big of a deal?" I usually decide it's not and forget the punishment. The few times I have put my foot down and sent kids to the office, they surprise me and like me more! One student even came back and apologized. Seriously.

That being said, I want to include different perspectives and a variety of tips. Todays tips are from Siobhan Curious (@siobhancurious), who teaches English at a Montreal CEGEP. She holds one undergraduate degree in English, one in second-language education, and a Masters degree in English and creative writing. She is currently working on a Masters in education. Check out her blog of the same name: Siobhan Curious

She writes,"When it comes to controlling unwanted behavior, I've found that clear rules with predictable consequences trump everything else. I have a number of posts that outline my struggle to be clear, consistent and fair when it comes to enforcing rules."

In one instance, she dealt with girls who could not stop talking or work independently. After separating them, things greatly improved and she states, "I’m going to strike a compromise – I’ll allow them to sit together, but at the front of the room, explaining to them that the improvement in the atmosphere was so obvious that I want to maintain it, but to reward them for their cooperation."

After a one-on-one conference, she summarized the situation by saying, "One way or another, this encounter has affirmed something that I have been learning and reinforcing for myself over the last couple of years: addressing the problem, and talking to students one-on-one, especially the difficult ones, is always the best thing to do. It may not solve all problems, but it takes steps toward addressing them."

She gives her own version of basic principles for dealing with classroom disruptions:
a) address the issue
b) let the offender know you’re aware of what’s going on
c) let the students know that you’re aware something is going on and you’re not going to just let it slide
d) don’t make accusations you can’t substantiate, even if you’re absolutely sure
e) don’t make the situation worse

On being taken advantage of she writes, "When I first started teaching, I gave students a lot of chances. If a student said his grandmother had died, I took him at his word and helped him make up the work. Over time, though, it became clear that students were taking advantage of this, and it was making my life more difficult and wasn’t helping them in the long run. Putting clear rules about late and missed work into place, and applying them consistently, has helped me deal with some ambiguous situations."

So while there are definitely advanatages to engaging students, you will always have those who disrupt the class. Having rules [and enforcing them] are the next step in keeping the peace.
For more about Siobhan's experiences, click over to the following articles.

I'm Watching You
The Limits of Compassion
Failing the Poem

Thanks so much for reading this week! I hope your perspective is larger, your strategies are more radical, and that you found some new friends and blogs to enjoy.

If you missed part of the series, here's the links:
Part 1
Part 2

Part 3


  1. Wow! You must have put a lot of work into pulling out those quotes - I'm seriously impressed. Thanks so much for putting this together! I will link far and wide.

  2. Miss Cal.Q.L8 knows her siobhancurious! Your synopsis is most enlightening.

  3. Thanks for volunteering your links. I just browsed through a couple of blog posts and gleaned the basic concepts. It looks good because you wrote it!