How to Recognize the Positive: Classroom Management Lesson Plans

A better classroom environment is created when teachers start focusing on positive behavior, rather than on negative behavior.

By Greg Harrison

classroom management lessons

Have you ever gone home from your day of teaching feeling like it was a "bad" day? Silly question, I know!  "Bad" days happen to all of us, just like "good" days do. Have you ever put some thought into how to be sure that more of your days can feel good, rather than bad? I didn't think too much about this until I went to observe a veteran teacher many years ago. When I sat in her classroom, I thought that I had never before felt such a positive vibe!  I was so impressed, that I contacted this teacher and asked her if she would be willing to get together so we could discuss what I saw happening in her classroom. She agreed, and we set up a lunch at a local restaurant.

Out of the Mouths of Babes

When I told her how impressed I was with her positive classroom atmosphere, she surprised me by saying that it wasn't always that way. Early in her career, she was so intent on keeping her pupils orderly, quiet, and well-behaved, that she spent a lot of her time trying to eliminate the negative things happening in her room. She was constantly redirecting, asking for quiet, insisting that the kids listen, browbeating individuals who were misbehaving, and getting quite angry with those who didn't tow the line.  

She said that things began to change for her during one of her parent/teacher/student conferences. At that conference, one of the best-behaved and sweetest of her boys announced that he had something to say to her. He told her that he wished that she could spend as much time noticing the "good" kids as she did noticing the "bad" kids. That's exactly how he phrased it. When she asked him what he meant, he pointed out to her that almost all of the kids in the classroom were well-behaved, and that only a few were the troublemakers, but that almost all of her attention was given to those kids who weren't behaving.  

As you can imagine, this hit her really hard. She went home that night and couldn't this comment out of her mind, because she realized that what this child had told her was the absolute truth. She really was giving almost all of her attention to the troublemakers, while pupils who were behaving well, following the rules, and trying hard in school were being given almost no recognition for their efforts.  "It was a turning point in my career," she said. 

Reward Positive Behavior

From that day on, she promised herself that she would bend over backwards to "catch the kids being good," and to modify the ways that she dealt with misbehaving students in the class. Instead of giving a misbehaving pupil lots of public attention (which is one of the main reasons that kids misbehave), she decided to do just the opposite. She began to give her attention to those learners who were behaving well by praising them, awarding their tables bonus points, giving out prizes, sending home short notes to parents letting them know how well their child was doing, and publicly recognizing anyone who was trying really hard.  Her eyes had been opened!  

If you really think about it, most of your students are behaving and doing well in class. Unfortunately, it's easy for us to focus on those who are struggling with behavior, and we let that very small percentage of our class color the impression we have of our teaching day. This woman summed it up by sharing one of the wisest insights a teacher has ever shared with me. She said, "I discovered that my students crave my attention. Once they saw that it was going toward the pupils who were being good, most of my troublemakers came around, because they realized that they would get my attention by behaving well, and by trying harder."

After our lunch, I decided to embrace what this teacher had told me. What a difference this change in attitude has made in my career! When you open up your eyes to all of the good that is happening in your classroom, and develop simple and effective ways to deal with the negative, your students will be happier, and you will go home feeling like you've had many more "good" days than "bad. Here are some classroom management lesson plans to help you get started.

Classroom Management Lesson Plans

Introductory Lesson for the Beginning of Each New Year

An incredibly well-thought-out lesson that outlines many strategies you can employ which will foster cooperation, trust, respect and happiness in your classroom. The lesson includes games, short stories, role plays and visualization activities which can be used throughout the entire school year.

Get Hungry For Cooperation

The class listens to the story "The Little Red Hen," and discusses how much better things would have been in the story if the animals had cooperated with each other. Next, they conduct a movement exercise called the mirror game, then work together to make butter that they spread on some delicious warm bread. It is a wonderful lesson about cooperation!

Creating Community in the Classroom (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part lesson, which lays the groundwork for having a healthy classroom community. Scholars work together to brainstorm ideas and set goals for the kind of classroom environment they want to cultivate for their year together.

Creating Community in the Classroom (Part 2)

Pupils review the goals they set during Part 1 by playing a cooperative game. The game requires them to correctly identify and restate the goals they came up with in the earlier lesson. The beauty of implementing these lessons at the beginning of the year is that you will have laid the groundwork for a positive atmosphere in your class right away.