Adam Crittenden

Useful classroom management techniques

These ideas have all worked for me!

Have a range of activities to get your students out of their chairs and performing some actions.

If a couple of students start to get noisy or refuse to return to their chairs, a useful technique is address the class as a whole and give some physical motion orders:(eg: "Ok everybody stand up and clap their hands, walk around your chairs like elephants, lay on the floor and go to we all sit down...etc etc")

This is an effective way to get yourself back in command and have the miscreants submit to the herd mentality and join the group to follow your commands. As you guide them back to their chairs ask them to do things in an ever quietening tone and use directions like "tip-toe", "crawl", and "walk in slow motion", and to "sit quietly"in your chair.

Keep your most popular games and activities up your sleeve and ready to use at crucial times

If you have something the students want then you have a big asset in keeping your class under control. I have developed a few games and props that the kids love and I will use them when they start to tire or lose focus on a more testing part of the curriculum. Just nicely remind students that they are doing well and that those who complete the current activity will be rewarded. Select the obedient students to get involved in the desired game or activity and enunciate that those who misbehave will not be selected.

A whole class monitoring system displayed on the board and actively adjusted during the activity is effective 

I simply write all my students names up on the board and draw a blue smiley face next to their name when they behave well or a red sad face if they are transgressing. After all we all know that Thai people hate to lose face.

The students start to compete to see who can get the most blue smiling faces and at end of the class I will give them a reward of three merit points, or stickers or candy to those with the most blue faces. Those who have red faces lose merit points. This system works well with both the 4 and 5 year olds and the 8 years olds.

Put up a student friendly lesson plan on the board at the start of the lesson

This is a great technique!

You simply put up a simplified version of your lesson plan on the board. You can briefly run through it with the class and get some of the students to read it to their classmates. Its a great way to show the class that you are in control and that both you and they know exactly what is planned to happen throughout the class.

This sense of direction significantly reduces opportunities for class leaders to usurp your control as you have already set down the road map and everyone has read and acknowledged it. Furthermore the students are more confident because they have a preconceived notion of what tasks are to be completed and they will be more focussed as they are less uncertain.

You can also show the students that there will be a mixture of pleasant and more arduous activities and this will assist student motivation because they know what the reward is once they have done the more demanding task. As each task is completed tick it off your board plan so the students get a sense of achievement and progression as they move onto the next task.

Line the students up outside the door and getting them in order before they enter

This is a great technique to get the students into obeying the teacher mode. I had a day where I had a feeling that the students were going to be unruly. So I decided to grab the bull by the horns and get them into order outside of the classroom.

First of all I had them line up against the wall. Then I told them we would be working in their writing books so I gave them each a pencil. I then took the time to give each student their book whilst they waited in line. Sure enough three books still did not have students names in them so we sorted out the issue before entering the classroom.

Now my position as teacher was much stronger. They all had their books and their pencils all they had to do was to go in, sit down and start work, so this meant I could control the class from the doorway. I let the first six students go in with the instruction to sit down and start writing but sure enough they started messing around.

I repeated the order firmly from the doorway and partially closed the door. After informing those inside that no other students would be permitted to enter until they all sat down, the students finally obeyed. From that point the other students entered obediently and the class went to work in an orderly manner.

It may have taken a few extra minutes to get them into the classroom but it was highly effective. I was hoping that they would do three pages of their task but they displayed a great work ethic and some even managed to finish the whole book. It was amazing the affect that getting them into order before they entered class had. It is a very worthwhile and rewarding classroom management technique!

Employ a staggered punishment system

I use a staggered punishment system in my classes. First I give a warning when they violate the rules. Upon the second transgression I have the student stand up and read aloud the rule they have transgressed in front of the class from the rules that I have written upon the board. On the next transgression I have them sit on a seat away from other members of the class.

At this point I address the individual student again, and remind them that if they transgress again then then they will have to write out 15-20 lines in the corner. I find that this works well as writing lines is something that is not difficult to do and gives them time to calm down. They usually have a bit of a sore hand after this task and now that they are pacified they generally will return meekly to class.


This article appears to have been written by someone like me, who hates teaching children.

By Jack, Not in a classroom (1st December 2019)

Hi Adam. I recently wrote an article for this site about the lack of discipline and the effect it has on teachers and students. I received some harsh criticism in the comments but only a few tidbits of useful advice, which was the whole point of my article. I like your second suggestion about writing their names on the board and then drawing a smiley face next to the well-behaved ones and a frowning face next to those who cause problems. I’m going to try that in one of my classes next week.

By Mark Brown, Sisaket Province (5th January 2018)

I could never remember the names of all 700 of my students since I only saw them once a week. I like your ideas, though they would have to be modified for larger rooms. I was teaching high school and these techniques would probably work there, as well. Group mentality is often a saving grace here.

By Roy, Bangkok (5th September 2017)

Wow, you must have some really misbehaved students. What a shitty life. Having said that I applaud your efforts.

Here are a few tips learned when a school I'd taught at years ago gave me two throwaway classes to bring me up to 19 hours. I was co teaching with the lead, a Kenyan woman who was beyond worthless. Never rec'd a lesson plan from her the entire year. I felt sorry for many of the kids. A bit of a free for all and splitting headaches were regular occurrence. I deserved better and was gone eoy.

1. Stand in front of the class, say nothing and wait for one of the better students to yell stfu!
2. If you have a few misbehaved students make all the rest write half page about xyz but the misbehaved students write nothing.
3. If you can whistle, a very loud whistle brings them round
4. Learn your students names! Hey Oat! Sit the fuck down! Works far better than - hey you!
5. If its last class of the day, keep them over. Dismiss the good kids immediately. Let the others mull that over and then in order of best to worst, release the krackens!

By Blackie Lawless, The big smoke (27th July 2017)

Your solutions way too complicated and sound like they might in fact cause more trouble than they're worth.

By Chris H, Bangkok (24th July 2017)

"This is an effective way to get yourself back in command and have the miscreants submit to the herd mentality and join the group to follow your commands."

If we teachers have to use a lot of overly complicated and time-consuming ways to discipline our students, it's time to have another look at the way we are teaching and how to get the kids more interested and involved.

I may be reading this article wrong, but I get the impression that there's almost a 'regime' type of approach here. Some of these phrases are concerning...

'follow your commands', 'Select the obedient students', 'opportunities for class leaders to usurp your control', 'get the students into obeying the teacher mode', 'my position as teacher was much stronger', 'the students finally obeyed', 'staggered punishment system', 'and remind them that if they transgress again'.

Every teacher is different and we all have our own ways of getting the job done... but some of these ideas seem a bit harsh and divisive to me. Games for the 'obedient' kids, public shaming on the blackboard, writing lines till their hands are sore...

Here's my favourite:

"First of all I had them line up against the wall..."

We've all had days like that, eh? Ha ha!

By Mark Newman, A. MUANG (23rd July 2017)

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