As students come pouring into your classroom on the first day of school, the air will be filled with excitement, anticipation, and first-day jitters. With this excitement comes some chaos, until you implement your classroom management plan. Your goal starting from the first moment your new students enter the classroom is to lay down the law. This means that you must secure your classroom management plan by putting it into place immediately. Here are five tips to help you kick start the new school year so it’s a productive and successful one.

Tip #1 – Get to Know Students

The number one best way to manage your students is to get to know them better. Knowing their personalities, interests, and how they like to learn will all help you structure your classroom and keep students from misbehaving. When you know your students on a deeper level, it’ll be easier for you manage them. Try the 3 x 10 strategy, where you take three minutes a day for 10 consecutive days to meet with individual students and get to know them better. The idea behind this strategy is that by the end of the 10 days, you will have developed a bond with the student. When you have good student-teacher relationships and students trust you, managing your classroom will be much easier. Building positive relationships takes time, and it’s something that you’ll have to continue throughout the school year.

Tip #2 – Assign Classroom Jobs

Assigning your students a classroom job in the beginning of the school year has many benefits. First, it’s a great way to teach your students responsibility. Second, it keeps your classroom clean and organized. Third, it helps your classroom run smoothly when everyone knows what is expected of them. They key to making this system work is consistency. You must maintain your system to keep order in the classroom. An easy way to do this is by rotating classroom jobs each week so that all students are happy. If one student hates the job they get one week, they’ll be able to start a new one the next week.

Tip # 3 – Create Classroom Expectations Together As a Class

Creating expectations as a class versus designing them yourself is a great way to get students to follow the rules, because they had a hand in creating them. If you want to have a say in the rules, but also want the students to feel as if they’ve thought of them themselves, then you can “nudge” them in your direction. Have a classroom brainstorming session where students are allowed to express ideas of classroom rules and expectations. You can also share ideas too, then have the class vote on the top five favorites.

Tip #4 – Teach Procedures the Right Way

Another classroom management tip for starting the school year off on a good note is to teach procedures in a way that your students will understand them. A procedure is meant to explain something that you want done in the way that you want it done. However, sometimes teachers assume that their students understand what they have asked for, when in actuality the students really have no idea. Do not assume your students understand what you are asking of them – you need to physically show them. If you have a procedure for how you want students to hand in their homework, show them yourself, then ask them to show you what they saw you do. This will not only cement the procedure into their brains, but it will show you that they are comprehending the procedure and know what to do. Once this has happened, then you must have students practice the procedure over and over again. The more they practice it, the quicker they’ll be able to do it on their own.

Tip # 5 – Always Have Something for Students to Do

If you never want to worry about your classroom getting out of order, you must always have something for your students to do. The first moment that students don’t know what is expected of them, your classroom will turn into chaos. Make a plan for those unexpected moments when your lesson finishes early or during transition periods. Make sure students know what they should be doing before the bell rings in the morning and when school is about to let out. No matter how far out in advance you plan your activities, sometimes things just happen, so it’s important to always have sponge activities or “time fillers” in your back pocket to ensure your students will always be busy.

All of these tips will help to manage your classroom and prevent discipline problems. However, it’s important to note that along with using these tips, you should also remember to not let the little things slide during the first week of school. While you may think that it’s OK because the students are still getting used to the new rules, it’s not OK. When you let things go (whispering, talking out of turn, getting up without asking), then you’re not reinforcing your rules, and these little infractions can turn into bigger infractions down the road.