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The Essential Classroom Management Checklist

Ignacio Lopez, Ed.D.

Often teachers are told, “You need to do a better job with classroom management.” Or “You need to do a good better job of differentiating instruction.” But how do we really “do” classroom management, or how do we really “do” differentiated instruction…better yet, how do we really “do” teaching?

In observing teachers, I’ve collected my list of these “grain-level” (1) classroom management practices that master teachers do every day in their classrooms, whether they’re aware of them or not.

As we approach year’s end, it’s a time to reflect on our actual, tangible, teacher-behavior done (or not done) in the classroom. Review my checklist to see what you’ve mastered and what you need to integrate to truly “do” teaching.

100% (2)

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The teacher does not resume instruction until she/he has 100% focus and attention from all students in the classroom.
Example: One teacher may raise her hand to signify end of discussion.

No Opt Out (2)

The teacher does not let a student “pass” on his/her original thought.
Example: The student is not let off the hook if called on, the student responding has to respond.

Stretch It (2)

The teacher is clearly thinking about asking the student to say more about their thinking or answer.
Example: The teacher asks the student to tell her more about Mt. Everest besides being a mountain.

Cold Call (2)

The teacher practices a “cold call” approach to get every child to participate.
Example: The teacher uses sticks she drew from a can to call on students.

Stated Curriculum Transitions

The teacher clearly lets the students know the lesson has ended and they will now begin a new subject or idea that connects to the previous lesson, subject, or idea.


Transitions into a new lesson or idea is followed or articulated by clearly stated objectives and actions required of the children.
Example: What you’ll learn to do, and what we’ll be doing next.


Transitioning out of the lesson clearly includes a “review” or “dip-stick” of what was read, covered, done, and learned.
Example: The teacher ends with “what did we learn about this reading today” or “what did we learn how to do because of this reading or activity?”

Ratio Awareness

The teacher is aware of the time he or she spends talking versus the time his or her students spend working.
Example: Teacher Talking: Student Doing Ratio

Affective Feedback

Teacher is conscious of responding to a child’s response and work in a way that will make them reflect or re-think their statements or thoughts for additions or compliments.


The teacher is conscious of providing encouraging responses to sometimes “off-the-wall” comments from a child.

Essential Questions or Thought (The Wow Factor Intro)

The teacher is conscious of asking essential questions that will engage students immediately.

Example: Oooh! Did you see what the author just said there?

Room Ownership

The teacher walks around the classroom like he or she owns it. Is able to see when students are chatting, off task, and can intervene with proximity versus vocal.


Teacher clearly prepared ideas, thoughts, lesson, and activities prior to stepping foot in the classroom.
Remember: Curricular preparedness is different than time management.


Encouraged to be Courageous

Teacher encourages students to not be afraid to share their answers, even if they do seem “off the wall.” Students feel safe to share in the space.


Clear “Doable” Skills Delivered

The teacher is conscious of actionable learning “skills.” At the end of the lesson, students will be able to define…AND do.


Time In Transition

The teacher is conscious of the time spent “in the transition” (between lessons what students are doing, need to be doing, should be doing).
Example: stretch, get your books, say hi to a neighbor for one minute…


Class Protocols

The teacher has deliberately (or organically) created class protocols, thoughts, or vocabulary, which means something specific in the classroom.

Example: A tug on the shirt means, tuck in your shirt.


Time Management

Teacher is clearly conscious of when (time) a lesson will begin and when they will end.


Curriculum Routine

Both teacher and students are aware of the curriculum routine in the classroom.
Example: lecture work, reading work, group work, reflection work, assessment work…repeat.


Differentiating Literacy Instruction

Specific to reading literature, or other information, the teacher is conscious of the need for guided participation, group sharing, and other community based learning objectives.

What other “grain-level” practices am I missing? Share your classroom management checklist items in the comments section!

1. Ball, D.L., & Frozani, F.M. (2010). Teaching Skillful Teaching. The Effective Educator, 68(4), 40-45.
2. Lemov, D. (2010). Teach like a champion: 49 techniques that put students on the path to college. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Today's Poll

Which types of articles would you like to see from us in 2020?
Classroom Management
Classroom Activities/Games
Teaching Strategies
Technology in the Classroom
Professional Development
Total votes: 251