How to Regain Your Confidence When Your Classroom Management Isn't Working

classroom management Sep 19, 2019

I've had my classroom management failures just as much as the next teacher. What I've done with all that info is what has set me up for success over the years. 

When you've been knocked on your rear for the umpteenth time (been there) and head home defeated (been there, too) , remember, you CAN do this. If I can do it, YOU can do it! You really can fix your classroom management and have a well-run classroom. 

By taking all of my successes and, even more importantly, all of my FAILURES and reflecting, making changes and refining, I've gotten to the point where I can step into any classroom and be successful. It didn't just happen. All the hard work I put in simply paid off over time. 

Classroom Management is a tricky thing.

There isn't a "silver bullet" that will solve all your problems (I've looked). A well-run classroom takes time, reflection and training of both you, the teacher, and your students. It takes having and understanding all the keys to success and implementing them with consistency. Great classroom management also requires regular reflection and adjustments along the way. 

Here's ONE key to successful classroom management to get you started:

Start an end of day journal. Take 5 minutes to breathe and write down your classroom management wins and failures each day. Listen to yourself all day. Write down the words you speak to your students and your thoughts too. They don't have to be exact but get as close as you can. You can certainly record yourself on your phone periodically if you are having trouble hearing yourself and remembering it later. Write down student behavior issues: their words, actions and approximate time of day (What subject was it? Was it in the classroom, the hallway or somewhere else?

Choose One Thing

Decide how you'll fix ONE issue the next day. Have a PLAN. If you walk back into your classroom without a plan, nothing will change.

Ask Questions

Start with some questions. Do you need to be more consistent? Is shouting out driving you crazy? Do your rules or expectations need adjusting? What one thing can you change tomorrow? Do you spend a lot of time warning students but not following through with your consequences? Maybe you need to stop the interruptions so you can focus on teaching in small groups or individual check-ins with students. Perhaps you need a new protocol or system for students to let you know they need help (and what to do while they wait). 


Decide on one thing you'll change the next day. Oh, I can just hear you.. "But Lisa, it ALL needs fixing. Where do I start?!" Having trouble deciding where to start is normal. I know you're overwhelmed, but you can't do it all at once. You'll fail. Just stop for a minute and think....What is the ONE THING that, if fixed, will make your days better? What is the behavior that is driving you crazy? Change that. 

Make a Plan

Now, think about your approach. What will YOU do differently tomorrow to fix that? What words will you use when students miss the mark? What actions will you take? Get a CLEAR picture in your head of what it all looks like, feels like and sounds like. 


Have a plan to inform your students of any changes to your policies or expectations the next morning and then FOLLOW YOUR PLAN all day. The key to success in making a change is to plan it, visualize it a lot before the next day and then be determined to follow through with consequences every time.


After a week of journaling, you should be to able to see some patterns of what's working and where you'll need to invest some time and energy. You can make a plan for the next item to fix (and so on). The key in reflection is not to get down on yourself, you're a work in progress too, but to be willing to be honest, to learn from your mistakes and successes and to grow. 

Look at every day as a training session, an opportunity to teach students how to get along in the world a little bit better. You're not looking for instant change or robot students. Instead, you're looking for improvement. That's it. That, in itself, is a classroom management win simply because it means things are heading in the right direction. You're no longer chasing your tail doing things that don't work but now have a plan and something to build on.  

Happy Life Skills

Having a happy life requires self-control, self-monitoring and conscious decision making. These aren't things learned in a day or a week. It takes time and consistency to teach them. Those 3 things are GIFTS you're giving your students (and their future teachers). Stick to your plan and be consistent. Once our students know your boundaries are consistent, they'll quit pushing so much. So, give yourself time and focus on making those incremental gains.

You'll look up one day in the not so distant future and realize things really are going well, and you'll wonder when that happened. It's a great moment.


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