Classroom management skills is the topic of our blog post today!

Classroom management is an art and a science that lies at the heart of effective teaching. It’s the invisible thread that weaves together student engagement, academic success, and the overall harmony of the classroom environment. As someone who has spent years in the classroom, I’ve experienced firsthand the difference that strong classroom management can make.

In the constant pursuit of refining this craft, I recently delved into two insightful research papers: “Salient Classroom Management Skills: Finding the Most Effective Skills to Increase Student Engagement and Decrease Disruptions” by Nicholas A. Gage, Ph.D., and Ashley S. MacSuga-Gage, Ph.D., and “Reducing reality shock: The effects of classroom management skills training on beginning teachers” by Theresa Dicke et al. These studies offer empirical evidence and practical strategies that resonate with my experiences and observations.

In this post, I’ve synthesized the wisdom from these papers into actionable insights and examples for educators looking to hone their classroom management skills. These strategies reflect a broad spectrum of approaches, from maximizing structure to focusing on inclusivity and support for students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBDs).

And if you’re keen on exploring further, I have another post filled with carefully selected classroom management books. These books provide deeper dives into various strategies, philosophies, and real-world applications, reinforcing the research-based approaches I’m sharing here. For research papers on classroom management, check out our classroom management annotated bibliography. For practical ways to manage your classroom, check out classroom management strategies for teachers.

Classroom Management Skills

Here are the 9 classroom management skills emphasized in the research literature:

1. Maximizing Structure and Predictability

Structure and predictability are key factors in classroom management. By setting clear expectations and routines, teachers can create a stable learning environment where students know what to expect (Simonsen et al., 2008).


A teacher may establish a daily routine that includes a clear agenda on the board, designated times for individual work, group activities, and a consistent process for submitting assignments. This routine helps students to understand what is expected of them and reduces anxiety or confusion about daily activities.

2. Active Engagement of Students: Through teacher-directed opportunities to respond (TD-OTR)

Active engagement is about ensuring that students are not just physically present but are mentally engaged in the learning process. TD-OTR refers to strategies that allow teachers to gauge student participation and understanding continually (Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).


During a lesson, a teacher may ask open-ended questions, encouraging multiple students to respond. The teacher could use techniques such as “Think-Pair-Share,” where students think about a question, discuss it with a partner, and then share their thoughts with the class. This not only keeps students actively engaged but also provides immediate feedback to the teacher on student understanding (Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).

3. Behavior-Specific Praise (BSP)

Behavior-Specific Praise goes beyond general compliments and targets specific positive behaviors. It reinforces those behaviors by acknowledging and praising them explicitly (Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).


Rather than simply saying “Good job,” a teacher might say, “I really appreciate how you took the time to help your classmate understand that problem. Your patience and clear explanations show great teamwork.” This detailed praise not only encourages the specific behavior but also sets a positive example for other students to follow.

4. Effective Use of Instructional Strategies

Including clear instructional directions and ensuring the use of methods that are proven to work with students (Lewis et al., 2005; Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).

Effective instructional strategies involve clear direction and the application of evidence-based teaching methods. Clarity in instruction allows students to follow along without confusion, while effective methodologies engage them in learning.


A teacher may utilize graphic organizers to aid students in understanding complex subjects, providing clear instructions on how to fill them out. Additionally, employing cooperative learning groups, which are shown to enhance student understanding, can foster engagement and collaboration (Lewis et al., 2005).

5. Continuum of Strategies for Appropriate and Inappropriate Behavior

Acknowledging good behavior and responding appropriately to undesirable behavior (Simonsen et al., 2008). This strategy involves a nuanced approach to managing student behavior. It’s about recognizing and reinforcing positive behavior and addressing inappropriate behavior with suitable responses.


A teacher might implement a reward system for positive behavior, like awarding “star points” that can be traded for privileges. Conversely, inappropriate behavior might be met with a private conversation to understand the underlying issue and establish a plan for improvement, always keeping the response proportionate to the behavior (Simonsen et al., 2008).

6. Prompting for Expectations: Including pre-corrections, which guide students to meet expectations

Prompting for expectations involves proactive reminders and guidance to help students meet the expected behavior or academic goals. Pre-corrections are preventative prompts that guide students in the right direction before a mistake occurs Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017.


Before a group activity, a teacher might remind students of the collaboration norms they’ve established, such as listening to one another and taking turns speaking. These reminders serve as pre-corrections to guide students towards successful collaboration, reducing the likelihood of issues arising during the activity.

7. Support for Students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBDs)

Utilizing specialized strategies for students with EBDs, including praise, response during instruction, and clear instructional strategies (Lewis et al., 2005; Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).

Supporting students with EBDs requires a tailored approach. These strategies focus on positive reinforcement, opportunities for active participation, and clear instructional techniques that consider the unique needs of these students.


A teacher might use frequent praise for on-task behavior, combined with differentiated instruction and individualized support, to create an inclusive environment for students with EBDs. This targeted support can increase their academic achievement and positive social interactions (Lewis et al., 2005).

8. Integration of Evidence-Based Interventions

These programs include the Good Behavior Game, the Responsive Classroom, BEST in CLASS, and the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).

These evidence-based interventions and programs are recognized for their effectiveness in managing classroom behavior. They provide structured approaches that can be implemented across various educational settings.


The Good Behavior Game, for instance, encourages positive behavior by dividing the class into teams and awarding points for adherence to classroom rules. It can be an effective way to foster a sense of community and responsibility among students.

Similarly, the Responsive Classroom approach emphasizes social-emotional learning, helping students develop empathy, cooperation, and responsible decision-making skills. Such programs not only improve behavior but also contribute to a positive classroom culture.

9. Focus on Reducing Suspensions and Expulsions

Reducing suspensions and expulsions is about changing the mindset from punishment to support. Rather than excluding students from the educational environment, effective classroom management looks to identify underlying issues and address them constructively Gage & MacSuga-Gage, 2017).


A school might replace traditional suspensions with in-school interventions that allow students to reflect on their behavior and learn from it. A guidance counselor or trained staff could work with the students to understand the root causes of their behavior, guiding them toward more positive choices in the future. I’ve observed this approach lead to more meaningful changes in student behavior, aligning with the broader movement to “rethink school discipline.”

Final thoughts

Classroom management remains a foundational element that can make or break the educational experience for both teachers and students. The strategies and insights gleaned from the research papers “Salient Classroom Management Skills” by Nicholas A. Gage, Ph.D., and Ashley S. MacSuga-Gage, Ph.D., as well as “Reducing reality shock” by Theresa Dicke et al., offer valuable tools and perspectives for educators at all levels.

From my own experience in the classroom, I’ve seen how integrating these management skills can create more engaging, responsive, and inclusive learning environments. The blend of maximizing structure, engaging students actively, providing specific praise, and utilizing evidence-based interventions can dramatically impact not just academic success but the entire classroom climate.

For those new to teaching or those seeking to refine their approach, the emphasis on comprehensive training and support for students with Emotional/Behavioral Disorders (EBDs) should not be overlooked. The focus on reducing suspensions and implementing universal high-quality management practices resonates with broader societal and educational goals.


Dicke, T., Elling, J., Annett Schmeck, & Leutner, D. (2015). Reducing reality shock: The effects of classroom management skills training on beginning teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 48,21-12,

Gage, N. A., & MacSuga-Gage, A. S. (2017). Salient Classroom Management Skills: Finding the Most Effective Skills to Increase Student Engagement and Decrease Disruptions. Report on emotional & behavioral disorders in youth, 17(1), 13–18.

Lewis, R., Romi, S., Qui, X., & Katz, Y. J. (2005). Teachers’ classroom discipline and student misbehavior in Australia, China and Israel. Teaching and Teacher Education, 21(6), 729–741.

Simonsen B, Fairbanks S, Briesch A, Myers D, Sugai G.(2008). Evidence-based practices in classroom management: Considerations for research to practice. Education and Treatment of Children, 31:351–380.

Further reading

Burden, P.R. (2020). Classroom Management: Creating a Successful K-12 Learning Community, 7th Edition.

Conroy, M. A., Stichter, J. P., Daunic, A., & Haydon, T. (2008). Classroom-Based Research in the Field of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders: Methodological Issues and Future Research Directions. The Journal of Special Education, 41(4), 209–222.

Curran, M. E. (2003). Linguistic Diversity and Classroom Management. Theory Into Practice, 42(4), 334–340.

Emmer, E. T., & Stough, L. M. (2001). Classroom Management: A Critical Part of Educational Psychology, With Implications for Teacher Education. Educational Psychologist, 36(2), 103–112.

Evans, K., Lester, J., & Anfara, V. A. (2010). What Research Says: Classroom Management and Discipline: Responding to the Needs of Young Adolescents. Middle School Journal, 41(3), 56–63.

Evertson, C.M., & Weinstein, C.S. (Eds.). (2006). Handbook of Classroom Management: Research, Practice, and Contemporary Issues (1st ed.). Routledge.

Garrett, T. (2008). Student-Centered and Teacher-Centered Classroom Management: A Case Study of Three Elementary Teachers. The Journal of Classroom Interaction, 43(1), 34–47.

Gordon, D. G. (2001). Classroom Management Problems and Solutions: A few basic guidelines for classroom management can improve student behavior and reduce stress on the music educator. Music Educators Journal, 88(2), 17–23.

Jones, K. A., Jones, J. L., & Vermette, P. J. (2013). Exploring the Complexity of Classroom Management: 8 Components of Managing a Highly Productive, Safe, and Respectful Urban Environment. American Secondary Education, 41(3), 21–33.

Jones, V., & Jones, L. (2015). Comprehensive Classroom Management: Creating Communities of Support and Solving Problems (11th ed.). Pearson.

Marzano, R. J., Marzano, J. S., & Pickering, D. (2003). Classroom management that works: Research-based strategies for every teacher. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

KOUNIN, J. S., & Gump, P. V. (1958). The Ripple Effect in Discipline. The Elementary School Journal, 59(1), 158–.

Macsuga-Gage, A. S., Simonsen, B., & Briere, D. E. (2012). Effective Teaching Practices: Effective Teaching Practices that Promote a Positive Classroom Environment. Beyond Behavior, 22(1), 14–22.

Malmgren, K. W., Trezek, B. J., & Paul, P. V. (2005). Models of Classroom Management as Applied to the Secondary Classroom. The Clearing House, 79(1), 36–39.

Martin, N. K., Schafer, N. J., McClowry, S., Emmer, E. T., Brekelmans, M., Mainhard, T., & Wubbels, T. (2016). Expanding the Definition of Classroom Management: Recurring Themes and New Conceptualizations. The Journal of Classroom Interaction, 51(1), 31–41.

McGlyn, K., & Kelly, J. (2018). Engineering a classroom that works for all: Classroom management tips for students with learning differences. Science Scope (Washington, D.C.), 42(1), 16–20.

Oliver, R. M., & Reschly, D. J. (2010). Special Education Teacher Preparation in Classroom Management: Implications for Students With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Behavioral Disorders, 35(3), 188–199.

Pedota, P. (2007). Strategies for Effective Classroom Management in the Secondary Setting. The Clearing House, 80(4), 163–166.

Reinke, W. M., Herman, K. C., & Stormont, M. (2013). Classroom-Level Positive Behavior Supports in Schools Implementing SW-PBIS: Identifying Areas for Enhancement. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 15(1), 39–50.

Reese, J. (2007). The Four Cs of Successful Classroom Management. Music Educators Journal, 94(1), 24–29.

Soodak, L. C. (2003). Classroom Management in Inclusive Settings. Theory Into Practice, 42(4), 327–333.

Vo, A. K., Sutherland, K. S., & Conroy, M. A. (2012). Best in class: A classroom-based model for ameliorating problem behavior in early childhood settings. Psychology in the Schools, 49(5), 402–415.

Wong, H., Wong, R., Rogers, K., & Brooks, A. (2012). Managing Your Classroom for Success. Science and Children, 49(10), 60–.

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