The Effective Teacher Part 3:

“Discipline and Procedures”

An effective teacher is a master at classroom management skills.The effective teacher knows that student achievement will only occur when the student’s work environment is organized and structured so that learning can take place. When students are engaged in the learning process, there is a concomitant reduction in behavior problems.


Classroom management and discipline are not the same thing.Owners don’t discipline a store; they manage a store. Coaches don’t discipline a team; they manage a team. Likewise, teachers don’t discipline a classroom; they manage a classroom.No learning takes place when you discipline. All disciplining does is stop deviant behavior, which must be done, but no learning has taken place. Learning only takes place when the students are at work, or as we say in education, on-task.

DISCIPLINE: Concerns how students BEHAVE
PROCEDURES: Concern how things are DONE

DISCIPLINEHas penalties and rewards
PROCEDURES: Have NO penalties or rewards

We suspect that the great majority of what teachers call behavior problems in the classroom have nothing to do with discipline. The number one problem in education is not discipline. It is the lack of procedures and routines resulting in students not knowing what to do-responsibly-in the classroom.


Students readily accept the idea of having a uniform set of classroom procedures, because it simplifies their task of succeeding in school. Efficient and workable procedures allow a great variety of activities to take place during a school day, and often several activities at a given time, with a minimum of confusion and wasted time. If no procedures are established, much time will be wasted organizing each activity and students will have to guess what to do. As a result, undesirable work habits and behaviors could develop which would be hard to correct.

Procedures are the foundation that set the class up for achievement. Student achievement at the end of the school year is directly related to the degree to which the teacher establishes good control of the classroom procedures in the very first week of the school year.

When a class is managed with procedures and the students know these procedures, they will more willingly do whatever you want them to do.You can then be an exciting, creative, and informative teacher with a well-oiled learning environment.


Ineffective teachers begin the first day of school attempting to teach a subject and spend the rest of the school year running after the students.

Effective teachers spend most of the first two weeks of the school year teaching students to follow classroom procedures.

There must be procedures in the classroom. Every time the teacher wants something done, there must be a procedure or a set of procedures to accomplish the task. Some procedures that nearly every teacher must teach include the following:  

  • entering the classroom
  • dismissing at the end of the period or day
  • returning to class after an absence
  • arriving to class tardy
  • quieting a class
  • beginning of the period or day
  • asking for help
  • moving of students and papers
  • listening to/responding to questions
  • working cooperatively
  • changing groups
  • keeping a student notebook
  • finding directions for each assignment
  • collecting/returning student work
  • getting materials without disturbing others
  • handing out equipment at recess
  • moving about the room
  • going to the library/tech center
  • heading of papers


Most behavior problems in the classroom are caused by the teacher’s failure to teach students how to follow procedures. Teachers must learn how to effectively convey the procedures just as students must learn how to follow the procedures. Below is a summary of an effective method of teaching classroom procedures.

The Three-Step Approach to Teaching Classroom Procedures 

  1. Explain: State, explain, model, and demonstrate the procedure. 
  2. Rehearse: Rehearse and practice the procedure under your supervision. 
  3. Reinforce: Reteach, rehearse, practice, and reinforce the classroom procedure until it becomes a student habit or routine.
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