GETTING OFF TO
A GOOD START
A classroom doesn't start off well managed. Rather, each year elementary teachers in selfcontained classrooms meet with upwards of 30 new students who view the teacher as a new person in their lives. Secondary teachers might meet five or six new classes of students every semester—or even more frequently. Again, these students are as new to the teacher as the teacher is to them. For each of these fresh combinations of teachers and students, classroom management practices must be built anew. What, then, do we know about how an effectively managed classroom is first established?
A long history of research documents what we know about the beginning stages of developing an effectively managed classroom. Virtually all of this research points to the beginning of the school year as the linchpin for effective classroom management. To illustrate, Moskowitz and Hayman (1976) studied the beginning-of-the-year behaviors of 14 highly effective junior high school teachers as compared with the behaviors of 13 first-year junior high school teachers. Where the new teachers spent relatively little time orienting the class to management routines and activities, the effective teachers not only focused the first few days on management, but they also did so in a very orderly and systematic manner—clearly articulating rules and procedures, practicing them with students, and establishing disciplinary consequences for violations of rules and procedures.
Researchers found similar results at the elementary level. In a study of 14 elementary school teachers identified as effective managers, Eisenhart (1977) found that the beginning of the school year was devoted to classroom physical arrangement, establishing a schedule of routines, and establishing a system of