Teaching Tip #16 – Preparation is Prevention

Preparation is Prevention

Using Preparation to Prevent Management Issues


Classroom management is one of the most challenging areas that new teachers face in the classroom. Too many new teachers enter their first year of teaching without extensive time booked in front of the classroom. Management strategies are implemented most skillfully by those who have experience. And so, many new teachers struggle with classroom management. The first of many future tips on management is this: preparation is prevention.

Often times, new teachers enter the classroom assuming that students will do ______________ (you can fill in the blank yourself). After all, this is what school was like for the new teacher, right?

Wrong. There is only one assumption you can safely make as a new teacher: If you don’t explicitly instruct students to do something, they will not do it.

This isn’t a problem with the students – after all, they aren’t mind readers! They have new teachers every year, and as students age to middle school, new teachers for every subject. One teacher might expect silence and hand raising during class, while another expects collaboration and sharing. Rather, this is a problem with assumptions, and why each and every small detail when preparing a lesson can prevent a large amount of necessary classroom management in the future.

When you prepare a lesson as a new teacher (or any teacher), you need to make sure you think of every detail of the lesson. For example:

  • How will students enter the room?
  • Where will students go when they enter the room?
  • What will students do once they get to their spots?
  • Where are extra supplies (resources, paper, pencil, etc.?)
  • How will I group students?
  • What should a student do if they need to go to the bathroom?
  • How do I get my student’s attention?
  • Are the students expected to be quiet, talking, or working when they enter?
  • How long can I instruct the students on the task and outcomes for the day before they lose focus?
  • How will students transition from one activity to the next?
  • When is a good time to sharpen the pencil?
  • How will student work be handed out?
  • How will student work be collected?
  • What are students supposed to look like when working?

The list could go on for many, many more details, but I think the point is clear. These are the types of details that new teachers should think about before beginning a lesson. Then, once the teacher has discovered the answers, they need to be explicitly taught to the student.

There is a lot more to talk about for this topic – how many expectations should be taught to start the year, how many procedures does a classroom need, how can procedures best be taught – but for now, I will end the article here. If you find yourself doing a lot of classroom management, especially if you are a new teacher, start here. Reflect on your lesson plans, and the small details of your lessons. Reflect on your class, and if you’ve taught the students the expectation during that time, and given clear instructions and reminders daily during class. If not, this type of detailed preparation can prevent many of the behaviors you are seeing in the classroom.

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