Classroom Management

I thought a page devoted to the topic of classroom management would be interesting. So here it is.

My own experience with learning this art involved a lot of work on my part to glean best practices from the veteran teachers around me. The Montessori training I underwent did not fully prepare me in this respect. Not that any training program will ever fully prepare one to manage a classroom on their own, but there are certain issues and topics that are very tractable and worth discussing.

Code for Peace

Code for Pain




8 Responses to “Classroom Management”

  1. luann says:

    I am working in a 9-12 classroom. I am looking for a workplan to use with the children. I know some upper el classrooms don’t use a work plan. Any suggestions for management of this? Thank you.

    • jonathan says:

      Work plans. An enormously divisive topic which means it is an important and difficult one to speak of intelligently. I have seen the topic addressed in the following way: all concerned take it as an issue of freedom of choice but differ on whether or not the presence of a work plan fosters choice. In a Montessori environment, those that think it fosters choice support it; those that think it does not foster choice do not support it.
      As with most things, it’s never that simple. There is a way to frame the issue in these terms. And I think it is helpful to do so. However, I do not think it is the only way to frame it. I think starting with the common ground that the presence of good choices for students is a good thing, we might ask ourselves how best to provide those choices.
      One option that might be raised in a discussion of how to support students to better enable them to make good decisions is to provide them with a means of keeping track of their work. And one way to do that is to use a work plan.
      So obviously I think there is a place not only in lower and upper elementary classrooms for a “workplan” but for all of us adults included.
      As for the practice of using them in an upper el classroom, you have more options if only because the students are older. I have tried using workplans already filled in on Monday morning for the whole week. Students either like this or hate this. It either gives them a sense of security or extreme anxiety. It also fosters competition and completing jobs simply to count one more job complete. Students will tend to rush their jobs more than they otherwise would. For those students who feel anxious about pre-filled plans, the growing sense of competition in the room only serves to further shut these students down.
      Another way I have used work plans is to give out a blank work plan on Monday morning. It will have subject headings and room for jobs to be written in. Students then copy jobs down from the board each day, write down jobs under the day they are due, and write down jobs assigned during a lesson. Some students might still want it pre-filled. You can do so for those individuals if your schedule allows.

  2. Sara says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    I did not see any example of a work plan
    Thank you for the free access.


  3. Mollie says:

    I teach in an upper el classroom. The controversy over work plans will never go away – it is either accepted or rejected. For us, it’s a matter of accountability. Our school goes through 8th grade. Sooner or later students will leave our program and attend other schools. It is at that point that the question becomes one of – did we instruct the student on everything needed for a successful journey; or did we allow the student to spend the majority of their time in science, therefore neglecting math, language, etc. I use the whiteboard to list subjects on the board that must be done each day. I also complete a syllabus per semester per level, so that I have lessons on the shelf that correspond to what subject material needs to be covered. Students still have choice, but within “need” limits. Of course there are always exceptions, but for the most part, this has allowed us to keep the choice factor still in place and cover material for accountability.

  4. Casey says:

    I am looking for ways to hold my students accountable in an upper el public Montessori. Also for some peaceful consequences. Thank you for your help!!

  5. Yasmeen C. says:

    I love your blog and thank you for sharing your knowledge and information with other Montessorians. What type of daily, weekly and annual record keeping would you suggest for Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms? I would really appreciate your reply back.


  6. Andrea says:

    I would love a bit of an explanation of how the ‘code for pain’ and the ‘code for peace’ files work and it’s origins. I haven’t come across anything like this before.

    • jonathan says:

      Andrea, I no longer remember where this came from. I did not create the “code” myself. We were using it in the school where I taught at the time and we all wanted to make a sorting/matching exercise with it. So, I fired up my laptop and ended up with the pdf’s that are available here to download. If I remember correctly, a main point of the exercise is to learn how to not make 2nd person, accusatory statements during a conflict like, “You are..” or “You did …”, etc. Rather, it is better to say things like “I feel that …” from a first person point of view.

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