Anyone who has ever taught, knows that good classroom management practices are vital to creating an environment where students can learn. Subject matter expertise and even exceptional teaching techniques cannot produce optimum results if there is poor student behavior.  A successful CHARACTER COUNTS! initiative cannot be separated from the system of discipline and student recognition used within your school. 

Dr. Gary Smit explains how character education can impact your classroom management.

Strategies that put you as the teacher with a thermostat classroom management plan

  • Embed the values of trustworthiness respect, responsibility fairness, caring, and citizenship into your classroom rules and procedures.
  • Ensure students recognize inappropriate behaviors when they see them.
  • Establish firm limits to unacceptable behavior.
  • Expect students to understand that they treat each other with respect, kindness, and empathy in all communications and actions.
  • Have students take responsibility for their own actions. Constantly remind students they have the power to decide what they think say and do.
  • Regularly discuss the importance of choices and the process for making effective & ethical decision. The pillars of character are more than words; they are outcomes of desired behaviors and are an intentional response of a choice made by students.
  • Teach students how to be good to one another, how to cooperate, how to defend someone who is being picked on and how to stand up for what is right.
  • The teacher is able to know and effectively relate to his/her student in a way that establishes rapport and trust
  • The teacher strives to separate unacceptable behavior from student as a person.
  • Teach, re-teach, role-play
  • Acknowledge rule-following behaviors
  • Refer to the expectations often
  • Establish predictable environment by defining and teaching classroom routines
  • Have well-thought-out and structured procedures for EVERY activity
  • Rehearse procedures until they become class routines
  • Acknowledge when procedures are appropriately followed


  1. How can we change the environment for a student  to change his or her own behavior?
  2. Correct the issue and preserve the relationship. What does this mean to you as a teacher?
  3. How would you describe our school discipline plan? Is it a thermometer or a thermostat? What can we do to even make our plan more effective?
  4. What can we do as a school to ensure our classrooms are orderly, safe, encouraging and engaging?


Hear more from Gary on Twitter – @GSmit4Character