We can make sure our classroom is a place where our students can exhale and know they’re loved, wholly protected, and free to learn and enjoy school

without looking over their shoulder.

We can make our classroom a safe haven.

Rely on schedules, routines, and procedures.
Knowing what is expected of them during every moment of the school day is a great comfort to students. It allows them to let down their guard and get lost in the steady pace and flow of a well-run classroom.

Maintain a clean, organized classroom.
An attractive room environment speaks volumes to your students about how you value respect, work habits, and expected behavior. When they enter your classroom they should feel as if they’re walking into a world that makes sense, in stark contrast to the choppy, churning waters many navigate during their daily lives.

Be the same teacher yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Inconsistency in word, behavior, or action is confusing to students and will deeply affect their trust in you. It causes resentment, low motivation, and misbehavior.

Be kind.
It’s so simple but means so much. Treat every student with kindness, patience, and gentleness—regardless of how difficult at times that can be.

Protect your students from misbehavior.
This is key to creating a classroom your students look forward to coming to every day. They must feel safe and comfortable working with and sitting next to any and all of their classmates. Every day they come to school they should feel confident in knowing that they’ll be able to enjoy their day without being interrupted, bothered, or bullied.

Don’t take misbehavior personally.
Teachers who yell, threaten, use sarcasm, or otherwise take misbehavior personally are disliked and distrusted intensely—though often privately—by students. They’re also least likely to follow a classroom management plan—which would allow them to demand the highest standards of behavior without causing friction with students.

Maintain a peaceful learning environment.
Few students do well in a tension-filled classroom, but those with difficult lives outside of school have a particularly rough time—often shutting down, staring off into space, or engaging in serious misbehavior. A classroom is only as peaceful as the teacher in charge. You set the tone with your calm presence, even reactions, and pleasant attitude.

Additional Resources:
  1. How To Make Classroom Management Sticky
  2. Why Routines Make Classroom Management Easier; Plus One Great Idea
  3. Small Gestures Of Praise Can Make A Big Impact
  4. How To Make Time-Out A Stronger Consequence
  5. The Biggest First Day Of School Mistake You Can Make

Smart Classroom Management
by Michael Linsin on November 19, 2011

Teacher Tips

Here's how you can provide the safety and predictability that children need:
  • Keep the first few weeks of school simple. Repeat the schedule and rules many times. Once a child feels comfortable with the school day, flexibility and change can more easily be introduced.
  • Be predicable in your interactions with children. This is more important than the number of minutes spent in each activity.
  • Be attuned to each child's overload point. Let children find some space and solitude when they seem to be overwhelmed.
  • Find time during the day for quiet. Solitude allows the brain to "catch up" and process the new experiences of the day. This leads to better consolidation of new experience and better learning.
  • Keep the first challenges light and the praise heavy. Confidence and pleasure come from success. Let everyone succeed at something.
  • Emphasize the importance of good nutrition and proper bed rest. Children cannot learn when they are hungry or tired. Also, let parents know that their children are likely to be more irritable at home, will need more sleep, and will need some "decompression" time at home after school. Remind them that even pleasant experiences can be stressful.
  • Remember that you make all the difference. These first experiences with school can help reinforce a child's curiosity and love of learning. You create the emotional and social climate of safety that makes your classroom a place for optimal learning.

from "Creating an Emotionally Safe Classroom by Dr. Bruce Perry

Starting the School Year - Building Community


A successful classroom community promotes positive social skills and academic achievement. Children learn best when they feel they are part of a community, where everyone feels accepted and where individuality is encouraged. Creating a Classroom Community requires planning and practice. Read how you can help foster a sense of belonging where children learn how to participate in class meetings, work collaboratively and resolve conflicts peacefully.


Be A Good Friend

Woof! Woof!: The focus of this lesson is to encourage awareness of good manners through literature and creative expression.
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Building Bridges of Friendship

Presents a unit on friendship that involves music, crafts, teamwork activities, and identifying shared values and interests.
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Help For "They Won't Let Me Play with Them!"

Student talk about what behaviors, attitudes, and actions they think contribute to a climate of caring in the classroom, and play games that reinforce these values.
Read More
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Big Friends, Little Friends

Younger and older students are paired to work on team projects and play games.
Read More
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8 Ways to Welcome Students

Third grade teacher Marissa Ochoa explains how she makes students feel welcome and motivated them for the year ahead.
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Building Community in the Classroom

Ellen Booth Church discusses the different elements that help to create a sense of community in the classroom at the beginning of the year.
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Lesson Plans

New to School Student Booklets

Presents a fun getting-to-know-you classroom activity, where students make their own books out of supplied paper shapes and strips of pre-typed text.
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Portrait of a Friend

Students get to know themselves and their classmates by filling in the blanks to create a mini-biography.
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Aloha and Welcome Back

Take a tropical approach to the start of the school year as students learn about our 50th state, get to know each other, and establish classroom expectations.
Read More

Time to Rhyme

An activity plan for teachers of four and five year olds to do with their students.
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Move and Make Friends

An activity plan for teachers of preschool aged children.
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//Do You Want to Be My Friend?// Lesson Plan

Children love Eric Carle's colorful illustrations and animal characters in Do You Want to Be My Friend?. I do an author study with my class; my students love making painted paper in the style of Eric Carle and having their own book to bring home.
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Unit Plans

Come Explore Your Neighborhood

Use this lesson to teach your students the value of friendship and community. Discuss friendship and introduce students to the community around them with walks and mapping and modeling projects.
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from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collection/creating-classroom-community-0

The following links have some great back-to-school and first weeks of school ideas to create and foster a safe haven.

Back to School Ideas
Welcome back ideas
Off to a Great Start!
Great Beginnings
Welcome Back to School
More Back-to-school ideas
Icebreakers & other resources
Icebreakers Galore!