Never Turn Your Back and Other Classroom Management Tips

new teacher overwhelmed

Never Turn Your Back and Other Classroom Management Tips

By guest blogger, Susan Labadi,, Promoting Positive Muslim Identity and the Halal Lifestyle for Islamic Schools

Originally published here.
new teacher overwhelmed


The principal called me down to her office. I was a new teacher and my stomach sunk because I knew it had to mean bad news. Sure enough, “I received a complaint,” she stated with a prim tone. “Apparently, boys and girls are passing notes with their emails to each other in your 8th-grade class.” 

I was embarrassed and confused because I’d had no idea of these shenanigans, and my conservative parochial school strictly forbade such interactions. Although classes were coed, the genders were segregated to opposite sides of the classroom, or trailer, as it happened to be. Her final, stern warning to me was, “Never turn your back!” I thought, how am I going to write the notes on the board?

Necessity required me to use an overhead projector with transparencies that I’d written prior to class, and I was sure to keep walking, that is, patrolling while I taught the class in this manner. Later, with the advent of LCD projectors in class and laptop hookups, this became standard procedure even with the new technologies. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Getting the knack for class management was hard-earned, but I’m happy to share my insight and pro tips in these early days of school. Back in the day, I’d be up past midnight researching the internet and reading books to help me survive. Today, I give teachers the following advice:

  1. Be the benevolent dictator but be nice. Later, you can gauge to what degree of informality you’re comfortable with.
  2. Insist on your organizational protocols from the first day.
  3. Let your lesson plan be your sacred guide and DO NOT TEACH IF YOU DO NOT HAVE THEIR ATTENTION.
  4. Keep students very busy throughout class-this is why you need great lesson plans. Make each moment count to benefit their education.
  5. Always have a substitute file in case you drop dead, get sick, or have an emergency.
  6. Keep a few easy to apply sponge activities, art supplies, and board games as Preferred Activity Time (PAT) options.
  7. When beginning a new school year, take time to get to know your students as individuals. Ask about what they like to do in their free time, and don’t judge.
  8. Give opportunities for collaborative work as a reward for cooperative behavior. Observe the dynamics to determine alliances and personalities.

Stay tuned for more tips on starting your school year right. Each week we’ll plan to share more from the trenches. Meanwhile, ya gotta love ‘em! Sign up for weekly tips at

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