Classroom management: Creating and maintaining positive learning environments

This literature review was originally published 09 January 2020.

Image: Classroom management


The literature review defines classroom management and provides a brief overview of classroom management research. It also describes the characteristics of effective classroom management strategies and how schools can best support teachers when implementing them.

Classroom management refers to the strategies teachers use to support and facilitate learning in the classroom. Effective classroom management is important for student achievement because it creates an environment that minimises disruptions, maximises instruction time, and encourages students to engage in learning.

The evidence suggests that classroom management requires both preventative and responsive strategies, with an emphasis on preventative strategies.

Preventative strategies are proactive and encourage students to be on-task, motivated to learn, and prosocial. Effective preventative strategies include:

  • creating and maintaining a positive classroom climate
  • using structured instruction to engage students in learning
  • explicitly teaching students rules and routines
  • offering pre-corrections to remind students of expectations
  • using active supervision in the classroom.

Responsive strategies include corrective responses to inappropriate behaviours. They support students to re-engage in learning. Effective corrective practices:

  • identify why the student is disengaged or being disruptive
  • ensure the student understands the corrective response
  • are consistent and expected
  • are given calmly
  • are proportionate to the level of behaviour displayed.

Purpose of resource

The Classroom management: Creating and maintaining positive learning environments resource provides a brief overview of classroom management research. It describes the characteristics of effective classroom management strategies and how schools can best support teachers when applying them.

When and how to use

The resource is a literature review and is accompanied by a discussion guide. School leaders and teachers can read, reflect on, discuss and implement themes and strategies highlighted in the literature review as part of school-developed High Impact Professional Learning (HIPL).

The appropriate time to use this resource may differ for each school, leader and teacher.

School leaders can:

  • unpack the literature review, using the discussion guide, as part of whole-school professional development and/or stage or grade team meetings
  • encourage teachers to share key findings during professional development
  • reflect on strategies, policies or practices currently in place to create and maintain positive learning environments
  • lead discussions with staff about areas to improve across the school · display the Classroom management poster
  • support staff to find connections between What works best, the School Excellence Framework and the strategies contained in the literature review.

Teachers can:

  • read the literature review or summary and reflect on current practice · unpack the literature review, using the accompanying discussion guide, in a group setting
  • identify strategies and practices in the literature review to apply that will improve classroom management and student learning
  • reflect on the impact of the applied strategies.


Email feedback about this resource to using subject line ‘Re: Classroom management: Creating and maintaining positive learning environments’. You can also subscribe to the CESE newsletter and connect with us on Yammer.

Alignment to system priorities and/or needs: NSW Department of Education Strategic Plan 2018-2023 – ‘Every student is engaged and challenged to continue to learn, and every student, every teacher, every leader and every school improves every year’

Alignment to School Excellence Framework: Teaching domain – effective classroom practice (classroom management); Learning domain – wellbeing (a planned approach to wellbeing, behaviour)

Alignment with existing frameworks: Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – Standard 4: Create and maintain supportive and safe learning environments

What works best – classroom management NSW Wellbeing Framework for Schools – Thrive: ‘Student learning takes place in an environment which fosters and develops choice, accomplishment, positive relationships, enjoyment, growth, health and safety’

Reviewed by: Learning and Teaching, Learning and Wellbeing, and Teaching Quality directorates; directors, educational leadership (DELs)

Created/last updated: Originally published 9 January 2020

To be reviewed: CESE publications are prepared through a rigorous process. Resources are reviewed periodically as part of an ongoing evaluation plan.


  • Literature review
  • Teaching and learning practices

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
Return to top of page Back to top