Theme – Classroom management

Classroom management is a broad term for a range of practices and strategies used by teachers to build quality relationships with each of their students, and foster a safe, positive and stimulating learning environment.

Well-managed classrooms maintain a positive classroom climate that maximises effective learning time and encourages on-task positive learning behaviours, where disengagement and disruptions are addressed in a timely and appropriate manner.

Practical strategies for classroom management

What works best in practice (pages 25-28) provides teachers with key strategies on how to:

  • develop high-quality student-teacher relationships
  • provide structure, predictability, and opportunities for active student participation in the classroom
  • actively supervise students to keep them on task
  • respond to disengagement and disruptive behaviours and support students to re-engage in learning.

The reflection toolkit (page 7) provides a framework and support to teachers when implementing these evidence-based strategies.

Video conversation with Strathfield Girls High School

In this video, Mark Scott, former Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, discusses what effective classroom management looks like in practice with Strathfield Girls High School principal, Angela Lyris, and students.

Strathfield Girls High School and classroom management

Mark Scott:

Well, I’m here talking with Angela Lyris, the Principal of Strathfield Girls High School, and students from the school, about classroom management, which is one of the ‘What works best’ themes. And we’re going to talk about how classroom management looks in practice at their school. Hi, Angela. Tell me, what does a well-managed classroom look like, and why is classroom management so important?

Angela Lyris:

Hi Mark. Firstly, I’d like to start by saying that a well-managed classroom has a positive learning environment that inspires all students to achieve their personal best in the learning process. Also, it’s about every student maximising their learning time in every classroom where every teacher ensures that every student in the classroom is engaged and actively participating in the lesson. I strongly believe there are some key factors that you would see as a casual observer in any classroom where well-managed classrooms exist. And one of the first things that you would see would be a clearly defined learning intent from the outset of the lesson; the teaching having established the learning context; the students understanding clearly what is going to be achieve during the lesson.

But the most important thing that I think as educators, and what I strive for as leader at Strathfield Girls High School to do, is to build those positive relationships where the students and the Teachers are working together to achieve the best for the student.

Mark Scott:

How do you know if students are actively engaged in learning? And how do the teachers at Strathfield Girls address student disengagement?

Angela Lyris:

Like every school, we have a discipline policy, and it is our expectation that our students engage. We call it “commitment to learning.” So, at the beginning of every academic year as Principal, I take every cohort through our expectations.

We used the traffic light system where green means the student has achieved growth, and we’ve used the amber system which means there has been some growth but not sufficient. And the red means that we need to put some intervention strategies in place and we need to get our specialist teachers to support us in providing that additional support for students who have not at the moment progressed in the learning process as we have expected.

A lot of our students in today’s society, they come to school, school’s the only safe place, and they want somebody to be able to support them with the other issues that they are currently facing. How you communicate that information effectively to the rest of the staff where a student doesn't feel in any way that everybody knows what is happening in their life, but they are able to engage in the learning process after you have addressed the wellbeing issues.

Mark Scott:

Let’s talk about learning at Strathfield Girls. How do your teachers create and maintain a positive learning environment?

Annabelle Knight:

So, the teachers at Strathfield Girls High School are extremely dedicated and enthusiastic in their subjects. They go above and beyond to provide us with opportunities to excel, and they like to make sure that we understand the content and skills taught in class really well. The teachers at Strathfield Girls High School, my teachers, are so supportive and encouraging, and they put so much effort into making sure each and every single student in the classroom feels like they belong. So, for example, the teachers will often encourage girls to speak up and express their own personal opinions, and by doing this, they cultivate individual development and they can create meaningful conversations within the classroom.

Mark Scott:

How do your teachers work to keep you all on task on the job at hand, the work at hand, the work that needs to be done?

Sofia Nolan:

At the end of every topic we do, our Teachers normally get us to do an evaluation of what we thought we liked, what we enjoyed, what we might want to change next time, and what we really found interesting. So, for the next students and the next topic we can do, they will add those points in to the curriculum. So, everything is quite tailored to us, so we know what we’re doing and we can enjoy it a lot.

Mark Scott:

We want to improve teaching practice, school planning and see improvement across NSW education. There’s a lot more information available for you about ‘What works best’ in the NSW Department of Education website.

Podcast with Strathfield Girls High School

Listen to the full conversation of Mark Scott and Strathfield Girls High School.

Registered professional learning

Access the Classroom management course on MyPL

Other resources


  • Teaching and learning
  • Teaching and learning practices
  • What works best

Business Unit:

  • Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
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