Match Minis drawing of teacher and students

Keeping A Proactive Management Mentality

April 2, 2019 / by Match Minis

Many teachers are resigned to one unfortunate truth: minor misbehavior happens in every classroom. No matter how hard you try, there will always be an unruly student or two to derail your carefully crafted lesson. But what if you could develop a set of moves that would stop disruptive behavior in its tracks?

Match Minis Proactive Management for Unruly Students

Proactive classroom management is all about the “behind the scenes,” invisible moves employed by teachers to stop misbehavior before it starts. It all rests on a few key beliefs about management, which a teacher should always keep at the back of her mind.

The teacher is the ultimate authority in the classroom.

Match Minis: The Proactive Management Mentality

Making decisions for other people’s children can feel like a huge and scary responsibility. But a teacher’s job is to drive learning, and that learning won’t happen unless you’re willing to make — and stick to — decisions about classroom expectations.

Students must be meeting expectations 100% of the time.

Match Minis: Proactive Management Mentality

This principle might feel like overkill, and it can be tempting to want to settle for 90% of students meeting expectations. But that 90% still leaves two or three kids who aren’t learning, and letting their misbehavior slide might send a message to other students that your rules are optional.

But 100% doesn’t mean being a tyrant! It simply means that you expect students to follow directions, notice when they do or when they don’t, and give positive or negative feedback accordingly.

Hold students to expectations from Day 1.

Match Minis: Proactive Management Mentality

Teaching a school year isn’t a typical marathon. If a teacher isn’t out in front from day 1, it will take a huge amount of effort to escape from small misbehaviors. If you’re constantly playing catchup, you’ll be losing hours of valuable learning time — so be sure to get a head start.

Set a manageable and clear list of non-negotiables.

Match Minis: Proactive Management Mentality

Proactive management starts with making thoughtful decisions about which expectations you will hold onto firmly. But if you’re demanding 100% compliance on these non-negotiables, be sure to keep the list short: too many rules will force you to divert too much attention from your classroom.

Issue reminders and make it clear that you’re noticing students.

Match Minis: Proactive Management Mentality

It’s important to ensure that students are fully aware of the expectations that they are being held to. Visual and verbal reminders are a great way to do this. They will also help you cut down on the time spent deciding whether a student is confused about what they’re expected to do, or consciously choosing not to meet an expectation. It’s also helpful to make students noticed by calling out their positive and negative behaviors throughout the lesson.


While our ​Match Mini ​is a good introduction to the key principles of keeping a proactive management mentality, there’s still plenty more to learn about how to preemptively curb students’ misbehavior. Check out our online ​Match Schoolhouse​ course, ​Proactive Classroom Management​, for a deep dive into the invisible moves that help teachers head off challenging student behaviors!

Match Minis Proactive Classroom Management: Lessons, Videos & More

Topics: Professional Learning, New Teachers, Class Culture, Differentiation, Engagement

Match Minis

Written by Match Minis

Match Education is an education reform non-profit organization in Boston comprised of a free public K-12 charter school, a graduate school of education, and a series of open-source resources for teachers. The latter is our effort to share our knowledge with educators everywhere, predominantly through free online resources: Match Minis, Match Fishtank, and Match Schoolhouse. Match Minis is a website offering short, animated videos on teaching and coaching teachers. Match Fishtank is our free K-12 curriculum website offering common-core-aligned lesson plans in math and ELA, instructional guides, assessments, and much more. Match Schoolhouse is our take on a new kind of professional development, providing short, on-demand online courses for busy teachers.

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