Classroom Management


General Principles

Instructors are encouraged to evolve a classroom management style that is based on national best practices, but also allows for their personal style. There are few rules to follow, as personal styles vary so widely. First time instructors might consider the following list to be a worthwhile starting point: interact with students in a way that suggests you are an ally for their learning, enforce policies in a manner that is friendly but firm, de-escalate tense situations instead of reacting defensively, and if all else fails, fall back on the principle of fairness to decide whether a given course of action is warranted.

Academic Integrity

If discovered, academic misconduct or dishonesty of any kind should be reported. Cheating should be discouraged during class assessments by maintaining vigilance, roaming the room, and constructing tests that discourage basic cheat sheets. Plagiarism can be detected — and thus hopefully prevented entirely — by using the system Turnitin, an external tool in Canvas.


Some of the roles an instructor occasionally fill include that of mentor, adviser, and counselor. Peruse the following websites that offer resources for students at USF if you wish to familiarize yourself with the network of support here. When students come to you with personal problems, it may be because they trust you and because they may not feel comfortable talking to anyone else. You will want to know how to change roles smoothly and how to maintain objectivity and careful boundaries. And you will want to know where to refer students when their needs lie outside of your legal and ethical terrain. Any concerns in these areas must be directed to the appropriate office. For example, without written instructions from Student Accessibility Services (SAS), you should not make adjustments to accommodate a student who informs you of their special needs. You should politely refer them to SAS, who will then instruct you how to proceed. Also, you should know that if a student becomes distraught in your class or your office, you have the right (and responsibility) to refer them to the Counseling Center. In fact, you may offer to accompany them there, but you are not obligated to be the person to solve their problems.

Has a student come to you with a problem and you're not sure where to send them? Click here to access a flowchart you can use to identify the appropriate USF student resource office.

Here are some additional links to a variety of USF campus student services:

Non-native Speakers

Non-native speakers face unique challenges in classroom management and should take care to speak clearly and slowly whenever possible. Writing on the board helps, as does simply exaggerating movements of the mouth, lips, and tongue when speaking English. It is always best to face the audience when speaking, as the ability to see lips in motion makes language easier for all audiences.

USF Policies

The USF Student Code of Conduct applies to all members of the USF community, whether specific policies are reinforced on the syllabus or not.

Escalation of Response

Ways to respond to "interfering behavior" are as follows –

  • Use proactive classroom management (the procedures, strategies, and instructional techniques teachers use to manage student behavior and learning activities) and/or seek advice from a colleague, department chair or ATLE.
  • Immediately deal with disruptive behavior. Ignoring the behavior will likely cause it to escalate.
  • If a student's behavior is irritating but not particularly disruptive, consider a private meeting after class.
  • If it is necessary to deal with a student's behavior during class, calmly but firmly inform the student that the behavior is disruptive and ask that it stop. If the student continues the disruptive behavior despite this warning, the student should then be asked to leave.
  • If the student refuses to leave, the situation has escalated to "uncomfortable"

Ways to respond to "uncomfortable behavior" are as follows –

  • Use a calm, non-confrontational approach to defuse the situation
  • Maintain a safe distance and do not turn your back to the student
  • Do not let the student get between you and the door
  • Unless you are under physical attack, do not touch the student or the student's belongings
  • Know your limitations, handle the situation if you can, but don't hesitate to reach out for help
  • While it is not usually necessary to dismiss class to deal with the uncomfortable situation, you may elect to do so if you feel that the situation can be most effectively resolved that way
  • Document all incidents thoroughly and notify your Dean/Director; call the University Police if you feel unsafe

In addition to the above, you can also formally initiate the steps outlined in the USF Regulation 3.025 "Disruption of the Academic Process": http://regulationspolicies.usf.edu/regulations/pdfs/regulation-usf3.025.pdf

Best Practices from YouTube

The following YouTube videos contain some valuable, practical wisdom related to classroom management: