Mindful Classroom Management – As easy as 1-2-3-4-5!

Mindful Classroom Management – As Easy as 1-2-3-4-5!!

Every year at the beginning of the year, students are expected to make a Social Contract with each of their teachers.  Students brainstorm a list of do’s and don’ts for the class and then each students signs it in agreement.  I love students who take the initiative in their own learning process, but I started to notice that the items the students listed were the same ones, over and over again.  Be Respectful, Be Prepared, Come to Class on Time, etc… Obviously, they already knew what behaviors are expected in class.

I decided to try something different.  Instead of Class Rules, I have Classroom Expectations.  I number them 1 to 5 and they are as follows:

1.  Be Mindful
2.  Be Positive
3.  Be Careful With Your Words (especially about yourself)
4.  Do Your Best
5.  Take a Breath

Like any classroom management technique, the establishment of these rules takes a little time, but once in full effect, it makes the classroom a pleasant and productive place.

My Classroom Expectations are based on a number system. When a student is distracted, not on task, or acting inappropriate, I redirect their behavior by saying to them the number that corresponds with the behavior that is causing them to go off task.

NNumber 1: Be Mindful.  I have found out that when I say the word mindful, students have different interpretations of this word.  Some students think it means to stay on task, while others think it’s having a happy and positive attitude.  In the classroom, Be Mindful, is self-reflective.  It’s a reminder for the students to be present and focused on the task at hand.  It also means to be mindful of your surroundings and the other people around you.  Per their Social Contract, students know what the appropriate behaviors and expectations are for the classroom.  Any behavior that deviates from that is considered them not being mindful of what is expected of them.

 Example:  I walk around the room and see a student off task and on a website that doesn’t have to do with the assignment.  I’ll say to that student, “Number 1.  Be mindful of where you are and what you’re expected to be doing right now.”  The student acknowledges they are off task and switch back to doing the assignment.  It really is that easy.

Now, how many times do you I have to do this?  At the beginning of the year, quite a bit, by the end of the year, very seldom.

Number 2:  Be Positive.  Now we all know it’s impossible to be positive and cheerful 100% of the time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reinforce positive behaviors and language in the classroom.  After many years of teaching, I have noticed that there are many students who are just negative. These are the children who are always complaining.  They walk around all day annoyed and make negative comments about all activities. If you give 10 questions of work, they are the ones who moan and say it’s too many questions.  This can really suck the energy out of fun classroom activities and lessons. Number 2 can solve this.  If a child has a legitimate problem or issue, of course, they can come to me with it, but complaining just to complain is a no-no.  When students display this behave I redirect them saying, “Number 2.” I also use this if they make negative comments about other students.

Number 3:  Be Careful With Your Words, Especially About Yourself! How often as teachers do we hear students have negative self-talk?  “I’m dumb. I can’t do it. I’m going to fail this test.”  These are just a few examples of thing I hear every day.  As educators, we already know how detrimental this is to student learning and achievement. We have an entire mini-lesson on this before we implement this class expectation.

Most times when students make negative or inappropriate comments, I combine the numbers. Especially if one student is making a negative comment about another student.  In that case, I may say, “1, 2 and 3.”  That means the child is 1, not being mindful of where they are and the expectations that are required for the class (not talking out of turn, not being respectful of others, etc…), 2, they are not being positive and making negative comments, and 3, they are not being careful with their words to others.

Number 4:  Do Your Best!  This is obvious.  This can be used in a number of scenarios.  Right before tests and quizzes, when working on projects, group work, plays, etc….  When a student asks me what I want out of their classwork, I always say “Number 4. Your Best Work!!”

Number 5:  Take a Breath.  If you teach at any type of school, you know that students may have times when they become upset or over-emotional.  This is a reminder that they have the ability to SELF REGULATE!!  By taking a breath, they re-direct themselves and are able to calm themselves down.  Works almost every time.


At the beginning of the school year, I have to redirect behavior quite a bit as students get used to me and my classroom management style. The importance of this management technique is to ensure that you practice this consistently and you have a plan if the behavior escalates.

NOW, THE BEST PART….. after a month, the students begin to self-monitor their own behavior.  If a student calls them a name or makes a comment that is negative or inappropriate, I can hear “That’s 1, 2, or 3” coming from the other students in the class. That to me is the best part of this system.  They not only know what the expectations are, but they reinforce positive classroom behavior among their peers. I couldn’t believe it myself when it first started happening, but year after year, I would hear students calling out numbers to other students in order to ensure positive classroom interactions and behavior.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me over the years.  If you are interested in other ways to bring mindful skills into your classroom, please follow read my other blog postings.  I also have One-Minute Mindfulness Cards that I use in the classroom to start or end the periods, or while transitioning between “double” periods.  Check them out at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store The Mindful English Classroom or my Etsy store

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