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Do You Need a Classroom Management Checklist?

To ensure they don't overlook the basics, educators in the U.K. are being encouraged to make use of an offical checklist for managing student behavior.

The idea for the checklist, developed by a school administrator who is also a government education adviser, was influenced by the work of oft-cited surgeon/writer Atul Gawande. To reduce common surgical errors, Gawande has helped develop and bring attention to a procedural checklist for hospital OR teams.

The U.K.'s student-behavior checklist, titled "Getting the Simple Things Right," includes sections for both school administrators and teachers. Educators are encouraged to run through it first thing in the morning and then again in the afternoon.

Among the items on the list are meeting and greeting students when they arrive in the classroom, making sure school rules are prominently displayed, and following through consistently on established rewards and punishments.

"As a head teacher, I know that where there is inconsistency in schools, children are more likely to push the boundaries," says Charlie Taylor, the checklist's creator.

Incidentally, this is not the first time we've seen Gawande's checklist concept applied to education. Last month, we published a much-visited article by a school-tutoring coordinator who has developed a checklist for reading interventions.

You could also see how the checklist idea might dovetail nicely with Doug Lemov's "Teach Like a Champion" techniques or, dare I say, with teacher evaluation reforms. An important note of caution, however: Gawande himself specifically emphasizes that, to be effective, checklists must be kept short and simple. There's a difference between a checklist and a complicated rubric.

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