Building a Strong Classroom Culture

Why is building a strong classroom culture important?

Taking the time at the beginning of the year to build strong classroom culture including clear expectations for classroom routines, mutual respect and student engagement, will ultimately save instructional time and save you from frustration. We use Doug Lemov's Teach Like A Champion 2.0 as our anchor text for this section. The following techniques will help to establish consistent norms across the school and make year-to-year transitions seamless. 


Numbered Lines & Threshold (Teach Like a Champion)

Tight Transitions

Engineer Efficiency (Teach Like a Champion)

Teachers greet students at the threshold during each transition. 

Four-step timed transitions ensure a timely and orderly passage. 

When all of your routines are well engineered, that clarity saves instructional time.

Strong Start (Teach Like a Champion)

Materials Management

Do It Again (Teach Like a Champion)

Avoid idle time be ensuring students know exactly what to do when they sit down. 

Having materials at the ready allows for more teaching and learning time. 

If you don't get 100% participation, do it again so the expectation is clear and enforced. 


Work the Clock (Teach Like a Champion)

Seat Signals


Make urgency fun by using a timer. Add competition to up the engagement.  


Seat signals help students communicate their needs without slowing down the lesson. 


Mutual Respect

Classroom Rules

SLANT​  (Teach Like a Champion)

Strong Voice​  (Teach Like a Champion)

Keeping a set of basic and consistent rules throughout the school helps unify culture. 

Respectful listening and discussion participation is essential now in in their future. 

Wait for 100% instead of talking over student chatter or disengagement. 

Manage Callouts

Precise Praise (Teach Like a Champion)

Least Invasive Intervention  (Teach Like a Champion)

When asking students a question avoid blurt outs by specifying how you'd like it answered. 

Generously praise students for anything they are doing that exemplifies your expectations. 

Hold students accountable as discreetly as possible, avoiding embarrassment.


Positive Framing (Teach Like a Champion)

Culture of Error (Teach Like a Champion)


Assume positive intent, even when a norm is being broken, and frame it as such. 

Create a classroom culture where mistakes are opportunities to learn. 



Radar/ Be Seen Looking (Teach Like a Champion)

Circulate (Teach Like a Champion)

Mirror Words  (Whole Brain Teaching)

Constantly and overtly scan the room for disengagement so you can intervene. 

Ensure students are engaged. Use proximity to address disengagement as needed. 

Promote engagement using gestures and call & response during directions and key ideas. 

Turn & Talk (Teach Like a Champion)

Cold Call (Teach Like a Champion)

Change the Pace  (Teach Like a Champion)

Break disengagement, promote oral language and check for understanding using turn & talk. 

Keep students engaged by randomizing or using data to choose who to call on. 

Engage students by changing things up frequently. Even reading!

Call & Response (Teach Like a Champion)

Attention Grabbers 

Joy Factor/ Gamify  (Teach Like a Champion)

Let all students fill in the "blank" chorally to change the pace. 

Bring the class back from an activity

or turn and talk with a variety of techniques. 

A joyful staff results in joyful students who want to come to school.


Guide from the Side (Teach Like a Champion)



Promote autonomy and leadership by allowing students to lead their learning.