Be fair and consistent in enforcing your rules. What you never want to be guilty of is being seen as unfair. Also, keep rules to a minimum and not too wordy:)
One last suggestion is to talk to teachers who seem to have rules down pat. Observe them in their classes and take notes.
I wish you lots of luck and enjoyment in this profession that you have chosen. I can't say that I am an authority on discipline management skills but I do have a policy that seems to work for my. As many have said the key to good management in any field is consistency and fairness. Regardless of the student or the number of times of an infraction I treat each the same way. As humans it takes some of us longer to learn what we are supposed to do or what is expected of us. There are some that come with trust issues and will test to see if you will do as you say you would. I don't make it a policy to send them to the office. I personally feel that I am having the problem therefore I need to find the solution. I treat students as I wish them to treat me. I treat them with respect and acknowledge when I have made a mistake and have myself shown what I deem inappropriate reactions ie blowing steam. <smile>. We all get many chances to correct our behavior and have some rights in the workplace and in general society to correct those faults. I've seen treat students the way they would rebel if they were treated the same way. I don't make it a power issue. I found five rules that I have in my classroom that I have put my own spin on. Can't remember where I got them but they do seem to work.
1. Don't touch anyone for any reason. (What is okay today may not be okay tomorrow as each persons feeling and tolerance changes from day to day.
2. Don't touch anyone else's property. It's not yours.
4. Respect everyone and their property.
5. Keep the teacher happy. If the teacher is happy everyone is happy. If the teacher is not happy no one else will be either. (The most important rule. They really like this one as it adds some humor to the class.)
I teach in a computer lab setting so they like this class. That always helps. But there are times when they bring issues from other classes into mine. I tell them that I can't control what is happening in the outside world but I can take care of whats in mine. Respect me as I respect you.
Hope this helps some. The main thing to remember is that you will have to develop your own style and methods that best work for you. There is not a one style for all system as students change daily much less from year to year. Again good luck! Sorry for the book :D.
Kelly, you have received a wealth of information here so far; numerous management suggestions and methods. Can I just offer you some suggestions on your character in the class. It is invaluable that your students see you as an authentic teacher / leaser in the classroom. Make sure your students are aware of your values (expectations), your intentions (concsequences, positive and negative), your practices (how you want your classroom to function for the betterment of everyone in the class, and your accomplishments (that you want them to achieve and succeed and that will look different for every student). Let them know you care, you are authentic, you are flexible and you are 'in it' for them and nothing else. You will have their respect and behaviour. That is not to say you won't have students testing your limits or behaving inappropriately, but these incidents will be diminished and you will get throug it. Good luck!