I’ve had to deal with some fairly awfully-behaved classes in my teaching life. At the same time as I don’t profess to be an expert on behaviour management, I have found that the strategies mentioned below have helped settle classes and bring them into line. These ten tips aren’t the beginning and end of sorting out classroom behaviour, but implementing them should lead to some kind of improvement!
1. Don’t shout: Absolutely fundamental. Shouting is what you do to give people a short, sharp shock and, as such, should be used rarely but to good effect. If you shout every lesson at a class then they will ignore you in the end.
2. Teach well: It’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking that if pupils aren’t doing their best for you, then why should you do your best for them? Although it may not be politically correct in the teaching world to say so, the quality of your teaching has a direct influence on the behaviour of your class. Obvious really, but it may explain why that class who you always give worksheets to in order to ‘keep them quiet’ always play up.
3. Smile: Many pupils I come across have fairly dreadful home lives, from what I overhear and what they tell me. If you always greet them with a smile on your face – no matter what their behaviour was like in the previous lesson – then they are more likely to look forward to being around you. This has obvious repercussions for how they will behave in your lessons.
4. Mean what you say: If you tell a pupil that if they do x then y will happen as a result and they subsequently do x, then y must happen – no matter how sorry they are. Pupils must learn the causal link between their behaviour and your sanctions.
5. No ‘earning back’ time: Help pupils to understand the difference between good behaviour and bad behaviour by separating them out. Praise them for the good and reward them for the bad, but don’t get them mixed up. By allowing children to ‘earn back’ the time that you intend to detain them encourages them to ‘play the system’ and act awfully at the beginning of the lesson and then rush their work off at the end. Apologise if necessary, but stress that their actions have certain consequences which you will either reward or punish.
6. Make your classroom your own: Children should feel comfortable in your classroom but also realise that when they enter your classroom they are entering your domain where your rules apply. Do this by having a seating plan (but allowing them to choose their own groups/partners from time-to-time), making the area round your desk a special area, having a place for everything, and so on.
7. Be consistent: Consistency is a very important quality in a teacher. Many children may be used to an inconsistent adult figure of authority in their home life, one that their persistence may break down. No matter how you feel, how much a class is wearing you down, be consistent in the standards of behaviour and work you expect from them. Inevitably, you will have to meet them somewhere in between what they want to do and what you want, but make sure it’s closer to your end of the spectrum!
8. Give them a fresh start: Tell pupils right at the beginning that every lesson with you is a fresh start. Tell them that you’ve got a selective/defective memory and that you only remember the good things that happened. Emphasize this through smiling and not reminding pupils of their previous bad behaviour. Expect that they will behave well and express your disappointment if they don’t.
9. Separate behaviour and personality: Make students see that you ‘like them as a person’; you ‘don’t like their behaviour’. Everyone wants to be liked, so give pupils a chance to be liked by you ‘even more’ by showing them the difference between their behaviour and their personality. Tell them how it makes you feel when they behave in a certain way if necessary. Make them think that you think that they’re, at heart, different than the behaviour they’re exhibiting.
10. Get parents involved: Although students will, inevitably, tell you that they don’t care if their parents are informed of their behaviour, they will be. Even the most irresponsible and uninterested parent doesn’t like to be asked to come into school to discuss their child’s behaviour. Threaten this and carry it out with the most persistent offenders. When you meet their parents, work out 2-3 targets for them to achieve even as they’re ‘on report’ to you. Contact parents weekly to inform them of their son/daughter’s progress. Watch the rest of the class come into line.
Read, Learn & Flourish!
For your success & Glory!