Argh! I’ve always found that self-doubt sets in as I approach a new term!… ‘Will I remember how to do my job?!’ When you’ve been on holiday a long time, it’s easy to worry that you’ve forgotten how to teach! All my teacher friends say they experience the same feeling. Even the head teachers!
One of the most common things teachers worry about before meeting a new class is behaviour management. After a summer of battling with their own kids, even the most experienced teacher can find themselves wondering “Why would a classful of youngsters obey me when I can’t even get my own kids to get out of the paddling pool?!”
So to get you strutting with confidence into your first lesson, here are 8 tips for brilliant behaviour management that you can use in every lesson!
1. R.I.P. (Reprimand in Private!)
Whenever possible, speak privately to a disruptive learner about the effect of their behaviour. This minimizes disruption to the session and ensures that the undesirable behaviour doesn’t receive loads of attention from the whole group. It’s important that the teacher’s intervention doesn’t cause more of a distraction than the pupil’s behaviour did in the first place!
2. K.I.P. (Keep Instructions Positive!)
Never ask pointless questions like “Why are you doing that?” as this can easily elicit an equally pointless answer. Instead, motivate the learner to focus by giving a clear positive instruction. “Put the bin down and see if you can beat your personal best in the next 10 minutes”. This is significantly more motivational than, “Stop placing the bin on your head!” or “Why are you wearing the bin as a hat, again?” A clear, positively-phrased instruction reduces the potential for time-wasting retorts from a pupil, such as, “James told me to!” or “Because my head is cold!”
3. A.R.T. (Allow Response Time!)
After giving a positive instruction, don’t expect a learner to become immediately motivated before your very eyes. A disruptive pupil will be less likely to comply under a confrontational glare – because it makes them feel more combative. Instead, just end your instruction with, “thanks” and turn your attention back to your lesson and to the rest of the group. This communicates your confidence that the pupil will do as asked, and sort of convinces the pupil that they’re destined to comply! You may find it’s useful to temporarily move away from the pupil entirely – focusing instead on the rest of the class, allowing the pupil to take up your advice and make the sensible choice.
4. S.O.S (Start off Soft!)
Use your voice to inspire intrigue. Remember the volume you start the lesson at tends to be the STARTING volume that gets set for everyone for the rest of the lesson! Pupils usually only get louder than the teacher – rarely quieter! Start as quietly and as engagingly as you can. If you’ve ordered a timed period of silence to increase productivity, don’t undermine this instruction by allowing quiet talk. Instead, insist on total silence, and support it by whispering any necessary instructions during this time.
5. A.P.R. (Ask Pupil for the Rule!)
If a rule is being broken by a combative pupil, instead of initiating confrontation by starting with a direct command or publicly pointing out the transgression, try the following privately:
“Gemma, what is the school rule about earrings?”
This technique gets the pupil to acknowledge the rule and it emphasizes that the interaction is not a personal grudge between you and them.
6. M.A.G. (Meet and Greet!)
Greet each pupil as they enter your classroom; make eye contact and say hello. Smile openly. Doing this simple act reinforces a positive relationship between you and each pupil and increases the likelihood that subsequent interactions between you both will be mutually respectful.
7. P.I.P. (Praise in Public!)
Show attention-hungry pupils that what gets air-time in your classroom is positive contribution. Flag up, celebrate and reward the positives that are happening all around you all the time! Do this whenever possible, but especially when there is any disruptive behaviour threatening to disturb learning. By brazenly focusing your attention and praise on what is going well, you draw attention away from poor behaviour, thereby making it less likely to arise.
8. C.A.R. (Calm and Relaxed!)
Be consistent and predictable. Maintain a calm demeanour even when you feel riled up inside. An attention-seeker can empower him or herself by discovering what upsets you and a clever attention-seeker will often use this information to his or her advantage! When pupils just know that you always remain calm and non-shouty – even in the face of serious misdemeanours – they won’t bother attempting to escalate into a confrontation that they’ll never get! Remember, an occasional, low, sharp, stern tone is infinitely more powerful than emotional shouting.
You can also find 8 Practical Techniques for Settling a Noisy Class HERE!
So now it’s over to you! Share your best tips for behaviour management in the comments below!
Have a fabulous start to the new term!