Do we spend more time planning appropriate behaviour techniques or preparing lessons?
Though we are half way through the academic year, do you still dread that one class who give you nightmares? I do! So, where do you start in getting behaviour under control?
1. Own the room
First impressions count so assert your authority from the start; show students who’s in charge, but win them over at the same time. How on earth do you do that? YOU own the classroom. Put on your best suit, dress, shirt, blouse, jacket – whatever it is! Dress to impress – when you feel you look the part, you become “the part”.
2. Be genuine
How many times do students meet new teachers who act like they care, giving the speech of how much they want students to do well but the students just aren’t buying it? Why?
Children KNOW who’s genuine, who’s got their best interests at heart. Children have a natural instinct in spotting a ‘fraud’ teacher!
How do you show your genuineness? Show them a little bit of your personality. My speech to win over students is usually,
“You haven’t got to like me, you don’t even need to really care about me. Either way I’m going to get you through your qualification, you WILL succeed. Give it a few weeks and you’ll love me.”
When you get the tone of your voice right – you can make these statements work for you. It’s won over some very tough Al Pacino wannabes!
3. The seating plan
It’s all about where students sit, where your desk is positioned, where’s most distracting and where YOU are! Seat students where you think less disruptive behaviour will take place. Adapt the seating plans where necessary. Depending on the type of student they may challenge you on it. How can you deal with those scenarios?
Play it cool, have a little bit of a joke – again, you’ve got to get the tone of voice just right. I tend to switch my teacher role into my teenager role (because you’ve got to be a bit of a teenager at times when working with them!)
Try some of these lines if you find yourself losing it:
“This new seating plan has absolutely nothing to do with who you were sitting by before – it just helps me out with my activities planned for today.”
“Why do you need to sit by your friend if you just promised me you wouldn’t talk? Isn’t that the whole point of wanting to sit by your friend?”
The seating plan in short can reduce poor behaviour and enables better support for weaker students.
4. Check your classroom environment
It may not always be possible, but try to arrange for your room to be the best learning environment it can be. I treat my classroom as though it were my second home.
I don’t work in a prestigious private school where resources may be fabulous; however I’ve still been able to salvage a decent classroom environment in what feels like the middle of the Bronx, so you can too!
Add a little bit of your character, I tend to have a few life quotes to keep my students inspired or my little Bhudda.
5. Rule setting
This is boring. Students don’t want to be lectured on; “woe betide you if X happens” – yawn, yawn and more yawn. Even I yawn when I hear these lines. For your rule setting, go back to point 2; your genuine care for your learners. Of course any school/department polices must be addressed but your rules as an individual may differ for the classroom.
As the years pass, you become more confident in your abilities as a teacher, you’ll know how many rules you’ll need to assert. This year, I simply had three rules/slogans:
- Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world
- Respect is a two way street
- Trust is a journey.
I choose to use quotations as it reflects more of my true self.
6. Get the good students on your team
The well behaved students are always your ‘friends’ – keep them on your side. Especially if you are in a tough school because nothing can knock our self-esteem more than the ungrateful foul-mouthed student. Been there many times! Speak to the good students. They’ll tell you that trouble maker A and B are like it in Maths, History and Geography. You’ll feel better knowing that.
7. Who are you?
Students are actually intrigued by teachers. Let them into your world a little bit. Create a small presentation on your quirky traits you believe are suitable to share.