What can we do to upgrade our behaviour management?
Teachers spend a large amount of their time managing behaviour. The end of the academic year is a time where school staff can reflect on the year that has passed and what the new one will bring.
It is a time where I reflect on the relationships that I have formed with my students and how successful behaviour management techniques have embedded these relationships of respect and positive shared experiences.
Here are my 10 behaviour management tips for helping make every lesson a success:
1. Before the Lesson Even Begins
Students should enter the classroom in a calm manner and stand behind their chairs (or stations, benches, in lines etc. dependent on the subject) hands out of pockets, nothing in their hands, in silence and wait for further instructions.
This simple habit really helps you to gauge the mood of the class before the lesson even begins, use this time for questioning, recalling the last lesson, letting them get a drink and cool down after break make it a positive and consistent start to every lesson. If they don’t get it right first time wait or do it again it will take time to embed routines.
After a few weeks your students will do this without being asked!
2. Become the Broken Record…
If you establish clear boundaries and expectations with your classes early on it will limit the chances of the behaviour escalating.
Allow your group to help form the class rules or ‘charter’ early on you will often be surprised by how high the student expectations of behaviour are. Children work better when they know what to expect and they know where they stand.
The main low-level behaviours that are worth addressing early on are:
- Talking when teacher/others are talking
- Fiddling with equipment (pen tapping etc.)
- Heads on desks
- Not looking at the teacher when they are talking
- Carrying on with work when told to stop
- Hands in pockets
- Sitting back on two legs of the chair
- Turning around to talk to others
3. The Power of the Pause
The unbroken, unrelenting reminding about these low-level disruptions will result in the reminders becoming redundant it is now time to replace with a tactical pause. This is for you to stop whatever you are saying or doing.
Usually the young person displaying the low-level disruption or holding up the lesson will get the message and stop whatever they’re doing failing this a faint whisper from a fellow student who has the message works equally well.
4. Never Saying Please
Following this rule as the adult makes compliance an expectation and an obligation.
When you give an instruction, say thank you rather than please. For example, “I need you to put your ruler away, thank you.” this implies that you know they will follow instructions and are thanking them in advance. Again – a subtle rule which has proven itself to be a very effective time saver and behaviour checker!
As Paul Dix says, “Prefacing requests with ‘Thank you’ has a marked effect on how the request is received.”
As adults we are aware of people who try to form instant, superficial relationships in the same vein allow the relationships with your students to form over time.
Dix refers to this as ‘botheredness’ this being relationship building done properly, in slow motion. Gentle, kind and caring.
6. Give Students the Responsibility
Never tell the student what they have done wrong – at the beginning of each term we identify an honesty is the best policy approach.
This is where we put the behaviour in their own hands, after a difficult lesson/unstructured activity ask the class if anyone would like to reflect and take responsibility for their behaviour.
Students have to reflect on their actions openly and honestly. Give a class time to discuss what needs doing to make things right and how to stop something from happening again. How can others in the class help?
Ask students what they would do in the teacher’s position. This is where they own not only their behaviour but also the consequence.
7. Home school communication
In order to foster and maintain relationships with the students calling home on a regular basis to discuss how our students are doing is vital.
This allows us to ensure students that we are all fighting from the same corner. Also, send positive post cards home when your pupil has done something above and beyond…it really matters!
Those difficult parents to reach are usually the ones that or communication will have the most positive impact upon, make some time to arrange a home visit and ask a colleague to attend with you if you are unsure how the visit will go.
8. Own your classroom
Own your classroom, walk around and be confident, be unpredictable and be a curiosity. The relationships that we model to students and with other staff may be the only positive behaviour that the children see. Apologise if you make a mistake – you are modelling this for the child or young person and this will support you to build trust and respect.
9. Stick to your routines
Have your set classroom habits formed with crystal clear expectations and don’t deviate away from them, use time to reinforce these. You will soon see the benefits of the children knowing what to expect and where they stand. Invest time in setting up your routines and planning for behaviour. Talk about routines and expectations regularly, the start of a new term is a good time for this.
As Paul Dix states “I can give you a special job and make you feel like a king. I can give you £50 and make you feel like you don’t matter.”
Catch your students out by noticing their positive behaviours and subtly praising them, allow students to identify the types of praise and rewards that they appreciate and only give praise when it is earned!