How can you improve your behaviour management skills?
Getting to know your students is THE most important aspect of behaviour management and is the foundation for the relationship and rapport you build.
Hopefully, now that you are one term in with your own classes you are starting to see your students as individuals, both in a positive, and perhaps negative light. This is the perfect time to really invest some energy into getting to know your students just that little bit better, both as learners and people.
The benefits are endless and you will see the fruits of your labour for many years to come. Below are a variety of things you can do. I suggest you pick and choose the ones that best suit you, your school and each individual student.
Being the detective
You should all have access to SIMs or a whole school equivalent data base. Spend a little bit of time reading what’s on the system about your students. The basic information is interesting as you might learn they have a sibling in the school or that their parents don’t live with each other. However, some of the most useful information will be their data.
- Reading and spelling age is important regardless of the subject you teach. If your students can’t read the information you give them how can we expect them to understand the work?
- You need to be aware of those on Free School Meals, with English as an Additional Language and Pupil Premium. These will indicate that they will need some sort of additional support. Ask yourself: Will they start their day with breakfast? Will there be space at home for them to do their homework? What language do they speak at home? What are their barriers?
- If you are really struggling with a student, have a look at their behaviour record. You’ll hopefully be reassured that you’re not the only one who they are difficult for.
- Knowing if your students have a Special Education Need or Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) is the first step. But you do then need to learn more about what it is, what they will find difficult and how you can adapt to support them. These things should be outlined in their EHCP or you can speak to your special needs coordinator and teaching assistants.
Observe them in other lessons
In your NQT year you should have a reduced timetable and I can’t stress enough how much you should take advantage of that extra time! You’ll never be in this position again!
Watching the students you struggle with the most in other lessons can be so interesting. Which lessons you choose can be really important. Find the teachers who love teaching them and see your worst students at their best.
This illustrates what is possible, but you may also learn WHY that lesson or teacher works for them. You may learn that the dynamic and mix of students in your class is what effects them and that is out of your control, however, I would then try to see them in a lesson with the same or similar groupings.
Speak to those in the know
In every school the best resource possible is your colleagues. If you are finding a student or group of students particularly difficult to crack, go out and start to ask some questions.
Your first stop should be their form tutor, head of year, or in the case of primary, their class teacher from last year. You are not asking them to do anything or speak to the students on your behalf. But what you do want to ask is if there is anything that would be helpful to know about your students.
Maybe something is going on at home at the moment, maybe someone close to them is unwell. The list of possibilities is endless but even the slightest of things will affect a child’s behaviour. There may well be things you are not allowed to know, for example with child protection issues, but if that is the case all you need to know is that life for that student is not great… at all.
Some characters are probably just about starting to emerge in your class which means now is the perfect time to do this detective work. When you know your students really well you are then in the ideal position to get the best out of them. You will know just how to motivate them and how to implore to their positive side.
Most importantly, you will be able to detect subtle changes in their behaviour and attitude and adapt your approach towards them accordingly. This is a really powerful tool of a great teacher!