How can we help new teachers manage classroom behaviour?
With behaviour management in the classroom, there is one keyword. Consistency.
Consistency within any school or college requires teamwork, quality communication and training, as well as students seeing being clear about expectations and the consequences of their right and wrong actions.
As a teacher, you will need to ensure that every decision you make is dealt with fairly, transparently and on an individual needs basis. This tailored approach requires routine and the ability to be able to adapt on as and when it happens; the need to be one step ahead is what can make teaching so exhausting.
7-Step Behaviour Script
It will be impossible to cover every scenario in a blog post, so instead, I have outlined how teachers can build a better behaviour ethos, and how can teachers manage behaviour more effectively in their conversations with students. It is essential to develop a script which can become routine, then adapt it to a variety of scenarios in your classroom…
1. Have a pep talk
Getting behaviour right is a complex process. Approach any situation calmly. Get to the root of the problem and quash all low-level disruption. It is essential that all teachers become excellent at classroom management as well as at the forefront of their subject knowledge.
2. Verbal warning
Aim to have a quiet conversation with the student. This avoids losing face for the student and on your part, ensures other students cannot intervene with comments/reactions. If the student refuses to come with you – even if it is just 5-10 metres away, have the chat later.
3, Issue a sanction in the classroom
Approach the conversation in a non-threatening position, adopting a neutral body position where the student’s vantage point is facing away from peers.
4. Have a 30-second catch-up
You need to communicate WHAT has happened and that the student will have an opportunity to respond at the end. Explain what the behaviour is. Where you need help, seek training for high-level incidents and be proactive in analysing behaviour trends.
5. Ask the pupil to stay behind
Provide the student with a reason WHY you have intervened and have a pep-talk with them. At this point refer to two or three keywords (and no more) from the school’s behaviour policy. The secret is to establish with your students the difference between being fair and equal.
6. Set an imposition
Explain HOW the student could make this better. The most effective strategy I have found to consistently work is to show how (through explanation and modelling) the behaviour will be perceived by other students, other teachers, visitors, and most of all their family. Involving contact at home is essential for positive and negative episodes, so do make sure you follow-up with both, not just the negatives.
7. Involve a second adult
Finish by ending the pep-talk with a question. Where relevant, ask the student if they would like you to feel proud of them? Every single time I have asked this question to a child, their response is always a ‘yes’. Who wouldn’t want admiration? Most importantly keep your message simple. Focus on the primary behaviour.
Whether stage 1 ends at that point or you need to escalate the sanctions up to stage 7 where a second adult is required will be depending on countless scenarios – context is key: There are more details to these 7 stages in the resource below.
Consistency is fundamental to what you do as a teacher, whether you are in your first year of the classroom or your 30th. Once you have got to know your students well, have developed a secure overview and a strong set of relationships, this mutual respect can secure silence at the drop of a hat.
Download the templates
This 18-page PDF file and set of 5 editable slides are designed to support new teachers new to the pastoral role of in school. You can download the free 10 Steps for Building a Better Classroom Ethos or the script template below.
A strong classroom presence helps build a strong classroom ethos. It is essential for all new teachers to develop a script for managing classroom behaviour.
- Nicol and Macfarlane‐Dick (2006) Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice, DOI: 10.1080/03075070600572090
- Krogerus and Tschäppeler (2011), The Decision Book: fifty models for strategic thinking.
- McGill (2015), Teacher Toolkit: Helping You Survive Your First Five Years
- Tait (2019) Succeeding As A Head of Year.