Content writer Debi, a former pastoral manager, maths teacher and head of year for over 20 years shares some quick tips for managing the classroom.
Returning to school in January tends to go one of two ways – the students are either so worn out from the excitement or they’re bouncing off the walls. Both apathy and boundless energy present a challenge to the new and seasoned teacher alike and if the festive holidays have left your memory a little hazy, here are a few quick bullet-point reminders to get the behaviour back on track.
- Be fair and consistent.
- Do not threaten a sanction and then back down.
- Phoning or emailing parents or carers often works.
- Make positive calls home too.
- Never allow a student to ‘work off’ a sanction. They will see this as a weakness.
- Don’t argue with students, just calmly tell them your expectations.
- Remove their audience if they are ‘showboating’ by asking them to step outside the door for a few minutes.
- Tell them you will be out to chat with them in a few minutes and stick to this. It gives you both a few minutes to think and to calm down.
- If a student is still not ready to come back in, tell them they have two more minutes or that they can come back in when ready to follow the rules.
- Do not routinely give out sweets as prizes.
- Try to use praise more.
- Reward with certificates or with your school points system.
- Use your sense of humour carefully. Students often respond well to good-natured back and forth (a joke at the expense of their favourite football team) but not so well to a personal prod. It goes without saying that the latter should be avoided!
- Don’t show favouritism.
- Remember to reward the consistently good, hard-working pupils.
- Reward effort as well as attainment.
- Learn the hobbies and interests of your students (non-subject related) and ask them about it occasionally. You don’t need to be an expert – just listen!
- Remember, students are children/teenagers and that they may lack the maturity to act calmly in difficult situations.
- The most important point is do not hold grudges. Make every lesson a fresh start for your students.
Hopefully, your return to the classroom has been a peaceful one thus far – but if things begin to look a little hairy, you can’t go wrong following this advice. Of course, if things escalate, follow the procedure as normal but this should be a good starting point.
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