Some may say that one of the most difficult things about being a teacher is managing behaviour. It can seem even more challenging if you are teaching in an unfamiliar classroom, with students who you may not have taught before. To help you create a well-managed and structured classroom, conducive to learning, consider the following 10 tips for behaviour management.
Tips for behaviour management
1. Be welcoming
If possible, be at the door with a smile and acknowledge students as individuals. If they are already in the classroom, be sure to enter it with a smile. It’s important to begin the lesson on a positive footing.
Establishing rules at the beginning of a lesson will help students to understand your expectations. This is even more important when teaching students you aren’t familiar with.
- Keep the rules brief – this will make them more memorable and stop students feeling overwhelmed. Remember, you want to remain approachable as well!
- Explain the reason behind the rules – this will help students to see them as being fair.
- You should assert yourself as a leader whilst being both firm and caring.
Routine can be particularly difficult when moving around classrooms and teaching different classes. Consider using a ‘Lesson Routine/Structure’ poster to help students identify what to expect during the lesson. Establishing a good foundation at the start of a lesson will help to reduce misbehaviour.
Make sure you reward desirable behaviour. These rewards can be as simple as praise, or comments in a planner. You should also consider the school’s reward policy – can you award merits, tokens, stickers or stamps.
5. Consequences and Sanctions
Students need to understand there are consequences to misbehaviour. Consequences can:
- Flow naturally (for example, removing an object which is causing distraction).
- Include formal consequences, in line with the school behaviour policy.
You should deal with low-level disruption as well as serious misbehaviour. This may include time-outs, a three-strike rule, working independently, detentions etc. Students may view sanctions such as informing parents and discussions about their behaviour as being effective deterrents. Always consider the school behaviour’s policy.
Whether you are rewarding or challenging behaviour, ensure you remain consistent and are fair in your actions. For example, ensuring rewards are awarded to students who are consistently working well. You may want to aim for a 3:1 ratio where possible – 3 praises for 1 sanction.
6. Emotional Objectivity
Managing misbehaviour can be stressful. However, you have more impact when you remain cool, calm and collected. Avoid raising your voice and try not to take things personally. When you remain calm, it will help to:
- keep things in perspective;
- deal with issues quickly;
- get back to your main task, without escalation.
7. On-the-Spot Actions
Most misbehaviour can be dealt with quickly and easily. On-the-spot actions include things such as making eye contact with a student, reminding them of a particular rule or simply telling them to get back to work. Saying ‘thank you’ after an instruction can also work well.
Students are far less likely to misbehave when they know their teacher notices every little thing going on in the classroom. Maximise your visibility, as far as safely and physically possible.
Avoid the use of open-ended questions when challenging poor behaviour. Be firm and assure the students understand why their behaviour is unacceptable.
Consider ways to get the students’ attention when you want silence, for example, the use of a timer, the use of ‘3, 2, 1’, raising a hand, or the use of an instrument. Whichever technique you use, be sure you have already explained what it means.
Don’t forget to read even more of our blogs here! You can also subscribe to Beyond for access to thousands of secondary teaching resources. You can sign up for a free account here and take a look around at our free resources before you subscribe too.