Is it possible to maintain a good standard of behavior in the classroom? If so, how can we do this?
With whole school days back in full swing after the half term, moods are up and down and restlessness brews as the weather warms up. Summer is starting to arrive and nobody wants to be inside, let alone inside a classroom.
Now more than ever it is important to continue the momentum on behavior for learning established on day one. So, what are the best ways to do this?
1. SHOW THAT YOU WANT TO BE THERE
This may seem like an unusual tip in the grand scheme of things, but with warmer weather comes warmer dispositions. A happy attitude and smiling face shows that you want to be there and this will reflect on your class. By setting the example and the tone of the how the next hour/few hours will go, you are establishing and maintaining control from the get-go.
2. ESTABLISH AND MAINTAIN ROUTINES
Small tasks that are done on a daily basis are able to turn into routines that show pupils what to expect at certain times of the day. For example, lining up, taking a register and collecting homework at the beginning of the class will become the norm for every class when done repeatedly. This then allows students to prepare by getting their homework out or making sure that hey have done it as they know it will be checked. Once routines are set, time for the rest of the lesson can be planned effectively around set aspects.
3. PAY ATTENTION
It is easy to get caught up in what we are teaching about, but this means that distractions and minor disruptions within the class could be overlooked. By regularly scanning the class, you are able to cut off any building problems or negative behavior that could develop into a larger problem. By standing in a position where you can see the whole class (and the whole class can see you), you are able to quickly and easily scan the classroom regularly which continuing what you are doing. This also applies for when you are sitting at your desk and working one-to one or with small groups.
By quickly quashing any problems with minimal fuss and intervention, your classroom culture will be established and control will be maintained throughout the year.
4. DON’T BE SCARED TO USE SANCTIONS
It is important to quickly establish what is and isn't acceptable in the classroom, and that there will be consequences for intolerable behavior. While the school will have it's own behavioral management systems in place, within the classroom, you are able to establish your own boundaries and how you expect their behavior to follow.
However, the use of sanctions early on to maintain behavior will reflect better long term. It is much easier to back off later than to suddenly start using a system later on. Students have been told there will be a consequence to any action that is unacceptable, you must make sure this happens particularly early on.
5. TELL STUDENTS WHAT THEY SHOULD BE DOING, NOT WHAT THEY SHOULDN’T
Try not to be drawn into any debates regarding any of the rules and routines you have established. Avoid any possible opportunities for students to question your rules and “stop that” and “your behavior is unacceptable”. Be precise in your expectations, repeating if necessary. Make behavior and compliance the path of least resistance.
6. MAKE ALLOWANCES WHILST MAINTAINING HIGH STANDARDS FOR ALL
Some students may struggle to meet behavior targets. However adjustments should be made and behavior modeled and scaffolded if necessary. It should be unacceptable to accept behavior from any student who is capable of modifying their actions but high expectations for all should be our aim.
7. STAY CALM
This is sometimes easier said than done. However, make sure to take care of yourself and your well being. If you feel well and calm, it is easier to keep control over yourself, especially in trying situations. Don’t suggest to students that they can get a rise out of you with comments such as “If you talk one more time, I will be annoyed!”
8. THE POWER OF RELATIONSHIPS
The routines, structures and high-quality teaching backed up by rewards and sanctions will develop relationships. These relationships will be built on high standards; you care because you teach well and expect the best for your students. not because you enquire after their favourite YouTube vlogger .
9. DON’T LET YOUR COLLEAGUES DOWN
The last and arguably most important tip. You must make sure that whatever the schools behaviour policy, is you follow it whether you personally believe it or not. If the school has a no mobile phone policy but you believe that mobile phones are useful additions to your students learning, resist your personal beliefs. Every time you allow something that the school has said is not acceptable, you corrode the policy and let your colleagues down. If students are able to say “Miss X or Mr Y lets us” the system fails and the culture shifts. Be a team player and back your colleagues, knowing they will reciprocate.
Time and effort spent establishing these rules and routines is well spent. These are the foundations for your year, making the rest of the year much easier and smoother. It may be difficult now, but it will definitely pay off!