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Behaviour in your classroom: are your routines established after the first month of term?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by sarah_dann1, Sep 30, 2016.

  1. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    The first few weeks of the new school year can be very tiring! So many new faces to meet, names to learn, expectations to set, baseline assessments to complete, schemes of work to plan, marking to do…the list is endless. Many teachers begin the new year with a real focus on behaviour. Whether that is through classroom rules, collaboratively agreed contracts, behaviour for learning or a more general setting of expectations, it is important because positive behaviour in your classroom makes your life much easier and allows the students to learn.

    I hope you are all settling in with your new class(es) and finding that your relationships with students and their behaviour are working.

    However, if they’re not…what can you do?

    Consistency is key and remember that you are not alone. Experienced teachers still find certain classes more challenging than others and it can take time to get things right. It is important to stick with it so everyone can benefit from their time in the classroom. Here’s a reminder of some top behaviour management tips. Good luck.

    1. Always remember that you can start again

      When you’ve had a bad day or lesson, let it go. Try not to go over what you should have said or done. Children have a brilliant ability to start again and they expect to be given a clean slate each time by you. You deserve the same. Address the issues but begin again and believe that things can change.

    2. Know their names and use them regularly

      At this point in the term, you should know the names of your students. Perhaps teaching certain subjects in a secondary school means you don’t see classes regularly but even then, make this a priority. Print photo registers and attach it to your seating plans and have this on the desk if necessary until you’ve got it. We all respond much better when spoken to as an individual.

    3. Have formalised seating plans decided by you

      Whatever system you prefer – boy/girl, ability grouping, alphabetical – use it. Avoid discussion and be ready to change it throughout the term. Working with their friends usually has limited benefit and regular movement can encourage more collaboration and less unwanted chat.

    4. Use positive language

      Just as you might ask “have I explained that clearly?” instead of “do you understand?” you can lessen the opportunity for talking back by focusing on positive language that implies students are about to do the right thing. “Please listen carefully now,” rather than “stop talking.” Say thank you and be specific about what students have done well.

    5. Make the rules clear and stick to them. Follow up on all sanctions and rewards.

      Children of all ages need consistency and to know that you mean what you say. Few things lose a class more quickly than empty threats so be careful to follow the procedure of the school and the rules you have laid out. Try to make the time to follow up on positive behaviour as often as negative. An email home, or a simple sticker is surprisingly well received even by Year 11 students.

    6. Have high expectations but give students choices

      You should expect all students to follow the rules but as we all know, some students will find this more difficult than others. It is important to appear to be fair. Try to avoid backing a student into a corner where they are more likely to continue to defy you. Give them options and ways out of escalating behaviour.

    7. Praise

      Send emails home, give rewards (small, sustainable, ideally non-edible), provide incentives and try to be creative with what you offer. Can you do something different to other teachers? Make scratch reward cards, display student of the week, the class earn a joint reward or time break, choose a song to end the lesson etc.

    8. Time

      Remember to pause and give students time to think and to respond to your questions or instructions. This can be especially important when challenging behaviour could escalate. Give options and look away to deflect the attention. When questioning a class, give thinking time. Some reports suggest teachers wait as little as 20 seconds before expecting an answer so be conscious that you might be moving too quickly and causing students to opt out.

    9. Be the teacher, not a friend. Be in control

      Try to find a good balance between showing interest in and care for your students without becoming too friendly. Being assertive doesn’t need to be authoritarian, and you can certainly use the idea of learning together where appropriate, but don’t overindulge the students. They can find ways to take over or detract from their learning if they sense the opportunity.

    10. Ask for help when you need it

      Seek help wherever you can get it – colleagues, heads of department, friends, TES forums – and ignore those who claim to have no problem with that group. Sometimes you will need to try every different strategy available before things work and there’s no failure in that. Observe other teachers if you can (when time allows) and ask what others have found effective.

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    Last edited: Sep 30, 2016
  2. electricsheep

    electricsheep New commenter

    Never ever let the kids sit where they want. Never ever take any back-chat or insolent behaviour. Never ever allow them to divert of distract you from what you want them to learn. Never allow them to leave the class to go to the toilet/see someone. Never ever tolerate time wasting tactics. If you have to spend the first month of the new term setting loads of detentions, look at it as an investment. I would say if you don't get a class how you want them by the end of the first half term, you are going to have a frustrating and stressful year. Plus, it is you as a teacher who will be having those 'difficult meetings' with SMT about classroom behaviour management.
  3. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    Agreed. It's a frustrating, and in my opinion boring, way of teaching but I agree that it's necessary for the first few weeks. If the students feel they "get away" with things early on, it does seem to make the entire year more difficult.
  4. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    don't tell a teenager what to do and then stand over them until they do it. Tell them, say thank you and walk away. If you take away their self respect in front of their friends then you will get what you deserve! Often a quiet reminder to their friend to get them to do it before they get in trouble will work for you and them.
    ladylyra and pepper5 like this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi hammie

    Totally agree with your comments and such wise advice.

    If you treat students with respect by asking instead of threatening and also remember to say thank you it works miracles.
  6. snitzelvonkrumm

    snitzelvonkrumm Occasional commenter

    Spend time with them individually and show care and respect.
    pepper5 and ruthwill500 like this.
  7. joyanadia38

    joyanadia38 New commenter

    Being a teacher seems like the hardest job in the world, I greatly admire all who do this demanding job, but I could never do it.
    My sister is a french teacher and the dedication I see is out of this world.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. hummi7883

    hummi7883 New commenter

    I must say reading this has made me feel so much better. I have started at a new school which is very erm...different to the ones I have previously worked. Today I came home crying and started to reflect why I am doing this. I am the mentor of one of the most difficult group of student. Week 3 and I have managed to control all my classes with my tried and tested ways , but this one class has been a challenge. I felt like a failure today and also decided I am just going to work for this one year and change my profession.
    I know this was a decision out of frustration. Lol ...I dont feel like that anymore. #RantOver
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. graicewhite

    graicewhite New commenter

    I have one issue. My class have been quite distributive this week. And so a few have missed golden time. However I'm finding the parents aren't coming to me to ask questions or anything but going straight to the key stage lead. And today I had a meeting with a parent about a boys behaviour. The keystage lead sat in and took control. I felt very inferior in front of the parents. What should I do
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Don't worry too much of who took control in the meeting; but instead think about any sound advice or strategies your keystage lead can provide you with. Did she/he have any strategies or support they could offer you to help you with the issues you face?

    Perhaps as the parents get to know you, they will come to you instead of the lead.

    Try not to focus too much on anything other than getting some routines and expectations set up and especially some type of reward system. If the students are old enough, do a survey with them asking them what types of rewards they like the best: time on the computer, extra arts crafts, phone call home, games, tea party, etc ; try not to use sweets or material rewards.

    You will get there. One day at a time. One step at a time.
    graicewhite likes this.
  11. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    As for knowing your classes names I see 18 classes of 3 plus students once every two weeks.

    I have seen all of my classes once - I have seen 3 classes twice - some people i have not seen at all yet!
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. katherine_livesey

    katherine_livesey New commenter

    I'm a big fan of using praise too. I work with 5 year olds and stickers work a treat. I often use them as an incentive and have personalised ones saying "Miss ..... says well done!" They love them. I have also used sticker charts for a couple of children who struggled coming into school in the mornings and leaving parents etc.

    I find if the class is a bit chatty on the carpet and I want their full attention, the best thing to do is to pick one or two children out and go over the top on the praise. For example, " WOW, ......... is sitting lovely!" or "......... sitting is making me so happy!" and they all want that positive attention so suddenly they all sit up and listen.

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