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Establishing behaviour expectations

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Geographyteacher939, May 27, 2018.

  1. Geographyteacher939

    Geographyteacher939 New commenter

    Hi all

    I am due to start in a tough secondary school in September (Teach First). How is best to establish behaviour expectations from the moment I walk into the classroom?
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Geographyteacher939

    The school will have a behaviour policy with a system of rewards and sanctions. Ensure that you have a copy of that and know it by heart. Managing your classroom will be far harder than teaching the subject, so you are doing well to think about it before you start. Your tutors will help you and you will learn from mistakes and observations, but you are very wise to think about these things before you arrive. Ensure you are in a union before you start in September.

    If you are working in a tough secondary school it is not going to be easy - you are going to be new and the students will test you to the very limit, so you must prepare yourself mentally for that. However, there are things you can do to minimise the disruptions and get off to a positive start. Here are my tips:

    1. Be completely organised since organisation and planning are key. You are the model for the students. Be on time for your lessons as that will give you a psychological advantage. Get to the room 5 minutes or so before the lesson to set up. If you have your own room, keep it spotless. Have crates for the exercise books, label them and keep them stacked neatly. Keep your handouts, in folders, equipment neatly stacked. Teach your students to tidy the room at the end of the lessons and have a rota where students help you give out books and collect them in. See Craft of the Classroom for more information about such matters. If the school will allow it, put a notice on the outside of the door reminding students that no food or drinks are allowed in the room. Leave the room spotless for the next lesson if another teacher is using the room.

    2. During the holidays, think about what your top three classrooms rules are. I use:

    1. Follow instructions fast
    2. Stay on task
    3. Work without disturbing others

    Ask the students to write these in the front of the books. Put a poster up on the wall where everyone can see it so you can refer to it when someone is off task etc.

    Treat others as you would want to be treated. That is a good rule to also follow, but you may just want to establish that for yourself mentally.

    On the first day, briefly introduce yourself and explain the rules and routines. This shouldn't take more than 20 minutes. You will also need to put them into a seating plan. Rehearse in your mind what you are going to say and how you are going to say it. Even if you are not confident, you must ACT confidently. The feelings of confidence will come once you start acting confidently. You have to ensure they know you are the one in charge in the classroom - not that you are a dictator but that you are ensuring that the right atmosphere is in place for leaning.

    Perhaps put up on the screen some of the objectives and topics they will be studying and find out what they are looking forward to/ or find difficult in connection with Geography. Keep them busy. Over plan your lessons. In other words, have a few extra activities for those who finish early.

    3. Teach your students what routines you expect. For example, teach them to line up outside the room, enter the room when you have invited them in, put their things away quickly and start on an activity while you are taking the register. It depends on what you teach. You teach Geography, so have something connected with that. Just something to give you that 5 minutes to take the register and settle everyone. Never allow anyone to speak over you or another student. Use countdown, counting backward from 5 for a signal that you need everyone's attention.

    4. When you get your class lists, make up a seating plan: boy, girl, boy, girl etc. When you know your classes then you can revise the seating plans.

    5. You have to be firm but fair. Never discipline an entire class for the misbehaviour of one or two since the students will become angry about the injustice of it. Do not put names up on the board for misbehaviour as it causes MORE drama.

    6. Always praise in public, reprimand in private. Be fair always. Never belittle or embarrass a student. The students will test you and are watching for your reaction. Whatever you do, never scream or shout unless it is to warn someone of danger. You may slip up on this - everyone is human.

    7. Set up as system if you have time to call parents on Fridays for a praise report if their student has done particularly well or postcards home are great.

    8. Find some behaviour scripts - Scripts you can use when you need to stay in control, but are speaking to students about their behaviour. Look on Pivotal Education site for many useful tips, courses and advice about behaviour management.

    9. Have a spare stash of pens, pencils etc. These, however, are for emergencies only and insist the students follow the school's rules for brining in equipment.

    10. Establish a work ethic from the beginning. They may resist, but they will respect you.

    11. Always aim for the stars. I know that sounds like a cliché, but set your standards high - set the goal that you and your class will be the best. You may not hit the mark every time, but it is good to try and although your students may not say it, they will notice it.

    You are bound to make a few mistakes, but keep in mind that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a craft or discipline.

    Try to get enough sleep, food and relaxation. If you are rested you will be in a better frame of mind to deal with the classroom management issues you face. You have to have an incredible amount of patience and tolerance to work in a touch secondary school.

    All the very best for September.

    Geography is a fascinating subject relevant to everyone and your students will be blessed to have you I am sure.
    Stiltskin and NQT88 like this.
  3. Geographyteacher939

    Geographyteacher939 New commenter

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply in such depth - you have given me a great deal to think about!
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Geograpyteacher939

    You are welcome and I trust some of my post is of use.

    Yes, there is a lot to think about. However, the good news is now you have a list of things to do and I trust it will make things easier for you since you will definitely have your work cut out for you with preparing lessons and learning about other matters. If you can prepare yourself of some of what you need to do over the summer break, you will have a head start in September. However, don't work the entire summer, since you will need to be refreshed mentally and physically for your new course. First job is to join a Union if you are not in one already.

    There is another book/resource you might like to look at. It is called The Lazy Teacher's Handbook. It is a book about how to work smarter but not harder while keeping up good standards.

    Please let us know how you get on.

    If you search this site as well there are other threads/topics that you might find useful.
    Stiltskin likes this.
  5. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Lead commenter

    I can't really add much more to what @pepper5 said, except be consistent.
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Thanks Stiltskin for your comments. Very important point about being consistent.

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