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Why am I so rubbish at behaviour management?!

Discussion in 'New teachers' started by GloriaSunshine, Mar 15, 2011.

  1. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    Well, I don't teach primary so can only talk about y7 upwards but it sounds as if you need to think anout how you present yourself. It's no good saying something if you give the impression you don't mean it. Absolutely do not let them talk over you - you have to perform - give the 'look', scan the room, wait and then assert yourself in the silence. Insist on working in silence for however long is appropriate and then say something like, 'Now we're alll working nicely, you can talk to the person next to you about x and y.' As soon as the noise level goes up, warn and act. Set up activities where you can sit or stand somewhere and monitor the whole room. Stamp on the first child that tries to wander.
    Be friendly with individuals but firm with whole class. Try to convey confidence even if you don't have it - it takes a lot of energy to carry a class along with you. Personally, I find it easier when they're younger but that's not the case for everyone.
    And I'd lay off the telling them the rules. You probably only have half a dozen kids playing up although it feels like the whole class. And you will have nice children who want to please you so make a list and target them. Lots of attention. Focus also on a few sheep in the moddle that you can win round. Don't let it all be about the naughty children. Good luck!
  2. Sorry I haven't got any advice but I am in a similar situation and I am hoping for some suggestions too!
    I am also an NQT but I have not completed any of my NQT year and I am currently doing a short stint of supply in a very challenging secondary school. I have taken on the time table of a sick teacher that has been off for months and the classes have only had cover supervisors during this period so i'm sure you can imagine the chaos I have walked in on.
    The school has had as many heads in as many years and at present there is no behaviour poicy in effect, infact there are very few current policies. This is due to the poor behaviour of the majority of the children and so there is little consistency as all teachers do their own thing.
    How you have described your class is exactly the same as most of my classes from year 7 through to year 11. Most of the older ones are ok apart from the ones who like to be awkward. I am appalled by their behaviour which is the same as the behaviour of primary children. They have no respect for me, they are NEVER quiet - I might get 30 seconds quiet if I am lucky. They wander around the class aimlessly, they don't bring a pen or pencil to school. The worst thing is they seem to think this behaviour is normal.
    The advice of 'stamping on the first child who wanders' is good but not appropriate for my classes. As literally 90% of them are doing something they shouldn't be doing at the same time, its not 1 or 2 problem children its 21 or 22! I end up looking like a headless chicken as I run round reminding them to be quiet and putting them back in their seats. I have tried whole class detentions which didnt work, names on the board is too difficult as its 20+ names.
    I'm running out of ideas! Particularly as I am used to being the student teacher and having someone watch over me rather than having total control!
    Good luck!
  3. Dear Helen

    For what it's worth, behaviour management takes time to learn and some people learn it quicker than others.
    It depends on what you want.

    I'm sure you've heard it all before but you have to be very strict to begin with and then back off gradually.
    I've been a teacher for 12 years - frist of all in inner-city secondary schools in Glasgow, where I taught French to disaffected teenagers, and now I'm teaching English to disaffected French teenagers. See a pattern somewhere?

    When I was a student teacher, I had an excellent PT, or head of dept, I think you call it in England, who said that you want the kids to think you're a bit "nippy". She was excellent, and I had the rare opportunity of sitting in her class for the first couple of lessons to see how she dealt with a new class.

    She did things that made her look like a real b**ch. For example, insisting that the pupils were silent at all times, unless she was asking them questions, giving them permission as to when they could pick up their pens, telling them to number their pages in their copy books etc etc etc. I have to admit, I stole a lot of tips from her ... But you have to believe in it all and have real force of character (even if, really, you're a little intimidated by it all).

    Whenever I meet a class for the first time, I get them all to write a page about themselves, in their own language. I talk to them very little, and take the time to observe them writing. It gives me time to pinpoint possible future trouble makers.

    I'm afraid it's all about creating an impression: if they see you walking up and down the aisles, looking stern and giving them into a row for the slightest thing, they think you're scary! Well, it seems to work for me : )

    Those first few lessons are vital. It's often a mistake to give pupils a list of rules. (I know, having done it myself.) Actions speak louder than words. Whenever they do something you're not happy with don't be afraid to stop the whole class and give them a lecture, again adding to the sense that you're a bit of a dragon ...

    Hope this works.

    PS A teacher said to me once that I was having discipline problems because I looked so young: the pupils saw me more like a big sister than a teacher. Now that I've earned myself a couple of wrinkles (I'm 38 this year), I guess I must remind them more of their mother than anything else.

    Good luck
  4. skellig1182

    skellig1182 Established commenter

    I would go in and tell them that from now on you will keep a list of chn who will miss out on playtime, lunch time, golden time and anything else fun.
    I never talk over the chn or raise my voice. I have a clap and thats their signal to stop. If one doesnt, they get the 'look' and that normally does the trick. If not then its break.
    I basically expect miracles from them and because of it the expectations are high and they know it.
    What can somtimes happen is, you expect them to behave badly and then they follow through. I would spend a lesson learning to be silent, tucking chairs in, walking sensibly ect. However long they take to get it right, just add it on to playtime.
    Once i made my kids walk all the way downstairs, stand outside for 5 mins, then go back up again.
    I always call the classroom mine and the pens and pencils are mine etc. I want silence/partner talk in my room if you want to stay sort of thing. I show so much respect for everything in it now.
    In my NQT year I was battling with behaviour all the way through, but i learnt in the end and it was a good experience. The following year I was told i had outstanding behaviour mgnt strategies and turned around a once difficult class. It can be done! We learn to be effective good teachers over time and sometimes what your not so good at to begin with becomes a strength. Goodluck.
  5. Sorry to hear that you are having a difficult start to your NQT year. I'm also an NQT so my advice only comes from my limited experience. However, I think the biggest thing with behaviour management is consistency. Children have a very strong sense of fair and unfair so you have to treat ALL of the pupils the same and don't just focus on the 'naughty' ones (otherwise it's a self-fulfilling prophecy - you expect them to be bad, they are bad, so your expectation remains that they will be bad etc etc)
    I have a very challenging class but my moto in a morning is BE POSITIVE, BE POSITIVE, BE POSITIVE because it's so easy to get grumpy and fed-up and that reflects in how you hold yourself and how you talk/respond to them. My major focus is on my positive reward system. It works a treat! I give raffle tickets out and then on a Friday I pick 2 out of the pot and they get a prize. I give them out for everything! And children are sooo desperate to get a ticket that the general ethos in my class is positive behaviour is rewarded - for all pupils! Some might see it as bribery but the children achieve something at the end of it and have something to show for it to take home etc.
    We do have a sanctions system in place too. Just a simple warning, yellow card, red card. When I give a warning I explain clearly, in a low and calm but firm voice, what behaviour is inappropriate and give them the choice to change/improve i.e. Johnny shouting out is unacceptable. I know you can behave better so this is a warning. You either put your hand up like everybody else or I will give you a yellow card and you will miss some of your goldentime (or somthing along those lines). Referring to the class charter here could work because it is a rule that they have agreed to so can't really argue about it. Usually a warning works because I always follow through. If you fail to follow through on your word just once then they won't take you seriously. And again, do this for all children!
    As for the low-level chatting, this was a massive issue for me too! My HT advised me to INSIST on silence a few lessons a week and really clamp down on anyone who talks with the sanction system. They might try it on at the start of the lesson but after a few warnings have been given out they know I mean business. For the other lessons I always explain to them what level of noise is appropriate for that lesson (a visual display comes in handy here) so they know my expectations. If the noise level becomes inappropriate I give the whole class a warning and if they still talk I make them work in silence. Sounds harsh but I rarely have to do this.
    And your final point about the arguing and falling out is the bain of my life!! So much so that one girl has but in a transfer request to get away from it - and I only have 5 girls in Y4! But they argue constantly!! I've lost count of the number of talks i've had with them and their parents. The only advice i've had is to really focus on friendship during circle time/PSHE. So we'll see how that goes! Any advice on this matter in particular would be greatly appreciated :)
    Behaviour management for me is a constant battle and, as of yet, I haven't been able to let my guard down because my class really need it. Some nights I come home exhausted and it is a struggle but I start fresh everyday or I would hold a grudge against a few children and that isn't fair to them or me.
    So I hope that my methods/experiences give you food for thought. I'm not saying they're perfect but (fingers crossed!) they're working for me :)
    Good luck with everything!!
  6. dav1970

    dav1970 New commenter

    I'm an NQT with a Year 5 class that was supposedly the worst class in the school for behaviour with a reputation that goes before them. It took me a goof half term to get them tamed and now - not quite little angels but if I clap, they jump.
    The reason it has worked is simply being consistent and never giving up. I've been tough when necessary (missing breaks, golden time, treats) and been rewarding when necessar. It wahard at first, I can remember keeping half of the class out of golden time on the floor with their backs turned while we all made smoothies, played bingo and generally had a laugh. I can remember my sanctions board looking like a complicated dot-to-dot. Now I get 2-3 sanctions per week on the same board. They are tamed!
    For me the key was not getting down with it all, never losing patience and staying strong and meaningful ALWAYS! Use the silent treatment to get silence rather than bellowing, my head taught me that. I barely shout now. They grew to respect me and now they want to do what I ask them to do. Even the children who ran around, were violent or simply refused to work are like star pupils and they know how proud of them that I am. That's the other one - tell them when you are diappointed and tell them when you are proud. I do it all of the time. Learn to ignore the bad behaviour (to an extent) and pick up on the good behaviour. It soon worked.
    Keep a treasure chest of cheap stuff like rubbers and pencils in for spot prizes, try out raffle tickets, certificates, anything that works. Quickly get rid of the stuff that doesn't work and keep it simple and stick to the stuff that does.
    If I can do it, you can. Hope it helps.
  7. Sillow

    Sillow Lead commenter

    Hi Helen,
    I haven't read all the answers on here, so sorry if I'm repeating anything that's been said already.
    I had a similar class in my NQT year last year (Year 4), where there were so many "characters" it was a struggle to go in sometimes. However, I picked up some good tips...
    I, too, had my tables in rows and didn't seat children in groups; they sat in a mix depending on who could work well near each other. I had one group the TA worked with at the back and one group I worked with at the front.
    Never, ever, keep talking when children start talking. I stop what I'm saying, and stand there looking bored, or at my watch. It took a little training, but my last class quickly came to know that when I did that I was thinking about making them miss some break or lunch time to make up the work. So by the end of the year I could just stop talking and the guilty parties would realise something was amiss and stop. It never completely stopped it, but it reduced it greatly.
    I didn't have carpet time or carpet space. All my learning took place at the tables. This minimised disruption when moving from one place to another. If they do have to move, though, call out a group at a time. Challenge each group to see if they can do it quieter than the previous group and award stickers or gold stars to the group that is the quietest. It can mean taking a long time to line up with their coats, or for assembly, but my old class loved to try and beat each other.
    If you have a copy or can get one of Bill Rogers' 'You know the fair rule' then do have a read. It's excellent. In it, it talks about ignoring secondary behaviour, for example if a child is talking and you ask them to stop, they then make a face at you. Ignore the face they make and give them a few minutes to work quietly without talking. Then you can go over and praise them for doing such hard work. You can also offer a choice - "You can either sit in your chair and work, or come back and do it in your lunchtime. It's your choice.". Then, if they do sit and start to work for a few minutes, give them praise. If they do start to walk around again, explain that they've made their choice and keep them in at lunchtime. They will (hopefully!) soon see that doing as they're told means they get their free time.
    One more thing - if you want them to tidy up quickly and sensibly, say to them that you have a secret piece of rubbish in mind. The person who picks it up and does so sensibly, will get a sticker/be first in line/whatever. My old class loved it and could tidy a room in less than a minute and did so without killing each other!
    Good luck. It is hard, but I found it really rewarding at the end of my NQT year - I've learnt so much! And fortunately, my current class are fab so I can relax this year and keep my strategies in mind for another year!

  8. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    I went on a course recently about Conquering Challenging Behaviour. I'm Secondary but the advice that was most useful on the course is for PRIMARY teachers.
    He said that you have to change to focus in the classroom from being bogged down in negativity to focussing on positives.
    To deal witht e constant bickering and complaints from pupils, he suggested telling pupils before the first break that on their return you want to hear from each of them about something nice they witnessed, did or had down to them during the break. The person who did the nice thing and the recipient would get a star/sticker/credit etc.
    If it is taking too long to hear them all, defer some feedback until after lunch but also tell them that they can report lunchtime good deeds. You do it every break, every day for a time, and the children will actually start doing nice things to be able to get your praise and approval and the reward. It means that sessions start in a positive, feel-good atmosphere.
    Any that come in complaining about something you didn't witness should be given partial validation but not be allowed to monopolise your time, so "That may well be the case, Michelle, but and I'll discuss it with you later".
  9. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    As for the wandering around, I've often thought that some pupils would benefit from being in a'learning booth' where the teacher had control of the exit!
    I went to an old prison chapel a few years ago and they had a pew system where everyone went along the line and pulled a mini side doorclosed to allow the next inmate into their seat. The pastor could see everyone and everyone could see the altar area but no prisoner had contact or sight of any other prisoners. I fantasise about that seating plan in some classrooms!

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