Effective Behaviour Management – What I Know & What I’ve Pinched

The idea for this post has been brewing for a while. It’s something I have been wanting to write about, but never got round to. I have very traditional views on the importance of behaviour and class management in the teacher-skills hierarchy and this piece will hopefully share some old and new ideas that might work in the classroom.

I delivered a session on classroom and behaviour management to a mixture of PGCE students and Schools Direct trainees last year. It must have gone down an absolute storm, as I’ve never been asked to do it again. The now obsolete PowerPoint is attached if you care to peruse its content. Link: class man


I believe these key points form the cornerstone for building good class management skills

•Meet at the door
•Be positive
•Have something engaging for kids to do on entering room
•Learn and use names
•Be confident
•Be Tenacious
The tenacity thing is probably my main advice to anyone training to teach – Kids will push you to the limits of your sanity; it’s a rights of passage thing. They know you’re a student teacher, no matter how well your school integrate you into their system. If you offer up a sanction, it is imperative you follow it through – failure to do so will result in a battering down the road.
I try to get student teachers to stop using the phrase “control the class”. As most teachers would agree, we’re not in control, we simply manage what’s going on and attempt to keep things ticking along nicely and prevent the meltdowns before they start. It can be a scary thought to “not be in control”, but that’s what working with kids is all about.
I posed the question; “why do kids kick-off?”
  • How did you treat Student Teachers?
  • Is the pupil stuck?
  • Is work set at appropriate level?
  • Would you find the work stimulating?
  • What’s happened earlier in the day?
  • What has the kid had for breakfast/lunch?
  • SEN? Have you catered for this?
…and then, “how many of these can you influence?”
What next?
There’s nothing worse than going on a course (as if any of us has been on one in the last 10 years!), or INSET where an “expert” stands and hints at problems or issues… and then gives you absolutely nothing of use to take away. With this in mind, I actually wanted to give the trainees some tools and tips that have worked for me in the past. A couple of these are stolen and then adapted from an excellent presentation I saw, by Jason Bangbala about nine years ago (I’ve asterisked these so as not to claim undue credit). If you’re ever booking a staff training session on this subject – he’s your man.
I started by letting the trainees know that, ultimately, THINGS WILL GO WRONG. So what should they do?

1.Don’t ignore – challenge (not confront: kids don’t back down)
2.Assess the situation – be rational
3.Where does it sit from 1-10 on the Dr Pepper scale (i.e. What’s the worst that could happen?)
4.Your response needs to be proportionate – don’t go too hard too soon
5.If you issue a sanction – follow it through
6.Focus on Primary Behaviour – deal with the major issue

Tools to use

•“Maybe, but” – Maybe my breath does stink Jonny, but right now, I’d like you to get on with task 2*
•“Thanks for that…” – Thanks for pointing that out Callum. Now, where are you up to on this task?
•“I like you _____, but what I don’t like is____” – usually add in the behaviour you want to get rid of; “talking when I am giving instructions” for example.
•NEPGIT: Name, Eye Contact, Pause, Gesture, Instruction, Thanks – pretty much says it all
•Choice – “if you choose ___, then ____” – sanction – Try and encourage positive choices; make sure you praise the kid if they’ve made the right choice.
•Back at ya! – “put yourself in my shoes Sarah; how would you…”*
•The Humour Shield – deflects stuff – “You’re right Tom, I am garbage at teaching this bit of the syllabus, but with your unending support, I might just make it through
•Remove from situation – “Bailey, come here for a second my friend… Right, the reason I’ve asked to speak to you…”
•Role Model – find a pupil doing what you want (preferably a peer of the other), reinforce good behaviour – “Adam; thank you for sitting down and getting your book out – you’re ready to learn“*
•“ACE” – Acknowledge…Clarify…Explain – “OK, I see why you’re upset Jack. This is what I’d like you to do… and this is why. Thank you.”
In review
It drives me nuts when teachers make excuses for poor discipline skills or weak class management. My personal “most hated” is the old “well it’s easy for you, you’re PE”, or “it just comes naturally to you” – it doesn’t. As with all skills, class management is something that needs to be worked at. You never perfect it – kids and their temperaments are unknown quantities when they enter your classroom – you need to learn as much as you can, adapt it and keep on looking at good practice. When you see something that works; try it.
Hope this helps.

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