I recently came across an article with some useful strategies for managing behaviour. This got me thinking back to my time in teaching. In the past, I had some particularly challenging pupils and classes that were difficult to keep engaged, so I thought I would share some tips that worked for me.
1. Positive instructions
Giving positive instructions not only works but makes you feel happier and calmer giving them. Often this can be simple rewording e.g. instead of, “Stop fidgeting and rolling around.” you could say, “Sit smartly, thank you.” The thank you is important because it makes them more inclined to do as it’s as if they already have.
2. Make it visual
Your school probably has a visual behaviour management such as a sun or cloud or online tools like class dojo, but if they don’t make sure you set up your own visual system. This can be for individuals, the whole class and/or groups. Making it visual shows how important good behavior is and reminds children to keep it up.
3. Be consistent
For example if you have a system of giving two warnings before a consequence, then give two warnings before a consequence. Children need consistency to understand that they have boundaries. This consistency keeps behaviour management fair and helps children feel safer in the classroom. Having some routines in your classroom can really help with behaviour management such as how children transition to tables, what they do when they have finished their work etc. Visual timetables can be a useful tool to help children feel settled too.
4. Get to know your pupils
What do they like? How do they feel about school? What are their triggers for bad behaviour? What makes the behaviour worse? If you have a pupil that makes the wrong behaviour choices regularly then start to monitor that behaviour, so you can find the underlying cause. The best way to improve their behaviour is to find and work on the cause not just give consequences for the outcomes.
5. Know when to personalise
Although it is important to use your schools behaviour policy for consistency, there will be some pupils who need a different tact. If you feel that pupils need extra support or a different system for behaviour management entirely then this is a discussion you need to have with a member of the SLT. You may need to create a personalised behaviour plan or reward chart for them. For some of these pupils you may find you have to try out a few different strategies to see what works so don’t be disheartened if their behaviour doesn’t instantly improve.
6. Communication with parents
Not only is this key for parent partnership, but communicating about behaviour can give you a real insight in to the reasons behind it. You may have heard a parent say something like, “My child is an angel at school but a terror at home.” This just shows that their behaviour is not always as simple as you think it is and that any number of reasons could be causing it.
7. Focus on the positives
As much as there is a need to give consequences for the wrong choices, don’t forget to praise the good ones too. Point out the good choices of other children to encourage children making the wrong choices to improve e.g. “Well done, X and X you are sat smartly and listening carefully.” This gives the message that positive behaviour leads to positive outcomes.
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Further Reading: Behaviour Management For NQTs: Term 1, Sian Edwards, August 30th 2018