Students can be right little monkeys, can’t they?
That’s why it’s essential to have well-run classes so learners can actually learn.
Classroom management and behaviour management are the two strategies we can use to do this.
The relationship between these two is important, but people often confuse them. Worse, they may apply one when they really need to use the other, leading to even more classroom disruption.
If behaviour management is control over the students, then classroom management is control over the environment and its routines, which then control the students for you.
Let’s have a closer look.
What is Classroom Management?
Essentially, classroom management is handling the time between activities.
During activities, students are usually engaged and working on task, leaving you free to monitor their academic progress.
During the times in-between, there is potential for general monkeying around that can, if left unchecked, completely de-rail your class.
Like weeds, unwanted behaviour can grow through the cracks of time in your lesson plan.
To achieve smooth transitions between activities (and leave no cracks) , put routines in place that students know, accept and expect. These routines may need to be explained at first, but from then on they need to be stuck to with no exceptions.
Problem: Turning your back to the class to write on the board leads to students talking and mucking around. Solution: Write on the board while they’re still engaged in the previous task.
Problem: Handing out worksheets one at a time to a class means the students at the furthest end start playing up. Solution: Have student monitors who always hand out sheets for you, one for each row.
Problem: Young learners keep playing around with their pencils and stationery, dropping them on the floor and causing low-level disruption throughout the class. Solution: have learners place everything but the stationery they need right now in their bag, which is under their seat. Give explicit instructions to take out and put away stationery when needed.
There are hundreds more, changing to meet the needs of a thousand different classes.
Action point: how could you improve the transitions and routines in your classroom?
What is Behaviour Management?
Classroom management problems arise when the students have some ‘spare’ time and aren’t sure what they should be doing, or are waiting to be told what to do next.
Behaviour management issues arise when learners do know what they should be doing, but choose to do something else instead.
Behaviour management is how you respond to those students to get them back on task with the minimum disruption possible.
You probably already have a system of behaviour management (writing names on the board, deducting points, etc) that escalate all the way to calling parents or the academic manager.
Be aware of using behaviour management techniques when it’s really a classroom management problem. You’ll only garner resentment from the student(s) involved.
I’ll cover more behaviour management strategies in a later post.
So, What is the Relationship Between Classroom and Behaviour Management?
The better your classroom management, the less behaviour management you’ll have to engage in.
It’s that simple.
Good classroom management will never completely eliminate the need for behaviour management (students can still be disruptive during activities, or try to push the boundaries), but it’ll certainly happen less.
Having good classroom management will eliminate all the low-level disruption that irritates you and distracts students.
In later posts I’ll cover both of these topics more fully, including specific strategies for both, but for now, good luck!