Behaviour Management Demystified
Banish unwanted behaviour from your classroom.
What is Behaviour Management?
In one sentence, behaviour management avoids or manages unwanted behaviour through classroom routines.
The art and science of behaviour management is not to have any cracks in your lessons for weeds (bad behaviour) to grow through and to have a system for any that do.
There are some significant benefits of having a rock-solid system in place:
It gives you confidence that you can deal with anything that happens in your classroom.
Students know you’re in charge and give respect (even if grudgingly).
It allows students to see that you treat them equally and fairly in the event of bad behaviour.
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Why Does Bad Behaviour Happen?
There are two broad reasons why bad behaviour happens:
Casual misbehaviour happens when students become momentarily bored and start chatting or messing around. Its leading cause is students not having anything to focus on — think about time spent handing out worksheets, or spending a long time with your back to the class when writing on the board. It’s low-level disruption and can usually be dispelled by the teacher re-focusing the class on the topic.
Deliberate misbehaviour is more serious. It’s when a student chooses— consciously or not — to misbehave. It can escalate out of untreated casual misbehaviour or be a spontaneous incident during an activity. Or it can be a deliberate act of mischief by a deviant student :-).
Three Ways to Manage Behaviour
1. Before Class Begins (current known issues, students)
Make sure there are no gaps in your lesson plan. No spare time for students to misbehave casually.
Are there any known issues with students? What can you do to lessen them? Can you change the seating plan to avoid putting known troublemakers together?
2. In Class, During an Incident
Follow your behaviour management system as soon as an incident begins (see below).
3. In Class, After an Incident
Pay special attention to students responding correctly, and give them extra positive reinforcement.
Creating a Behaviour Management System
First of all, check to see if one exists at your school. They may have rules in place for excessive behaviour (e.g. for asking the student to leave the class, seeing the principal, or what constitutes contacting the learner’s parents).
If one does exist, use this as a starting point to develop an area you feel is lacking. Usually, pre-existing behaviour rules only govern extreme behaviour. Let’s look at what goes into creating a Behaviour Management System.
Rewards and Sanctions — A Sliding Scale
I imagine behaviour as a sliding scale, with good behaviour at one end, which runs through normal in the middle, to bad and unacceptable at the other.
A different strategy is needed at each stage.
The key here is to customise the ‘Teacher Actions’ column to something you feel comfortable with and that your school agrees with.
A quick word about the teacher’s actions, positive reinforcement, and the sanction system mentioned in the above table. Many teachers have their favourite way of rewarding and sanctioning their classes — there are dozens of ways.
For new teachers, I’d suggest asking your academic manager for examples currently running in the school and experienced colleagues for their favourite techniques. That way, you’re automatically ‘fitting in’ with the culture of your school, and students will already be familiar with the routines (saving you time and energy!)
Lastly, remember to always agree on your system with your academic manager to know that you will have support if you require it.
Avoiding Misbehaviour Altogether — Connecting with Students
How would you like to avoid bad behaviour altogether?
Connecting with students and building rapport will save you a lot of trouble. If the students like and respect you, you’ve already avoided countless incidents.
Combine that with a solid behaviour management system, and you’ve got an excellent recipe for a trouble-free class. It’s also a weight off your mind, as you know you can handle the little blighters.
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