What is Behaviour Management?
In one sentence, behaviour management is avoiding or managing bad behaviour through using classroom routines.
The art and science of behaviour management is to not have any cracks in your lessons for weeds (bad behaviour) to grow through, and having a system for any that do.
There are some major 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 that you’re in charge, and gets you respect (even if grudgingly).
- It allows students to see that you treat them all equally and fairly in the event of bad behaviour.
Why Does Bad Behaviour Happen?
There are two broad reasons why bad behaviour happens:
- Casual misbehaviour
- Deliberate misbehaviour
Casual misbehaviour happens when students become momentarily bored and start to chatter, or muck around. Its main 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 by dispelled by the teacher re-focusing the class on the topic.
Deliberate misbehaviour is more serious. It’s when a student makes a choice – either conscious or not – to act in an inappropriate manner. 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 casually misbehave in.
- 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
- As soon as an incident begins, follow your Behaviour Management System (see below)
3. In Class, After an Incident
- Pay special attention to students who are responding correctly, 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 any area that you feel is lacking. Usually pre-existing behaviour rules only govern extreme behaviour. Let’s have a 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 then unacceptable at the other end.
A different strategy is needed at each stage.
Example Teacher Actions
|Well-behaved||Class is actively engaged and performing better than usual||Show your class you love ‘em! 🙂|
|Normal Class||Class is focused and on topic||Positively reinforce well-behaved students in front of others.|
|Casual Misbehaviour||Low level chatter whilst waiting||Re-focus the class as normal (e.g. clap hands, ask for attention, etc.)|
|Deliberate Misbehaviour||Throwing a pen at someone else, shouting across the room.||Teacher invokes a sanction system*|
|Extreme Misbehaviour||Swearing, refusing to participate, total class disruption.||Enforces penalty system. Asks to leave the room / visit the principal’s office, etc.|
|Unacceptable Behaviour||Violent behaviour, hitting another student or the teacher||Teacher asks teaching assistant or ‘good’ student to fetch another teacher / a member of management.|
The key here is to customise the ‘Teacher Actions’ column to something that you feel comfortable with, and that your school agrees with.
A quick word about the teacher actions, positive reinforcement, and the sanction system mentioned in the above table. Many teachers have their own 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 your system with your academic manager, so you 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 you, and respect you, you’ve already avoided countless incidents.
Combine that with a solid behaviour management system and you’ve got a great recipe for a trouble-free class. It’s also a weight off your mind, as you know you can handle the little blighters.
Good luck and good teaching!