Teaching and Behaviour

Something else that we will discuss more in-depth on the Streams of Beauty platform is teaching. In particular, teaching within the primary sector.

This first post is going to be all about behaviour management. I will be providing some practical tips on how to be good managers of behaviour in the classroom, and explaining how you influence behaviour more than you think.

Firstly, behaviour management takes time as you find your style and get confident in teaching but it is not impossible! Recognising this is the first step to being effective as a teacher. It has very little to do with being a dictator in the classroom and more to do with understanding the child. It’s about how much time you are willing to invest in seeing a child, or groups of children, become they best they possibly can be.

This is not going to be an exhaustive list as the field of behaviour encompasses so many different techniques, however, there will be some helpful tips that can be used within this post.

Set out your standards from the first day

It is so important to make students aware of your expectations and standards for behaviour. This means that from the first time you meet them, you need to let them know how you expect them to behave. Whether it be for an interview or your first meeting with your class before you teach them in September.

Doing this allows for boundaries to be clear. Do you expect them to use manners and say words such as ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when asking for or receiving something? Do you expect students to be listening when you are talking rather than writing? Would you prefer for all students to contribute to the lesson when you are teaching?

The students you teach will only know what your expectations are if you tell them. It’s the same with adults, we know what we are allowed to do and what we are not allowed to do because we have the law.

Make it clear how you would like the students to behave rather than focusing on negative behaviours. Keep the behaviour expectations short and snappy when you are presenting it to them so that they don’t start to drift off and lose focus.

Ensure that you remind them of these expectations throughout the year so that they know your standards are the same.

Take the time to get to know your students

THIS. IS. IMPORTANT.

You simply cannot treat your students as if they are all robots who function in the same way, learn the same way, react to situations the same way and all have the same cultural backgrounds and upbringing. You also cannot assume that they have had similar experiences just because they attend the same school or that they learn in the same way. That is a major flaw in some educators and it is a breeding ground for students feeling misunderstood and unheard.

Take the time (obviously not during your lesson when they should be learning) to get to know your students. This is easier to do in a primary school setting as you can go outside to play football with them – something I love to do even though my skills need serious work! During the lesson, once they have started the task you can ask how they’re finding the work and if it’s making more sense than the previous year. Try to tell a few jokes while you are teaching to keep your class engaged and to show them a bit of your personality too. PSHE is also a fantastic way to hear your students views and opinions on things!

Don’t stop your lessons when individual students mess around

My motto is this: loud compliments and quiet reprimanding.

I often get the response ‘Oh, but you don’t know this student – they’re so naughty!’ Trust me, I’ve had classes where the students were labelled as “naughty” by other teachers (which is extremely unhelpful and not nice for the child) but they would try to behave for me. After a while, I noticed that this was a result of getting to know them but also taking the approach that they would only get my undivided attention in front of the class when they behaved. If they tried to act up, I would completely ignore it and compliment all of the other students for doing an amazing job at listening.

When I had finished my teaching without allowing any distributive behaviour to impact the learning of others, I would ask the person who was messing around to come outside the class. Now this is the key: instead of telling them off straight away I would begin the conversation in a way they are completely not expecting.

“Is everything okay today? You seem like something might be on your mind.” The amount of times I’ve been met with blank stares after saying this in a really concerned voice is almost comical! Sometimes, they will tell you how they’ve had a rough morning, or a tough lunchtime which helps you to talk them through that issue and then tell them to focus on their work.

Other times, they might say nothing is wrong. If they say nothing is wrong, again you don’t shout. Shouting suggests you are losing control and becomes less effective after a while. Save the ‘raised voice’ for when it is extremely necessary to have a shock effective. If they don’t get a reason, simply explain your expectations to them again and ensure they are listening.

These are just a few tips surrounding behaviour but there are so many more to explore, share and discuss!

Streams of Beauty