I remember the excitement of stepping into my very first classroom….I was both eager and nervous. But I also remember feeling a bit apprehensive and scared and wondered if I would “survive.”
Of course, then I started to play the what if game…..
- What if I can’t gain their attention?
- What if I don’t know the answer to a student’s question?
- What if students call out all the time?
- What if a student refuses to obey an instruction?
Behavior problems often concern new teachers and there are no magic answers that work for all students in all situations. This is because management of student behavior is such a complex process.
However, there are definitely some techniques and strategies that you can implement to manage your classroom and student behavior to ensure you all have a safe and friendly place to enjoy.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the key classroom management tips that new teachers need for managing behavior. We’ll look at preventing or minimizing problems in the first place by setting up and maintaining rules, establishing a consistent approach and setting up routines and procedures.
1. Have clear rules and consequences
Children will often behave inappropriately because they do not know what is expected of them. What is obvious to you may not be so to the child. Ensure you define the limits of behavior.
One way to do this is with a set of classroom rules and consequences; or if you don’t like the idea of setting rules, then a jointly developed list of rights and responsibilities.
Even though rules won’t solve discipline problems, they will, however, set the guidelines of responses from your students and you as the teacher. How you as the teacher act on the rules will determine the effectiveness of them.
I don’t believe there is one right way to establish rules; some teachers do this through a discussion and democratic process. While other teachers set the rules and then thoroughly explain them.
But I do think there are a few parameters you should follow when thinking about your classroom rules or rights and responsibilities:
- Keep the rules few in number – no more than 5;
- State the rule positively rather than negatively. For example, “treat each other with respect,” rather than “no put downs”;
- Explain and define any ambiguous terms in your rules. For example, quiet can mean different things to different people and what is meant by “raising your hand”;
- Learn roles and responsibilities; and
- Telling is not the same as teaching, you may need to involve your students in meaningful experiences to demonstrate how the rules look.
My preference is to establish the rules with my students through a consensual process. I believe that If they help establish the rules and consequences then they take ownership over them which will have a greater impact on their success.
I also think it’s important to remind your students that sometimes they will not always behave perfectly and that you expect people will forget or make mistakes. When this happens, it is your job to let students know and then follow up on the appropriate response.
2. Be consistent
I believe consistency is absolute key for maintaining a well-run classroom. Let students know you mean what you say and let them know what to expect. This came to realization for me in my first few years of teaching.
I remember back to my first year of teaching, my husband’s work sent its employees out to schools to assist with some community work. He happened to be sent to my school and was helping with some props and displays for our presentation night. My husband and his colleague were working with a small group of my students. They were just generally chatting, and my husband asked, “So what’s Miss Crean like as a teacher?”
There was a general consensus with the responses. The students relayed, “Miss Crean is pretty tough, but she is fair.” “You know that if you do something bad, you know what the consequence is going to be and it’s the same for all of us.”
This was a good lesson that I learned early on in my teaching career. But, at the same time, I definitely find it is hard to maintain. Sometimes it is easier to just let certain behaviors ‘slide’ and not acknowledge them (which can be a good low key response). You can find other low-key responses in the below article:
The key here is to have the same response to each situation. Your students will be the first to tell you that it’s unfair and that you didn’t respond that way to Johnny!
3. Take time to teach routines
This is especially true for younger grades, but also good for older students. Routines allow your students to take responsibility for being prepared, knowing what to do next as well as knowing what is expected.
Some specific routines you will need to establish include:
What should your students do when they arrive in the morning before the bell sounds?
Are there specific things they need to organize and do? This might mean they place their chair at their desk. Or swap reading books or finish off unfinished work. Have the same routine for each morning so your students know exactly what is expected.
How will your students move around the room and school?
How will you allow students to enter and leave the room? Will you let all students leave the room at the same time, group by group, or by other factors such as boy/girl, a color piece of clothing, birthdays etc?
What about entering the room? You might get your students to line up in two lines each time, with line leaders at the front.
What about routines for transitioning between lessons?
A well-conducted transition is usually quick and relatively free from disruption. The key here is to give clear directions, monitor movement during the transition and then to settle students before beginning the next lesson. You could also mark lesson changeover with a game, song or sound.
How will you manage other administrative procedures?
This includes tasks like collecting money, distributing notes and handling interruptions. Will you have a tray to collect these notes? Will your students have a home folder for sending information home?
Remember, make your expectations clear to your students, keep them on task with worthwhile activities, anticipate problems and spend time establishing your routines and procedures.
Finally, I think that it is so very important to support new teachers and teachers who are struggling with classroom management, which can lead to teacher stress and burnout.
That’s why I created the Teacher Burnout Challenge. Over 5 days, I’ll send you some tips and actionable steps that you can take to get on top of that overwhelmed feeling – along with some freebies too!
To get some great self-care strategies and tips for getting on top of teacher stress and burnout, sign up below.
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