6 Tips for behaviour management in the primary classroom

Behaviour Strategies.

No gimmicks, no apps, no over the top resources.

It’s ultimately about knowing your class, and consistency, consistency, consistency.

Consistency.

Job done.

Problem solved.

No not quite.

What about when the class that you thought were tricky to deal with, end up being mere wandering chicks in comparison to the angry gorillas that are heading your way on transfer day?

That’s what this is for. Real strategies, and questions, that allow for alterations as your class need it. I mean, let’s be honest, a class can change every single term (hour) when it comes to behaviour management requirements.

Use this blog as a guide. Your guide into the world of consistent behaviour management. No matter how tired/ill/overworked/mental you feel, you must maintain your consistency. Your agreed rules in the variety of scenarios and situations. You may find that what you take from this book will fit nicely in with the whole school behaviour policy, you may find it doesn’t. Hopefully what it will do, is allow you to have the confidence to work with the policy makers of your school to make particular changes based on what you find works , and does not work, from this blog and your growing experiences.

Top rules:

These top rules are fully encompassing suggestions to improve the overall behaviour control in your room, whether it is towards an individual or whether it is your general demeanour. Every thing you do must be consistent, and considered, and it will all count towards your ultimate goals.

  1. Consistent action

You do not want your class thinking that you often let a child get away with things, that your threats are empty.

If you wish to use a positive reward for those which complete what you desire, consistent homework for half a term perhaps, and those who don’t complete the task miss out on something exciting. Those children must miss out.

If a child has failed repeatedly to follow your instructions and has broken the school rules enough to warrant a missed break time, they must miss out. Especially if they are aware they have broken the rules, and are aware of the consequences of breaking those rules.

Avoid sounding like the boss, if you are not prepared to follow through with your words.

2) Consistent body language

It’s fairly common knowledge that body language has a massive impact on what you are saying. Remember that in the various behavioural situations you find yourself in, one wrong move could alter your problem entirely – and usually ends up making the problem far bigger than it was originally. If you approach an angry child with an aggressive march towards the child, it could result in a volcanic eruption – when what is needed is a calm but confident approach.

3) Consistent volume

There are times when I have seen staff shout at a child, more shouting than I’ve ever heard anywhere else in life. But it is rare. I have not ever shouted at a class, I have spoken with a very loud and stern voice, but there is a major difference.

Consistent volume doesn’t mean always speaking with the same volume, but it’s about making sure the whole class know when you are addressing them. Having a confident authority about everything you have to say will ensure the children stay more engaged. You are in charge, they need to believe what you have to say is life changing. Obviously we know it could be, but they won’t give a monkey’s arse if you rush your words, whisper your words or just mumble them!

When making sure an individual knows they are making some bad choices leaves you with a few decisions to make. In a busy classroom, you might choose to raise your voice to ensure that a child knows exactly what they are doing wrong – this can be useful when you are concerned about a possible escalation. Then again, you may choose instead to approach the behavioural concern with a quiet word in the ear of said child. Be consistent, a child will know then what to expect. No surprises from you, will reduce the surprises from them.

4) Consistent movement

Don’t worry, I don’t mean you have to constantly do laps of your room. It does mean that your class need to know that in every lesson you will be making your way around the room on at least a few occasions – checking in on their work. It doesn’t mean you will always engage with the pupil, or mark their work during the lesson. It’s purpose is to sweep up those children whose behaviour may slip if they haven’t really understood the task – but think they can get away with not doing anything. This gives you something to have to make a decision on in terms of behaviour management at the end of the lesson, or when you mark the books. This decision won’t even have to be made if your class know that you will get around the room to all of them at multiple times of the lesson. The best way to come across confident is to have a selection of ‘spots’ in the room where you can look in on the children’s work from a suitable distant. Try and have no more than 6 ‘spots’ in your room, and try to visit them at least once in every lesson. Consistency is your friend, get close and then get an efficient class.

5) Consistent Interior Design

My current head teacher once said to me: “YOU shaped not U shaped,” on one of our inset days. He didn’t mean, at least I don’t think so, that your tables need to be in a giant U shape. But it’s more to do with the flow of your room. Think about your ‘spots’ from the previous point, and think about how you get from one spot to the other. If there is only one route to certain points of the room, you need a rethink.

Also remember, although you want a room which flows, you also want a room which is yours. You need your own space, and the children need to know what you consider to be your own space. When are you going to allow them into your space? Into your cupboard? To work at YOUR desk? Just think, as soon as you let one child, your whole class have grounds to want the same thing at some point. Don’t forget to be consistent. Before allowing your class into your space, think: what will happen if I don’t maintain my consistency in this situation. If the future looks bleak, stay firm and be consistent.

6) Consistent emotions

I am particularly keen on this point, largely because it’s an area i’ve worked hard on improving myself. I can’t honestly say I am completely there, but I know where I want to be. You must only show your emotions sparingly, don’t let the class know that you are genuinely upset over a situation, don’t let the class know that you find it absolutely hilarious that another child has called someone a nickname you wish you could use. Don’t lose your temper over a situation, there are times when you need to be stern and louder than normal, but never with your temper lost. The second you lose your temper, the whole class will lose their respect for you – and it may take a long time (if ever) to repair the damage caused in your relationship.

N.B. This isn’t a definitive guide by any means, but may help you on your way to better classroom management.

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