I recently saw a post that made my blood boil; the post stated that bad behaviour in the class is never the teacher’s fault. Some children have problems, but there is always something that the teacher can do. Teachers as educators should be educating students on how to deal with their behaviour.
In this article, the reasons given for bad behaviour were:
- They are bored
- They are stuck
- They have additional needs
If a child is bored or stuck, then this is the fault of the teacher. A teacher should be responsible for dealing with additional needs.
I have a fair amount of experience with this topic; I have worked with teenagers for the last 20 years, excluded from school, and run my own training company to deal with these issues. The previous school I worked in had 20 boys; all had a degree of behaviour that challenged them. Most of the lessons were taught without any problems, we had bad days with some of the young men, but the majority of the time, they were engaged.
Please don’t blame the child and send them out of the class. Here are eight techniques for dealing with behaviour.
1 — Be Consistent with Rules
Establish the rules from the first lesson. It can be helpful to let the students write some of their own class rules; then students use peer pressure to keep them. A rule a student has made is far more likely to be honoured than one a teacher introduces.
Once the rules are established, then follow them consistently with all students, even on those days when you woke up late and didn’t have time for a coffee. Let a student break a rule once; they will want to break it all the time.
2 — Get the Students Full Attention Before Telling Them Anything.
If a student is not focused on you, they will not be listening, so spend a couple of minutes gaining their attention—better this than repeating instructions to every student.
I allow my students to listen to music when they are working. Many of us work better with music; why should our students be any different. They know the rules from the start, turn the music off when I am talking. I also make sure the instructions are clear and concise. Sometimes you might wish to get a student to repeat the instruction back to you if they are complicated.
3 — Use Positive Language and Body Language.
Rather than saying to your students, “stop talking now.” Use positive language such as, “can you all listen, please?”. The positive language will encourage your students to use their positive language; “I can’t do that” might turn into “I will give it a try.”
Positive body language is just as important. If you have had a bad morning and walk into a classroom in a lousy mood, students will pick it up. I don’t mean grinning like a court jester, but smile as often as you can. Create a warm, welcoming environment for students when they enter your class.
4 — Mutual Respect
Sounds easy, but many teachers forget this. If you want to receive respect, you have to role model the behaviour to your students. Teenagers especially thrive on being treated as adults; they may come from a home where they are not listened to and to have their opinion heard is a very positive experience for them.
5 — Have Quality Lessons
I attend training every year; if the activity is inadequate and boring, I find my attention wandering, and I become fidgety and don’t listen, much like my students.
Design lessons that are fast-paced; activities should be scattered throughout. Don’t expect students to be sat there for 45 minutes listening to you speak. Allow the students to research and discover knowledge themselves. The more they are engaged, the less their mind will look for trouble.
6 — Know Your Student
There is no better tool available to the teacher than knowing your students. Take time to get to know them, their likes and dislikes. If you can plan a lesson on what the student is interested in, you will find them easier to engage.
Knowing your student also helps. If that normally engaged student is disengaged, what is going on for them? Is there a problem at home? Are they in trouble? I had a student who became less engaged, but because I had taken the time to get to know him, he felt comfortable telling me what was going on for him. He was being neglected to such a degree, the only place he was eating was at school. Can you imagine trying to work when you were starving hungry? A good teacher will recognise this and be able to help the student.
7 — Be Able to Diagnose Learning Problems
Have a basic knowledge of learning problems and the signs of these. Teachers are in the privileged position of being able to diagnose learning problems. From here, the teacher can help provide tools for the student to succeed. These tools can be used in your class and for future learning as well. These adaptations can be something as simple as printing worksheets onto coloured paper.
As important as it is to look out for learning problem, it is also essential to look out for talented students. I worked with a young man who was always getting into trouble. When I worked 1:1 with him, it was clear that his work was exceptionally high; he was bored in his class and completed the job in 10 minutes, which left him the rest of the lesson to misbehave. We decided to move him up a year from Year 10 to Year 11, his behaviour minimised overnight, as he no longer had the time to misbehave.
8 — Routine
Like rules, a routine is essential to start from the beginning. Establish a way that works for you and your students. As simple as one student gives out the books, another gives out the pens. Giving disruptive student responsibility can minimise their behaviour.
It is also an advantage to have a familiar routine for some of your lessons. For example, a quick 5-minute opening activity, followed by a recap and then the whole lesson. Ensure at the end of the class you have time for questions. Find out two things the students learnt and two things they would like to practice more.
Many students who are labelled to have problem behaviour have traits of autism. Routine will calm them and allow them the security of knowing what is coming next.
If you can adopt some of these techniques in most of your lesson, you will see improved behaviour. It will be challenging at first, but we are educators.
If one day it goes wrong, don’t worry; we all have bad days. Have a biscuit, pick yourself up and start again. Tomorrow is a new day.
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