Behaviour Management

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We know that to effectively deliver sanctions the message needs to be simple, clear and non-negotiable; in practice it is easy to get caught up in a lengthy argument or confrontation. Focus on moving in, delivering your sanction as discreetly as possible and then moving out quickly. Choose a phrase that you will withdraw on 'I need to see you working as well as you were in yesterday's written task, thank you for listening' or 'I will come back and give you feedback on your work in five minutes'.

Avoid waiting around for the student to change their behaviour immediately; they may need some time and space to make a better choice. Engage another student in a positive conversation or move across the room to answer a question and only check back once the dust has settled. No one likes receiving sanctions and the longer the interaction the more chance of a defensive reaction or escalation. Get in, deliver the message and get out with dignity; quickly, efficiently and without lingering.

Behaviour management tip 2

Countdown

A good technique for getting the attention of the whole class is to use a 'countdown' from 5 or 10 to allow students the time to finish their conversations (or work) and listen to the next instruction. Explain to the class that you are using countdown to give them fair warning that they need to listen and that it is far more polite than calling for immediate silence. Embellish your countdown with clear instructions so that students know what is expected and be prepared to modify it for different groups:

'Five, you should be finishing the sentence that you are writing

Three, excellent Marcus, a merit for being the first to give me your full attention

Two, quickly back to your places

One, all pens and pencils down now

Half, all looking this way

Zero, thank you.'

Some students may join in the countdown with you at first, some will not be quiet by the time you get to zero at first but persevere, use praise and rewards to reinforce its importance and it can become an extremely efficient tool for those times when you need everyone's attention. You may already have a technique for getting everyone's attention, e.g. hands up. The countdown technique is more effective as it is time related and does not rely on students seeing you.

Behaviour management tip 3

Closed requests

Prefacing requests with 'Thank you' has a marked effect on how the request is received.

'Thank you for putting your bag on the hook' or 'Thank you for dropping your gum in the bin'.

The trust in the student that this statement implies, combined with the clarity of the expectation, often results in immediate action without protest. It is almost a closed request which leaves no 'hook' to hold onto and argue with.

A similar technique can be applied to requests for students to make deadlines or attend meetings that they would rather ignore, salesmen would call it an 'assumed close'.

'When you come to see me today get as close to 3.30 as you can so we can resolve this quickly and both get home in good time'. As opposed to, 'Meet me at my room at the end of school'.

'When you hand in your coursework next Monday, meet me by the staff room so that I can store it securely'. As opposed to, 'I want your coursework in on Monday'.

You are assuming and encouraging a positive response; making it awkward for the student to respond negatively.

Behaviour management tip 4

Get out and about

Perhaps your greatest contribution to managing behaviour around the school site is your presence. If you have your coffee in the playground, your lunch with the students (what % of your students eat at a table with an adult every day?) and are ever-present in the corridor outside your classroom students will see consistency in your expectations for behaviour both in and out of class.

They will grow used to your interventions in social areas and your presence will slowly have an impact on their behaviour. The...
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