Walking into another teacher's classroom is challenging. Having to follow lesson plans and adjust yourself to the teacher's specific teaching style can be a juggling act. Increasing class sizes are an additional hurdle and the leading catalyst for behavior issues. Still, all it takes is one bad apple to turn a class of high achieving students into a loud, uncontrollable mess. Here are a few simple tactics to keep your day running smoothly.
Set a precedent with the entire class by showing them that you are leaving a note. When a student steps out of line use the note as a reminder that the teacher will specifically kow about their behavior because you are going to write about it in the note. The note can be a powerful tool but make sure you follow through in case you return to the same class.
Move to Another Seat
If you're fortunate enough to have a classroom with a spare seat, use it. When a student is alone, they have no one to entertain or impress, making it pointless to act out. Moving a student will also help you track their behavior more easily, so you will know for sure that they are the problem student and the innocent aren't blamed for their misbehavior.
Never underestimate the power of recess. Entire classrooms have been known to settle down at the thought of losing just a few minutes of recess. This tactic can be extremely effective with a single student as well. If you are going to take away recess, follow through is essential so be prepared to sacrifice your own recess and have extra work ready This can work wonders and it's also great if you have a handful of disruptive students.
Send Them Out
My least favorite thing to do but sometimes it is the only choice. There are times when you can tell right off the bat whether a student is going to respond to your disciplinary techniques. I know right away which students are not going to respond to anything I do in class. The objective here now becomes prevention - sparing the rest of the class' instructional time. Sending one student out can save you the headache of having to send five later. Be sure to notify the person you are sending them to in advance as unruly students are never a welcome surprise. Make sure they take classwork with them (it is not a free day) and let the rest of the class know why you took action and that you won't hesitate to do it again.
Never, EVER, engage in a power struggle with a student. This only makes you look immature and unsure of yourself. Sparking a heated debate with one student will eventually lead to an entire class attacking you and lots of wasted time. I once had an unhappy student tell me that her parents tax dollars paid my salary. It was a rather mature statement from a junior high student but she was trying to hook me. I simply replied that she needed to finish her work. Students will say all sorts of things to distract you but make your objective clear and stick with it.
A Principal Visit
Some schools do this by default. I wish every school did this, but most don't. Having the principal, or any other administrator, make their presence known really helps keep those bullies in line. Much like "The Note" you can use "The Visit" for the rest of the day by reminding students that the principal has her eye on the class.
While this isn't my first line of defense it is worth a try with a mildly disruptive student. Some students enjoy making funny noises or speaking in an abnormally loud voice but this behavior is best ignored. Usually, the student will get tired and stop when he's failed to get your attention. If the student's behavior persists, then it's time to use another strategy.