There is a big vacuum in teacher training courses when it comes to managing behaviour in the classroom. My experience as a mentor to trainee teachers shows that classroom management is the number one cause for concern among trainee teachers. Managing the classroom requires skills that a teacher develops over time. Failure to manage behaviour effectively can affect the teaching and learning process in the classroom. It can determine the progress of the lesson and greatly influence the outcome of the lesson. Here, I would like to share with you some of the strategies I have used successfully. These strategies have stood the test of time and have helped me over the last 30 years of my teaching career.
Firm but Fair
I like to describe myself as firm teacher and not a strict teacher. I think it is important for teachers to be firm in order to gain the respect of the students and to keep a good rapport with the students. Being strict can have negative repercussions on the students. It is an outdated strategy that will not work well in the modern world.
Being firm requires the teacher to be consistent in dealing with disruptive behaviour. There should be clear guidelines set by the teacher at the beginning of the school year. These guidelines must be clearly displayed in the classroom. The teacher must then make sure that these guidelines are followed by every member of the class at all times. This will ensure fairness in dealing with undesirable behaviour.
Teachers must also stick to the sanction system set up by the school in order to maintain consistency throughout the school. Many schools have a sanction system in place for teachers to deal with escalating disruptive behaviour.
One of the first things I try to do at the beginning of each academic year is to establish some classroom routines:
- Lining up quietly outside the classroom before entering the class
- Diary and pencil case on the table throughout the lesson
- No shouting out or interupting others
- Total silence when teacher counts down from five
- Returning books to assigned trays
- Stand by chair quietly at the end of lesson
- Dismiss student one row at a time; never the whole class at one go
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One of my best strategies in avoiding disruptive behaviour in the classroom is encouraging positive behaviour. I regularly reward students with positive attitude, good work ethics, well behaved and team work. In the last two years, I have been using Class Dojo - an online behaviour recording system. You can record both positive and negative behaviour but I only record the positive behaviours. It creates a competitive atmosphere in the classroom. The top three students in the class each month wins a mystery gift. Parents can also have access to the records if they wish. Class Dojo has taken my classroom management skills to a higher level. I highly recommend teachers to check out Class Dojo. You will be surprised how well students response to it, including students in the higher classes who normally shy away from any kind of reward system.
I am aware that each teacher develop their own strategy in managing behaviour in the classroom. It depends on your teaching style, student demography and school ethos. However, I strongly belief that positive behaviour management that builds a healthy teacher-student relationship will help maintain good behaviour in the classroom.