Now this is by no means a be-all-and-end-all list and I would hugely recommend purchasing Sue Cowley’s Getting the Buggers to Behave but I do hope this post provides some helpful advice!
1. Boundaries and Consistency
These guys go hand in hand. Firstly, set your boundaries. Base them on your school’s behaviour policy but be very, very clear. Some teachers will be more relaxed and long established and have their own ‘rules’ (phones are okay/chewing gum is okay/bright white new trainers somehow don’t get noticed) but that’s not going to work for you if you want peaceful, respectful environments where learning is happening.
Once you’ve established your boundaries, you just need to meet them consistently. Even on Friday P5 when you’re tired and they’re tired and you just need that bell to ring. Follow your own boundaries and sanctions every.single.time.
Kids like rules. They like knowing where they stand and long term, they will become drilled in your expectations.
I’ve seen this happen in real life: before teaching I TA’ed in a ahem, ‘lively’ Year 10 class. (Lively in the kind of way that have fights, throw glue, throw scissors, rip books up and swear at you). The teacher did the same thing every time. She followed the steps the same way after every issue. She did this 5 times a week for 2 years. This class just left and were arguably the best behaved Y11 class we had purely because of her consistency.
2. Follow Up
This is tied into the results of boundaries and consistency, and it’s not easy, but don’t let issues slide. Chase the breaktime detentions, the no-homeworks and the lates. This shows them you are in control even when they’re not in the room. Likewise, if a student has had a rough lesson with you, say something positive to them (even ‘how was your day’ if you see them in the corridor later). This will impact their behaviour next time they see you.
See my last post for more info on this but just don’t waste your voice screaming. It isn’t worth it, it will have little to no impact and ultimately you’re the one looking more bothered than they are.
This is one of the best ways to get the most
from your classes. Praise the big things (great assessments/homework/answers) but also the little things: extra marks on a reattempted exam questions, doing the date and title without you telling them, putting hands up instead of shouting out. Praise them in different ways: an email home, a postcard in tutor time, a sticker in their book. It doesn’t always have to be said aloud, and for your shy students, the more subtle approach shows them you know them well enough not to do that.
Praise also includes effort. This year one of my Y10 students, who was tricky, rewrote one of his mocks because he was upset with the grade he received. He had never done this before. He did this because he felt I always appreciated when he did other things (even things that were actually non-optional, like making notes when asked, bringing a pen etc). Overall, feeling appreciated over a year meant that he worked hard and this has resulted in him moving up a set for English – a big deal for him.
Always dripping tiny bits of approval make your students feel like it’s worth doing the right thing.