The things that I changed this week to improve behaviour.

Like I said in my previous post- I was bringing in the Trunchbull this week and it definitely seemed to work. I had a terrible lesson observation before Christmas but my observation for this term was two days ago and the first thing she said was ‘excellent behaviour management, you’ve really got them under control now’. I didn’t dare tell her how they were last week. But by changing a few things, there has definitely been an improvement. And I understand that every class/ school/ teacher/ NQT is different, so read over the tips below and tweak them to your own needs and class.

1. No smiling. I’m a naturally smiling person and so this probley had the biggest impact because the children are so used to seeing my smiling. When I started with the serious face on Monday, they knew instantly I meant business. It shows the children that you are not to be messed with and what you say needs to be done. The serious face also sets the ‘tone’, they know now is a time to listen and behave- it’s not laughing and joking time.

2. Names on the board. This was so simple and effective and I wished I had started it earlier. I simply drew a sad face in the corner of the board and when someone wasn’t listening or had not done as I had asked. I would slowly go and get my whiteboard pen and slowly walk over to the board with a disappointed face (the key to this is the ‘acting’ the drama. Dragging out the process.) The slow walk over to the board also got everyone’s attention ‘who’s name am i going to write?’ I then wrote a name on the board and said oh dear, how disappointing. Now when anyone walks into the room they will see your name on the board. You better try and improve your behaviour so I can wipe your name off the board. I would not want Mrs E. (Headmistress) to walk into this class and see you name.’ Don’t shout, but do look cross and disappointed. The best thing about this is that the names on the board don’t mean anything but the children hated seeing thier name and would ask me if I would wipe it off if they did x or z.

3. Set line places. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t do this from September. Lining up and walking through the school was always a problem because children would be pushing in, there would be shouts of ‘Miss, he pushed in!’, then children would end up with thier friends and that would mean laughing and joking walking to assembly and talking throughout. Now they have set line places, all that has been cut out. Some teachers like boy, girl, boy, girl in the line, but by doing set, specific places, you can really take control of the situation and spilt troublesome partners right up by putting them far away from each other and the biggest help for me, was stopping all the fussing when it was lining up time. They just went to thier places, and surprisingly, they remembered their places quicker than me.

4. Refusing to talk over anyone. I knew I had to do something, when i was increasingly finding myself talking over children on the carpet when I was teaching. Some children were blatantly not listening. They were having their own merry time and I just felt like a failing comedian who was slowly loosing his audience at a rowdy working men’s club. They were being disrespectful. But what I have realised is; children will only get away with what you let them. So the zero tolerance approach was brought in. I refused to talk over any noise- that included shuffling chairs. I would stand and wait, then slowly walk over to the board and write a name. Eventually the children knew that they could no longer talk on the carper.

5. The 5 dash rule. I explained to the children that every time I had to wait for them, I would put a ‘dash’ on the white board, if I got to 5 dashes, they were missing their play. They had wasted my time and so I was wasting theirs. It’s quite a harsh one and i only use it as a last resort. The key is to not let them become blasé about it. As the dashes increase, you can see the panic set in if someone is not behaving ‘James! Ssssh! Miss is going to put a dash on the board!’

6. Praise positive behaviour. ‘Wow! Just look how Nina is sitting on the carpet.’ All the children look and then instantly sit propley on the carpet. ‘I love how Ali was the first person to put his pencil down and listen.’ This means you don’t have to address the children who haven’t put thier pen down and bring in a negative atmosphere, because they will instantly know what is expected of them and do the same.

6. The thinking spot. I’m not the biggest fan of this, but it definitely works. But I only use it for a child who really needs to know who is boss in the classroom, not for behaviour that is actually quite low disrupting. It is a small round mat from Ikea, and when a child has been warned repeatedly, I get it out and make them sit on it for 5minutes. I explain that I have to get the Thinking Spot out and how it is from the nursery, but some children are acting like they are still there. They have to sit on it for 5 minutes and think about what they have done. They hate this one as well, because they are separated from the class and they are exposed. Like I said, it shuldn’t be used all the time as I don’t believe in embarrassing children, but sometimes certain behaviours need to be nipped in the bud and children need to know what is and is not acceptable in the class.

7. Get your TA on board. The last thing why I believe last week was so successful is that myself and my TA worked together. I told her what i was doing, she also backed me up, ‘Goodness, you do not want your name on the board.’ She acted disappointed with the children and reinforced all of my expectations- and I felt more confident. As they say, there’s safety in numbers!

Behaviour management is a biggie- OFSTED rate all teachers on it and it makes a difference to how well you feel you are teaching and getting through to your class. Sometimes though, no matter how much you do, you still have a bad day- but take it for what it is, a bad day. Go home, have a glass of wine, a long hot soak and a talk with a loved one and remember, we’re doing the best that we can. Teaching is a difficult, difficult job and we’re still doing it- so we’re stronger than most! 

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