Behavior management is one of those areas in education where some teachers struggle and others excel. What many new teachers are never told, is that behavior management can vary from year to year, from class to class and even from student to student. There are some methods that can be applied consistently, but behavior management really comes down to knowing your students and setting firm limits.
The Basics of Behavior Management
If you do not start with firm and consistent rules from the first moment of the first day of school, you will find that you have to work at least twice as hard to gain control. That does not mean that you should rule with an iron fist or be a tyrant. What it does mean, however, is that when you set clear expectations for classroom behavior on the first day, there is less chance of confusion about what is expected. Do not wait until the end of the first week or even the second day of school to start setting guidelines. Do it immediately. If the first day of school has already gone by, start fresh on a Monday and plan accordingly.
Another area where some teachers falter is with setting clear consequences for misbehavior. In clear, concise terms, outline your disciplinary process. Will students be removed to a quiet area at the first offense? Will recess be spent indoors? When will a note be sent home? Make sure students know exactly what will happen, why, and when.
Make parents your biggest allies. Send home a note or email on the first day (or even at Meet the Teacher night before school starts!), with the classroom behavior expectations and the clearly defined consequences. Have parents and students sign and return it to you. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and is expecting the same behavior. There is then full knowledge of the consequences should that behavior not happen.
Be Fair and Consistent
While being fair and consistent may seem like an easy task, one slip and the behavior management system you set in place can be ruined. It is important to note that fair does not always mean equal. Children with learning disabilities and processing disorders, for example, may need extra time to formulate answers or ask questions. Their delay in answering or an incorrect answer that prompts the class to laugh may not actually be an intent to disrupt, but the way in which they process the question.
Don’t Forget to Love Them
For all of the rules and consequences that are essential for behavior management, the most important thing you can do for your class is to love your students. Love the “good” ones who are well-mannered and the “challenging” ones who test your every limit. When your students know that you care about them, that you cherish them, and that you are invested in their success, behavior management issues decrease. They will want to please you as much, if not more, as you want to teach them.
By having immediate rules, being clear and concise with consequences, involving parents, being fair and consistent, and having genuine affection for your students, the behavior management issues in your class will not impede your ability to teach. Students will be more on-task, more involved and more responsible for their own behavior. Behavior management is not about being a disciplinarian or having total control; it is about setting limits and boundaries that will enable children to learn and succeed in the classroom.
What are some of your behavior management tips and tricks? Share them below or on the forums!