Behavior Management is NOT Easy
Most teachers find difficulty with behavior management, and tend to struggle the most in the beginning of their teaching careers. Many new teachers feel ill-prepared when it comes to the type of strategy that they should be following in the classroom. There are a wide variety of students who come from unique backgrounds and teachers must create a positive classroom environment for all students. Teachers often must adapt to varying class sizes, teaching different age groups, and sometimes even changing classrooms or schools. These changes can affect behavior management strategies and teachers must be able to adjust based on any given situation. Year to year with classes made up of unique, new students some teachers may find challenges with behavior management that they haven’t experienced before.
What is your behavior management philosophy?
“The purpose of behaviour management is to promote a positive, caring classroom community that encourages student learning, positive peer and teacher relationships and self-motivation. It is not about forcing students to “…comply with teacher demands…” but allowing them to have ownership and success in all aspects of their schooling.”
This particular behavior management philosophy is found in the following article and contains some relevant points when it comes to allowing students to take responsibility for their actions and creating a positive classroom community.
3 Tips for Behavior Management
1. Set routines, rules and expectations from day one.
Setting expectations allows students to know how they should be behaving in the classroom. Setting behavior expectations can be an inclusive activity. If students help to develop expectations, then they have a sense of ownership over these expectations and become accountable for their actions. Read about ways that you can develop expectations with students in your classroom. You will need to update and add to your processes and expectations if you are introducing new concepts that students aren’t familiar with, like flexible seating.
Classroom management is a big part of successful behavior management. Let students know how processes work in the classroom so that they know what you expect from them during transitions, passing paperwork, collecting paperwork, how to line up, requesting to use the restroom, how to assemble for small groups, how to use flexible seating, classroom jobs, etc. Once these routines are established, you can practice with your students so that they know how you expect them to perform certain duties in the classroom.
Don’t forget to post these routines and expectations on an anchor chart, a bulletin board, or directly on the white board. During different times of the year, students may need a reminder, so you can always recap the list with students, using realistic examples in case of any confusion.
2. Be fair and consistent
Students want to feel like they are a respected part of the community. No one is perfect and if you are always pointing out the negative behaviors that you see, then students may view that as potential to get attention… negative attention is better than no attention. Many times, if you point out a positive behavior that the student(s) are doing, it will be a reminder to other students that are not on track… yet. For example, if you ask students to take out their independent reading books and notice that a few students aren’t performing that task, thank the students that have performed the task. Pointing out those students, usually gives the other students a reminder of what they are being asked to do. Sometimes a reminder is all they need. Not singling specific students out for not doing what their asked saves them embarrassment, which could often lead into more misbehavior if they don’t feel that you’re being fair.
Consistency is KEY! Make sure that the consequences fit the behavior and that students know what those consequences are beforehand. Do not let certain behaviors slide. If you do so, then students will not feel that you’re being completely fair because one student must be accountable for their actions while another student is not. As a teacher, you must know what the consequence of the action is if students don’t follow the classroom expectations. When enforcing the rule, state only what rule was broken and what the consequence is without hesitation and then move on. Following this process will not allow for excuses or argument. Being assertive will allow students to know that they will be held accountable for their actions and that consequences will be enforced.
3. Use positive reinforcement often and provide brain breaks
Praise and reward students when they exhibit good behavior often! When you use a point system, charts, incentive tickets, etc., let students know that you are rewarding them for their positive behavior. Some teachers even use a reward system that students can work toward to incentivize them. Teachers can offer food-related rewards, extra time using technology, extra time using their favorite flexible seating options, offering a special prize… the list goes on and on. Check out this positive reinforcement activity to help you keep your whole class behaving: ducks in a row.
Brain breaks can often give students a needed pause to release energy so that they can focus on the next task at hand. Many teachers make it a point to use music or exercises like yoga to give students a few minutes to get up and move! Elementary teachers are big advocates of GoNoodle that allows students to move and learn and practice mindfulness.
Remember that each class in unique and what works for one class may not work for another. Sometimes you will need to change up your strategy, but these tips are sure to help you set the ground work for the year.
What tips do you have that help you determine your behavior management strategy?