Behaviour management can be regarded the ‘Achilles heel’ for many teachers regardless of what teaching sector they belong to. We are currently experiencing a shortage of teachers, with many leaving the profession citing poor behaviour of learners as a key factor. This can cause practitioners to become ‘burnt out’ or even result in significant time off sick.

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A new teaching year brings fresh challenges, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the level of expectations upon a teacher’s shoulders such as preparing schemes of work, arranging team meetings or undertaking a new role.

It can be easy to put behaviour management on the back burner, when it should be the focal point for any new or experienced teacher. An overriding factor with behaviour management is ‘consistency’; to remain consistent will promote understanding and a mutual trust between the teacher and student which will ultimately enhance learning.

Here are a number of methods which can develop and maintain positive behaviour:

1. Delegate responsibilities- Never feel that you have to do everything yourself as a teacher, delegate jobs or responsibilities to your learners. This can be anything from giving the books out at start of a lesson to reading a paragraph to the class. Delegating responsibilities promotes a ‘stepping up’ for the learner, and means they can’t take a back seat in your class. You can promote this further by setting learners challenges such as a 5-minute talk to the class about a topic of their choice.

2. Agreed classroom rules- Get the learners to create a classroom charter. These are expectations / rules that everybody must follow, and once agreed every learner signs the charter and it is placed on the classroom wall. This promotes a reminder of what rules they established at the start of the year and promotes consistency. Another good idea is to get learners to write the ‘teacher rules’ or expectations of what the learners want from their teacher.

Tip - Perhaps get the classroom charter laminated to help make it more authentic 

3. Seating plans created by you- Remember that you are in charge of your classroom. Creating a seating plan will encourage collaboration with non-friendship pairs. Changing the seating plan every term will boosts cohesion and can reduce off-task discussion.

4. Keep learning challenging & dynamic- A sign of disruption within the classroom is that learners find the content or teaching methods ‘boring’. Be an innovator, try implementing new technologies or games within the classroom and encourage competition to stimulate learning and keep everyone on task.

Tip - Try Socrative and Kahoot online games

5. Praise- Praise is contagious and serves as a motivator for most students. Praise can be in the form of an email home, rewards, gift cards, student displays or even an end of year award. Get to know your learners to understand if they prefer praise in front of the class or a quiet word.

6. Be welcoming- At the beginning of every lesson stand next to your classroom door and welcome students to your classroom, be positive- this will set the tone for the lesson. Demonstrate your human side. For example “Did you win your football match at the weekend?” Getting to know your learners interests can help build a rapport with them.

Remember - Find the balance between showing an interest in your learners and being a teacher who is in control

7. Tomorrow is another day- When a bad day or lesson occurs, don’t dwell on the negatives-try to learn from them. Address the issue (even with the learner) and move on from them. Everyone deserves a clean slate.

8. Ask for help when you need it Seek advice from colleague’s, heads of department, friends and TES forms. Sometimes it is beneficial to listen to others methods- or even observe fellow teachers in different departments to see what methods they employ. You can always conduct a classroom survey to get the learners opinions.

Tip – Don’t be afraid to ask your learners for help as well 

9. Have high expectations- Have your own expectations alongside the agreed classroom rules. If a learner is late, remind them to knock on the door and wait outside (then address the issue at a suitable time). Remember to be fair with students and give them a choice in consequences when dealing with behaviour incidents.

10. Follow up actions- Use your institution’s behaviour management policies for every incident that occurs within the classroom. Keeping a record of the incident will support your case if a meeting ever arose with the learner.