My philosophy for Behaviour Management is to show my emotions and never fear the class will be out of your control if you relax. If there is a fear, you have started to lose the class already. Show your full range of emotions, but be very careful and frugal with the anger ones they must be used very rarely especially when working across cultures and with young students. When you are relaxed the students are relaxed and in a better frame of mind to learn. Above all with behaviour management be consistent, keeping the students confused and stressed only makes behaviour worse and generally inhibits higher levels of thinking.

 

Add to this the theories of Ruby Payne’s research and a smattering of BillRogers and you should have something that works. Many years ago, I had the good fortune to work with Bill Rogers when he visited our school to study the Behaviour Management Card System we had developed.

 

 

Preliminary

Create an atmosphere of rewards and consequences and show appropriate emotions such as happy and sad and disappointment etc. These emotions should be easy for the student to read.

Remember a reward is only a reward if the student sees it as being a reward. For example they might not see a candy as being as much of a reward as being able to leave class before the others or in extreme cases we have tallied positive rewards up in hours and then with parent and government permission allowed the student a half day holiday a month.

 

Everyreward has to be achievable.has to be achievable Setting the bar too high simply makes students give up. Read Ruby Paynes research to try to understand your students and the things that are important to them. I had the opportunity to go to several of her seminars and found them invaluable.

 

I was at a behavior management seminar and the subject of rewards was causing some dissension amongst the group. The speaker continued the discussion and then said he wanted some volunteers. He went on speaking for another 5 minutes and then called for his volunteers. Nobody moved or offered assistance. He asked again still no one moved then he added, but there is a bottle of wine and some chocolates to give away. Ten volunteers stood up and moved to the stage. The ten lined up in the front of the room and he added yes rewards can be contentious and students should do as they are asked but sometimes they need a little incentive.

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My point is if you are going to have consequences, you also need rewards. If you only consider the intrinsic reward of being a good student to be a reward then change your thinking. This is only a valuable reward to the teacher and a very small group of students. Also a class should not run on fear so fear of consequence should not be a prime management control method. Some teachers will want to put pressure on the students by appearing angry all the time but this has a detrimental effect on learning.

Arnsten, Mazure & Sinha, (2012) informs us that research into the brain shows 'stress, in fact, can cripple our most advanced mental faculties, the areas of the brain most developed in primates.' This has big implications for the classroom as well as the workplace'. There are several problems and that is when the teacher or boss is in control of the stress by their actions the stress is hard to manage for the student or the worker therefore specific management and teaching methods are needed to allow students and workers to impose their own stress as Amy et.al also tells us that even under 'everyday stresses, the prefrontal cortex can shut down, allowing the amygdala, a locus for regulating emotional activity, to take over, inducing mental paralysis and panic'. Think of the things that create stress, it is different for everyone and it becomes obvious that a positive attitude and environment where workers and students are relaxed and engaged is a far more productive environment to be working in. Fear may be good for war but not for thinking. Happy students learn much better than scared or unhappy students.

 

My philosophy for Behaviour Management is to show my emotions and never fear the class will be out of your control if you relax. If there is a fear, you have started to lose the class already. Show your full range of emotions, but be very careful and frugal with the anger ones they must be used very rarely especially when working across cultures and with young students. When you are relaxed the students are relaxed and in a better frame of mind to learn. Above all with behaviour management be consistent, keeping the students confused and stressed only makes behaviour worse and generally inhibits higher levels of thinking.

 

Add to this the theories of Ruby Payne’s research and a smattering of BillRogers and you should have something that works. Many years ago, I had the good fortune to work with Bill Rogers when he visited our school to study the Behaviour Management Card System we had developed.

 

 

Preliminary

Create an atmosphere of rewards and consequences and show appropriate emotions such as happy and sad and disappointment etc. These emotions should be easy for the student to read.

Remember a reward is only a reward if the student sees it as being a reward. For example they might not see a candy as being as much of a reward as being able to leave class before the others or in extreme cases we have tallied positive rewards up in hours and then with parent and government permission allowed the student a half day holiday a month.

 

Everyreward has to be achievable.has to be achievable Setting the bar too high simply makes students give up. Read Ruby Paynes research to try to understand your students and the things that are important to them. I had the opportunity to go to several of her seminars and found them invaluable.

 

I was at a behavior management seminar and the subject of rewards was causing some dissension amongst the group. The speaker continued the discussion and then said he wanted some volunteers. He went on speaking for another 5 minutes and then called for his volunteers. Nobody moved or offered assistance. He asked again still no one moved then he added, but there is a bottle of wine and some chocolates to give away. Ten volunteers stood up and moved to the stage. The ten lined up in the front of the room and he added yes rewards can be contentious and students should do as they are asked but sometimes they need a little incentive.

{ads1}

My point is if you are going to have consequences, you also need rewards. If you only consider the intrinsic reward of being a good student to be a reward then change your thinking. This is only a valuable reward to the teacher and a very small group of students. Also a class should not run on fear so fear of consequence should not be a prime management control method. Some teachers will want to put pressure on the students by appearing angry all the time but this has a detrimental effect on learning.

Arnsten, Mazure & Sinha, (2012) informs us that research into the brain shows 'stress, in fact, can cripple our most advanced mental faculties, the areas of the brain most developed in primates.' This has big implications for the classroom as well as the workplace'. There are several problems and that is when the teacher or boss is in control of the stress by their actions the stress is hard to manage for the student or the worker therefore specific management and teaching methods are needed to allow students and workers to impose their own stress as Amy et.al also tells us that even under 'everyday stresses, the prefrontal cortex can shut down, allowing the amygdala, a locus for regulating emotional activity, to take over, inducing mental paralysis and panic'. Think of the things that create stress, it is different for everyone and it becomes obvious that a positive attitude and environment where workers and students are relaxed and engaged is a far more productive environment to be working in. Fear may be good for war but not for thinking. Happy students learn much better than scared or unhappy students.

 

Page 2

 

Environment

Check the room to see if it is conducive to education. Does it smell? If you have been in the room for a long time get another teacher to check as you can become used to the smell but new students coming into your room will not be. Is the seating reasonably comfortable and appropriate and has the 6ft student got room to stretch their legs. Have the kids been sitting in the room for a double lesson without any exercise. (I often send or take the kids outside to walk around the school before starting again).

 

Is the lighting good enough for the tasks you are expecting the students to do?

 

What time of the day is it. Late afternoon on a Friday trying to do academic instruction will be fraught with difficulties. Try changing the lesson to a hands-on art or craft based task. If it is mathematics save that lesson for doing maths games and maths trails.

 

What is bad behaviour

Do all the students understand what bad behavior is? Sadly this is not always so. Every family and every child is bought up differently. For some families it is bad if the child is not home before 11pm and for others it is 6pm to do your homework. Some students get hit with a stick or belted with an open hand so in the school anything less than that is not seen by the student as punishment or they think the teacher is not serious as they have not belted them. The teachers then have to find intrinsic rewards find intrinsic rewards and things that have meaning for that student to use correct behavior. Other students can do anything thing they like at home and the parents look at them with a stupid look on their face and say things like isn’t he cute or he always does that. When the teacher growls at them in class for inappropriate behavior, they say what behavior. All of these incidences require a consistent approach and should be considered a teaching moment (as frustrating as it is just don't let the anger take over as it is mostly counter productive).

 

Classroom rules.

Everyone is different so the teacher should do that age-old thing of classroom rules. The problem is too often the teacher simply resurrects last year’s list and says to the students here you are these are your rules. These are not the students rules they are the teachers rules and the students have no ownership of them. Each year the teacher has to try and get the students to do activities about rights and responsibilities so the students discuss behavior and the things they like and dislike in a classroom. To this end the students will make up their list of rights and responsibilities and they will have ownership of them. It is boring and frustrating for the teacher that such basic things have to be taught over and over but it is not about teaching it is about ensuring the students have ownership of their actions in the class.

 

Teacher body language.

As a teacher, you should now start looking at your own body language. This can be very difficult for many, as they need to act out all their emotions in front of a mirror to be sure they are actually expressing their emotions in their face and body language. Remember being a teacher is being an actor. The most important act of all is looking as if you are angry well before you are angry. Many times, this author has expressed displeasure at a student and turned around to wink at one of the better students who have never caused any disruption. The look of relief on one of the better student’s faces can be quite surprising.

 

Video yourself.

I have always recommended to new teachers to video themselves in front of a classroom, watch the video so they know what the content is like and then sit down with a colleague teacher to talk about their video. Managers have a tendency to jump on this and destroy the whole idea by being over critical and expressing what they do. They forget that we all have to find our own feet and what works for one does not work for all under all circumstances. The teacher has to feel their classroom experience again by watching the video so they can start programming their body and mind to different reactions in front of the class.

 

What to look for

Things to look for are:

  • turning your back on the class while using the board,
  • not moving around the classroom enough,
  • asking questions of a variety of students not just the capable ones,
  • not giving students enough time to answer,
  • answering the students questions yourself (to be avoided as no one will answer if the teacher does it for them),
  • doing annoying things like scratching your bum when stressed,
  • ignoring an area of the room,
  • failing to give some positive reinforcement with good work,
  • watching out the corner of your eye for possible issues,
  • using blame as a teaching tool (I cannot teach you because you never listen),
  • using negativity as a teaching tool (you always do this wrong).

Often new teachers will be classroom blind while they are trying to deliver the lesson they have assiduously prepared. When the teacher is watching the video look for students whose understanding is disappearing with their eyes glazing over or their attention span dropping. Consider is there too much teacher talking or are the increments of the lesson too big for the student to understand, often these things can be seen on a video when there is a quiet time to reflect on the lesson.

 

Page 3

 

Be aware.

Now the techniques to use in the room can differ for every teacher and for every class. The teacher has to find the things that work best for them. Check the room as you enter if there are students already in the classroom.

 

Every time I walked into a room I scanned the students to see what they were up to or planning to do. One day I saw a student furtively glance at another as I walked in and hold their arm as if there was something in their hand. I did not say anything but went to the board and started writing, I waited 10 seconds and as I was writing, I said ‘Tom! Don’t throw that, get your book out’.
Every student started whispering how did he see that. It became a mystery that lasted a long time and certainly lifted my credibility with that group so much so that in later years it was still spoken about. A teacher has to be observant as it is the small mannerism that gives the student away and once a teacher starts to notice this, behavior management becomes much easier.

Basic skills.

There are many tricks that teachers can use, eye contact being one of the strongest. Other techniques are

 

  • aping the silly behavior,
  • tap the desk of someone who is not listening,
  • walking around the room and teaching from many different places.
  • Walk up to a student who is not listening and asking what was the last thing I said.
  • Write noisy students name on the board with a 3 minute penalty they have to work off with positive work.

 

There are many of these and a quick Google search will get the teacher many possible tools. The important thing is to find a variety of techniques that work for you the individual, and use them consistently.

 

Not all students should suffer

Do not forget mostly it is one or two students with behavior issues not all the class, so try not to punish everyone by consistently keeping the class in. This only antagonizes the other students and they will eventually stop working for you or dislike your class so your teaching and credibility has far less impact.

 

And always pick on the behavior never on the student. When bad behaviour is an issue then give the students options such as, you can either stop the offending behaviour or you can move to another seat, or, you can stop the offending behaviour or you can be exited from the class. The flip side is you have elected to continue your behaviour so you must move. This means the onus for all the actions are on the student not on the teacher so theoretically the teacher is maintaining their working relationship with the student unless there are other underlying issues. 

As most students want to learn don’t make them suffer by stopping your delivery flow when using management techniques. Try to use eye contact, hand gestures, body position (stand beside or close), pointing to manage the students not listening or with a potential for problems. Where possible keep your presentation going for the benefit of the rest of the students.

 

Imagination and psychology keeps your management alive and dynamic.

Use your imagination and intelligence. I had a student who I liked but kept interrupting my class when I was talking. I kept him back after a class to negotiate and chat to him. The conversation went like this.

‘I am saying your name all the time and I can see it starting to annoy you as much as I, but I still have to do my job as a teacher’.

He agreed and made a few points and I went on to say

‘what about I give you a few seconds of time to say something funny and when I am ready to talk I touch the lobe of my ear like this’.

I also added

‘I find what you are saying funny and I have to contain myself to stop myself from laughing’.

He was happy as it gave him some leeway as well.

The result was a relaxed atmosphere where everyone had a laugh and at the appropriate time, I could continue to teach without disruption to my teaching. Interestingly the student reacted to the earlobe for a few weeks and by then he had learnt a more appropriate behavior manner where we all worked together and I did not have to touch my ear again.

 

Another time there was a group of student that would not move from the theory class to the workshop. I concentrated on the rest of the students getting them working and then went back into the theory room, ran across the room and jumped on their desk (large octagonal set up) and said; ‘you have two options, sit and listen to me sing or move into the workshop’. At that, I broke into a corny song. The students stood up, said ‘awww Wilky’, went, and worked with a smile on their face. It would have been easy to yell at the students to stop being lazy but then they would have gone with a sullen face, not worked and most likely caused problems.

 

Yelling can be overused and has limited value.

If you feel like losing your temper or yelling do not do it more than once a term/year as the students will set you up to see you perform, regardless of how scary you think you are. If you really are scary then the students are most likely not reaching their educational potential, as scared students do not learn as well as happy students.

 

Not working, then what.

What happens when it is not working? This is the bottom line and you should never go into a classroom without having this worked out. Remember the better prepared you are the less you need it as you will go in with a relaxed confidence and the students will pick up on this very quickly.

 

First step is to warn the student that their behavior is not appropriate and their behavior is stopping you from teaching, please stop that type of behaviour (it is always the behaviour you do not like, not the student) If you continue then I will have to shift you.

 

Second step is to say to the student, you are still doing the behaviours that are stopping me from teaching and doing my job, move to the new seat.

 

Step three. You are still doing the behaviours that are stopping all the students from learning so you have to go to another class for a cool down period. (Another student escorts the troublesome student or takes a card to get assistance). It is important to note this is a cool down time for the student. On some occasions that I have had to exit students with a green card (we had a green, orange and red card system to help determine response importance) I found upon talking to the student later that they had a major family disruption before they came to school and were slowly falling apart.

 

Step four in the other class the student sits in a prepared seat quietly with no expectation of working. But there is an expectations of making up the time and doing the work in an after school or lunchtime detention. Any failure to comply would have another student going for a senior staff member to remove the student. Try not to short cut the procedure at any stage regardless of how you feel as we as teachers are there to teach behavior that is socially acceptable for our culture and environment.

 

This process requires the school and many teachers to cooperate, but from experience it does work well.

 

A card system

The card system mentioned above was, a reliable student escorted the student with behaviour issues and presented a green card to the receiving teacher.

 

An orange card went to a senior staff member and had a higher level of importance

 

A red card went to a senior staff member used to dealing with major problems or to the principal and required immediate intervention.

 

Planning and good curriculum that is achievable by all students.

Do not forget there is no substitute for a good well-structured curriculum that has achievable goals for all students in the class. This can solve issues before they start.

The above works, the staff at our school was complaining about the students so the principal invited the social workers to our staff meeting to get some ideas on dealing with the non compliant students. About 70 staff were sitting around the room and the social workers starting asking for names of students and what they did that was inappropriate. The list slowly grew to about 25 hard core misfits and my Woodwork teaching colleague looked across at me and laughed. That must be your Metalwork class list as it is my woodwork class list. We were the only two teachers that had all the students in the one room at the one time and rarely had issues with them even though we did several theory units and technical drawing with them. I also had several of them in Health classes.

Don't wait for the small things to become big issues. Talk to students, understand them discuss the small issues while it is easy and the big ones do not come about as often.

 

 

 

 

Reference

Arnsten, Amy. Mazure, Carolyn, M. Sinha, Rajita. (2012) This Is Your Brain in Meltdown, Neural circuits responsible for conscious self-control are highly vulnerable to even mild stress. When they shut down, primal impulses go unchecked and mental paralysis sets in. 48 Scientific American, April 2012 neuroscience. [accessed 18/03/2013] http://medicine.yale.edu/whr/232_126326_Scientific%20American%20Article%20-%20April%202012.pdf

Rogers, Bill (2007). Cracking the Challenging Class. Sage publications [accessed 01/08/2012]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKfZgm4k_jE

 

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