Behaviour Management is a skill that underpins great teaching. Without successful behaviour management in your class, you cannot have a learning atmosphere, you cannot deliver that incredible lesson that you have planned and you cannot achieve the outcomes nor the progress that you need to. Not only is it in the best interests of the children to get this part right but it is most definitely in the best interests of yourself to consistently revisit behaviour management.
Firstly, let me dispel the myth and there’s no easy way to say this: there is no magic wand. Strategies need to be added to your behaviour management toolkit and kept stored. Strategies will work with some children and not others. Some will work for a while then need changing but the following 5 ways will underpin the strategies that you develop:
Relationships will be the foundations of your classroom and support you with all things education. They allow you to be able to develop a connection with a child, understand their likes/dislikes, understand the way in which they learn and enable you to support them with their emotional development. Relationships aren’t a given when you start your ITT year and you have a much tougher job to develop them during your placement due to the time pressure. The best way that you can do this in this short space of time is to immerse yourself in school time. Make it your job to get to know people. Go out at break times, get involved in an after-school club and even have your dinner in the hall a few times.
This links explicitly to relationships but take responsibility for passing on messages to parents from Day 1. Say hello, be friendly and show that you know the children. Teachers and Parents both have the best interests of the child at heart as this is the basis of your relationship. These positive interactions make it much easier to have the more difficult conversations. But don’t forget the positives. They often get missed when dismissing the children at the end of the day as you’re often spinning many plates.
It may seem strange having boundaries as number 3 on the list but before you even step into your placement school, I suggest that you read through the behaviour policy clearly. If it’s not on the website, then ask for it. It’s much easier to implement boundaries when you know the common ones for the school that you are in. The inconsistency of boundaries leaves room for errors which leaves room for disruption. It’s much easier to have tight boundaries then release if needed than to do the reverse so ensure that you are crystal clear on these.
With implementing the behaviour policy, you must ensure consistency. Not only consistency from yourself but also consistency from your staff. If you are lucky enough to have a support assistant within your class, then you need to ensure that you are both clear on your classroom rules. Constantly revisit this with your classroom staff as people’s opinions on behaviour can vary.
Reward the behaviour that you want to see. I am not advocating extrinsic rewards e.g. stickers, positive notes home although they are a great way of communicating with home. This can be anything from a smile or verbal yet specific praise. It must be specific in order for the children to understand expectations so instead of saying ‘Well done’ then you can amend this to ‘Well done for showing kindness to Jenny’.
Enjoy your ITT year and make sure that you network. The colleagues that you link with will be pivotal to the rest of your career. Welcome to the best profession on earth!
Tracey Lawrence has been a primary school teacher for nine years, and is currently a SEMH specialist leader for education and Assistant Headteacher in a mainstream school in Leicestershire. An author and TES columnist, Tracey is a regular blogger and host of the popular #behaviourchat forum. Her new book, Practical Behaviour Management for Primary School Teachers (Bloomsbury Education) is due out in September. Follow her on Twitter @BehaviourTeach
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