This is my last post on Behaviour Management in our schools. The other two posts which you can access here are entitled:

Dear Sir/Ma’am,

There are, of course, many strategies designed to improve behaviour management in our classrooms, but remember it is not solely the teacher’s responsibility to do so. However, any strategy you choose to work on behaviour management in your classroom will be underpinned by the following principles:

  • they are clear and robust.
  • they follow behaviour and discipline systems and a framework of
    consequences, which are understood by all (staff and students) and contributed to by students.
  • there is a whole school approach.
  • there is a focus on positive recognition of appropriate behaviour.
  • positive relationships are developed and maintained.
  • there is an awareness of the adults’ emotional responses to inappropriate behaviour.

There are four basic approaches, which research has found to improve classroom behaviour:

1.Rules and procedure
2. Teacher-student relationships
3. Disciplinary interventions
4. Mental set

Think back to how you said you responded to inappropriate behaviour, is there anything you may want to change or improve?

Could a small change have a dramatic effect?

You are, like many teachers, concerned about behaviour, but think about it this way:

If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting the same responses.

Now is the chance to change tact! Please try other methods and the results will surprise you:

  1. Rules And Procedures

Classrooms become more orderly places when rules are clearly stated and perform even better when rules have been negotiated, discussed and justified.

Here are 10 steps to improving rules and procedures:

1. Create rules and express them positively. It shouldn’t just be a list of
2. Justify rules and rehearse them! Note that “because I say so” is not a persuasive  justification.
3. Discuss rules with the class. Explain their purpose, i.e. to improve learning.
4. Negotiate with the students to get commitment. Ask for suggestions and
remember to justify and compromise. Make posters and get them to sign up!
5. Regularly review the rules together.
6. Encourage students to devise rules and take ownership of them.
7. Remind students of any relevant rules before a potentially disruptive activity or if you are aware of “something brewing”. This kind of response can drastically
reduce inappropriate behavior.
8. Encourage and develop team working (team rules for success).                                          9. Regularly get students to self-assess their own behaviour set against the
10. Link the rules to the five broad areas of low level disruption.

2. Teacher-Student Relationships

Think about the style of relationship you have with your students. Your relationship will, of course, depend on the class or group, but a balance between a dominant and cooperative style is regarded as the most effective way to improve classroom management.

How Do You Increase Your Dominance and Assertiveness?
Dominance and assertiveness is about effective leadership, having a clear path to learning goals and good behaviour, pursued with vigour and enthusiasm. It should also be student-centred.

Here are a number of tips to increase dominance and assertiveness in the classroom:

    For the class or group

  • Negotiate ground rules
  • Set goals and assessment criteria
  • Set learning objectives
  • Set specific behaviour objectives

    For you

  • Be authoritative – in your speech and in your body language.
  • Fake it until you make it – be absolutely confident and in control even if you don’t feel it.
  • Get out of the habit of sitting behind the desk.

Try the PEP Approach

Proximity: Walk around the classroom, stand by a pupil that may be about to misbehave. Stand a “little too close for comfort” but don’t invade personal space. A difficult judgement sometimes. You don’t want to come over as aggressive or intimidating.
Eye contact: Holding eye contact expresses dominance. What you say will be taken more seriously if you can maintain eye contact before, during and after speaking.
Posing questions: Rather than telling a student off, pose a question, such as “Why have you not started your work? These actions are often more effective and far less exhausting than getting angry or shouting and will make you appear in control (even if you do not feel it).


Try the CASPER Approach

  • Calm         – Always try to appear calm, even if you are not feeling calm. The first step in a difficult situation is to create thinking time, taking a deep breath.
  • Assertive  – Have a good eye contact. State your needs clearly and use “I” statements, eg: “I want . . .”; “I need . . .”; etc
  • Status Preservation – Students operate within a peer group. When correcting behaviour always be aware of this and use private rather than public reprimands.
  • EmpathyShow empathy and avoid challenging questions such as “What do you think you are doing?”
  • Respect – Model appropriate behaviour to reinforce your expectations. Always show your students respect, even if they are disrespectful.

How Do You Increase Cooperation And Collaboration?
We all know how challenging it can be to cooperate with badly behaved students. How many times have we or our colleagues talked about that class?

Sometimes a cycle can develop between the teacher and the students that makes things even worse:

The students misbehave more, you dislike them more, you are less positive and friendly, they dislike you and your classes more, they disrupt more and so it goes on.

The cycle needs to be broken.

The next time you have a class with a particularly difficult student or a challenging group, why not try the following:

First . . . 

Try focusing on putting negotiated and clear rules in place. This will often require a great deal of emotional generosity and patience or restraint! The main aims are to be more positive, friendly and fair.

Then . . .

1. Meet and greet students by the door. Get off to a good start.
2. Catch them doing the right thing and comment positively in private. A lot of inappropriate behaviour is attention-seeking.
3. Put the student in “intensive care.” No it’s not what you think! Smile, use their name positively, ask for their opinion, make a point at looking at their work, comment favourably about genuine effort or achievement. Talk to them, be patient and helpful, have high expectations and keep calm. Show that you value them. But don’t overdo it!
Be fair, use this approach with your well-behaved students as well.
4. Learn their names. This is especially valuable when you are new to a school.
5. Engage students in an informal way. Let them know you don’t just see them as students but as individuals with interests, hobbies, and lives outside of school.
6. Use eye contact and proximity.
7. Collaborate and problem solve together. What’s the problem here? What can we do about this?
8. Build team and group work.
9. Have high expectations and let them know what those are.
10. Develop flexible responses and teaching styles.
11. Give responsibilities to particular students.
12. Avoid sarcasm. What you might think is light may be damaging your teacher-student relationship.
13. Check for understanding, reinforce learning goals and expectations.
14. Be a good role model for your students by acting in the way that you want them to behave.

3. Disciplinary Interventions

Think back again to how you respond to inappropriate behaviour in the classroom.

  • Are you reactive?
  • Do you wait for problems to happen and then respond?
  • Are you consistent?
  • Are you fair?

A proactive approach to improving behaviour is usually much more effective.

Remember managing behaviour is not just about responding to inappropriate behaviour.

It is about creating conditions that encourage positive actions.

Try the following approaches:

  • Remind students of the rules before activities take place.
  • Reinforce appropriate behaviour. Use tokens and symbols which can be used for privileges.
  • Encourage students to self-assess their behaviour and award themselves appropriate tokens/points.
  • Use individual, group and whole class rewards. To receive these, there needs to be very clear success criteria.
  • Mild punishments: what’s important is the consistency and fairness of the punishment. Its success is also dependent on the assertiveness in which it is given. It means being firm, unemotional, unapologetic and confident. It does not mean being hostile or aggressive.

4. Mental Set

Although, you are not solely responsible for improving students’ behaviour, improving your attitude to classroom management can have dramatic effects. There are two parts to this:

This ‘Withitness’ is a term first used by Kounin (1970) meaning an awareness of what is going on in all areas of your classroom and having a quick response to actual and possible disruptions. It’s a “nip in the bud” approach that stops inappropriate behaviour spreading. Think about how you will respond to disruption and not letting your emotions lead the way.

Withitness Strategies

  • Invest time getting to know your classroom and students.
  • Understand the physical, social and psychological settings that you and your students find themselves.
  • Find out where the “hot spots” are. Run a behaviour audit or make this part of classroom observation.
  • Position yourself so you can scan regularly and make eye contact with as many of the class as you can.
  • Intervene promptly. Make your students know straight away, or even before it happens that their disruptive behaviour will not be tolerated.
  • Combine eye contact and proximity approaches as mentioned earlier. Early identification and intervention is an essential factor in successful behaviour management
  • Use of names combined with eye contact and a sharp tone are essential.
  • Use a silent and still approach. Stop what you are doing and remain silent.
    Maintain eye contact until you get the response you want, then continue.
  • Try using non- verbal reminders and commands. These are quite traditional but are still effective e.g. finger to lips to ask for silence, standing straight with hands on hips to signal displeasure, clicking fingers to signal “stop it”.
  • Be organised. Plan your lessons thoroughly! Prepare your classroom and have materials ready!
  • Use reminders and warnings about rules before an activity.
  • Walk about with plenty of eye contact.

Emotional Objectivity

It is not always easy to remember, but bad behaviour is not an attack on you. It is not personal. If you do see it as something personal, you are more likely to get angry, upset, depressed or resentful. Try to remain unemotional. This does not mean being distant. You should be alert and business-like, as you are protecting yourself and your emotional well-being.

Understand Yourself

Try not to show anger or frustration, you’ll look and feel more in control. Remember what upset you, so that you recognise the situation next time. Practice!

Students Have Their Own Issues

Remember that your students may well be dealing with difficulties or issues themselves that may be causing the inappropriate behaviour.

Seek Support – Allies Are There!

You do not need to suffer inappropriate behaviour alone. You can get support from within your school and outside of the workplace, but it is important to recognise your own feelings. Talk things over with a friend, family or colleague, or your union.

The support available from each school will differ. The advice from unions on what staff are entitled to can vary slightly, but generally you are entitled to work in an environment free from violence and disruption, albeit, with appropriate access to training and support on behavioural matters.

Equally importantly, students are entitled to a safe and orderly learning environment.

Behaviour management is not an easy issue to deal with. It takes time and perseverance to get it right, not always, but most of the time.

Dear Reader, Thanks for getting along with me on this important subject on Behaviour Management. If I made a difference to you, it is because I have kept on persevering: making mistakes and learning from them. You, too, can get better with practice. Good luck.

My next SIX posts are based on preparations for AP English and SAT exams as well as I/GCSE or anyone wanting to improve their Grammar. These posts are entitled: ESSENTIAL STRATEGIES FOR REVISING PROBLEMS IN GRAMMAR AND STANDARD USAGE. These will be published twice a week on Saturdays and Wednesdays. Until then,

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL!


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