10 top tips for keeping classroom discipline and order
As an NQT, one of the main criteria for becoming an established teacher is having good classroom discipline. Let‚Äôs be honest, it‚Äôs every teachers worst nightmare to have a class run riot and cause utter chaos. Whether it is dealing with low level disruption, one or two choice individuals, or a group of out-of-control students, you as the teacher need to be prepared for every situation and deal with it accordingly. It can be moments like this that make or break a teacher and test a teacher‚Äôs true character and resilience. As teaching constantly tops the poles of most stressful jobs, it would be nice to cure some of those professionals who haven‚Äôt slept, going into work tired and drained because of dreading teaching a horrid class (we won‚Äôt go down the paperwork route too!!). To help those teachers out who have resorted to anti-depressants, counselling, or some other kind of therapy because they cannot cope with not only the workload but the behaviour. Training teachers, NQTs, teachers with new year groups that need a little coaxing, this could be helpful to you in gaining control of a tricky class, winning back a class you may have lost, or simply boost your confidence safe in the knowledge that you can enter your work environment head held high, ready to tackle any obstacle thrown at you, behaviour or otherwise.
TES columnist Tom Bennett is a behavioural management extraordinaire and offers 10 top tips for maintaining classroom discipline. Quite handy if all of the above is in relation to you.
Set out your behaviour¬†expectations from the moment¬†you meet your students
This can be done by a whole lesson of talking,¬†something stuck in their books,¬†a poster on the¬†wall:¬†anything that gets the point across that there are rules in your classroom. Don‚Äôt assume that¬†pupils know how you want them to behave. They know how to behave, but that‚Äôs not the same¬†as knowing that YOU want them to do it. Many will assume that there are no rules until YOU tell¬†them there are.
Have a seating plan
Before you meet your class, go into the room; sketch out where you want everyone to be. If you don‚Äôt¬†know them, simply break them up alphabetically, or by gender (boy/girl is a popular option). This¬†dislocates friendship groups, by introducing a random element into their pairings and groupings.¬†Not only will a seating plan assist you with behaviour, but it will help you with point three, which is…
This is essential, not to mention¬†good manners. Make a point of speaking to every pupil in your class throughout¬†the lesson at least once, and naming them. If you DON‚ÄôT know their names, then any kind of¬†sanctions become¬†nearly impossible. Magicians used to believe that naming something gives you¬†authority over it. They were right.
If students¬†break the rules, they have to pay the penalty
Sanctions are an essential part of running a classroom. You might feel uncomfortable giving¬†punishments ‚Äì don‚Äôt. They are intrinsic to guiding pupils on to the path of better behaviour. They¬†need to be FAIR, CONSISTENT, and PROPORTIONATE. Don‚Äôt be inconstant or whimsical. The sooner that students¬†learn that¬†they can‚Äôt get away with mucking around, the sooner you get to a safe place where¬†everyone‚Äôs learning is maximised.
If at first you don‚Äôt succeed, keep it up. If students try to avoid your first sanction, then escalate, and involve other parties higher up the food chain.
Don‚Äôt walk alone
You can‚Äôt do it all by yourself: you exist in a structure, a hierarchy of adults and authority that can all be wielded for your purposes. Line management, SLT, heads of year, department heads, mentors, other teachers can all be brought to your disposal. Badly behaved students are¬†‚Äì¬†almost without exception¬†‚Äì¬†badly organised, and work alone. If you work with others, you have the strength of ten.
7. Get the parents involved
Some parents are unsupportive, but they are by far in the minority. The vast majority want the best for their children, just like you do. A phone call home (done in a sympathetic, adult manner, not indignant and accusative) can work wonders, as you extend your classroom discipline all the way home.
8. Don‚Äôt freak out
Sounds obvious, but this is a common error. If you‚Äôre not getting the behaviour you need, then it‚Äôs very tempting to blow your nut and scream your head off. Never¬†do this; it then makes it¬†easy for students¬†to put their feet up and think, “Oh boy, TV”.¬†It‚Äôs a totally disproportionate response to most classroom behaviours and¬†besides, many kids get worse at home. But mostly, it makes you look weak. Be the king of your own calm kingdom (¬© The Little Book of Calm).
9. Be prepared
Try to be there before them; to have your resources ready; to have a lesson planned in advance; to know what you‚Äôre talking about. If the students¬†think you‚Äôre more badly organised than them, they‚Äôll rarely respect you.
10. Be the teacher, not their chum
The mental attitude you need to succeed is: “They are here to learn, and my job is to help make that happen”.¬†Don‚Äôt try to be their friend,¬†because they‚Äôre not;¬†they need rules, boundaries, and an adult who will treat them with manners and civility, to encourage them to do the same. But never forget that you are an authority figure with a responsibility for their education. You‚Äôre not an entertainer, although you may be entertaining. You‚Äôre not a confidante, although you may also serve that function; you‚Äôre not their mate, although you may eventually grow to like each other.¬†You‚Äôre the teacher. So be the teacher.
I hope this was a help.