At one time or another, we will all, as teachers, need to enforce discipline on a student/s or class to help maintain classroom order. So it is imperative to use discipline correctly, not as a punishment, but as guidance on appropriate behaviour and attitude to learning.
This week we will be looking at TES columnist and behavioural management expert Tom Bennett‚Äôs 10 top tips for maintaining classroom discipline.
1.¬†Set out your behaviour¬†‚Äãexpectations from the moment¬†‚Äãyou 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¬†‚Äãpupils know how you want them to behave. They know how to behave, but that‚Äôs not the same¬†‚Äãas knowing that YOU want them to do it. Many will assume that there are no rules until YOU tell¬†them there are.¬†‚Äã
2. 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¬†‚Äãdislocates 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…¬†‚Äã
3. Know pupils’¬†names
This is essential, not to mention¬†good manners. Make a point of speaking to every pupil in your class throughout‚Äã¬†the lesson at least once, and naming them. If you DON‚ÄôT know their names, then any kind of¬†‚Äãsanctions become¬†nearly impossible. Magicians used to believe that naming something gives you¬†authority over it. They were right.¬†‚Äã
4. 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¬†‚Äãpunishments ‚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.¬†‚Äã
If at first you don‚Äôt succeed, keep it up. If students try to avoid your first sanction, then escalate, and ‚Äãinvolve other parties higher up the food chain.¬†‚Äã
6. ‚Äã‚ÄãDon‚Äôt walk alone ‚Äã
You can‚Äôt do it all by yourself: you exist in a structure, a hierarchy of adults and authority that can all ‚Äãbe wielded for your purposes. Line management, SLT, heads of year, department heads, mentors, ‚Äãother teachers can all be brought to your disposal. Badly behaved students are¬†‚Äì¬†almost without ‚Äãexception¬†‚Äì¬†badly organised, and work alone. If you work with others, you have the strength of ten.
7.‚Äã‚Äã Get the parents involved ‚Äã
Some parents are unsupportive, but they are by far in the minority. The vast majority want the best ‚Äãfor their children, just like you do. A phone call home (done in a sympathetic, adult manner, not ‚Äãindignant and accusative) can work wonders, as you extend your classroom discipline all the way ‚Äãhome. ‚Äã
8.‚Äã‚Äã Don‚Äôt freak out
‚ÄãSounds obvious, but this is a common error. If you‚Äôre not getting the behaviour you need, then it‚Äôs ‚Äãvery 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 ‚Äãyou look weak. Be the king of your own calm kingdom (¬© ‚ÄãThe Little Book of Calm‚Äã). ‚Äã
9.‚Äã‚Äã Be prepared
‚ÄãTry to be there before them; to have your resources ready; to have a lesson planned in advance; to ‚Äãknow what you‚Äôre talking about. If the students¬†think you‚Äôre more badly organised than them, they‚Äôll ‚Äãrarely respect you. ¬†‚Äã
10.‚Äã‚Äã Be the teacher, not their chum
‚ÄãThe mental attitude you need to succeed is: “They are here to learn, and my job is to help make that ‚Äãhappen”.¬†Don‚Äôt try to be their friend,¬†because they‚Äôre not;¬†they need rules, boundaries, ‚Äãand an adult who will treat them with manners and civility, to encourage them to do the same. But ‚Äãnever forget that you are an authority figure with a responsibility for their education. You‚Äôre not an ‚Äãentertainer, although you may be entertaining. You‚Äôre not a confidante, although you may also serve ‚Äãthat function; you‚Äôre not their mate, although you may eventually grow to like each other.¬†You‚Äôre ‚Äãthe teacher. So be the teacher.
Do you agree or disagree with these tips? Can you add any more tips? What do you think works well?
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