When we think of classroom management we tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of student behaviour – on finding more and more ways to deal with time-consuming and frustrating inappropriate behaviours such as talking out of turn, arguing, not working etc. and this can, over time, create a very depressing, discouraging environment. If you watch the best teachers, those who have the best relationships with students and get the best results from them, you’ll notice they don’t do this. Instead, they focus on good behaviour; they make a point of acknowledging good behaviours in the hope they will be repeated. The following ideas will help you encourage students to behave appropriately by ‘marking the moment’ whenever they do something right and by creating a more positive, welcoming classroom environment…
1. Call home more regularly
Successful teachers NEVER take good behaviour for granted. Every time a troubled and troublesome student makes positive progress they make a point of getting in touch with parents/carers – either by telephone or written note – and telling them exactly what their child did to have a GREAT day. Sadly, some students receive no end of calls home when they misbehavebut none when they make the effort to improve. Even a thirty-second call can start to reverse the negative feelings many parents have towards school and can do wonders to build your relationship with a challenging student. Surprisingly, when we have surveyed young people, the reward they tell us they most want, more than anything else, is a positive ‘phone call or letter home – and that includes the students who seem to have very little support at home. Please use this strategy if you’re not already doing so – it can make a HUGE (and immediate) difference.
2. The victory dance
Explain to your students you’re going to give them 5 minutes to develop their own, personalised ten second Victory Dance. Then, whenever you want to offer special praise to a student for excellent work or brilliant behaviour, clear a space at the front of the room (or install a podium if you have spare budget) and allow them their ten seconds of fame.
3. Wiggly Wooos
Here’s a fun group response for good effort to encourage class camaraderie. Every time you say “That deserves a Wiggly Wooo”, students wave their fingers in the direction of the student in question and call “wooooo!” in unison.
4. Silent Cheers.
Teach students to reward fellow class-members for good work and good behaviour with a silent cheer. Offer spot prizes for the most dramatic and convincing exhibition of silent applause.
5. And the winner is…
Throughout the week, be on the lookout for students doing good work, good deeds, improved effort etc. Every time you see something positive scribble the student’s name down on a piece of paper, together with a very brief reminder of their behaviour, and place it in a jar. At the end of the week, draw a few names from the jar and hand out spot prizes (or simply encourage group applause) for the winners.
6. Teach the behaviour you want to see with ROUTINES
Have routines in place which teach and remind students exactly how to behave during transitions and other ‘hot spots’ of the lesson such as start of lesson, end of lesson, clearing up, toilet breaks, handing in work etc. Routines should be taught, practiced and then typed up and put on display in the classroom.
Firmly established routines give you the perfect, non-confrontational response when a student isn’t doing what they should be doing… “What should be doing right now?” … and also eliminate the classic student response – “I don’t know” – all you have to do is point at the routine on the wall.
7. Use incidents and problems as teachable moments.
Rather than just complaining when a student does something wrong, help them to learn from their experiences and mistakes by having them fill in a ‘Reflection Sheet’ stating a) What they did wrong, b) why they did it, c) Why they shouldn’t have done it d) what they will do instead next time.
8. Compliment Chain
The Compliment Chain is simply a sequence of paper links hanging down from the ceiling. Whenever a member of the class receives a compliment from another teacher (for good behaviour, good work etc. a link is added to the chain. When the chain reaches the floor you can reward the students with a class surprise of some sort.
If you enjoyed these ideas you’ll love the collection of starter activities, energisers, classroom games and fun actitivies I’ve put together for you. It’s available free for a limited time…
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