I know, I know, you’ve heard this one before; I harp on about it often enough. But for the benefit of new visitors and seeing as though winter will soon be bringing those dark gloomy days in the classroom, (unless you’re in Autralia), I thought I’d share what I consider to be the most important behaviour management tool for classroom management success. Putting your efforts into this one area will help you succeed more than any other strategy I know of.
A few years ago I was talking with a colleague after delivering training at his school. He, (let’s call him John), told me a story about one of the teachers at the school, (she can be called Janet for the purpose of this story and for the benefit of any Terry Wogan fans), who was struggling badly with one particular group of students; she just couldn’t get them quiet.
John was Janet’s head of department and he often had to pass through her room when she was teaching in order to get resources from the main store cupboard. He told me that on one particular day he happened to be passing through when Janet was teaching her most challenging group.
The students were literally out of control – screaming, shouting and totally ignoring Janet’s cries to settle down. John didn’t normally intervene unless asked to do so but he felt this situation was only going to get worse so he walked round the room speaking quietly to some of the students for a few minutes. Without the need to raise his voice, a hush gradually descended on the room and the students returned to their seats facing Janet; happy faces, ready to work.
John quietly left the room and went about the rest of his day without giving the incident a second thought.
At the end of the school day, when the students had left the premises, Janet caught John in the staffroom…
“John, how do you do that? How the hell do you manage to get that group so quiet so easily?”
I’m sure she didn’t expect the reply he gave her. She wanted a magic bullet, a sure-fire behaviour management strategy, a new way of speaking, a secret hand signal or a never-fail script to follow. But I hope she understood the power of what he said and I hope you do too, it’s priceless.
It is the single, most important behaviour management tool any teacher can develop and it leads to an enviable level of respect from your most challenging students. This is where the real rewards in teaching lie.
“I’ll tell you exactly how I do it, there’s no magic to it….
I know these kids. I’ve spent time with them. I go to support them playing football for the school at weekends, I chat with them in the corridor, I regularly speak to their parents on the telephone, I visit their homes, I’ve taken them on trips, I sit with them at lunch time. The door to my room is always open to them, they know they can come and chat when something’s wrong and I make a point of catching up with them whenever I can.”
Building positive relationships with your students won’t solve all behaviour problems but it will certainly reduce incidents and will make dealing with problems much, much easier. Students are, after all, far more likely to listen and respond to a teacher they trust and respect.
Now, if you can just wait a minute while I climb down from my soap box I’ve got a cool little present for you…
We had this produced a few weeks ago and it’s proving very popular as a ‘classroom silencer’ or noise level meter. Just stick it on your whiteboard whenever your students get too loud. Or whenever you fancy a chuckle… 🙂