Updated: Dec 26, 2022
Walking into a classroom of students you haven’t taught before can be a tad daunting, especially since you won’t yet be familiar with all the different types of personalities in the class.
Our ethos on behaviour management is to be firm, fair, and fun. We would like to share how we encourage positive behaviour in our classroom and approach the not so desirable behaviour.
It’s important to remember that your behaviour management plan should be strongly linked with your classroom management. All the routines and systems applied for a smooth running classroom during learning time will coincide with your approach to students’ behaviour. Incorporating clear cut guidelines will provide students with boundaries, so they know where they stand and allow you to know when students have stepped beyond the boundaries.
All students, just like adults, wish to feel seen, heard, and valued! Undesirable behaviour is often a child trying to communicate how they feel, and we need to be there to help and guide them through the process.
The first goal when meeting your new class is to invest time in setting up classroom expectations. This is an agreement you create with your students on how you would ALL like the classroom to operate. The classroom expectations you create together will be the guiding light regarding your behaviour management plan. The purpose of the class expectations is for students to know what actions and choices they are accountable and responsible for.
What to do when creating classroom expectations:
1. Allow students to take ownership and share: ‘What a great classmate is...can… says… is not’.
2. Write the expectations in the first person such as ‘We listen to each other; We will do our best to embrace mistakes and use it as a learning opportunity.’
3. Get students to sign their names around the expectations as a pledge to do their best to follow the classroom expectations.
4. Lastly, place them in a prominent position at the front of the class so that you can refer to them throughout the day.
Next, consider what your whole class positive behaviour plan will be. The ultimate goal in the first couple of weeks with your new class is to encourage teamwork and a supportive environment. We like to tell students how we are a team for the year, and we are here to support, encourage and enjoy learning with one another.
What are some options for positive reinforcement as a whole class?
Before we delve into this, remember, you will be encouraging great choices from students based on the classroom expectations when deciding on what type of whole class reward system you want to make it easier for you by choosing only one or two expectations to focus on, such as listening or respecting each other.
Here are some considerations:
Fill the jar
Use marbles, beads, buttons, shells or anything similar for students to add to a jar when they make a great choice. Place a line or marking on the jar to indicate when students reach different levels, they will get a whole class reward, such as playing a game or heading out 10 minutes early for lunch. Aim for students to have success within a week; you don’t want it to drag on for weeks and weeks.
Teacher vs Students
Place a tally board on your whiteboard, and when students beat you, such as transitioning onto the mat before you’re ready for the lesson, they will get the point and vice versa.
The class have to work together to complete the puzzle on the board (it could be a 24 piece puzzle from Kmart). Each time a student makes a great choice, they get to add a puzzle piece to the board. A completed puzzle means the whole class gets to celebrate being amazing.
To get started with reinforcing positive behaviour in the classroom, you will need to add an element of extrinsic motivation (aka dangling the carrot - persuading the class to do something by offering a reward). Rewards do not have to be a material object, that is going to cost you money. It could be any of the following, just to name a few for the whole class to enjoy.
Time outside in nature
10 minutes of extra play on the playground
10 minutes of free time
Class dance-off (if that’s what your students like)
Extra time reading a story together
The simplest things can be the most enjoyable for students.
Note: we are all for individual rewards systems to reinforce positive behaviour, we just suggest holding off on those in the first week and considering introducing them in week two. Ideally, spend time encouraging teamwork and collaboration amongst the class.
Where there is positive behaviour, there will be negative behaviour.
How you deal with it in your class will make all the difference. Yes, there will be students who will push your buttons. Ideally, you do not want them to witness it, getting under your skin.
So, what do you do when it happens?
1. Focus on classroom expectations and continue to reinforce positive choices. For example, if Bobbie keeps interrupting the lesson by calling out. Remind them how we agreed to listen to one another and show mutual respect. Celebrate the students making great choices.
2. If the undesirable behaviour keeps occurring, pull the students aside and chat with them to find out the cause. Take time to listen. Share your observations and how the choice of behaviour isn’t creating the ideal learning environment. Ask them who is affected by their actions. Create an opportunity for them to take ownership of their behaviour and work towards a solution.
3. By taking the time to talk, it allows the opportunity for positive relationships to be built.
If you are looking for more ideas to help to build classroom connections you will want to read these posts next:
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