8 Techniques to Encourage Positive Behaviour in the Classroom

I recently saw a post that made my blood boil; the post stated that bad behaviour in the classroom is never the fault of the teacher. Some children have problems but, there is always something that the teacher can do. Teachers as educators should be educating students on how to deal with their behaviour.

In this article the reasons given for bad behaviour were:

  1. They are bored
  2. They are stuck
  3. They have additional needs 

If a child is bored or stuck, then this is the fault of the teacher. A teacher should be responsible for dealing with additional needs.  

I have a fair amount of experience with this topic; I have worked with teenagers for the last 20 years who are excluded from school and I also run my own training company dealing with these issues. The last school I worked in had 20 boys, all had a degree of behaviour that challenged. Most of the lessons were taught without any problems, we had bad days with some of the young men, but the majority of the time they were engaged.  

Don’t blame the child and send them out of the class. Here are 8 techniques for dealing with behaviour.

1 – Be Consistent with Rules

Establish the rules from the first lesson. It can be helpful to let the students write some of their own class rules then students then use peer pressure to keep them. A rule a student has made is far more likely to be kept than one a teacher introduces. 

Once the rules are established then follow them consistently with all students; even on those days when you woke up late and didn’t have time for a coffee. Let a student break a rule once, they will want to break it all the time.

2 – Get the Students Full Attention Before Telling Them Anything.

If a student is not focused on you, they will not be listening, so spend a couple of minutes gaining their attention. Better this than repeating your instructions to every student again.

I allow my students to listen to music when they are working. Many of us work better with music, why should our students be any different. They know the rules from the start, turn the music off when I am talking. I also make sure the instructions are clear and concise. Sometimes you might wish to get a student to repeat the instruction back to you if they are complicated.

3 – Use Positive Language and Body Language.

Rather than saying to your students, “stop talking now.” Use positive language such as, “can you all listen, please?”. Positive language will encourage your students to use their own positive language; “I can’t do that,” might turn into, “I will give it a try.”

Positive body language is just as important. If you have had a bad morning and walk into a classroom in a bad mood, students will pick it up. I don’t mean go around grinning like a court jester but, smile as often as you can. Create a warm welcoming environment to students when they enter your class.

4 – Mutual Respect

Sounds easy but many teachers forget this. If you want to be shown respect you have to role model the behaviour to your students. Teenagers especially thrive on being treated as adults, they may come from a home where they are not listened to and to have their opinion listened to is a very positive experience for them.  

5 – Have Quality Lessons

I attend training every year, if the training is poor and boring I find my attention wandering and I become fidgety and don’t listen, much like my students.  

Design lessons that are fast-paced, activities should be scattered throughout. Don’t expect students to be sat there for 45 minutes listening to you speak. Allow the students to research and discover knowledge themselves. The more they are engaged the less their mind will look for trouble. 

6 – Know Your Student

There is no better tool available to the teacher than knowing your students. Take time to get to know them, their likes and dislikes. If you can plan a lesson on what the student is interested in, you will find them easier to engage.

Knowing your student also helps if they are going through personal issues. If that normally engaged student is disengaged what is going on for them? Is there a problem at home? Are they in trouble? I had a student who became less engaged but because I had taken the time to get to know him, he felt comfortable to tell me what was going on for him. He was being neglected, to such a degree, the only place he was eating was at school. Can you imagine trying to work when you were starving hungry? A good teacher will recognise this and be able to help the student.

7 – Be Able to Diagnose Learning Problems

Have a basic knowledge of learning problems and the signs of these. Teachers are in the privileged position of being able to diagnose learning problems and from here the teacher can help provide tools for the student to succeed.  These tools can be used in your class and for future learning as well. These adaptations can be something as simple as printing worksheets onto coloured paper.  

As important as it is to look out for learning problem it is also important to look out for talented students. I worked with a young man who was always getting into trouble. When I worked 1:1 with him it was clear that his work was at an exceptionally high standard, he was bored in his class and completed the work in 10 minutes which left him the rest of the lesson to misbehave. It was decided to move him up a year from Year 10 to Year 11, his behaviour minimised overnight, as he no longer had the time to misbehave.

8 – Routine

Like rules, a routine is important to start from the beginning. Establish a routine that works for you and your students. This could be as simple as one student gives out the books, another gives out the pens. Giving a disruptive student responsibility can minimise their behaviour.

It is also an advantage to have a familiar routine to some of your lessons.  For example, a quick 5-minute opening activity, followed by a recap and then the full lesson. Ensure at the end of the lesson you have time for questions. Find out 2 things the students learnt and 2 things they would like to practice more.  

Many students who are labelled to have problem behaviour have traits of autism.  Routine will calm them and allow them the security of knowing what is coming next.

Finally 

If you can adopt some of these techniques in most of your lesson you will see an improvement in behaviour. It will be tough at first, but we are educators not just in Math and English but also in Life skills.

If one day it goes wrong, don’t worry we all have bad days. Have a biscuit, pick yourself up and start again. Tomorrow is a new day.

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