Managing student behavior is as much about preventing problems as it is solving them once they arise. Effective behavior management requires creating a structured classroom environment where there is very little downtime and students know what is expected of them. Having behavior management strategies in place at the beginning of each school year or new term decreases discipline problems while increasing student learning.
Prevent Problems Before they Begin
Prevention is key to a well-managed classroom. Teachers who anticipate potential problems and adjust their body language, activities and responses appropriately keep behavioral problems to a minimum. The American Federation of Teachers suggests creating a structured environment so that children who lead very unpredictable lives outside of the classroom can feel comfortable and stable. Established rules, routines and daily schedules help all children feel secure in their learning environment.
Teach Appropriate Social Skills
Even in a well-ordered environment, students will have days where they act out. In some cases, children who step outside of the boundaries of what is acceptable have not been taught how to behave properly in certain situations. Teaching and modeling appropriate behavior when bad behavior happens can quickly turn a difficult moment into a teachable one. Identify inappropriate behavior to the group and go over what is appropriate in each situation, recommends the AFT. For example, if a student continues to leave his seat without permission, the teacher can stop whatever the class is doing and go over classroom rules about how to leave your seat properly. Make sure to have classroom procedures and expectations displayed clearly so this activity is quick and gets students refocused on proper behavior right way.
Accentuate the Positive
Reinforcing positive behavior helps students understand that good choices have good consequences. When a student is having a behaviorally-challenged day, look for what he is doing right: it can go a long way towards diffusing a difficult situation. The Intervention Central website suggests teachers also use positive language when making requests to help keep tensions low when a student is acting in an inappropriate way. For example, instead of telling a student you will not help him until he returns to his seat, begin the request by letting the child know you will be happy to help him as soon as he returns to his seat. Using this type of language helps you get your point across without inflaming a heated situation.
Ramp up the Discipline
In the event that a behavior problem does arise in your classroom, have a progressive discipline plan in place. Progressive discipline plans give the student the chance to change his behavior before the next level of discipline takes place. Make sure the plan includes redirecting the student’s behavior, having a face-to-face conference with the student away from his peers, changing the student’s seating assignment, discussing with colleagues any behavior strategies that are working for the student in other classes, calling the parents, assigning a punishment such as a detention and finally, referring the student to the guidance office, says the Daily Teaching Tools website.
- American Fedration of Teachers: Behavior-Management Techniques for Safe Schools
- Intervention Central: School-Wide Strategies for Managing Defiance/Non-Compliance
- Daily Teaching Tools: These Classroom Behavior Management Strategies will Work Great with Your Little Knuckleheads!
- Project Para: Lesson 4: Strategies for Increasing Positive Student Behaviors
- Photos.com/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images