Picture this scenario.
You have everything organized for the first day of your teaching career. You have spent weeks planning and setting up your classroom. You have scrutinized every little piece of information you have about the children in your new class. You have prepared yourself for the challenges ahead.
You not only want to be seen as a good teacher. You want to be a GREAT teacher. You are pumped up and ready to go! This is what all the learning has been for – this is THE moment!
However, just as you seat the children for the first time and you are going through the roll of student’s names a boy at the back of the room refuses to answer his name when called. You ask him nicely to answer like everyone else. He snaps back at you to leave him alone. You are conscious that all the class is watching you and you need to solve this problem quickly and effectively.
How do you react? What do you do?
This is behaviour management in the “real” world. This is where it can all fall apart very rapidly! You need to know how to deal with this type of situation.
What follows is my personal view on behaviour management.
If my opinions anger you for some reason, or if you feel they are inadequate, or if they do not meet your own personalized standards, then I apologize.
But let me make this very clear – they are my own personal views and opinions that I have at the present moment and I am fully aware that as I develop in my teaching these ideas may change.
I am open to different methodologies, so if you have suggestions please let me know.
To me, behaviour management in the classroom is all-encompassing. How you treat your students, and your outward show of respect to them, combined with the manner in which you deal with them, will directly affect the way in which they behave and will ultimately determine your success in terms of behaviour management.
Avoid powerplays. One class that I had spent time with, had a teacher that ruled with an iron fist. I was constantly told that if you gave an inch to these students they would take a mile. Strict times for lessons were adhered too, noise levels were kept to a very low level, and to me, there was a very strong comparison to military training in the manner with which teachers and staff were to be addressed and treated.
The results from this form of teaching was that the children behaved atrociously whenever the opportunity presented itself. Relief teachers always left the classroom at the end of the day almost in tears, feeling as if their teaching skills had all but gone.
Comments that were then bandied around the staffroom the next day to the regular class teacher would be along the lines of, “It is great to have you back – no one can control your class like you do…”, “You have a very difficult class and only you can keep them in line…”
I found myself becoming very disillusioned with teaching during this period of my life! In my opinion the class behaved in accordance with the strict methodology. If you are not allowed to express yourself and your overall general feeling is one of being stifled, then it is only natural that when you can break free you will most likely do so.
The problem with this form of behaviour management is that it is no more than “control”. It does not promote intrinsic learning nor does it really teach the children to behave for the right reasons.
Children Learn What They Live
If children live with criticism
They learn to condemn
If children live with hostility
They learn to fight
If children live with ridicule
They learn to feel guilty
If children live with tolerance
They learn to be patient
If children live with encouragement
They learn confidence
If children live with fairness
They learn Justice
If children live with security
hey learn to have faith
If children live with approval
They learn to like themselves
If children live with acceptance and friendship
They learn to find love in the world
– Author Unknown
I strongly believe that children must be treated as thinking, human beings and one method that I constantly use to maintain this attitude is to think to myself, “Would I have said that to my best friend?”, “How would I feel if I was spoken to such as I just spoke to this child?”
Allowing for the reality that I am the teacher and yes of course we all speak to children differently than speaking to other adults, I still find that if I always strive to treat the children in my care with respect and compassion, then more often than not, respect will be reflected from the students as well.
This, in my own humble opinion, is a foundational aspect of behaviour management.
Avoid any form of conflict. Yes, we need to discuss class rules and consequences. Yes, there are always going to be times when a child needs to be dealt with because of inappropriate behaviour. But the simple fact is, if you build up a relationship with your class built on trust and respect – of respect for you, them and of one another, then many of the behavioural management issues will never even surface.
I am not simply saying this in all my teaching naivety either. I have actually seen this method work already during my student teaching practicums and even with one day periods in TRT situations.
So my first suggestion is to build and establish respect in your classroom.
Directly in unison with this approach is to make sure that you create a classroom environment that is safe, harrassment-free, and centred on learning.
I have been amazed at some classrooms I have walked into, to see teachers who show such a blaise attitude to their students in all they do, and then they seem to wonder why they have such a class of misbehaving students. If you do not strive to present interesting, informative and relevant lessons to your class, then I believe you will create a problem for yourself immediately.
Most children want to learn. It is an in-built part of our humanity. We are driven by our search for knowledge and learning. I do not want to enter into the argument surrounding our reason for existence, but it would seem to me on a very simple level, that if we as teachers, always maintain fresh, innovative and passionate forms of teaching then our students will not have the inclination too fall into bad behaviour patterns in many cases.
Am I ruffling feathers? I hope not. I am simply trying to say that a teacher who commits themselves to their work with more than a non-commital attitude of acceptance, will most likely be able to keep their behaviour management system at the bottom of their work pile.
I am not saying it is easy. I am simply suggesting that it IS possible! I have seen it being implemented by some excellent teachers I have had the pleasure of working with, and from my initial attempts I can already discern that the method has a lot of merit.
Obviously, I will need to plan some strategies for situations such as that mentioned in my introduction, but my main aim will be to work with the class and with individual students in creating an atmosphere and learning environment that is safe, based on respect for one another, and is focused on learning in a friendly and happy manner.
I honestly believe this is the heart of the behaviour management issue.
Am I being unrealistic? Do you think I am naive in what I plan? Do you have any suggestions or comments in relation to the above?
Previous comments from Teacher Education v1.3
Submitted by: Jan
In my opinion, you are exactly right! The concepts of self-monitoring and self-control are what I teach in my classroom managaement workshops
. I work almost exclusively with new teachers in my district. I follow-up with observations in their classrooms and work with them to implement the strategies throughout their first year of teaching. They are quite successful and are thrilled with the self-control the students develop. The teachers, once the management system is in place, can spend their time teaching rather than policing. The mutual trust and respect that exists between teacher and students is the foundation for learning. And, to get that you need to value students and the opinions and ideas they put forth.
Submitted by: Addie Gaines
Location: Seneca Missouri
I think that your ideas and observations are very valid. The atmosphere that is created by following the principles you state is the one that I strive to have in my classroom. After reading your page, it leaves me thinking about my own class and how this applies. This is definitely not a “cookbook” type approach,which some people are looking for when they have difficulties. Personally, I don’t find that “cookbook” approaches work for me in the classroom, either in teaching or management, so I really like the way you have explained the management techniques. In a future update to the page, you might want to consider adding some more specific suggestions to common mangement concerns in the classroom. Some people respond better to specific, “this is exactly what to do” type of presentation, but if it were phrased as suggestions it wouldn’t necessarily push away those who prefer principles and reflecting. It might more easily meet the needs of a greater audience.
Submitted by: Julia Orford
I’m returning to CRT teaching as I left 13 years ago. My teacher training was not as instructional as your web page has been. I find I want another classroom management style, one that is more true to me, but revert to very limited “control” behavior management, largely I think through fear of losing “control” and to be seen as a failure. I am curious as to how you would deal with the mentioned problem in your introduction. Or the classroom who refuses to cooperate, initially, by talking and laughing amongst themselves. How do you get that magic quiet?
Submitted by: Tasha
I agree wholeheartedly with what you’re saying. My question is this: how does a new Teacher keep an unruly class “in control” and help students to establish an internal locus of control at the same time? You have been lucky to see so many wonderful Teachers practice this way, I would like to see more about how it can work.
Submitted by: Helen Chatto
Location: Northern Territory, Australia
I am really enjoying browsing around your webpage.
The child who refuses to answer is throwing down a challenge. I have met many children who try this – normally not on day one though. I have learnt never to confront a child, they will always win and you will wate a lot of teaching time going into battle. You are better to ignore, mark present and move on. Find time later to start working out what makes that kid tick. There is always a reason for anti social behaviour. That doesn’t mean we accept it, it means we deal with it with more knowledge of the child.
Ensure you have lots of positive reinforcement in place straight away in conjunction with establishing class rules with the kids and most days will go smoothly.
I have just read Tasha’s entry. Here’s a few things I do that might help.
1. Make the classroom an organised and attractive place.
2. Be organised yourself, know what you want to achieve each day and have your resources ready.
3. Establish an individual reward system, whre children gain points for following rules or behaving positively with one another. Have a “carrot” or reward for w
hen they get ten points. eg: computer time, an early mark, a certificate, a lolly!
4. If you do group work use a group reward system. The chidlren will take over the discipline. “I have five points for the quietest group” The leaders will quieten their group. This can start off a very formal thing where groups award points for selected behaviours. eg: cooperation, completing taks, negotiation, using positive reinformcement.
5. Use the language of “choice” – You have a choice, join the group or you will have to go to time out. Turn away and give the child time to make the choice without confrontation.
You also need a solid and consistent plan for those who won’t conform. The school needs a consistent policy for it to work best.
Establish a buddy for time out when the child has exhausted their chances in the classroom. (max. 3, Remind, warn act or 123.)
Using a buddy is not a sign of your inability to cope it is showing the children you mean business!
I hope this is not too much rambling and is of some use to you.
Teaching and learning should be fun but it can’t be until the classrom tone is established.
Submitted by: Mike
I believe in everything that has been discussed.You have to show all the students respect and they will respect you back. Being only 4th year university student-teacher and been told about all the great theories (Glasser,Canton,Erikson) which I think is great but there has to be more. It is very hard for student-teacher to set his rules in guildlines to the class when your teacher has no control over the class. I’am very worried about my prac can anyone give me any helpful hints to prepare?
Submitted by: Gish
I totally argee with what has been said. We have to be firm but fair. What I would like to find out is a brief history of behaviour management to see the changes which have happened in the last century, because I believe we are heading in the right direction with this sort of attitude. Could you send me some information on the changes. Thanks a lot. A teacher who is very interested in youth.
Submitted by: Namie
I was interested in what Helen said. I am a student teacher in a class where the teacher is also called Helen and has a similar system of giving points to groups. The problem I find is that the children will only behave well for points, not for any other reason. They are also “points happy children”, obsessed with points, which detracts from their learning. I have found that this class behave best for me when I have found something really interesting to teach them. If this happens they forget all about the stupid points and get on with learning stuff. I think all this point business is a kind of bribery, its a con. If the children weren’t ten years old they’d never fall for it. I think we should treat children with more respect. Yes, children will be rewarded for responsible behaviour. The reward is that you will know you can rely on that child to be responsible, you give them more freedom and trust them to behave, and they do (we hope).
Submitted by: Kait-Ellen Thompson
Location: NSW Australia
Thanks to all the above teachers who have bothered to read and comment on the opinions of others. I am in my first year of Primary Ed at uni and have two weeks of pracs next semester…all of the advice has been great! Please feel free to email me with any information new or old that you feel would be beneficial to my being the best teacher I can! I look forward to your responses.
Submitted by: Kristal
I also use the point type system that Helen spoke of. I use Mastery Money (Self Mastery). It works ver
y well as the children are given self mastery coins for a week of well done work. Children can accrue points and then use them to purchase educational items/freedoms.
This can be used as a cost or non cost system.
Responsibility does pay. We all know that. Do we not remember that every day at our job? Children have a job too and they love earning self mastery type points. We always need to give children the most exciting and interesting lesson we can. This promotes the intrinsic love for learning. Another thing that my kids love is the Author chair. I have enjoyed this page. The Love and Logic approach is my approach too. Choices, Choices, Choices with a loving approach.
Submitted by: Jody Ward
Location: Queensland Australia
I actually came to this site searching for ideas for managing a student in my Preschool. I have been employed with Ed. Qld. since 1987 and have had a variety of experiences teaching. My current position is in a Preschool. Believe me, behaviour management is alive and well, even at this early stage. My challenge is managing the behaviour without spoiling the love for learning or for Preschool. I believe in treating children with respect and expecting respect in return. I agree with Helen that confronting the child who is throwing down the challenge is just a matter of painting oneself into a corner and there is only one winner in this scene…the child. I would handle this situation such..I would express my feelings about what is happening..”I feel very disappointed when I call some-one’s name and they don’t answer me…I prefer every-one to answer their name so that I can mark the role and we can get on with having some fun” ( and then move on) This type of response could take a while, but eventually the child will come around…. arrh….patience….when they do I would be quick to tell them “Thank you ‘Billy’ for answering me. I feel very proud/happy/pleased”. I have also found it invaluable to form a partnership with parents and to inform them of the behaviour management tactics with you used during the day. Sometimes these children are a product of their environment and their parents can, also,be at a loss as to what to do next. Treat them with respect and it will be returned.
Submitted by: Tracey Sullivan
Location: Queensland, Australia
I have seen the points award system work in a classroom of Preps (Victoria) and found the system works well in conjunction with an interesting and informative learning environment.
What I would like to know is how to establish such an environment from day one of a new classroom. Also how do you control a class of students in which you are the student teacher and not the classroom teacher when on professional practices in classrooms never before visited? I would love to hear from anyone on how they develop or what strategies they use for classroom management particularly unruly children or children with ADD.
Submitted by: Sarah
Wow, finally something I can relate to. I graduated from university in 2000, spent the year causal teaching and have been appointed as the new kindergarten teacher at a school where they implement Bloom’s and Gardener’s matrix for teachers to program. Not only faced with this daunting task of programming I have found full time teaching overwhelming. I’m striving to be the “perfect” teacher – ensuring all my students are happy and providing an essential and interesting learning environnment. I have one student who I will try the ‘choice’ method with next week. He refuses to do anything, and being kindergarten, other students think that it is acceptable to follow his lead. I have found the information presented to be a big help!!!!
Submitted by: Brian Ascot
Location: Sydney, Australia
Please adjust your spel
l checker to Standard English !
Response from Site Administrator: Not sure what this is meant to imply!
Submitted by: Vivik Ragoonanan
Location: Trinidad and Tobago
I am most grateful for the information that you have given to me.Presently, I am doing a thesis based on “Behaviour Management”;at first I was confused because I was unclear about certain issues that encompass behaviour management but now I feel confident.Thank you very much. If possible can you please send more information. Thank you
Submitted by: Laura
Location: Herron, Western Australia
As a student teacher I find sites such as this a valuable resource as they help place every reading, lecture, workshop in perspective. I work with special needs children in child care so I do not wear rose coloured glasses and I found this site and the comments very true.
This semester I will be studying Behaviour Management at UWA I feel will be down loading often from this site, as I am sure it will place readings into real life situations. Thankyou.
Submitted by: Lou Brough
Location: New Zealand
I have found this site and the comments relating to it very interesting. I am a student teacher in my second year who will be working mainly with year 8s this year. Your beliefs are similar to the STEP Parenting Programme concepts in The Parent’s Handbook by Dinkmeyer Snr, McKay & Dinkmeyer Jnr. I have done this course and the STEp facilitator’s course which promote the use of mutual respect, reflective listening skills, oral communication skills and understanding why children behave in certain ways.
It would be great if teachers were required to do this course as I believe it would eliminate some of the stresses of handling ‘bad’ behaviour and help promote positive behaviours.
What a great site you have designed, I shall soon be embarking upon designing a site and this is definitely food for thought!
Submitted by: Deborah Evans
Location: Alberta, Canada
I am an Early Childhood Educator working with preschool age children. Much of the techniques you have discussed is taught in ECE. When I first heard of this type of approach in dealing with behaviour management I was not confident that it would work efficiently, especially in a classroom of “Terrible Two Graduates”! I resisted at first but I have since learned the value of Empathy, Respect and Observation. Children learn from example. Control only fuels the fire and inspires vengeful antics: whether open or hidden.
One of the intriguing results of my behavioral research has taught me that often the children miraculously work their problems out on their own if they are allowed an environment that fosters problem solving and respect for each others individual needs. Sometimes we are too caught up in the rush…spare the time to observe and reflect and you too will witness your own miraculous recognitions, greeting great personal reward.
Great web site. Thanks for taking you time to share your expertise with us.
Submitted by: Sophie
Location: Will be England!
When I finished at university I did 8 months supply teaching. Obviously in a new situation like this I sometimes wondered if I was dealing with the disruptive children in my class appropriately. I was really surprised when so many of the teachers in the school complimented me and told me i was doing a great job, or that they valued the work I was doing with the class. This praise and encouragement gave me a new found confidence and made me want to work even harder at being an even better teacher. It also taught me how important it is to give positive reinforcement to the children i was teaching…then they too want to work even harder
Submitted by: Nicola Seaman
Location: Queensland, Australia
What a great site!
Submitted by: Algernon Johannes
Location: Melbourne, Australia
I have recently made the decision to do a Grad Dip in Education (Secondary). I graduated from uni in 1998 with B.Comm/B.Arts degree. I am currently working as a Market Research Manager.If everything goes well, God willing, I will be teaching in 2004. Can’t wait.
This website has been, and will be key resource in my development as a teacher. Thank you. I am a part-time martial arts instructor and a youth group leader at the local church – I find your comments regarding respecting the students true based on my limited exposure to the young ones.
Once again, thanks.
Submitted by: Kelly
Location: Sydney, Australia
I’m a second year bachelor of Education (primary) Student at the Australian Catholic University. I am currently doing my four week block of prac. I have a year two class which at times can be hard to control. I have established a quiet signal but this doesnt always work. I have also been observing the teacher and she uses a range of signals to gain the classes attention.
What I am really looking for I guess is other ways so that I have a variety to call on in diffeernt situations. Any help would be great.
PS This is a great site which has helped me thru’ many teaching and classroom management assignments for uni.
Submitted by: Tricia
Location: Gold Coast, Australia
I came to this site looking for some info to asist my daughter, as I am a parent, not a teacher. This site has given me valuable insight into the negative behaviour that my daughter is showing in her year 5 home base. My child is not showing these problems in her other classes and her homebase teacher is totally “controlling”.
My daughter now acts out when she gets home, with casual teachers and in the playground, and a number of the other students from the same class are exhibiting the same behaviours.
Thank-you so much for your web site and insight and good luck to the rest of the teachers. I am sure that your class rooms will be more pleasant than my own daughters environment.
Submitted by: Corie Thompson
Location: Darwin, Australia
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org OR Corrie.Thompson@nt.gov.au
Wondering if you know of any Behaviour Management courses (TAFE level) that I could do? Bloody hopeless trying to find these things on the net….. via correspondence or anything would be a start! Thanks a mill’. Corie.
Submitted by: Mara
Location: Melbourne, Australia
In regards to classroom management/positive behaviour management Bill Rogers is an excellent person to refer to. He has written several books on this very subject and has very practical advice and strategies which may help. He is on the tour circuit a fair bit.
Kelly to answer your question a noise/behavior wheel may be a good solution – it’s a wheel divided into different sections (ie quiet independant work, guided reading group, discussion noise ) and you set the wheel at the noise/behaviour level you expect for that lesson. You dont need to speak – just ensure that the students SEE YOU set the noise/behaviour level you expect.
That saves your voice and places responsibility on the students for their behaviour rather than depending on you to remind them of your expectation continuously via verbal means. Students may need to be reminded several times as they get used to this system, but after a while they’ll get the knack of it. Once again if students dont comply a reminder or consequence applies. Hope this helps…and best of luck with your stu
This is a superb web site! Please keep up the good work!
I’m starting my teaching career in 15 days and I’m stressing like hell!!!!!!
Submitted by: Henry
I have just resigned from a secondary school in South London. I was unable to control the appalling behaviour in classes, which seemed to grow worse as the term passed. I felt an abject failure, and had to keep reminding myself that in previous jobs, for 27 years, I had always been seen as an excellent teacher, helping pupils to gain good results. I found that these kids just would not listen to me, to the extent that they would not be quiet at all, and I was unable to take the register most days. I tried everything I knew and then any idea that was suggested to me. In the end I had to resign with no other job to go to for fear that it would affect my health. Any suggestions?
Submitted by: Rebecca
For those childre that leave you tearing you hair out and just don’t seem to respond to anything that you try Bill Rogers’ book ‘Cracking the Hard Class’ is excellent.
After 4 years of teaching in some pretty difficult schools I still find myself brushing up on some of his techniques. Also, remember that strategies that work long term don’t take overnight to work.
Submitted by: Michael I. McMahon
Location: Brisbane, Australia
I experienced a point system based on fake classroom money, in year 7, and in my opinion it is not effective. What occured was a replica of society where the culturally advantaged students (cultural knowledge which is valued by the education system) had all the currency and therefore all the privileges, whilst the behavioural problem and culturally disadantaged students were marginalised with limited privileges and rewards. It even got to the stage where currency poor students would break into the class at lunch-time and raid the bank vault.
Submitted by: Muhammed Suleman
Location: Samina Usman Khattak
Please inform me about following issues related to Child Behaviour or any other source that you may think would help me.
1.What are the causes for behaviour problem,its remedies and how to prevent behaviour problems in a class room. 2.How can school policy promote good behaviour and prevent bad behaviour. 3.Does corporal punishment help in promoting or aggravating behavioural management.auses for behaviour problems in a class.
Submitted by: katie hicks
Location: not stated
I’m currently a second year Bachelor of Education student at Edith Cowan Uni. I found this site to be informing and extremely interesting and I shall be using it frequently through out the rest of my time at uni.
Thanks for such a great site!!! Well done!!
Submitted by: Kate Casey
Just a bit of feedback. I notice you have a site stats area on your website. I came across your site by accident and had an important Internet search result that had come before your back. I’m not sure if you have but please do not block the BACK button for the sake of keeping people within your site. It does not give a good impression. My immediate thought was ‘Oh, okay, this person just wants to look impressive and gets heaps of hits.” Not good for credibility. Anyway, maybe it is just my computer. Good luck with the studies. K
Site Admin comment: Thank you for your feedback Katie. The site stats has now been deleted and we will keep our stats to ourselves. We placed the counter on the site because we felt that people would like to see (and judge for themselves) as to whether this site is a popular educational site –
but as it is a source of annoyance to some -it is no longer available. As to the matter of the site blocking you from visiting another site – we have not intentionally placed any script within the site which will cause this to happen. We will try to discover what coding has caused this problem. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience in your research.
Please note: Any other visitors who experience this situation – may we suggest you double click your BACK button quickly which generally over-rides this from occurring. Alternatively – use your BACK history drop down menu to return to previous sites. Thank you.
Submitted by: Jamielle
Great website! I am studying my first year of teaching. Browsing through the comments has proved to be a valuable learning tool that has helped me think about the different behavioural management strategies I can employ once in the classroom. Thankyou.