One thing that you quickly come to learn when relief teaching is that a good behaviour management plan is everything. So I thought I’d share my top ten tips for behaviour management, based on my teaching experiences so far.
1) Make sure expectations are clearly set
If the students are confused by what is expected of them then they’re more likely to act out. Make sure you address this from the beginning by letting them know what behaviour you’re looking for.
2) Get to know the students’ names ASAP
I really can’t stress this enough. This is a simple thing that makes life so much easier. Peek at the names on their books or the labels on their pencils if you need to, but put in every effort to get to know the students’ names.
3) Ask students about usual classroom procedures at the beginning of the day
Find one of the ‘helpful/friendly’ students in the class and ask them to give you the run-down on what the usual classroom procedures are so that you can implement them in your teaching.
4) Set up a safe community of learners where students feel confident to give things a try
Let students know that making mistakes is part of the learning process, and do what you can to encourage student participation.
5) Always keep a calm front and don’t take behaviour issues personally
If a student says that your lesson is boring don’t take it personally. It’s hard but important to keep a calm front instead of reacting out of emotion.
6) Arrive early before school to prepare for the day
Give yourself time to familiarise yourself with lesson times, class rules, seating charts etc. You don’t want to start the day in a fluster because you were running late.
7) Show that you are interested in what you’re teaching
Sometimes you don’t even like the lessons that you have been asked to deliver, but you need to find a way to show that you enjoy and care about what you are teaching. If you’re not interested the kids won’t be either.
8) Have some back-up activities up your sleeve in case there is a change of plans
Sometimes things go haywire. The activity you were supposed to run fails miserably or the students are done with everything their teacher planned in the first 10 minutes of the lesson. This is when you need to have a back-up plan. There are so many great games and activities that don’t require any preparation. Have a list of them handy. I even bring a display folder of worksheets to hand out to early finishers. Things like maths games or brainteasers are ideal. Find what works for you and have it ready to go in case you need it.
9) Have brain breaks when children need to let their energy out
Kids gone wild? It might be time for a ‘brain break’. If you have access to YouTube, there are dozens of dance videos for kids that allow the class a few minutes to get their wriggles out. Another option is giving the class a couple of minutes of ‘free time’ between lessons. Let them get their energy out and then you can continue with the lesson.
10) Keep refining your strategies and learning as you go. No one gets it right all the time.
Remember that teachers are learners too, and that it takes time, practice and a few mistakes before you get things right.