There's a great quote by Benjamin Franklin:
If you don't plan, you plan to fail
& I know, because you're a teacher you are an expert planner.
You have to plan your lessons, plan in case Ofsted randomly turn up, plan in case someone phones in sick, plan for curriculum changes...
You are so amazing at planning - but you've probably not got a clear behaviour plan in place.
& when I say behaviour plan, I don't mean rules about how you'd like everyone to behave I mean a step-by-step, everyone one the same page, type of plan which literally says:
Having a plan in place enables you and everyone to jump in straight away - & it's the instant consequence for an action followed by the reward which reduces the incidence of that behaviour (and will often stamp it out over time) (Woodland, K., 2017).
But, just having a reactionary plan isn't enough. You also need a proactive plan in place so you reduce the amount of time you're fire fighting (Hare. J).
A proactive approach:
Tip 1: Giving them something to do ASAP
You're kids have just come into the class, they're milling around, taking ages to get settled, you've told them three times already to sit, take off their coats and to stop talking.
It drives you nuts because it's the same thing day in, day out.
OK, here's the thing - this happens because you let it happen.
Please don't throw things at the computer/your phone (or throw your phone) in disgust because I know you absolutely without doubt do not want it to happen.
But, hand on heart it 100% happens because you let it.
It happens because the first time all the kids entered your classroom this happened.
It's become habit.
They know (often subconsciously) that it;s not until the 3rd time you tell them to stop talking do they need to listen.
So, they keep talking.
Now, there's a really simple thing you can do to stop it from happening next time (or stop it from happening quite so much and peter out over a couple of days/weeks (dependent on how often you see them)).
At the end of the next class tell them (something like) this:
From next lesson you will need to come in, sit down and get settled without talking and you will have until (10 mins past the hour) to carry out the task in front of you. Those who fail to do so will ... (insert appropriate punishment [see previous post on punishments & rewards in the classroom]).
The key to getting this to work is having something for them to do as soon as they get in.
Whether it's a chapter to read, an experiment to get set up, questions to answer... anything.
This also gives you the opportunity to check who's turned up, who's looking like they're going to be causing havoc today and if anyone looks like they're going to struggle (e.g., withdrawal behaviours).
Tip 2: Over explain & over prepare
OK, technically this could be two separate tips but they kinda go together.
There is always that one child who needs something explained a million times, in a million different ways and even then you know deep down inside they still don't get it.
But, every week you have the same conversation, taking up vital time and disrupting the flow so that the rest of the class dissent into chaos (OK, this may be a little extreme - but you get the picture).
Instead of repeating this cycle why not just go nuts with the explanation and have extra tip sheets, instruction or support documents ready made?
You have to write loads of stuff out as part of the lesson plan anyway.
When you're in the flow of planning the lesson ask yourself this simple question:
What would (insert name of child who always needs more help) be asking me right now.
& if you're struggling to see the gaps (because there will be gaps, but you're the expert in the subject so it will be seriously hard for you to see them). ask your friends, colleagues or family members.
Ask the random person at the bus stop if you have to as long as you ask anyone who does not have a clue about the subject.
Spending an extra 15-20 minutes when you're in the zone planning the lesson will save you 10-15 minutes of disruption in the class.
Because, you'll already have most the bases covered and if there's still gaps (because sometimes no matter how much you plan ahead there just are), you just walk over to said child and hand them the step-by-step guide to everything you've just said (and everything that's going to be coming up).
No matter what you do there is always the chance something (or rather someone) will make things go belly up.
A reactive fail-safe:
Tip 1 (or 3 but who's counting...): Be quick
The main reason why most behaviour techniques fail is simply because too much time happens between when the negative behaviour occurs and when the consequence is enforced (Woodland, K., 2017).
When you're dealing with any type of behaviour management strategy the consequences for the negative behaviour have to come straight away - no matter what you're doing.
You've also got to be super consistent so the same consequence for the same breach of behaviour no matter how many times they've done it and no matter who does it.
Everyone in the classroom needs to be beating to the same drum.
Inconsistent action coupled with slow reactions is the number one behaviour modification fails (and this is why you need a plan...)
Inconsistent parenting is the number one reason why children end up becoming 'unruly' in the first place - if they don't get the consistency in your classroom then they'll continue to be disruptive.
It's become a habit.
It's become their natural state of being.
They're not doing it on purpose, it just is.
But, what you do about it can absolutely reverse it.
You can regain your classroom and the more you act and react consistently the less it will happen.
Tip 2: Expect good behaviour
It seems simple doesnt it?
Just 'expect good behaviour and poof everything is hunky-dory'
OK, I understand your skepticism but here's the thing.
When you expect something to happen, good or bad, you tell your subconscious that it's going to happen.
Then, often without even realising, the way you behave makes that very thing happen.
Because your subconscious drives your behaviours (whether you are doing it on purpose or not).
It's as though someone else is in control of your body.
In a way, this is kind of true.
Your conscious is saying 'we'll have a great, happy class today' but your subconscious is saying 'yeah and pigs will fly...' then you have a terrible day and you've just proven your subconscious right.
But, the terrible day happened because your subconscious is behind the wheel not your conscious.
(n.b. the same is true for the kids in the class as well...)
But, if you tell yourself something like 'today is a new day' or 'today is unwritten' even 'anything could happen' and expect the best - not the worst you may very well just have a very pleasant day without having to do very much!
I hope you've enjoyed these tips and can see how to weave them into what you're doing in the classroom.
If you wan't to learn more about why they work and find out an extra 2 tips (1 proactive and 1 reactive) hit play on the video below & enjoy!
If you're ready to get a handle on the behaviour issues in your school and get back to loving teaching again click the button below to schedule a no obligation conversation with us and we'd be happy to see how we can help.
Have a fantastic day & I'll catch up with you again next week.
Best wishes - Katie.
Hare, Jill. (n.d.) Best Ways to Prevent & React to Discipline Problems Teaching Community. Retrieved on 29/05/2017 from: http://teaching.monster.com/benefits/articles/9451-best-ways-to-prevent-react-to-discipline-problems