At the forefront of a classroom teacher’s mind is the need to prevent disruption and maintain good discipline to facilitate students’ education. There are rumours, though, that not everyone in the classroom shares this objective all the time… Read on to make sure you’re in the best shape to encourage good behaviour in the children and young people around you.
First of all, schools and academies must have behaviour policies in place, and must make them known to staff, parents, and pupils at least once a year, in writing. See the government guidance here for more information.
As a member of the school’s staff, you’ll be expected to comply with the behaviour policy. Your headteacher is ultimately responsible for the policy, but there should also be a dedicated coordinator who is responsible for providing guidance and support on behaviour issues, as well as regularly reviewing and updating the policy.
Once you’re familiar with your own school’s policy, and become established in your role, you’ll be able to use your own influence to set standards and demonstrate what is acceptable, and where you need to draw the line.
Leading by example
There is a natural hierarchy in a school which, when used positively, is a potential force for good. Teachers at any stage in their career can take advantage of this. However, with rights come responsibilities, and successful teachers take this seriously. Looking the part – smart and professional should be the image you’re aiming for – is important. You want everyone to know you mean business. Whether you’re in the classroom or out and about in school every interaction is an opportunity to manage and reinforce good behaviour and maintain discipline. Giving students the opportunity to get to know you can be hugely beneficial. Through less formal conversation they will get to know what is acceptable within the school context and with the adults in their lives. This is your responsibility, though, and a proactive exercise. You might not feel like having lunch alongside the students every day, but it will pay off in the long term.
Trust and responsibility
Year 7 can often seem to have transformative powers. Primary school children arriving in September often come on in leaps and bounds (sometimes literally!) and emerge in various shades of adolescence. However, becoming small fish in the big secondary school pond might not be straightforward. Many of them will have enjoyed the responsibility they had at primary level. There may not be the same opportunities to get involved in classroom management in year 7, but if you can share tasks and responsibilities with your students it will encourage a culture of mutual trust, and lead to a sense of shared ownership of success in the classroom.
There are times when a teacher simply must be the centre of attention in their own classroom and understanding this makes life more comfortable for everyone. If you wait until you have the attention of everyone in the room, you underline this principle in a powerful and meaningful way. Some of our teachers find a countdown technique useful. By counting down from 5 or 10, with positive but targeted prompting throughout, students are given advance notice of what’s coming, and it is more realistic than demanding an instant response. If you back up the countdown with praise and reward and use it regularly this really can be an effective way to settle a class and get ready to move on.
Rules and boundaries
Schools are all about nurturing students and giving them the information they need to succeed in life. Teachers obviously play an enormous part in this and can have a massive impact on their students. By establishing a secure environment where rules and boundaries are expected and positive reinforcement (for genuinely good behaviour) teachers can set their own standards and focus on the lesson plan rather than crowd control.
Challenge and reward
You have worked hard to get this far and your first years as a teacher will be challenging and should also be rewarding. You will learn yet more about yourself and how you can positively impact the lives of others – it’s genuinely exciting!
Hourglass can help you take the first steps in your career. Not only can we give practical advice about your CV and applications, but we will make sure you are seen by the right schools.
We know our schools and take time to understand which ones will suit you best. Don’t forget, our job is your job! Making sure you’re in the right school at the right stage of your career is what we’re all about.