In theory, your role as a teacher is to plan and deliver your lessons, and everything will fall into place.
Unfortunately, theory doesn't always apply in the real world. Truth be told, getting children to settle down and behave as expected is often a job and a half.
That's where positive behavioral management strategies shine.
Let's talk about some behavior management strategies you can tap into to enhance student behavior and allow teaching and learning to proceed as planned.
Having a set routine is an important behavior management tool that helps to establish guidelines and behavior expectations.
A routine ensures that students know what’s coming next, so you’ll spend less time giving out instructions—freeing up time to do the real work.
Include the students in establishing a class schedule that works for everyone and give them responsibility for some routine tasks.
Don’t leave out the notoriously disruptive students in your schedule—more often, a sense of responsibility can help reduce behavior issues.
When a student starts to slide out of your planned routine, use non-verbal cues like hand gestures to remind students of what they should be doing. Avoid verbal cues to keep the lesson flow uninterrupted.
Just like a routine, rules help improve student behavior. However, if the classroom teachers set the rules themselves, the class may reject them.
That's why it's important to have an audience with your class to help set the rules.
When children take ownership of the rules, peer pressure works in your favor to enforce them and improve behavior management.
Also, have a guideline for how infractions will be dealt with. These guidelines help remove the feeling of being punished, so students will know what to expect when they’re called out about their behavior.
Remember to enforce the guidelines impartially and consistently. If you slack on the enforcement even once, you create a loophole that everyone will want to take advantage of.
It's also important to remember not to discipline the whole class for one student's infractions. For example, disrupting class proceedings to deal with one student. This will likely alienate the whole class, who will feel wrongfully punished.
Imagine sitting through a meeting where the facilitator drones on for hours on end. You will probably start fiddling with your keys or just zone out right in the middle of it.
That's exactly how students feel when lessons aren’t exciting. Monotonous classes are sure to bring out the worst in your students. To get rid of bad behavior, make your class activities as exciting and stimulating as possible.
Structure your activities to engage and involve your learners throughout the lesson. Strive to allow your students to uncover knowledge with practical activities.
Most importantly, vary your teaching methods, use plenty of aids, and make the work as interactive and fun as you can.
You can draw the attention of younger students by incorporating games and using plenty of actions in your learning time. With older students, try to stay relatable, for example, by referencing modern music or movies.
Negative language has a way of reinforcing the wrong behavior. Typically, kids like to do what they are told not to do. So, rather than create a vicious cycle of behavior challenges, use positive language.
For example, instead of saying, “Stop throwing those paper airplanes,” you can say instead, “Can we all focus and pay attention, please.”
Positive language makes the students feel respected, leading to better behavior.
Plus, positive language will encourage the kids to start speaking positively. For example, instead of saying, “This work is too hard for me,” they will begin to say, “I can try my best.”
It's also important to keep your body language positive. Smile more and frown less often. Model the behavior you want to see in your students. Studies have shown that students learn from the language and behavior that educators display.
Some of the outcomes of positive language approaches include:
Get to know your students individually. Take time to find out their interests and dislikes. If your lessons are centered around what the learners like, you will find it easier to keep them engaged.
Also, knowing your students will help you identify some triggers for behavioral problems. For example, if a student suddenly starts lashing out and talking over you in a lesson, they may be going through some personal problems at home or facing issues like bullying at school.
If you know a bit about the child, you may be able to figure out the root of the problem. Instead of punishing the bad behavior, you can talk to the student or point them in the direction of help; for example, get them to see the school counselor.
One way of developing a good relationship with your class is by speaking positively about them to their parents and administrators.
Use notes and calls to update their parents on their positive behavioral changes. Or have the principal or a senior administrator drop in to commend their good behavior. Your students are more likely to feel like you are looking out for them and continue to improve.
Getting an "F" on an assignment is demoralizing. Typically, students who get poor marks are disruptive in class and deliberately fall short of behavior expectations to deflect from the real issue.
If you are dealing with a similar scenario in your class, use a less standard scoring method for grading classwork.
For example, instead of grading a paper with a specific score, simply put check marks where they got it right and point out areas of improvement. This unconventional grading can help reduce the overwhelming feeling of poor grades.
You may also turn it into a game. Use points to grade papers and give some rewards when a student reaches a specific number of points. Treating scores like a fun game helps motivate students to focus and improve their scores.
Many years ago, the trusted classroom management approach was authoritarian. Teachers routinely meted out punishment or used stern warnings to keep the class in line. However, this method has been proven to have many shortcomings.
For one, it breeds an atmosphere of fear, hindering kids from making progress in their studies. Secondly, studies have shown negative long-term effects like behavioral problems, low self-esteem, or depression.
That’s why turning to positive behavior management techniques is critical. Positive behavior focuses on understanding your students, becoming a role model, and promoting wholesome behavioral development.
Imagine this scenario: a child is hanging from a tree cursing at his grandma, refusing to get into school. The principal’s office is bursting at the seams with pupils in trouble for one infraction or the other, and it's not even time for recess yet!
That's what Dr. Michael Perry had to deal with in his first year as principal at Critzer Elementary in Virginia.
But then, Positive Action came to his aid with a curriculum designed to instill positive behavioral change, plus training for educators in using positive behavioral management in the classroom.
The result was a phenomenal decrease in behavioral problems, safe classrooms, and thriving learners.
"Four years later, Critzer is profoundly transformed. The school is fully accredited, meeting and exceeding federal, state, and local standards. It ranks among the highest academic performing schools in its district, and halfway through this year there have only been two suspensions."
If you're facing behavioral problems in your school, turn to Positive Action.
For a comprehensive turnaround of your school, contact Positive Action today.
Positive Action’s programs are tried and tested.
Most importantly, all packages are engaging, easy to use, and set to transform the classroom and school environment to help shape your learners into well-behaved positive thinkers, and well-adjusted individuals.