Three Basic Teacher Tips for Managing Classroom Behavior
written by: Pamela Rice-Linn
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 9/8/2013
New teachers, don't despair! Behavior management ideas are as easy as these three little steps to help maintain a smooth-running classroom environment. This article will give you tried-and-true behavior management ideas.
Each year new teachers go through hours of training to learn how to maintain student behavior while still providing an interesting, informative lesson. It all comes down to three basic steps, so here are a few tips and behavior management ideas so that you may effectively teach.
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1. Provide a Warning
Sometimes students just want attention. If they're throwing a paper across the room or making a wisecrack to get a laugh, the wrong thing to do is yell at a student. The student who wants attention will simply be provided with more attention -- but the negative kind.
The correct thing to do is to provide the student with a warning. The warning can be a 'teacher stare' or it can be verbal, such as "focus," or "eyes on me," to get students back on task. Issue the warning in a calm and firm voice. The message you're sending students is what they are doing is inappropriate and not acceptable and they must stop. By remaining calm, the attention-seeker is deprived of an audience and is reminded that what they are doing is wrong. Also, by keeping your cool, you inadvertently send the message that you are in control.
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2. Close the Gap
The last thing any student wants is to be embarrassed in a classroom. It builds resentment and can often lead to unfavorable outcomes. Fortunately, these behavior management ideas will help a teacher get right to the point with a behavior issue. For instance, if a student has ignored a warning look or verbal cue, it is time for the teacher to close the gap. Not every classroom situation allows for this scenario, but when a repeat offender can't take a hint, the teacher needs to approach the student.
This approach is not meant to intimidate but to serve as a private conversation. Then, in a quiet, firm voice issue a second warning, this time reminding the student of consequences for their behavior. This type of classroom behavior management works best as the teacher moves about the room while conducting the lesson or supervising independent practice. While every school district has its own system of consequences, most teachers can rely on making parent contact to serve as an effective consequence. By moving in closer and warning a student in a quiet manner, the student does not have to feel embarrassed by the teacher and can often correct inappropriate behavior.
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3. Time to Take It Outside
Everyone has a bad day now and then, and no one knows this better than a student. When personal problems get in the way of paying attention in class, then it's time to take the issue outside. Depending on the type of behavior on display in class -- insistent talking, bothering another student, a refusal to sit up and pay attention -- a request to have a talk outside in the hallway should not be an attempt to further enrage an angry student or embarrass a troubled child.
Make sure your class is on task before quietly escorting a student outside into the hallway. Take the time to point out the behavior you've observed in class and then listen to the student's explanation. It's important to agree on what was done wrong and how it can be corrected. Stay positive. Depending on the problem, at this point a child might be issued consequences on the spot, might need a counselor to listen further, or can simply return to his desk to get back to work.
If stepping outside is a problem, then call the student away from his desk and have your discussion away from his comfort zone at his desk. The point is to have this conversation so that the student has a chance to speak up and the rest of the class can continue working. Behavior management ideas should stem from doing what is best for the student while causing as little disruption for the rest of the class as possible.
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Final Behavior Management Ideas
Finally, it is important for teachers to remember to be effective in managing classroom behavior, it is important to document what negative behavior has transpired in the classroom - especially if a student has requested counseling or has required a more serious consequence, such as an office referral.
Keep a daily planner or an organized spiral notebook where you can note behavior so that you might recount for parents or an administrator what has happened in your classroom. Also, if parent contact is established, note the type of parent contact -- a note sent home, a phone call, or a conference -- when it happened, whom you spoke with, and what the contact concerned. Most administrators want to know what the teacher has done to manage behavior in the classroom before the administrator must intervene.
While keeping every student on task might seem like a daunting undertaking, learning to manage unruly student behavior can mean the difference between having a classroom of students who take you seriously or a classroom of students who assume they can take advantage of an inexperienced teacher; the difference between completing a lesson or falling behind with your plan; the difference between giving the students the impression that they are in a respectful learning environment or one that is a free-for-all. Be consistent with managing classroom behavior. Be comfortable with your control. Students will respect your confidence and, at the end of the day, you'll be a much happier teacher.