Whether you’re a new teacher or working as a sub, you probably already know that classroom management is vital. After all, in well-managed classrooms, students know what to expect and what’s expected of them. This allows their teachers to do their job effectively and to engage all their students in active learning.
How to Improve Classroom Behavior
Just knowing that classroom Behavior management is important, however, doesn’t always make it easy to pinpoint what works and what doesn’t. Below, you’ll find a few tried-and-true classroom behavior tips.
The Rules Are the Rules
Having clearly defined — and enforced — rules is key to classroom order. Here’s how to do it:
- Set the rules. While most schools have a basic code of conduct, the rules in each classroom can vary quite a bit. From the start, decide exactly what kind of conduct you expect from your students. If you’re subbing for another teacher, review his or her rules so you’ll understand the teacher’s expectations.
- Make the rules clear. Once you have the rules clearly in your mind, convey them to your students. In your classroom, write them on a poster and put them at the front of the room. If you’re working as a substitute, look around the room. You’ll likely find a list of rules already clearly posted.
- Remind the students. Going over the classroom rules not only keeps them clear in your students’ minds, it reminds them that you’re paying attention to the rules, as well. This is particularly important for a sub, since kids sometimes think their substitute teacher doesn’t know what is and isn’t allowed in their classroom.
- Follow through. Rules are meaningless unless they’re enforced. Remember, every time you’re tempted to bend a rule or ignore it, all eyes are on you. When one rule falls, your students will be tempted to find out which of your other rules are “optional.”
Pass Out the Rewards
The carrot is almost always better than the stick. Keep your eyes open for kids who are demonstrating good behavior, and reward them!
- Make it a contest. Divide the class into several “teams.” Let the kids in each group name their team, then write all the team names on the board. Explain that each time a team does something great, those students will earn a checkmark. At the end of the day, the team with the most checkmarks wins a prize — some stickers, a puzzle page, juice boxes, for example. Try to keep the checkmarks fairly even throughout the day, if you can. If one team feels it has no chance of winning, it may decide that following the rules doesn’t matter anymore.
- Reserve recess. Write the word “recess” in big letters on the board. Tell your students that this word represents an extra recess period — but they’ll have to earn it. Throughout the day, if the class is unruly, simply walk to the board and erase a letter. If all the letters are gone, then so is that extra recess. But, if even that lone “R” is left, recess has been saved.
- Make a list. Kids are used to the idea of a substitute leaving a list of troublemakers for their regular teacher. Turn that idea on its head! Tell your students at the start of the day that you’re making a list of all the kids who did well. You might be surprised at how hard your students will work to “make the list.”
Have a Plan
And not just a discipline plan — a lesson plan. Having a clear, concise lesson plan gives your day structure and eliminates “free time,” which can lead to misbehavior. This allows you to focus more fully on classroom management — knowing that all the other details of your day are neatly in place.