Friday, 25 June 2010

Basic classroom management strategies

This blog post may seem a bit off-piste coming from me and my normal issues about ICT but the increasing use of ICT based behaviour management systems must not deskill classroom teachers from basic classroom management techniques and school behaviour policies need adapting to include the ICT system alongside these skills not replace good teaching techniques with a computer database. That way behaviour deteriorates further and the pastoral team in a school crack under the weight of incidents flashing up on their screens. The following post is the basic reminders, good for those new to the profession, about how to manage behaviour and when to log an event on the computer system

Basic classroom management strategies and when to log a behaviour event or send for Student Support Room (SSR) ‘on call’

Prevention is better than cure
Well paced, purposeful lessons delivered in a direct and businesslike manner prevent most disruptions, ‘own’ your room, decide who sits where and make your expectations very clear

Win the psychological battle
Children not settling down? The power of a pause and stare is impressive, if you soldier on delivering the lesson they take it as acceptance that they can chat and not listen, stop, pause, wait until the whole class is waiting for this individual to concentrate, it’s a battle of psychology mostly.

Challenge the students who don’t meet your expectations
If then you need to challenge students verbally use a clear, non-aggressive, assertion that what they are doing is not meeting your expectations (refer back to when you made the expectations to the class, point out that everyone else is doing it).

Look after your voice, your main teaching tool
Raising your voice has its purpose, such as settling a whole class but overuse dulls the effect and wears out the voice and the teacher, a headache doesn’t make you a better teacher- quiet can be very powerful, drawing in the students and using tone to communicate as much as words.

Sometime good to appear to be angry
Raising your voice at an individual should be rare, but on occasions the impression that a student has made you angry is a useful tool but that’s all it should be; a tool. The teacher should actually be deploying a controlled technique in an act, not actually losing their temper. But remember direct aggression to an individual with behaviour problems will trigger aggression back and escalate an incident that could have been dissipated with the right approach and it’s undignified and demeaning to a child. Sometimes we get it wrong, getting the wrong end of the stick- a lot of damage and upset to child and parents can be caused if we fly of the handle without full knowledge of the facts; its best avoided.

If tempers are genuinely being lost the situation needs urgent intervention with the child removed from the lesson, but more on that later.

Make a clear formal warning when you need to draw a line in the sand
If you sense students are ‘off track’ you can normally prevent it getting to confrontation. Remind individuals why they are in the lesson, what needs to be achieved, where they aren’t meeting your expectations and make a clear warning if it continues you will put a behaviour event on the computer system that Form Tutor, Head of Year, behaviour managers and parents will all be able to see, live on the web.

When to log a behaviour event online
If then the situation doesn’t improve do log the behaviour incident online, be sensitive about your projector being on if you do this during the lesson, but do not be afraid of getting the student up to talk to you quietly and see you put the event on the system so it is clear to them why they have got it on their record. Make it clear that the matter is closed they are to go back to their place and get on with work. Check they understand the work and what they need to do. Make it clear that if there is another incident you will have to send them to withdrawal room and that will get them in a lot more trouble.

Make sure you don’t name any other students in the log and don’t use it as an opportunity to vent your spleen; parents can see it and it may well be used in evidence when reviewing a child’s records for exclusions- keep it brief, factual and professional. You can always communicate more later.

Have the student taken out of the lesson if needed
For the rest of the lesson if there are minor problems or signs of problems with the same child just bring them back into line by quietly reminding them of the withdrawal room option. Don’t though fall into the trap of getting a reputation as a teacher who never carries out threats, if the child commits another event worthy of logging do so and have them removed by getting someone ‘on call’.

Of course if there is a major behaviour issue- fighting, swearing, aggressive and dangerous behaviour you go directly to sending for 'on call' support. These issues are very rare but need immediate decisive action and to get the rest of the class back to learning as soon as possible.