A Behaviour Management Question.

behaviour managementHi Bob.

I have a behaviour management dilemma.

I'm a 10  week in newbie, predominantly working with primary kids, R-7 and I need help.

Can you help me?

My background is art and music, so I'm working on lots of little activities to incorporate that, like drawing an alien and discussing it with your neighbour, that sort of thing. 20 mins max.

Last week I tried the walking with dinosaurs with a group of year 7's but they protested for Jango , another video I had in my folder with the lizard.

It was ok, but we didn't do any discussion or writing, and I felt maybe music videos and discussion would have been a better lesson.

I'm keen on starter ideas to help change gears in the class room, any pointers/tips / references would be appreciated.

Marc W

Behaviour Management from an Old Dog

Hi Marc,

Thanks for your question and I hope I can give you some behaviour management pointers.

But like all lessons from an old dog these tips are feathered by some qualifiers.

The beauty of being old is that you can be better than you were. As a young teacher I thought I was not only an expert but THE expert. It was only as I get older than I found out I was neither. So these behaviour management tips can be taken as "What I know NOW" but sometimes didn't use before.

Behaviour Management Tips

Never negotiate with kids.

You are the boss. You know best.

If you want kids to do something, don't let them talk you out of it. I know cleverer people than I might tell you to negotiate classroom activities with the kids. Like someone famous once said, "That will never happen in a classroom that I lead." Honestly, negotiation is over-rated.

If kids complain about a leaning activity - well tough luck. This is your activity to teach.

You can imagine the obvious consequence if you continually changed on the whims of your class. If you wanted the kids to do the dinosaur activity - then they do the dinosaur activity. You might need to set some contexts. The Walking with Dinosaurs activity is not a time filler. It is quite difficult. The kids really need to listen to the commentary to get the answers. When I use this with kids I do the first few minutes a couple of times so the kids get in the groove of listening AND thinking. Those two skills are not automatic for kids, anymore.

As for any activity, you need to set parameters. WWD is no different. It is not an activity that you start and sit back to watch. When I use this activity, I stop and review answers often juts to keep kids on task and on track.

You might find this is a good behaviour management strategy to employ in your classrooms. This puts the focus on every activity right back on to the learning.

I am pretty certain if you gave kids the choice, their selection would be to watch videos all day. I think if you gave me a choice, I would select the least demanding task.

It sounds like to me that the kids are testing the waters.

You need to stamp some authority with your class. Refer to my 101 Classroom Management Tips and start building a skill repertoire.

Never solve conflict with conflict.

If a kid goes berko, as sometimes happens, don't go berko as well.  Twice the berko never works.

Build bridges during conflicts to show kids the way back to learning. You must keep the focus of all your energy on learning. There are many ways that relief teachers interfere with learning which makes behaviour management more complex than it needs to be.

Take Small Bites

Teaching is like eating an elephant. You have to teach one small piece at time.

Like elephants, the tougher they are, the smaller the pieces need to be.

Once that small piece is swallowed, only then can you bite off the next piece.

Like elephants, if you bite off more than can be chewed, you choke.

Forget the platitudes.

Effective behaviour management does not requite that you like all the kids in your class.

Good grief! I couldn't stand some of the little toads I had in my class/school.

I used to thank the heavens that I was not their father. However, you do have to show them respect - even if it is between gritted teeth.

Marc, by all means use your strength. If your background is art and music, use these as the basis of your lessons. However, you need to build on this to integrate reading, writing and maths.

I hope this of some help and enables you to build your behaviour management repertoire.

Check out all my behaviour management teaching resource.

Behaviour Management Tips


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(2) comments

Rowena Simon

That was great to read through. I am a student teacher who will be in the classroom one day and I love reading advice, particularly on behaviour management, from people who have many real life experiences. Thanks for sharing your wisdom and helping out the newbies.


    My pleasure Rowena. Check out the issue about task refusal. It is a common problem for new and old teachers.

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