Don't get me wrong. For 70% of your class behaviour management will be a dream run. For 20% behaviour management will be tough. For the remaining 10% behaviour management will make or break you. The key issue is that behaviour management is part of your job - not the principal's, not the deputy's, or guidance officer's or even the parent's. In the first instance, you should handle your own behaviour management issues in your classroom.
So before you throw something at me, read on.
Let me develop the typical classroom scenario especially for relief teachers.
It’s common for relief teachers to send difficult students to the office just to get them out of their classroom. Obviously your job will be so much easier without this turkey in the room.
OK. You are in your classroom and one of the little turkeys is being stupid. You have threatened, given warnings and you are simply fed up with the interruptions and the silliness. This is blatant lack of respect and you can't stand it any more.
Get the picture.
You want to haul this little jerk down to the principal and let him/her deal with the behaviour management issues you have had to put up with every working day and you don't have to put up with it any more...
Most schools have some behaviour management referral processes. Some have forms, some require you to progress through a range of options before sending kids to the office. A few have a less formal approach.
Whatever the situation, some relief teachers extol a story of misdemeanours and a behaviour infringement tale of woe that would rival "War and Peace".
I can hear the classroom discussion now.
“Okay, Michelle. You've done it now. I warned you 2000 times. Get down to the principal and explain your behaviour.”
Of course, the principal would be doing nothing but sitting in the office just waiting for miscreants to arrive from the classroom.
Generally, most principals will stop what they are doing and would deal with the child as a matter of priority. After all the prime responsibility of the school is to enable kids to learn and, at this moment, THIS kid is not learning.
So the kids would generally have to wait to be seen and will eventually be summoned into THE OFFICE.
There will be some form of discourse. The student will probably have to explain the situation. I have to tell you, they aren't going to give you a glowing reference either.
I am sure the principal will set some consequence. There could be a telephone call home. There could be a behaviour management card in play. There will be some process as set out in the school's behaviour management policy that all staff have put together. The principal would know that this policy document must be followed to the letter because smart parents are going to use it against the school if not. Of course you have followed the behaviour management policy document haven't you? HAVEN'T YOU?
But the consequence of this process is that the student will probably be sent back to your classroom.
THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU WANTED.
You now complain that you are not getting enough support from administration.
In the long run, sending students to the office makes managing your classroom more difficult.
What you have done is in effect say to this child (and all the others who are watching) is that
It also puts your administrator, either the principal, deputy principal of HOD, in the difficult position of trying to do for you what you can more effectively do yourself.
The class will recognise this and the turkeys who are on the verge of turning will become bolder. They will start to challenge you and test your boundaries. This is going to be a great show for their mates. This pattern of sending kids to the office will undermine your classroom management and weaken you behaviour management authority in your classroom.
It is one of those vicious cycles, the more you send students to the office for someone else to deal with YOUR behaviour management, the more you’ll find yourself threatening students with that as an option.
You have in effect, used your biggest stick - FIRST.
Principals are often put in a difficult situation. Don't forget, they were and still are teachers.
In many ways their hands are tied. Sure they are there to support you.
So ask them!
Ask for their advice on behaviour management issues. Ask for support of you need it. Invite them to your classroom to see something GOOD. Let the class know that you have a professional relationship with THE BOSS. Ask the principal to talk to YOUR class about what he/she expects. Allow the kids to see that what you expect is no different.
Of course, if a student engages in dangerous behavior like bullying or fighting—or anything sexual misconduct and anything else that could affect the safety of themselves or others—then you absolutely must involve your administrator. No doubt about it. But even in such cases, when possible, you should take the lead.
Don't pass the buck. Be a part of the process. Offer your support. Can you contact the parents? Is there a report that needs to be written? Are there referrals to specialists that need to be prepared.
If you are seen as the leader and decision maker of your classroom, you will gain greater respect from your students.
Don't be seen as the relief teacher that passes the buck and refuses to accept the responsibility of YOUR classroom behaviour management.
Would you like your behaviour management problem solved?