Starting off September Right
Starting off on the right foot with students in September is the key to the rest of the school year. Now is the time to establish your expectations, routines and positivity for ease of classroom management for the coming year. Whether you’re an NQT or experienced teacher in a new school these top tips for setting and maintaining routines and high standards are a great reminder for everyone.
1. The First Step
Your students should not be allowed to cross the threshold to enter your classroom without meeting your behaviour expectations. Having an entry routine is an essential part of classroom management. Greeting students at the door builds a positive start to your lesson (and combined with an engaging starter / DO NOW activity) reinforces your expectations and ensures that students are ready to learn (because you don’t let them in if they’re not!). Routines are not limited to the start of your lesson though. Transition routines for exiting the classroom, tidying up, self- and peer-assessment and even the distribution and collection of resources and books can save time and remove distractions.
2. Silence is Golden (when necessary)
A room of 30 teenagers to be in complete silence seems impossible, but sometimes it’s necessary. Decide on an established signal for silence e.g. a countdown, raised hand, etc., and you must continue to ensure you insist on 100% silence when you ask for it in order to train the behaviour. You must also be consistent with your own expectations. If you are struggling to gain 100% silence ask yourself: is the silence actually necessary? Why not try giving problem students jobs/roles of responsibility whilst you give instructions or try changing your lesson planning to include group work or work that doesn’t even require you to talk (then there can be no excuses)!
3. Clear & Fair
By giving clear and simple instructions students should know exactly what they should be doing. Setting high expectations means students know what is expected of them 100% of the time. But why? Why should they follow the rules when they are never told what the consequences are?! Being clear and consistent with consequences means that students are far less likely to misbehave.
4. Planning for Success
Planning your routines and expectations are the first steps to crafting a positive classroom environment. You must then ensure that your lessons are accessible and challenging. The more students are busy ‘doing’ something, the less opportunity there is to misbehave. Here are some questions to ask yourself if students are losing focus within your lesson:
- Are students engaged with a starter / DO NOW activity as soon as they enter the classroom?
- Are your instructions clear? Displayed on the board/worksheet as well as verbally explained?
- Are the activities challenging? Activities that are too easy or too hard will result in boredom and misbehaviour.
- Are your activities accessible? Is there appropriate differentiation, e.g. modelling, scaffolding and structuring, of the work to enable all students to access the learning and be challenged?
- Do students know you’re going to check? Make sure there is a challenging time frame and a certainty that their learning is going to be checked/assessed.
5. Support Structure
Remember that you are not alone. Your school should have policies and routines in place to help you with your teaching and classroom management – make sure you find out what these are. Do not be afraid to ask other teachers how they establish routines in their classroom. Your colleagues will know what works well for your school’s students. Middle and Senior Leadership should be able to assist and advise on more serious behaviour issues. And remember: the Training and Development Team here at Prospero are all experienced teachers happy to advise on any issue you might be having.
For more ideas check out these articles, websites and blogs: