Schools are now holding interviews for positions starting after half term. This means it is an excellent time for a refresher on best classroom practice. Behaviour management strategies are always top of the list to get right for the spring return. Teachers and TAs will need to return with confidence and consistent expectations. Additionally, let’s remind ourselves that learners will also find the return to school challenging after enduring much disruption and emotional upheaval. Read on for Prospero’s top behaviour tips for the return.
These top tips are a great refresher for anyone returning to school in the near future wanting to get their learners back on track as smoothly as possible:
1 Tips for the Return: Readjust behaviour with an entry routine
Many students are going to be eager and excited to get back into the classroom. Other students may return with a bump, accustomed to life at home in front of a screen. Either way, students must meet the expectations for behaviour to be allowed to enter into the classroom.
Having an entry routine is an essential part of behaviour 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.
If we’re not careful right from the get go, it would be very easy to allow poor behaviour habits to emerge early on with thoughts such as ‘Ah I’ll let them chat for a bit, they’ve been away for so long!’ or ‘I can’t expect them to listen to me on day one, poor things!’ The old adage of ‘be their teacher, not their friend’ has never rang more true. The quicker we return to ‘normality’ in terms of routines and expectations the better. Ideally, after a few days of readjustment, students will start to feel as though they have never been away!
Routines occur at several points throughout your lesson, not only at the beginning and end. Rehearsing 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. In other words, well drilled transitions are absolutely vital for positive behaviour management.
2: Maintain good behaviour with a calm learning environment
Second in our series of behaviour tips for the return involves a calm learning environment. However well prepared we are, there will still be at least some disruption to lessons… students are going to want to catch up with their friends. Students are going to feel frustrated by the return of a strict weekly structure. Students are going to feel anxious and unsettled after a very difficult year for families across the country.
For these reasons, it’s vital to anticipate this and be ready for it. For example, make sure you have an established signal for silence e.g. a countdown, raised hand etc. After half-term, you must continue to ensure you insist on 100% silence when you ask for it. You must be consistent with your own expectations.
For instance, if you are struggling to gain 100% silence, 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)!
Above all, if you are struggling to gain or maintain silence with a particularly tricky class, then don’t ask for it! Plan your lessons to avoid you needing to give verbal instruction and just get the students doing! Use visual resources and give instructions that students can access themselves or in groups to achieve this
3: Clarity in the classroom
By giving clear and straightforward instructions students know exactly what they should be doing and how they should be behaving. They will need reminding – and reminding again regularly. Firstly, be careful not to resort to phrases such as ‘Come on Year 10, you know how to behave!’ either. It is quite possible your class have forgotten how to meet expectations or are choosing to forget. Most importantly, make it clear what you expect, alongside the rewards for good behaviour and consequences for poor behaviour.
‘Year 10, I’m disappointed by the disruption to learning here. I expect full focus on the task set. We have 7 minutes left to complete. House points for this table for setting a fantastic example. Remember, there are ideas for sentence openers are on the board’’ Being clear and consistent with consequences means that students are far less likely to misbehave.
4 Tips for the Return: Plan ahead for positive behaviour management
As mentioned, planning your routines and expectations are the first steps to crafting a positive classroom environment. Following that, you must 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:
Firstly, 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?
Finally, 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.
In conclusion, it is more productive to consider these questions when evaluating your approach to behaviour management. We could make excuses for our students around the after-effects of a disrupted year, for instant (and of course it’s important to be considerate of your students individual situations.) However, the above are factors that you in the classroom can change, that will lead to improvement in behaviour, so should be your primary focus.
5 Tips for the Return: Seek support from your team
The last of our behaviour tips for the return is probably the most important. Your school should have policies and routines in place to help you with your teaching and classroom management and for returning to the classroom in a covid-secure way – 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.
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We hope you enjoyed reading our behaviour tips for the return to school. Our specialist consultants are always delighted to hear from you – please get in touch at email@example.com if you have any comments or questions on protecting your teacher voice.
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Wanting help with behaviour management? Read our 8 Strategies to Support Students with SEND.