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Managing difficult behaviour

The success of your lessons can often hinge on the behaviour within your classroom. Difficult behaviour affects not just the pupil causing it but those around with the class lesson distracted and you getting angry or upset. These tips will help you manage difficult behaviour.

Analyse the problem

Think about why the problem has arisen and check to see if you are part of it. There will be days when things don't go right. You and your pupils are tired and you have equal doses of being fractious and grumpy.  Pupils pick up your mood very quickly and will temper their behaviour accordingly. You will need to do the same and judge what you say and do to fit in with the individualised needs of the classroom. This is the part of discipline you can control.

Do your homework

If there are pupils with a discipline problem then learn who they are, how they will act, and what processes and procedures have been used successfully in the past. Poor behaviour tends to have a pattern and one-off incidents are actually easier to deal with.

Don't give low-level disobedience a chance to grow

Low-level disobedience is what leads to higher level discipline issues. Every pupil should know what they are to do, how long they have to complete it and that discussion with others in the classroom is not part of the process. A large number of pupils have problems with concentration. This can manifest itself into poor behaviour. Individualised tasks can help this and clear instruction certainly will.

Stay calm and in control

Quickly try and calm the situation down and then at a later stage reflect on what has gone wrong. Don't try to reason with a very angry, shaking pupil. Give instructions clearly and don't give in to poor behaviour otherwise you are rewarding it and, worse of all, encouraging it.

Use a "time out"

Remove the disruptive pupil from their audience and give them time to calm down.  Pupils will often end up with no escape from a situation they have created other than to make it worse to save face. Many schools have time out policies. If your school has one, use it.

Don't lose your temper

Never take out your temper on your pupils, even if they annoy you or disrupt your lesson. You will bring in your problems from home that will interfere with the smooth flow of the school day. Step back and stay cool.

Seek help

Don't try to understand poor behaviour on your own. Support can come from:

  • other teachers
  • research
  • ideas and solutions picked up from teaching practice and your Induction year

Understand that there are underlying reasons for some poor behaviour that are not just caused in your classroom.

Don't respond to poor behaviour

Some pupils will want your attention all the time. In the short term a step-by-step approach should help: you respond only to good behaviour from the pupils and poor behaviour is not rewarded by your attention. Over time you will learn each others parameters.

Don't tolerate swearing in class

Some pupils use it as part of their everyday vocabulary. They need to learn that it is not appropriate in the school setting. Stop it when you hear it. This is a non-negotiable issue.

Use silence as a learning tool

Classroom chat will wear everyone down and some pupils just find it unbearable to sit quietly. You can help them by letting them talk to you only but make them understand that talking to other pupils is just not on the agenda.

Pick up on signals quickly

Some pupils just cannot express their anger and will make sure that others know they are angry by actions such as throwing things or scraping their chair.

Behaviour management schemes

There are many examples of behaviour management schemes in place in schools all over the country. Your school will almost certainly have one in place that will support you. Rewarding good behaviour really does work and the ˜two stars and a wish" and the ˜traffic light" schemes have been very successful. Don"t reinvent the wheel use what is there and what works.