Acceptable behavior in the classroom should be in a learning-centered environment in which teachers, aides, and students are unhindered by disruptive behaviors.
As far as teachers, a positive classroom begins with you, the teacher. Every year classroom behavior gets more and more difficult. Disruptive behavior results in lost curriculum time, and also a disruptive classroom. Classroom control/discipline is rated among the top four challenges teachers face in public schools today; where more than half the teachers that were polled stated that discipline was a serious problem at their schools. Below are a few suggestions that can help build a successful foundation for your classroom:
Think About Your Approach Taking some time to think about the strategies you plan to use to encourage positive classroom behavior, and making your strategies simpler will make it easier for you to lead the class confidently and effectively.
Visualize Possible Challenges Imagine possible classroom challenges and review your strategies for dealing with them. Having clear-cut strategies will help keep you grounded when these challenges do arise.
Make Your Expectations Clear from the Beginning Make sure that students know what you expect of them. The classroom rules you present should be positive, specific and concise. You may wish to post them in the classroom or distribute them for students to sign. You should also spell out what will happen if students do not meet expectations.
Model Positive Behavior Occasionally, you may have to remind yourself to follow your own rules. For example, if you ask students not to drink beverages in class, refrain from keeping a cup of coffee on your desk, even if you do not drink it during class.
Encourage, Encourage, Encourage When you praise students who are excelling, don't forget to encourage those who are trying, but struggling. These students often lack confidence and need more positive reinforcement.
Show Respect Showing respect for your students includes listening to their needs and preserving their dignity. It also means living up to their expectations of you, such as greeting them at the beginning of class or returning corrected homework in a timely fashion.
Be Consistent Be sure to address student behavior in a consistent manner. Be wary of shifting strategies when misbehavior occurs. To students, this may show a lack of decisiveness. Find a strategy you like and stick with it.
Keep Students Busy and Challenged Busy students are far less likely to exhibit disruptive behavior. Be sure that students are working at appropriate levels; boredom and frustration often lead to students' acting out.
Listen to Students' Suggestions When building your foundation, you may be able to draw from students' and other teachers' past classroom experiences. Ask students to make suggestions about what should be expected of them and how misbehavior should be addressed. Students are often more responsive to rules they helped create.
Author: Elizabeth Vosseler, M.A. PPS, School Psychologist/ERICS Therapist