Successful behaviour management in the classroom depends on a number of factors, but it is possible to single them out, one by one, and make positive changes to our own approach.

There’s a lot of negativity around the language which we use, in the mistaken belief that if we keep reminding students what they SHOULDN’T be doing, they will eventually get the message.

And if they don’t comply, we follow it up with discipline, stepped to the point of detentions and temporary exclusions.

I believe that the initial stages of classroom management starts with openness and expectations, a real understanding of what is important and fair.

I haven’t yet met a teenager who doesn’t have a perception of injustice, so if you make your rules ‘pointless’( in their opinion), and then match it with ‘extreme discipline’ (again, in their opinion), you’re in for a bumpy road.

Think about this. If we see signs everywhere, “No Hats” “No Talking” “No Swearing” “No Arguing” “No Phones” ….. it does tend to create a suffocating environment.

Switch this around.  Say what you want, not what you don’t want.  Tell students what they SHOULD be doing, not what they shouldn’t be doing. The brain records these in a less confrontational way.

It’s easier to cheerily say “remove hats when entering class, thank you” or “put phones on silent and place face down on the table, thanks”. Follow up with a non-verbal gesture which mimes the action.

As a teacher or assistant I think this will also help you to feel more positive, and less irritated, about delivering the instruction, too.

Directions such as “don’t slam the door” is better calmly put across as “close the door quietly, thank you”.

Here’s your homework. If you’d like to improve your behaviour management in the classroom, think of the instructions/language you use and try flipping it to the positive.

PS This works well for parents, too