Reading books on behaviour management
One of the biggest fears for someone just entering the teaching profession is often around behaviour management in the classroom. Some of the thoughts that may enter your mind are ‘Will the students listen to me? ‘How will I deal with bad behaviour?’ and ‘What should I do if I can’t control the class?’. As a trainee, it can be quite overwhelming when you realise that the profession you are about to enter requires you to stand in front of 25 young people for 6 hours a day and help them to learn. There are many horror stories floating around the internet and also through word of mouth which can very easily discourage even the strongest willed people from this career.
I was one of the people who thought I would struggle with behaviour management but by the time I started teaching, I had covered a wide range of topics related to classroom management at university and through independent learning. My first lesson was totally different to how I had envisaged it. Although students were participating in the activities there was a lot of low level disruption throughout the lesson, such as talking amongst friends and tapping the desk continuously. A lot of planning had gone into that lesson, ensuring that the work during the 1 hour period was accessible to all students and low level disruption can be very distracting, especially for a trainee teacher. It can also be very difficult to manage without the right knowledge. It can be frustrating when you have spent 3+ hours to plan a lesson and the students find more amusement in discussing what happened during the lunch break than what you have to teach them. In this instance, reading definitely helped with my classroom management.
One of the first books I read when I entered the profession was ‘Getting the buggers to behave’ by Sue Cowley. This is a simple and easy-to-read book that breaks down some of the most common behavioural issues that a classroom teacher may face. These issues range from students shouting out answers when not being questioned to students getting out of their seats and walking around the classroom. Sue Cowley outlines some effective techniques that can be used to create a positive learning environment within the classroom such as use of body language, tone of voice and language. After reading the book I began putting what I had read into my practice and I saw noticeable differences quite quickly. I started by using assertive body language which involved standing up with my shoulders pulled back and my hands open and visible, as well as utilising the classroom space to exercise my control of the lesson. Simple techniques such as greeting every child at the door upon entering and leaving worked a treat and are now part of my daily routines.
There is a countless amount of literature on behaviour management available to read for new teachers. My advice to new teachers would be to start with simple techniques that you can repeat and embed into a routine. When trying out a new technique it is important that time is allowed for the technique to settle in with the students before trying something else. Adults do not warm to change and students even less so. Be patient with students and get to know your class before trying to fix what may not be broken to begin with.
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