So, you have prepared another exciting lesson packed with activities, discussions, interesting projects and resources but the only person really excited about this class is yourself. And even your excitement soon drops significantly and turns into frustration as your perfect plan is ruined by misbehaving students. The activities do not work as you have planned and the whole lesson is one big chaos. Does it sound familiar? Every single teacher at some point of their career has at least a few similar experiences which is only natural. Behaviour management has always been one of the most challenging issues as keeping students’ attention and motivation is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching. However, it is definitely doable and with some practice and a bunch of useful tools at hand, it gets easier with time. Check out the classroom behaviour management tips below.
Why students misbehave
No matter how hard you try, you will not achieve long lasting results if you don’ t understand the nature and the true reasons behind disruptive behaviour. They are universal and you need to consider all of them when trying to deal with misbehaving students. Naturally you will need to consider individual cases before deciding on the best approach but the following should help you get the bigger picture of what misbehaviour is really all about.
Students misbehave because:
- they need attention. As children need positive feedback to grow harmoniously and to fully develop their potential, their misbehaviour in your classroom might be a sign that they receive little or not enough positive attention or positive feedback. If this is so, they will ask for whatever attention they may receive.
– they can’t fully express themselves. Children are active by nature and they need to constantly let go of the energy they accumulate during the day. They will do so by finding the best ways to express themselves and channel the energy into something they particularly like. If there is no enabling environment to do so, they will just need to use whatever is available to regulate their energy and these might be the things that disrupt your classes.
– they want to be treated as partners. Children instinctively know that their voice should be heard and in harmonious conditions they quickly become aware of the need to be respected. Too much discipline, authoritative teaching style and a lack of consideration for their needs may quickly lead to disruptive behaviour.
– they are expected to do more than they are ready for. Too much pressure can create fear of failure and frustration which might easily lead to anger, or the felling of being inadequate or losing self-confidence, which all might result in disruptive behaviour.
– they are bored. Children get absorbed in things they are excited about very easily and when they are, they are hardly ever disruptive. It’s when they are bored they usually start looking for things to do and get busy with as this is part of their nature. And these can be the things that you don’t necessarily want them to do during your classes.
Eliminating disruptive behaviour
As a teacher I have worked with all age ranges starting from early years, through school children, teenagers, university students, adults and the elderly, and after 15 years of teaching and training my observation is still the same – my students’ misbehaviour means that I need to reflect on my teaching instead of blaming them for being disruptive. Yes, there will be individual cases when misbehaviour is related to personal issues, abuse or other individual circumstances, but in general I am responsible for making sure I do my best to reduce my students’ disruptions. This attitude has nothing to do with blaming myself, but rather with being reflective and trying to find the most effective ways of appealing to my students’ needs as individuals and as a group.
To be honest, there are no magic tricks you can perform to eliminate misbehaviour if you don’t try to understand its nature and the fact how your own teaching style and attitude in general contribute to your students’ misbehaviour. However, assuming you take on board the fact the entire misbehaviour issue is strongly related to your teaching, then you can adopt the following techniques and see how they can positively affect your classes:
Positive relationships built on mutual trust and respect means your students know that you are always on their side and try to understand them instead of imposing things on them and requiring obedience. Be honest, ask for their opinion, don’t be afraid of showing who you are as a person.
Work on your classroom dynamics by introducing various types of activities that promote movement, encourage team work, offer hands-on learning, foster project work, appeal to many senses and different learning styles.
Appeal to interests
Know your students and offer them activities and topics that interest them the most. Observe what types of activities motivate them to work, and plan more of them. If they are musical, play some background music during study time and incorporate a musical theme into your planning. The same applies to other interests. Your students might prefer team work in general, they might be science-oriented or extremely active so they need a lot of movement and action.
Agreeing on basic rules and expected behaviour helps introduce boundaries and might offer a sense of security. It also encourages self-discipline and reflection. Remember to discuss the rules with the students instead of just imposing them. And expect form yourself to obey the rules as well.
Involve students in planning
Discussing the learning experiences with your students will help you plan the right types of activities for them, and enable you to use the most appealing tools and approaches. Apart from that it is a great way to empower your students as they will feel trusted to decide about their own learning.
Dealing with misbehaviour as it happens is a relatively difficult task. It is much easier to prevent disruptive behaviour by knowing what causes it and planning the right kind of experiences for your students. It requires great flexibility as there are no fixed rules that will work for every one. In fact, being too rigid might even encourage disruptive behaviour. So stay focused but be relaxed. And be yourself!