A positive behaviour playlist

Teacher Danny Storey shares what he has learnt about behaviour management to help you have a happy, well-behaved class.

Articles / 5 mins read

Do you ever have sleepless nights worrying about how to support your “nightmare class” or that one challenging child?

I know the feeling.  I have been there.  What I want to do is share what I have learnt about behaviour management to help you have a happy, well-behaved class so you can wake up each morning less anxious and more optimistic about the day ahead.

Be like a DJ, having every different type of record available to please your crowd. A strategy that may work for one child may not work for others. So think of your behaviour management journey as a playlist. Each song below should help you remember that behaviour support strategy.

“Stressed out” – Twenty one pilots

Children can notice if you are stressed and anxious, and unfortunately, they may use this as an opportunity to misbehave. Even if you’re not quite feeling it – try and portray yourself as a confident, relaxed adult who has control of the situation. It may be hard to believe, but children respect authority. So if you start shouting or giving out unachievable consequences you begin to lose the respect from the children.

“Be alone no more” – Another Level

If you are ever struggling with your class turn to your support network. Your colleagues, SLT, SENDCO and headteacher were all new teachers once finding their feet in teaching and can empathise with the challenges you may face.

Remember, it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. All teachers have had hard times at some stage through their careers. They should see you asking for help as a positive step, as all you want is the best for every child in your class.

Your school will also have a behaviour policy in place. A good tip is to share and outline the behaviour guidelines with all of your students at the start of each term, so students are fully aware of the school rules, behaviour code, and what is expected of them. This way they will respect it, understand it and follow it more successfully. It then needs to be applied consistently throughout the school.

“Love train” – The O’Jays

Up-to-date training on teaching children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and how to support these students effectively in the classroom, will help you understand the varying needs for SEN students and how to manage their behaviour. You’re not expected to know all about SEND so make sure your school supports you by providing you with the most up-to-date and relevant training SEND training.

“Easy” – The Commodores

When managing classroom behaviour, consistency is key. It may feel daunting having to issue reprimands and sanctions, but do try and follow these through. It may seem easier to give children a few chances or ignore poor behaviour, but showing students that there are consequences for misbehaving in the classroom teaches them to respect the behaviour policy. 

“I’ll be there for you” – The Rembrandts

People used to say you are not there to be the child’s friend. I do agree. However, a classroom does not thrive on hate or fear. You will get more out of children if they like and respect you.

If there is a child whose behaviour is particularly problematic, I show them attention that they thrive for.  I then find out about their interests and find some common ground. One boy in my class was causing major problems in school. I found out he loved drawing and motorbikes. Not only did we develop a mutual respect for one another, we also shared some great chats about motorbikes and I bought some motorbike magazines, colouring books and mindfulness activities. When he completed his work, he could research motorbikes, make PowerPoint presentations and draw motorbikes. His behaviour issues quickly reduced in severity and frequency and the respect he showed for my authority as a teacher was much improved. 

“I want to thank you” - Dido

Who likes a compliment or praise? What are your kids doing well? Even if Ethan has only completed five sentences. Has he worked hard? Praise him for his effort and handwriting. This motivates students to do well. If they know you are happy with their work they will do more!

Many schools use behaviour management systems that incorporate rewards that can be shared with parents. With a child who can be challenging, I use the strategy of discussing with them how their day has been. I then share this with their parents. This does have a high success rate, especially if you write the message, or phone home, whilst the child is there. This way they know that hard work is recognised and rewarded.

“Is it too late now to say sorry?” - Justin Beiber

What is most important about children saying sorry is their understanding of what they are sorry for and how they are going to make things right.

Give them the opportunity to tell you why they behaved badly and give them the chance to come up with their own consequences. If they can devise a consequence that is in line with the school policy, then this is great. It empowers the child and gives them an increased desire to apologise and move forward.

“Survivor” – Destiny’s Child

It’s no understatement that teaching can be challenging. But it’s also one of the most fulfilling careers. Small steps at a steady pace will lead to long-term rewards. Give it time and don’t be too hard on yourself – you’re doing a great job. Some days might be better than others, but remember tomorrow is another day - try again to show children that persistence and resilience will lead to achievement and success.

Danny is an experienced teacher working in a boys primary SEMH school for over 11 years with expertise in behaviour management. He also writes and speaks about how to support  teachers with behaviour management. You can find him on Twitter @DanStorey19

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