4 Early-Year Keys for Effective Classroom Discipline
There is nothing that can undermine an atmosphere in the classroom that is conducive to learning more quickly than a variety of insignificantly disruptive behaviours. Individually, these behaviours may not seem like a big deal; however, when taken together, they rob our students of valuable instructional time and the positive energy they require to be successful. Even though effective student behaviour management is a practise that involves a variety of facets, there are four primary things that you can do very early in the school year to set the appropriate tone, and you should do them.
1. Ensure that your first words and actions are full of self-assurance, enthusiasm, and a welcoming spirit.
Make sure your students understand how excited you are to either meet them for the first time or see them again. It’s possible that you could say something like this:
It gives me great joy to have each and every one of you in this class. Both the activities that we will be participating in and the information that we will acquire are sure to be very enjoyable. I look forward to the coming year with great anticipation. I’d like to begin by providing some background information about myself. [Discuss something personal with the group, such as a few sentences about your family, your hobbies, how you spent your vacation, or anything else that comes to mind.] Although I strive to be the best possible educator, I acknowledge that I am not without flaws. I am not perfect, and neither are you; we both make mistakes. Nevertheless, there is no cause for shame in making errors. I hold myself to the standard of being on time and prepared for the day each and every day. I anticipate nothing different from any of you. Does anybody have any inquiries that they’d like to direct my way?
2. Lay out the ground rules for how you intend to deal with inappropriate behaviour.
The vast majority of educators are skilled at letting students know about routines, rules, and even the consequences for breaking rules; however, many educators fail to communicate what is possibly the single most important factor in maintaining everyone’s dignity when rules are broken. Inform the students that individual feedback, including consequences, will almost always be given in private, despite the fact that the majority of what happens in class will be broadcast for everyone to hear. The following are two assertions that you could make:
1. Throughout the course of this year, there will be a number of occasions in which I will come by your workplace to deliver a personal communication that is intended for your ears only. It is the manner in which I typically provide feedback that communicates to you what I believe you are doing well and what I believe you could improve upon.
2. Although I do not anticipate that any rules will be broken, it is possible that someone will behave in an unacceptable manner whenever a large number of people are confined to the same area. I only occasionally have to pause a lesson in order to address unacceptable behaviour. There is a possibility that I am ignoring it, despite the fact that it may appear that I am. I hope you do, too. However, ignoring it does not mean that I am not going to take action regarding it in any way. It simply indicates that I consider teaching to be of greater significance at that point in time. It indicates that I will meet up with that individual at a later time when we will both have more time to gain new knowledge.
3. Make sure students are aware of when and how they can provide feedback to you.
Determine a time and a location for students to provide you with their feedback. I think it’s a great idea to have “conference time,” in which students can make appointments to meet with you specifically for this purpose. Have a box labelled “Feedback for Teacher” where students can leave you notes to express their gratitude and suggestions about how you can improve as a teacher for them, if that is something you would find more convenient. This might be the message you want to send about feedback:
Even if you behave in a way that I find offensive, I will make every effort to maintain a respectful demeanour because it is of the utmost importance to me that I provide each of you with the very best education that I am capable of providing. Because of this, I will typically provide you with feedback in a one-on-one setting. In the same vein, if you have any suggestions about how I could improve as a teacher for you, please share them with me. You can either hand it to me during conference time, tell me after class, or write me a note that you will then place in the feedback box.
4. Please explain the distinction between being fair and being equal.
Make it abundantly clear that if a student breaks a rule, you will do whatever you consider to be the most effective means of assisting that student in correcting the error:
As a result of the fact that not everyone learns in the same way, the consequences may not always be the same. It will be up to me to decide which consequence (if any) would be most beneficial for that particular student. There will be times when I may even ask you what consequence (or consequences) you believe would work best based on your perspective. In any case, if you ever have the opinion that there is a different consequence that is more effective, let me know in a manner that is respectful, and I might change my mind. Complaints such as “It’s not fair because Max did the same thing as me and you called my mother but not his,” are not acceptable in my book, and I will not tolerate them. I’m going to talk to you about yourself, but I won’t discuss Max at all. What I did with Max is private between the two of us, just like what I do with you is private between the two of us. I will only pay attention to suggestions that you believe have the potential to make things easier for you.
I would like to extend to you an invitation to share any successful classroom management strategies that you used in the beginning of the school year.