Behaviour Management In Your New Classroom

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You’ve just graduated. You’re super excited to start your new teaching career. You are busting to get
into your new room and decorate like crazy, plan lessons and get to know your students but where to start?

Having a behaviour management plan should be your first priority in any classroom. How will your students know what the rules are and how to follow them?

Different year levels will require different expectations but there are many key behaviours that students should be following, regardless of year level:

Whole body listening

Young students will need to be taught what this looks like (sitting still, legs crossed, eyes on the
teacher, hands and feet to yourself, mouth is closed). 

All students will appreciate a visual reminder but young children need daily reminders of what whole body listening looks, feels and sounds like. Posters are great examples and a gentle reminder at the start of each lesson is a good practice to get into such as:
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"Look at this picture of a little boy. He’s showing some great whole body listening. His eyes are OPEN, his mouth is SHUT, his hands and feet are TO HIMSELF, his legs are CROSSED."

I often get students to chant the key words so we’re all on the same page before any lesson starts. Don’t forget to use that positive behaviour management reinforcement when you see a student doing the right thing:

"oh wow look at Suzie sitting there so beautifully. Her back is straight, her eyes are on the teacher, her hands and feet are to herself and her mouth is closed. She’s showing some great whole body listening."

This is a 100% surefire way to get every child in that room to lift their game. It works every time.

SIDE NOTE; I often seen new teachers keep young children sitting on the floor for far too long. Young children have a limited attention span so 5-10 minutes at the very most should be spent sitting on the floor listening to instruction, after that you’ve lost them. Short sessions on the floor before a hands on activity is great but keep it short and to the point then move them off to the activity and return to the floor when done. Be tuned in. As soon as you feel the students shifting in their spots you know it’s time to move it along.

What about older students?

Older children still need this rule reinforced but as they are not sitting on the floor anymore the behaviour example needs to be modified (not doodling, not reading a book while the teacher is teaching, not talking while the teacher is talking etc…). Personally, I’ve found team points work wonders with older children. I divide children into table teams and award points for positive behaviour. Very rarely do I take points away but sometimes it’s necessary:

“John is really showing me that he is listening as his eyes are on me and he’s ready to learn so I’m going to give his team 2 points” 


“Sally you gave me the correct answer but sadly you shouted it out so I can’t give you any points for that/I’m going to have to deduct 1 point from your team”. 

This really works with older children who have more self-control and they are hugely competitive in upper primary so I highly recommend this. 

One year I had a class that was amassing a huge collection of points for their teams but I had never even discussed what a reward was with them! They just loved collecting points and beating the other members of the class! 

Calling out

This is a really annoying trait that some students have and younger children often have limited self-control when it comes to waiting their turn. Calling out can start with one student and, if not nipped in the bud, can spread like wild-fire to other students and this is how problems with behaviour management occur. 

When motivated, students will do nearly anything! There are a few simple but effective ways to stop calling out in class such as the positive behaviour management model of point scoring for teams (as mentioned above) or simply ignoring such behaviour. Sometimes, however, ignoring bad behaviour only makes it worse and the student behaving this way will only enjoy the peer attention. 

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Remember location, location, location!

Just your location in the room will nip bad behaviour in the bud. Standing near a chatterer when you’re teaching is a good idea or locating yourself near the table of the shouter means you can gently use your body language to close them down and focus on those that are doing the right thing.

Sometimes I feel 90% of our job as teachers is behaviour management. However, it is true what you’ve been taught at Teacher College. Get the behaviour management right at the start of the year and you’ll be on top of your game all year long. NB: Actually I’m pretty sure they said ‘Don’t smile till Easter’ but whatever works for you!

You can grab these bright and cheerful classroom rules here.

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