Teaching grade school children can be an extremely arduous task. In a classroom of 20+ students, you need to constantly be at the top of your game. There’s a delicate balance between keeping the classroom under control and completely domineering the area. You want your children to listen to you and respect you as well as their peers, but you also want to make sure that you create an area ripe for learning. By learning proper behavior management strategies, you can stay balanced between being a friend and mentor and maintaining control of your classroom.
One of the most important things to remember is that your classroom should be a safe haven where everyone can have fun while continuing to progress in their education. What’s better than walking into your classroom every morning, seeing the children’s smiling faces and watching their joy as they understand a difficult problem? The less time you have to spend punishing bad behavior, the more time everyone has to learn and grow together.
If you’re interested in learning how to better manage your classroom and reduce the amount of everyday conflict and stress, Udemy has a great course on classroom management that will help bring peace back into your workplace!
The first important step to take is to create an environment that prevents negative behaviors. If you can prevent the problem from ever occurring, you won’t need to worry about changing behaviors. If the behaviors persist regardless, you must then intervene.
Preventing the Problem
- Create a structured environment. Many times children act up due to insecurity and instability. If you can provide a safe, structured environment where everyone feels equal and welcome, you’ll have less problems on your hands. While this is easier said than done, you can do your part by creating a set daily schedule of activities. These activities will change day to day based on the particular subject that is being covered, but children will know that a typical day will begin by everyone shuffling in and going straight to their seats, then greeting their teacher, then asking questions about the previous night’s homework, etc etc. When children know that they are expected to do certain things at certain times, they are less likely to be running around unsure of what to do. In order to make every child feel equal, make sure you are treating them all equal. Playing favorites always leads to hurt feelings, so it’s important to show the same love and respect to every single student. If one or more students are falling behind the class, make sure to keep them up to date through personal tutoring or getting a teacher’s assistant to bring them back up to speed.
- Enforce rules from the start. If you make it clear from the beginning what behavior is acceptable and what is not, there will be no gray area. If the children are expected to raise their hands before answering a question or getting out of their seat, make sure you enforce that rule. The second you let one child get away with getting out of their seat without being called on first, a can of worms has been opened; more and more children will begin doing the same thing, and it will be harder to get everybody back on track.
- Treat each child as an individual. If you only keep track of the classroom as a whole unit, you can’t focus in on particular problems one child may be having. It’s important to monitor each child’s progress separately and keep track of their strengths and weaknesses so that you can better track and improve their behavior. If a serious behavior problem does occur, you can take a look at their previous records and see if there is a certain pattern.
Finding a Solution
- Teach acceptable social skills. Sometimes children aren’t brought up in a family that teaches them right from wrong. They may be used to saying everything that is on their mind, regardless of how offensive it may be. This is not the child’s fault! However, while you are not their parent, it’s still important to teach them how to be respectful towards their peers. Begin by identifying what the negative behavior is, and come up with a set of plans to replace the negative behavior with a positive one. This may include modeling the social skill yourself, or rewarding students who exhibit this skill in order to encourage better behavior.
- Approach anger the right way. Oftentimes children who act out have difficulty expressing their anger in a healthy way. If children grew up in an aggressive household, they may have learned that anger is the proper way to get what they want. This may have been so deeply conditioned that it can be hard to get them out of this rut, but it isn’t impossible. When keeping track of their behavior, try to determine what it is that sets them off. They may need extra anger management training outside of the classroom.
- Reduce bullying. If a child is feeling as though they are the victim of a bully, they may be afraid of coming to school and unaware of paying attention to the lesson at hand. It’s important to recognize who is the bully and who is the victim. The bullies tend to like to be in charge and are aggressive, while the victims tend to be shy and isolate themselves from others. If someone is the victim of bullying in your classroom, it’s important to sort out this problem right away. This is why it is so important to reward positive behavior and punish negative behavior. The more children are conditioned to follow the rules and be respectful of others, the less likely bullying will take place. If one student seems to always be the victim, help them gain a healthier level of self-esteem.
- Base solutions off of the problem. Every classroom has the tattle-tale, the one who constantly desires attention, the one who lies in order to be liked, the shy one who becomes an easy victim and the bully who wants to feel in control. Each student needs to be taught and corrected in their own way, so it may be helpful to involve your school’s guidance counselor in addressing these problems. You should be focused on teaching your students and molding their minds; you shouldn’t have to spend your entire class period trying to improve their behavior.
Understanding Different Types of People
Even if all students are relatively well-behaved, sometimes personalities clash. Have you gotten along with every single person you have had a class with, from elementary school through college? If you have, that’s an incredible feat. No matter how nice people are, sometimes there’s just something about them that gets under your skin. As a teacher, it’s important to express that, while everyone may not have the same interests and beliefs, each and every student is a human with feelings and desires. When children begin to recognize that their peers are humans too, they’ll either work to get along or simply avoid the peers that they have conflict with. The better students get at seeing things from another person’s point of view, the calmer the classroom will be.
It’s incredibly important for you, as the teacher, to treat all of the student the way you’d want them to treat you and their classmates. It can be all too easy to get frustrated with a trouble maker and act out in anger, but that is only reinforcing the negative behaviors of other students. This may mean you need to change your teaching strategies in order to help all of your students succeed.
If you need some extra help managing the behavior of your students, Udemy’s course on classroom management will give you all the knowledge you need to succeed!