Don’t Accept Unacceptable Behaviour
As a trainee in a secondary school riddled with behavioural issues, this has been a serious question. The first thing to recognise, is that there is no easy fix. If there were, it wouldn’t even be a question, there would just be the given guidance, but alas the question remains. Recognising that there is no right or wrong answer is the first step towards maintaining your own morale when things go sour.
I have found that the best thing is to be realistic about what you want from your students.
Last lesson on a windy Friday, you are unlikely to make great progress, so set students work that they are capable of, and set behaviour management as a higher priority than new learning outcomes. Doing so can consolidate prior learning, and with the class in a calm manner, everyone goes into the weekend with a positive outlook. The students having had a relaxed class, and the teacher having had a successful lesson, will enjoy their free time without anxiously worrying about seeing the class again on Monday.
Making sure your board work is impeccable will keep students on task as much as you can. As soon as a student points out a mistake, or you realise your axes are too short, etc etc, students tend to overreact, saying “I don’t get it”, “this is too hard”, “look, sir/miss can’t even do it”. Clear and well laid out board-work is easier to follow, easier to copy, and easier to replicate, so give students as little excuse as possible to go off task.
Finally, should things go really bad, simply follow the school behaviour policy. That is all you can do. My expectations of myself are super high, although this often leads to dissatisfaction, feeling of failure, and inadequacy. However, following the school’s behaviour policy is all you are expected to do. If that doesn’t work, then it quite simply is not your fault, and realising that was a big weight off my shoulders. You cannot change the extreme behaviour of several hundred kids single-handedly!
If a student is misbehaving, it is highly likely that they are misbehaving in other classes too, so communicate with other faculties, raise issues with the senior leadership team, and fight the fire at the source.
By Shaun Flynn