1. You will have routines or you will have events.
Consistency builds routines. When a behaviour is performed in the same pattern repeatedly, it becomes automatic and is very efficient. You can increase teaching time by using this technique for procedures and transitions. An added benefit—no arguments. Routines are non-cognitive; arguments are cognitive and emotional. Once something is routine, the students “just do it.”
2. Students engaged in learning are not engaged in misbehaving.
Engagement is your single most important technique for preventing problems in the classroom. Make sure you come in well prepared with a quality lesson. Be enthusiastic. Use differentiated instruction and question everybody. Keep the focus of the classroom on learning, not on behaviour.
3. It’s better to act on insights than wait for incidents.
Ninety percent of effective discipline is done before there is a problem, not after. Anticipate. Give directions related to your expectations as students enter situations. Don’t wait until it’s too late. It’s far better to spend 30 seconds preventing a problem than 30 minutes resolving it.
4. Arm yourself—with a sense of humour.
Remember that what is misbehaviour to a teacher is often entertainment to a student. Keep your perspective—not everything that irritates you is misbehaviour. Before you get upset that students come unprepared, think of how many teachers go to a conference without a pad of paper and a pen.
5. Avoid “face-offs.”
Scolding students face to face rarely has positive results, especially with adolescents who either tune out or become argumentative. Others become resentful or feel the need to save face in front of peers. Re-engage the student if possible. Later, talk to him/her in private. They’ll listen better if they’re helping you with a job or walking next to you.
6. Use transitions instead of entries.
When students come into your classroom, be ready to get lessons started quickly and increase time for learning. Use the doorway of your classroom as a point of transition, not just a point of entry. Be at the door to ensure that the socializing of the hallway is left in the hallway. Get students ready to listen and ready to learn by giving them work-related information. i.e., to get started on a certain task or be ready to answer a particular question. Also, promote courtesy by greeting students and having them acknowledge the greeting. In elementary school, also make sure that playground behaviours are left on the playground.
7. Move your feet, not just your voice.
Staying in one spot and watching for any problems between students is called “monitoring.” Supervision is a prevention technique. Move around, give directions. Pay extra attention to the hot spots where problems frequently occur.
8. Be friendly but not friends.
Know your students’ personal interests and concerns. Always be willing to discuss issues. A positive relationship helps students interpret teacher actions as supportive—that the teacher is trying to help the student be successful, not just trying to punish the student for an incident. However, don’t try to be a buddy. Rapport is about being a caring guide and leader.
9. Start each season with a training camp.
Every great coach knows the value of starting a season with a good training camp. So does every great teacher. They make sure everyone knows what is expected of them, success skills are honed and procedures are practised to the point where they are routine. It’s also a great time for building teamwork.
10. A sterile environment is for hospitals.
Creating an invitational learning environment is part of building student enthusiasm and engagement. When the classroom itself is boring, that sends a message about the overall school experience and decreases the desire of students to actively participate. Use the walls, doors and windows to promote your subjects. Keep changing the displays. Always have quality student work on display. Sell the excitement of learning.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ronald Morrish is an educational consultant and speaker from Fonthill, Ontario. He has written two books, Secrets of Discipline: 12 Keys for Raising Responsible Children, and, With All Due Respect: Keys for Building Effective School Discipline. For more information, visit his website at www.realdiscipline.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s Sept/Oct 2011 issue.