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Managing Student Conduct

Classroom Management and Student Conduct

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The job of teaching can be divided into six teaching tasks. One of the tasks that many new and experienced teachers want more support in is managing student conduct. If you spoke to students in Colleges of Education across the nation, you would find that many of them fear dealing with misbehaviors more than any other part of the their future teaching career. The key to effective classroom management is consistency, fairness, and having systems in place that actually work.

Creating Classroom Rules

Posting classroom rules is the basis of setting your expectations for your classroom. You should be selective and choose between four and eight rules for your classroom, otherwise they get too hard to enforce and lose their meaning. Rules should be stated as clearly as possible so that students can understand what behavior you expect of them. You should go over these rules at the beginning of the year and remind students of them every time someone breaks one of the rules. Finally, you need to make the rules you choose appropriate for your teaching situation and your student population.

An Effective Discipline Plan

Posting classroom rules is not enough. In order to maintain discipline in your classroom, you should follow a consistent discipline plan. This type of plan can guide you so that you can remain fair, even when you want to pull your hair out. Remember, the punishment should match the crime: detentions and referrals should be reserved for major or multiple offenses. You might want to consider posting your discipline plan so that students know what will happen when they do something wrong. This works especially well for earlier grades. As you creating your discipline plan, you might want to consider the importance of using both positive and negative reinforcement. While positive reinforcement is providing students with praise and rewards for good behavior, negative reinforcement is when good behavior on the part of students helps them avoid something negative. In other words, negative reinforcement is not punishment.

Teacher Actions and Attitude

Much of maintaining control in the classroom begins with the teacher's actions and attitude. This is not to say that students won't misbehave on their own, but there is a reason why the same student will behave in one class and then misbehave in another. A lot of has to do with consistency in enforcing rules along with treating each student in a fair manner. Teachers who are inconsistent, just like parents who are inconsistent, will find themselves in an increasingly chaotic classroom.

Following are a list of ideas to implement as you strive to maintain a positive learning environment:

  • Have high expectations for student behavior
  • Avoid direct confrontations with students in front of the rest of the class.
  • Use humor to diffuse situations but realize that some students can't appreciate sarcasm.
  • Overplan. Busy students are less likely to disrupt.
Learn more about each of these and other classroom management tips and ideas.

One item that many new teachers don't consider is how they will deal with returning students who have been out of the classroom for disciplinary reasons. In my experience, it is best to "start fresh" with students who have been sent out. In other words, don't continue to hold a grudge or assume that the student will continue to misbehave. You can read a real world example of this in My Best Teaching Experience.

Maintaining Parental Contact

Many secondary school teachers do not take advantage of parental involvement. However, keeping parents informed and involved can make a huge difference in your classroom. Pick up the phone and let parents know how their children are doing. This doesn't have to be reserved for negative phone calls either. By staying in touch with parents, you will be able to rely on them when problems do occur.

When you have a real problem in class, you will want to schedule a parent-teacher conference. Make sure that you come to a conference prepared with a plan in mind to help solve the problems you are facing. Not all parent-teacher conferences will go smoothly, but there are some important steps you can take to make them more effective.

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