Behaviour Management can be quite a challenge as a Specialist Teacher in a Primary School. Most of the Behaviour Management ideas here are ones for the Primary setting. In saying that, Secondary teachers may still find some that are helpful and rewarding.
- High turnover of students, maybe even 6 or 7 different classes a day.
- A different room. Your own room is an absolute blessing, however it can allow students who do not normally sit together to gravitate toward each other. I find some students behave so differently in my room from their normal classroom. It also can mean that they do not have the necessary materials for your lesson.
- The students may come from another Specialist lesson or a break time, being a little more unsettled.
- Timetabling – can be difficult, can be wonderful.
- The attitude of your Principal, Deputies and classroom teachers can make a huge difference. Are you the ‘Japanese Teacher’ or the ‘Non-Contact Teacher’. Don’t laugh, I have had teachers say to their classes, “Now line up for the Non-Contact Teacher”. Makes things a little trickier.
- Parent and carer attitudes to language. If they are supportive of language learning, your job will be so much easier.
Everyone has different ways of addressing these issues. I will share with you my strategies that I use. Obviously they will not work for everyone, different areas, different personalities, however should be helpful for many of you.
- A positive start to every lesson.
- Routine, they know what to expect when they enter the classroom.
- A positive learning environment.
- Clear expectations of behaviour, bookwork, assignment quality, manners, treatment of each other and visitors.
- Excellent classroom organisation.
- Effective seating arrangement.
- Lots of variety.
- Captivating and interesting content.
- A safe place, where students will ‘have a go’ with what they can do, rather than stay quiet as they are afraid to make a mistake.
So keeping the challenges and objectives in mind, these are some things that work well in my classroom. I am in my 10th year at my current school, these have not happened overnight and have been introduced gradually. If something is not working or is a constant battle, I look to how I can change it, make it so that the lessons can be about the positives and not the negatives.
The potential problems are addressed here in order.
#1 : High Turnover of students, #2 Different Room.
- I find it is best if the start of your lesson has order, routine and familiarity. Whatever you do, if this is familiar each time, students know what to expect and feel safe in that knowledge.
- I line my students up outside (in Japanese). When they are lining up, you can already see how students are for the day. If they are unsettled, anxious, excited, sad…..every day is different. Some potential problems can be prevented already by a quick word to a student or separating other students.
- Minimal movement once they are in the classroom. If I have the folders already spread out ready for pick-up, then students can be organised straight away. Set seating arrangement can be very efficient too. If they are prepared for the lesson and not trying to wander around borrowing things, it is much smoother too.
- Sitting the influential students so that they cannot ‘control’ the classroom. If they are at a back corner, every time they call out or disrupt, the whole class can see them and will potentially turn around. If they are in the centre of the room at the front, their range is not as wide. Also when you redirect their behaviour it can be done at close range, more quietly and with less disruption to the lesson.
- Setting the white and blackboards up, resources ready to go will help so that you can begin straight away. This is tied in with Timetabling which I will address in #4.Knowing your students. On One School now you can print photos of each student on the Class Roll. So even at a new school or the start of the year you can be empowered by knowing names.
- Where possible, if you can get teachers to walk them to your room or pick them up. When they are walking unsupervised, they get unsettled. There is Duty of Care also, so, even if the distance is short, apart from keeping them settled, you are meeting your Duty of Care responsibilities.
- Classes that you have after Morning Tea or Lunch break can be tricky. Some teachers like to gather their whole class and walk them down which is fantastic. Other teachers let them line up at my room. If your room is not in an area that is a supervised play area, it is probably best to pick the class up from wherever they usually line up. I say this after a ‘happening’ outside my room before second bell and the official ‘start of lesson’. It is much quicker to walk and pick up a class, keeping them safe, than spending time writing incident reports and calling parents after an incident. This particular class I now pick up, walk, they stay calm and our lesson is much smoother. Little bit of midday walking never hurt anyone anyway!!
#4 : Timetabling
- Through effective and collaborative timetabling you can have great teaching time and appreciative teachers and Administration.
- Do specialist teachers at your school do their own timetables? At my school we do. I always have mine done first and get all the teaching slots I want, however I now know that we can all have extremely workable timetables. My Deputy said to me that she wanted year levels to have time off all at once for year level meetings and could this be done? Add to this junior school (Prep-Yr 3) who try to have uninterrupted learning time from 9-11am and teachers who ‘job-share’ and have NCT only on particular days. Yes, a challenge, however I have a timetable with PE, Music, Japanese, NCT, CCT all on the same page in colour coded sections. At a glance, anyone can see where classes are and teachers can have their meetings when their classes come to specialist lessons. Then Learning Support and other teams can timetable their lessons very easily. Admin is happy, classroom teachers are appreciative and you have a working timetable with sequential lessons; as in Year 7 block of lessons rather than having different year levels coming and having to set your boards and resources up over and over, again and again.
#5 & 6 : Attitudes of other teachers, parents etc.
This can be tricky, however the more of a ‘presence’ you have the better. If you are not up front and out in public view, it is so easy to be forgotten. Some things you can do to be noticed REGULARLY are:
- Weekly newsletter articles.
- Certificates on Assembly (see the Classroom Activities and Ideas for more certificate information).
- Showcasing what you do; getting students to do speeches on Assembly, foyer displays, inviting Principals and Deputies to your classroom to see what the students are doing.
- Study Tours at your school. This is so beneficial to the school community, as well as bringing money into the school for resources etc.
- Setting up a section on your school website for Japanese. Once they realise that you will contribute, you may be given Administrator Rights and be able to manage your pages yourself. There are many other ways to have a website also, a great way to share what you are doing.
- Be as effective in the school community as you can. Have you another talent to share? Without spreading yourself too thinly, by contributing to other areas, you will be very valued. Social Club rep? Timetable Guru? G&T Program facilitator? Run a stall at the school Fete? So many potential ways…….
- Sending craft and origami home…..not after one or two weeks but the SAME day it was made. This makes it way to fridges, grandparents houses, parents and carers work desks and then….people TALK about it. How wonderful it is that Japanese is in their children’s school. These are parents on P&C potentially who will then fight to keep lessons if there is talk of cuts, these are people who will support Japan Trips, extra funding and so much more.
- Yes, again time consuming. Is it worth it? YES! It will pay off.
By far the best thing I have done with Behaviour Management which I introduced in 2011 is a weekly report to classroom teachers, Deputies, Behaviour Management Leaders and any relevant support staff of any levels that students have received in my lesson. I email it in a table in Word with the student’s name, class, what they did and what consequence was and what they follow-up will be. This makes me accountable too, as I have to be consistent and diligent with the follow-up. The large volume of students you teach may mean that some weeks this task is quite time consuming, however it should decrease over time as students work out that what they do in your lessons is noticed and followed up by their class teachers as well. This was effective, however time consuming and for 2013 we are trailling another method as outlined below.
For 2013 I met with the other Specialist Teachers and we have set up a clipboard for every class with a recording sheet for students who disrupt in the lesson. This is taken to every Specialist lesson during the week and the classroom teachers can check on the behaviour of their class. Mid-term and at the end of the term, we go through the lists to check on the students continually yo-yo-ing low level behaviours in your lessons. These may be just Level 1 and 2, however if this are consistent disruptions to your teaching and the learning of other students, then the consequences can be fast-tracked for these repeat offenders.
This supports classroom teachers also. They might have a student who constantly disrupts their class. Sometimes parents question this and may accuse the teacher of ‘picking on’ their child. If you have sent documentation of when this particular student has been disruptive or off task in your lesson, then it helps to validate what the classroom teacher has experienced.
By having a week by week report, you can more easily see the students who disrupt regularly. Many schools (mine included) have a Level system (Level 1 – warning, Level 2 – Time Out, Level 3 – 10 minutes in a Buddy Class, Level 4 – Office). Students are very skilful at low level disruption, maybe just getting to Level 2 in your class…..but REGULARLY. When it is documented each week, you can see easily the frequency and fast track these students. After a few consistent Level 2s, I say to them that because it has been frequent, after 1 warning the next lesson, they will be choosing to go to a Buddy Class and leave the lesson. Make it clear to them that they can’t just keep bouncing around from Level 1 and 2 without the consequences being escalated at some point.
So your responses and consequences for misbehaviour need to be:
- As immediate as they can be.
- Shared (classroom teachers, Admin etc).
- Fast tracked for low level misbehaviours occurring too frequently.
- Manageable (i.e., not taking ALL of your time, keeping the balance).
Again, this will be a dynamic section, with ideas added as teachers share and possibly answers to questions that are posed.
Good luck with the Behaviour Management in your classroom. Once this is smooth, there is a real possibility that some amazingly effective teaching and learning could take place. WOW, imagine that every lesson.
Remember the 7 Ps;
Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Persistently Poor Performance.
Be thoroughly prepared and then ready to shine! [/password-protect]