Beacon
Behaviour Support for Schools
Beacon School Support
Behaviour Support for Schools

Newsletters


July 2015: Three simple ideas to improve classroom behaviour after the holidays.

They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. That’s why it’s important when your new class walks through the door on the first day of term that you project the image of a teacher who is calm, positive and assertive. Whether you get it right or wrong, you’ll feel the impact of your actions for the rest of the year.



So how do you get it right? Here are three simple ideas to help set the right tone in September.

Be attentive


Make sure your entire attention is focused on the children as they walk into the room for the first time. Try to make eye contact with each and every student as they enter. Smile, and help them quickly find their places.



Here's why:

  • Making eye contact lets the children know that their actions are being monitored from the moment they enter the classroom.
  • Smiling conveys confidence, improves the tone of your voice and allays any fears less confident children may have about meeting their new teacher.
  • By helping children find their places as quickly as possible, you stop noisy crowds developing around the room that later have to be dispersed.

Develop a set of shared rules


As one of your first activities, get your pupils to articulate what the classroom rules should be, why they apply to everyone and why they are needed (eg. we put our hand up to speak to the teacher, because if everyone shouts out, no one gets heard).



Here's the ulterior motive:

  • Psychology tells us that you are much more likely to follow a rule you have devised yourself than one imposed externally.

Of course, you'll be using skilful questioning to make sure the rules they agree on are reasonable and positively worded - and consistent with your school's behaviour policy.

Plan for your first encounter


At some point during the day, a pupil may challenge the rules. This is a defining moment: your class will watch how you intervene and they’ll make a snap judgement about the strength of your behaviour management. For good or bad, this judgement will be very hard to reshape. It will affect how hard your students will work, how seriously they take your word, and what they believe they can get away with. They will communicate this to their parents.


So, no pressure then!


The secret is to think ahead and plan how you will handle this first intervention - don’t just improvise a response on the day.


  • If it helps, think about a teacher you admire and imagine what they would do. And don’t just think about what you’ll say, but how you’ll say it, and the body language you’ll adopt as you speak. That way, when the first student shouts out, or pushes into the line, you’ll be ready to handle the incident fairly and firmly.

Approaches like, “Tommy, I’m glad you’ve done X, because it gives me the chance to explain what happens in my classroom when the rules are broken,” can be effective. It converts a potential conflict into a teaching opportunity, shows that you aren’t threatened by inappropriate behaviour and demonstrates you’ll challenge those behaviours when they occur.


Staff meeting activity


Here is a ten minute activity you could deliver during a staff meeting. This activity would be most effectively delivered either just before the summer break, or during a training day before the children return from their holidays in September. To use this activity, download a PDF version of the newsletter, using the links at the bottom of the page.

Requirements


You will need the following materials:


  • Copies of page 1 of the newsletter (download the PDF version of the newsletter below).
  • Flipchart paper, or a large whiteboard.
  • Marker pens.
  • Post-it notes.
  • Pens.
  • A computer with an internet connection and an interactive whiteboard or projector (optional)

The activity


  • Explain that your staff meeting behaviour focus will be looking at the things a teacher does within the first sixty minutes of meeting a new class that affects their students' perception of their behaviour management. In colloquial terms, practical actions that indicate whether their classroom management is weak or strong.
  • Divide your flipchart or whiteboard into two halves. At the top of one half, write the title effective. On the other half, write the title ineffective.
  • Get the staff to call out suggestions actions and strategies that belong on both sides of the board, how they affect pupil perception of a teacher's expectations, and how this could impact on pupil progress.
  • Give out a set of Post-it notes and some pens. Ask your staff to write three key ways they can give the right impression of their behaviour management to their new students when they arrive back at school in September. Ask them to star the one they think is most important.
  • Ask staff to share the item they starred at the end of the task, and to explain briefly why they made that choice.
  • Now distribute the newsletter and share the ideas it explores. Alternatively, visit our YouTube channel and play the video that accompanies this newsletter.


Now put up copies of the first page of the newsletter on display in the staffroom, so staff members can refer to them at a later date.




Downloads


Don't print this page! We've produced a much more attractive version for printing and sharing. Use the links below to download a copy of the newsletter in PDF format, and use this for print and distribute the information to your staff.




PDF version of newsletter (colour)




PDF version of newsletter (black and white)




Our YouTube channel