Do What You Say!
Great! You have your classroom management system in place, your students have practiced the expectations and (for the most part) they are independently following the rules. You even take the time to hold class meetings to review these skills often. Congratulations, you are doing everything right! To keep this momentum going, consistency has to be a daily part of your program. This piece to a successful behavior management program is essential and non-negotiable.
Your students will trust you and will respect you if you do what you say you are going to do. Let me clarify with some examples:
- Telling them they earn free time, but then end up backing out later due to poor planning will send a very negative message to your class that you don’t care about their feelings and that you are just going to go ahead with your plans for the day.
- Working with them to create the classroom management plan but not upholding the expectations yourself or only holding the students accountable sometimes will send the message that the plan is not important and they may be able to bend the rules sometimes. As you can imagine this creates a frustrating cycle for everyone. Your students won’t know what to expect and you will wish they would just behave.
- All kids need and crave structure and boundaries. Stay firm, but loving with them and they will feel safe, comfortable, and at ease knowing exactly where the boundaries begin and end.
- Don’t threaten things that you have no intention on following through with. I’ve heard teachers say things like, “If you keep playing with the things in your desk, they will become mine”. If you intend to empty that student’s desk, then great – say it. However, if you are just trying to get compliance from that child and have no desire to remove the desk materials and end up not taking them; that child and all the other students in the class see your words as empty and they will be more likely to push the boundary line that the class expectations were designed to enforce. You are the enforcer. Do yourself and your students the favor of not just being the enforcer, but be a consistent enforcer. There is a huge difference.
Try these helpful strategies
- Tie an apron around your waist and have pictures of smile faces, reward tickets, stickers and other positive reinforces to promote consistent positive acknowledgement without interrupting your lesson to give someone a compliment.
- Keep a tally sheet of the number of warnings a student has been given as to remember what consequence is appropriate given the infractions. This tally sheet can be kept in your apron as well. Not every child in your classroom will need the tally system. In reality, very few should.
- Regular and consistent communication between school and home is very common. Set up the frequency of communication and stick to it. Write those emails to mom and dad once a week, write in the notebook each day, or whatever the schedule is. The student and parents will respect your consistency.
- Got a homework policy in your room? Part of your morning routine should be addressing this policy. Consistent and daily consequences (positive and negative) need to be given. Neglecting to do this will result in a decline in homework being returned.
- Remember, you have an audience. All of your students are watching how you react to situations. Whether it is how you react to misbehavior during a lesson, lack of homework, or misbehavior that occurred when the student’s wasn’t in your direct sight- the way the situation is handled is observed by the students. You’d better believe that they are processing this information and what it means for them if they decide to cross the boundary line.