I’m frequently asked whether I recommend giving a warning as a first consequence.
My answer is an emphatic yes.
Giving a warning eliminates the need for three commonly used strategies that make classroom management more difficult.
Teachers who struggle with classroom management tend to lean on one or more of them.
What about you? Do you do any of the following?
The teacher reminds students when they don’t follow classroom rules.
Example: Mrs. Fowler asks a question during a lesson. Eric calls out an answer. Mrs. Fowler says, “Good answer, Eric, but next time raise your hand.”
Mrs. Fowler often reminds her students to follow classroom rules. Predictably, they break them often.
The teacher glares at students when they don’t follow classroom rules.
Example: Mr. Penn sees Michelle and Elsa giggling during writers’ workshop. He positions himself where they can see him and then, with arms crossed and eyebrows raised, gives them “the look” until they get back to work.
Mr. Penn is proud of his ability to stop misbehavior in its tracks with his well-practiced “look” but has grown tired of the constant battles to get students to follow his rules and focus on their work.
The teacher corrects students when they don’t follow classroom rules.
Example: The class is lined up for lunch. But one boy, Terrence, is out of line and acting up. Frustrated, Mr. Stallings barks, “Terrence, close your mouth and get in line!”
Mr. Stallings is a ball of stress at the end of each day. The burden of having to command students to do this and don’t do that is causing him to reevaluate his career choice.
Giving A Simple Warning Is Easy
Instead of the stress and frustration of reminding, glaring, and correcting, all three teachers could save themselves a lot of trouble by giving a simple warning.
A warning works best as a first consequence because…
It’s easy to be consistent.
When you have a classroom management plan that includes a warning, it takes the guesswork out of handling initial misbehavior. Student breaks rule…teacher gives warning. It’s as easy as that.
It’s not personal.
By consistently giving a warning whenever a student breaks a rule (for the first violation), you avoid the drama that can result from a direct and personal confrontation.
It builds trust.
Doing exactly what you say you will do builds your students’ trust in you, which makes it easier to influence behavior.
It’s quick and easy.
There is no interruption when giving a warning. You just give it and move on without a second thought.
It’s stress free.
You don’t have to rely on persuasion or intimidation to stop misbehavior. You don’t have to yell, remind, glare, or use any of the other stress inducing methods so many teachers feel trapped into using.
It makes sense to students.
When you follow your classroom management plan exactly as stated—which includes a warning—there is no confusion for students. They know exactly what to expect, which gives them a sense of safety and frees them to be their best selves.
Note: A warning is only effective when backed by a strong, take-action consequence.
Next week we are going to continue with the same theme. The topic will be how to give a warning so it has the greatest effect on student behavior.
Thanks for reading.
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