Teachers cause much of the misbehavior in their classrooms.
True, students come to class with behavior issues and personal agendas. Some are prone to misbehavior and are difficult to deal with. A few may even enjoy trying to disrupt your class.
But more often than not, the teacher is the problem.
If you were a fly on the wall of teachers who struggle with classroom management, you would find many commonalities. Among them are teacher behaviors that actually encourage students to misbehave.
Teaching is challenging enough. Putting yourself behind the eight ball by your own doing can make it unbearable.
Let There Be Light
The only classroom management-related problems that don’t have solutions are those we’re unaware of. Once illuminated, there is always a way to solve the problem or make it manageable.
In that spirit, the following list represents things teachers do unknowingly that encourage misbehavior.
1. Talking over students.
Talking over students breeds inattentiveness, side-talking, and poor listening. If your students have trouble following directions, this is often the culprit. The simple solution is to wait until you have the full attention of your class before speaking.
2. Rushing around.
Being in a hurry creates tension in the classroom, causing restlessness, excitability, and poor behavior. This common mistake is easily corrected by trimming the fat from your curriculum, being better prepared, and then slowing down.
3. Answering call-outs.
Answering students who don’t raise their hand encourages disrespect and communicates to your students that your classroom management plan is no longer valid. Condition yourself not to respond no matter who asks a question or how insightful it may be.
4. Moving on.
Continuing with lessons or instructions when students are inattentive–or worse–lets them know that less than their best is good enough. Wait until your students are giving you exactly what you want before moving on.
5. Negative thinking.
Negative thoughts about students always bubble to the surface–body language, tone of voice, sarcasm–causing resentment, misbehavior and, ultimately, revenge. Choose to see the best in your students… and that’s what they’ll give you.
Showing frustration, taking behavior personally, reacting emotionally. These self-sabotaging behaviors will weaken your influence and undermine your ability to control your classroom. Instead, keep your cool and lean heavily on your classroom management plan.
Classroom clutter shows a lack of pride that rubs off on students and leads to unwanted behavior–the broken windows theory at work. A pin-neat, attractive classroom, on the other hand, is congruent with, and transfers to, values like hard work, neatness, respect, and character.
Believing that students decide whether or not you have a good class is a belief that virtually eliminates the possibility of creating the teaching experience you really desire. The fact is, we create the class we want, not our students.
The Heart Of The Matter
These eight teacher behaviors cut straight to the heart of why so many teachers struggle with classroom management.
Rules and procedures. Incentives and consequences. They’re important, to be sure.
But they alone are not the answer.
You must get to the heart of the matter, which is deeper than stickers, strategies, charts, or time-outs. It’s more than outside circumstances. More than names on a roster.
The heart of the matter is you.
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