Here at SCM, we’ve received a number of emails asking how best to handle students who misbehave outside the four walls of the classroom, but while still in your presence.
In other words, how do you respond to rule-breaking while walking to lunch, for example, or at an assembly?
It’s a thorny issue, because you can’t very well send your students to time-out.
Pulling them aside for a talking-to is a SCM no-no.
Ignoring the behavior and just letting it go isn’t an option either.
Because as soon as your students learn that they can misbehave away from the classroom without consequence, the floodgates will open.
They’ll stray from your rules every time you venture out into the hallway.
So, what’s the solution?
The solution is to hold them accountable the same way as you would if you were in class. Only, with one small difference.
The first step is to teach your students that class rules apply wherever you are and that they’ll be enforced just the same.
The one small difference is that any consequence will be delivered after you return to class.
This is a key distinction and the reason why it works.
Be sure and model common misbehaviors like pushing in line and talking during assemblies, as well as how you’ll respond when it happens.
Your students need to know exactly what will happen if they misbehave while you’re away from the classroom.
As soon as you leave your classroom, it’s important to stay in position to observe closely and make sure your students are behaving to your expectations.
This is critical, because if you daydream, chat with other teachers, or forget about your class, then you’re going to miss something.
You’re going to be inconsistent, which is one of the biggest classroom management mistakes you can make.
Just knowing that you’re watching, and that you always follow through, will dissuade your class from straying from your rules and routines.
If you notice misbehavior, it’s best to stay where you are and watch it play out. You want to be clear about who is involved and what the misbehavior entailed.
If you’re going to be away from class for a period of time, like an assembly, then it’s smart to bring along a notebook for documentation.
This will help you remember who to hold accountable when you get back to class. The notebook also serves as a reminder to every member of your class that expectations haven’t changed.
It effectively avoids arguments from those who may have forgotten, or pretend to have forgotten, their transgressions.
Now, it’s important to point out that you can and should give initial warnings, if possible, when the misbehavior occurs.
Subsequent consequences, however, would be enforced when you return to class.
It Makes No Difference
Students tend to misbehave away from the classroom when they’re unsure whether the class rules still apply.
They test and push boundaries. They become silly and excitable. They behave as if you’re not even in their presence.
The easiest and most effective approach is to simply extend the rules and expectations of the classroom to wherever you are.
Teach and model your classroom management plan using common scenarios both inside and outside your classroom.
The only difference being the slight delay between the first and second consequence.
When your students know before leaving the room that a) you’ll be watching and b) you’ll enforce every rule every time . . .
They’ll behave no different than when they’re in the classroom.
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