It’s not just teachers who have to manage pupils’ behaviour. Just like teaching assistants were the glue that held classrooms together during lockdown, they are often the classroom’s first responders when it comes to dealing with bouts of bad behaviour. Their close relationships with pupils mean that they play a critical role in maintaining harmony and encouraging better conduct.
Behaviour is rarely a straightforward thing. Children can misbehave for many reasons, so everyone who works with children needs to come prepared with a range of strategies to deal with it. These are the techniques that the best teaching assistants use to manage classroom behaviour.
1. Observation and analysis
A good teaching assistant watches their classrooms like an eagle, flagging up any issues that might have passed the teacher by. Close observation will give TAs and teachers a better understanding of individual pupils’ behavioural patterns and which ones need the most attention.
TAs compile information on factors like:
How often disruptive behaviour occurs
A pattern in reactions to different activities, teachers, environments and other pupils
Relative levels of work completed
This information will help you analyse the causes and triggers of undesirable behaviour, how that behaviour manifests and the things that make it stop.
2. Positive reinforcement
Discipline is far less about punishing students for poor behaviour than reinforcing positive behaviour.
It’s extremely important to acknowledge even the most badly-behaved child’s achievements, praise positive attributes and encourage them when they display good behaviour.
3. Communicate calmly and clearly
A teaching assistant’s communication skills can make or break their behaviour management strategies. A calm tone of voice is crucial at all times, particularly when speaking to pupils about bad behaviour.
Making your instructions as clear as possible will give pupils the best chance to follow them accurately. Explain assignments in the simplest terms possible and check in with pupils to make sure they understand the task at hand.
4. Build good relationships with students
Constructive relationships with pupils are a teaching assistant’s bread and butter. Behaviour management is impossible without investing time to get to know and understand pupils on a personal level
Good teaching assistants will take an active interest in their students’ lives. Even just asking them what they did over the weekend will help establish a very valuable rapport that reduces the likelihood of transgressive behaviour. A classroom built on trust is a classroom that’s built to succeed.
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