Amy understands that as a supply teacher that behaviour management can be even more of a challenge. You may find that the students don't respect you as much as their usual class teacher, and not knowing their names can make discipline even more difficult. Amy has put together top tips that will help you on short and long term supply.
1. Getting to know the Students – The Importance of Rapport
Rapport and getting to know the students are crucial to encouraging good behaviour for learning. If you have rapport, you can do anything with a class. The first and most important thing that you need to do is download the class list with photos and even attempt to learn their names from the photos, prior to teaching them if possible. In addition, make sure that you are aware of and cater for individual special needs. If the curriculum is not accessible for all of your students, behaviour is more likely to be a problem. The same goes for preparing extension tasks – if students run out of work, they will mess around! Extension should be HOTS (Higher order thinking skills) not MOTS (more of the same).
2. Making your Expectations Clear
If you have not been clear about your expectations, students may be breaking your rules without realising. When you have decided upon your boundaries, make them clear to students, by displaying and communicating them well. Encourage positive behaviour and have a zero tolerance policy for unwanted behaviour e.g. students out of seats or shouting out. If you don't deal with things when they are small, they will escalate to something much larger.
3. How to discipline a Class
When the level of noise is the concern, stop the whole class and address them. You can simply say “This is not how we work,” or “This is not acceptable, can we work quietly now please?” When the problem is more than one student, it can work better to address all of the group than single out individuals. It is always a good idea to focus on the positives rather than only on the negative. Find out what rewards are used in your school such as house points, stickers or merits. You can then implement 'tactful ignoring' techniques by focusing on positive behaviour that you want to encourage and see more of.
4. Discipline of Individuals
There are two key things to remember when disciplining individuals: firstly, make sure that you know the school's behaviour policy and secondly focus on the behaviour, not the student.
Knowing the behaviour policy is extremely important, and this includes knowing who you have for support. Does the school use a warning system such as C1, C2, C3? At what point should you issue a detention? It is rarely advisable (or in line with policy) to use your strongest sanctions first. Start with warnings and moving seats, then escalate to removals and detentions only if necessary. Otherwise, you could give yourself an unmanageable workload and find that students feel unfairly treated if no chances were given. If you do not follow up on your threats, then you will be rendered powerless in the eyes of the students!
The language that you use to communicate with students is key. A good tip is to take the 'you' out of the sentence to make sure that they know it is not personal. For example, instead of saying “Sammy, will you stop shouting out,” you could rephrase this to saying “Sammy, shouting out is not acceptable, we put our hands up to answer questions.”
5. Serious Incidents
Finally, make sure that you know how to call for SLT (Senior Leadership Team) in case of a serious incident or a student who refuses to be removed. A serious incident is anything that involves a verbal or physical threat to a member of staff or another student. Racism, sexism and homophobia are also serious incidents. Following a serious incident, record keeping is essential and could later be used in evidence for an exclusion. Write up what happened and email or send a copy to key staff e.g. welfare officer, Head of Year/House and Head of Department. This must be followed up, so ensure that you know who is acting on this whether it is your Head of Department, a member of SLT or you yourself. For serious incidents and removals, always contact home, even if it is to explain what happened and to inform the parents that the school will be making a decision on the consequence over the next few days.
A Final Note on Behaviour
Plan lessons that are exciting, fun and engaging. If every student can access and enjoy your curriculum, behaviour will automatically be kept to a minimum. Always praise – remember that you should be looking for 3 positives to every 1 negative. Be relaxed and enjoy your teaching, otherwise, the students will pick up on any negativity that you display. Remember that it is your classroom, your rules!
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