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Keep Calm and Carry on Teaching


Managing students with challenging behaviour can seem impossible. This handy guide from Emma will hopefully give you some pointers in a right direction.

Follow the plan

Ensure you are aware of the school behaviour policy and what actually happens in classrooms. Consistency of approach is essential, so find out what system is in place for sanctions and rewards, and make sure you use it correctly. Individual children may have their own reward charts and report books, so these must be completed consistently too.

Hey, I have this...

Distraction is a brilliant technique. Finding something that the children haven't seen before or will find interesting is a great way to engage them.

Action = Consequence

-> The difficult bit - ignore the bad behaviour and praise the good (obviously, within reason)
-> Praise children making good choices and offer them rewards like stickers or stamps in their books. Label the act, not the child - 'that was a bad choice', 'kicking is a bad thing to do'.
-> If you make a promise, follow it through and don't enter into bargaining. Stay firm! 
-> Sanctions must be noted for classroom teachers or senior management.

Give me a break

Some children get anxious around new people in the classroom and this can manifest as aggression, making excessive noise or physical agitation. The best ways to cope with this is to spend some time with the child to get to know them or if there is a TA available, give them some time to let off steam by going for a walk. If there is a quiet area in the classroom, a spot for chillout time may help.

Help, I need somebody

If the situation in the classroom deteriorates to the point that it has become unsafe, DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL FOR EMERGENCY HELP. Evacuate the classroom, if necessary, to a safe place and call a colleague (usually the head) or send a reliable child to another class or the school office with a note/message. The school you are in has a responsibility to tell you where to turn in an emergency, but if in any doubt, don't be afraid to ask.

Keep calm and carry on

Whatever happens, try to remain calm and reassuring to all children, and, if anything, express disappointment rather than any other emotion. Teaching is hard, getting it right is difficult and being a child is confusing and tricky too. Keep your voice at an even tone and maintain eye contact with children when you are talking to them directly. Explain why you are talking to them about their choices and talk to them about what they need to do to move on from the situation they are in.

Need more help?

Classroom behaviour guru, Sue Cowley, is the best place to start. Read her excellent blogs on her website and follow her on Twitter @Sue_Cowley.

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