What do you use to get the attention of your students when they are working? It’s hard for the “teacher look” to work when they are happily working on a group activity or not looking at you and talking as they work. One of the best treats a teacher can do for herself is to teach her class one or two signals for when she wants the attention of her students. You need several signals because if the class is quiet, one signal might work, but if they are noisy or on the playground, you may need a different signal altogether. The other key is that you need to teach the signal just as you would a math problem or a vocabulary word. After you have taught the signal, the students will need time and opportunity to practice it. If their practice is great, tell them so. If it is not, tell them they will need to practice the signal again until they can do it just right and mean it. If you accept less than complete attention, that is just what they will learn to give you. You may need to practice occasionally if they slip.
When deciding on the signal for your class, consider the age, grade, ability level, and maturity of the group. Just because it worked with the same grade level last year does not mean it will work well with this group.
Listed below are some possible signals.
Any experienced teacher will know good discipline does not just happen all at once. Managing student behavior is a learned skill, but classroom control will begin before the students even enter the classroom. Managing student behavior is no easy task. Each teacher will develop his or her own form of discipline. Remember that students need to feel valued and welcomed. They need to know that you have an honest interest in each one of them, not only as a class, but also as individuals. For good discipline, certain behaviors are necessary on the part of the teacher:
- Be consistent; establish the rules and stick to them.
- Consequences should be fair and consistently applied.
- Be prepared for the students who will test the rules.
- Do not threaten students with a consequence unless you are ready to carry it out. Students will view you as inconsistent if you fail to do what you say.
- Do not be judgmental; look at each situation from all angles before you designate a consequence.
- Never put off discipline. Handle any behavioral problem when it occurs.
- Make sure students understand the rules and the consequences. Students need to know how to behave in any given situation. With some students, you may want to do role-playing at the beginning of the school year. In this way, students will see what is expected of them and see the consequences being applied.
- Show a true interest in all of the students. Each one needs to be treated as an individual and with respect, not just another student. When giving praise to any student, use his or her name with the praise. Nothing pleases students more than to hear their names used in a good light.
- Implement well-planned lessons. Know what you are going to teach and be well prepared.
- Allow for flexibility. There will be many interruptions in a school year; you will not accomplish everything that is planned on a particular day.
For more tips on managing student behavior, check out the book, Year-Round Classroom Tips.