Experienced teachers keep calm, maintain self-control and are keenly aware of the negative effects of yelling at students in front of their peers.
Managing students’ behaviour is often a public affair, but it doesn’t have to be. Behaviour does not need to be dealt with at the time it happens. It can also be addressed using a variety of communication channels and methods. Traditionally, if students misbehaved they could expect their teacher’s bellowing screams to come bearing down on them. Later (as the profession developed and societal expectations changed), teachers began thinking about whether this was the best or right way to go about ‘controlling’ a class.
Nowadays, teachers still raise their voices, but nowhere near as much as days past (and almost never in anger or to belittle a student). Experienced teachers keep calm, maintain self-control and are keenly aware of the negative effects of yelling at students in front of their peers. Best practice is to deal with issues as privately as possible (such as by speaking with the student outside of the room or if in the room, in a whisper). Obviously this may not always be possible or necessary in the case of minor issues and other negligible day-to-day misdemeanours.
Where possible however, high-performing teachers choose to deal with issues privately so students are not embarrassed, to reduce the possibility of escalation, to signify their serious intent, and to remove students from their allies. A short one-on-one conversation after class indicates to the student (and other students) that ‘you have my undivided attention and if you continue with this behaviour, there will be escalating consequences’. These conversations should be extremely polite, calm, short and as private as possible. This signals a level of professionalism, control, confidence and procedure which is very intimidating for students (including those adept at manipulating teachers for their own ends). It reminds students that they ‘can’t fight the system’ and in particular, a well-engineered system facilitated by a confident teacher.
Hint: During class, move around the room and whisper a short message to 5 or 6 students, 1 at a time. You may need to get quite close to keep the message private (e.g. whisper in each student’s ear if it is appropriate to do so). Some students will be given positive messages such as, ‘happy birthday’ or ‘good work, keep it up’, while others may be reprimanded or precorrected such as, ‘get on with it please’. Either way, you have dealt with behaviour privately and no one knows which student was reprimanded (if any at all).
Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of FTTA, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.
Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.
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