Achieving good behaviour
Without good behaviour nothing can be achieved in the classroom.
In the early days it is important to be hard of heart. Assume that pupils will try to misbehave. It is a fact that, once a pattern of misbehaviour has been established over one or two lessons, it is very hard to fully recover the situation – making teaching miserable. It is easy to relax from a position of firm discipline: pupils realise you are not the monster they thought you were but the respect you established in the early lessons remains. It is difficult to go the other way – from indiscipline to control.
It is possible to prove this to oneself even within the context of a single lesson.
For a young teacher, acting the part of the disciplinarian is unlikely to come naturally. The important thing to remember is that it IS acting – and the better the act, the more effective you will be. You need to have an authoritative voice.
Personality before punishments
As far as possible use personality as a way of enforcing control. The system of punishments should be used, but only after the nasty look, quiet word, or clear warning have failed. Formal punishments are the final resort. This use of personality requires self-confidence and it will only work if the pupils see you as a credible figure. They have to believe that you will punish them severely if they do not react to the “early warning signs” you should be giving.
From the word go, and particularly in the first fortnight of any term, you need to establish certain standards of behaviour. In particular, you must not allow pupils to talk to each other if you are trying to teach. You should not allow several pupils to speak at once: if they want to say something, they ought to put up their hands. Late work is not acceptable. Pupils who are late for a lesson should be required to explain themselves at the end.
You must decide for yourself how far you are prepared to go before you actually punish a pupil EXCEPT in a case where a pupil is rude to you and other pupils know he has been rude: such a student must be punished if you are to retain credibility.
Never make threats you will not carry out.
How you start the lesson matters enormously. Pupils line up outside. They come in quietly and sit in desks according to your plan, not theirs. They get books out without being told. They are silent once you give a simple signal.
Making lessons dynamic
If your lesson is dull, bad behaviour is inevitable. Interesting lessons are often rewarded with good behaviour. The great thing is to get the lesson off to a good start….explain something and then get the pupils working.
Handing back work is often a bad way to start a lesson. It can take ages, it generates a hubbub, pupils are learning nothing. If you have to hand back work, do it before they enter the room.