It’s back to school for many teachers next week – including me – and most of us are already walking like shades through the crepuscular hinterland, the limbo that joins Summer Time to School Time. And here time, defying all mastery, speeds up. It surges like a rising river and carries you into the future.
And they’re waiting for you. The children: your mission, nemeses and inspiration. Some will sit cleanly and listen; some will dispute every second’s direction you give them. Because they are humans like you and humans are engines of egoism: they want the things they want. Some of them appreciate the needs of others, and others do not. Some of them care enough about the big picture to sit tight and work hard, and others don't know, or don't care about any picture but the one in front of them. Amid this melee, you have to teach them numbers, and words.
Classroom management is one of the two or three most important skills a teacher needs to possess and it's such a pity that the way we train teachers frequently leaves them blissfully unprepared for the demands of running a room, the art and magic of taking 25 souls on the same boat as you. After all, why should they do what you want?
So, if you’re new to the classroom, new to the kids, or just looking for some pointers, here are some maps. If you’re lucky, you’ll work in a culture that encourages the rule of law, responsibility, the needs of the many, and integrity. If you’re not, you’ll work – as many do – in schools where even the leaders have forgotten how to achieve good behaviour in a room or corridor, or worse, don’t even understand that any behaviour that impedes their learning is bad behaviour.
I hope you find some of these useful. Some of them require a (free) log in to the TES website, while others are plug and play. Please share them with anyone you think will also find them useful. If we don’t help each other, we’re not the profession we aspire to be. Good luck, and have a great year.
1. Class rules template
Every room needs rules. Even if you think rules are oppressive, try running a classroom without them. And if you don’t have rules, then the students will simply introduce their own. And good luck with that.
2. Seating plans
For god’s sake, have a seating plan. This explains why.
3. Low-level disruption
Low-level, my ass. It’s Kryptonite to your lesson. Find out how to deal with it.
4. Day one
What should your focus be on your first day back? Some hints and tips for you, here.
5. Why aren’t they behaving yet?
Here’s what to do once the honeymoon is over.
6. Blessed are the peacemakers
Stopping and resolving conflicts in the classroom.
7. My videos
If your learning style is visual, why not watch some of these videos I made for the TES on behaviour?
8. My top ten behaviour tips
9. Working with parents
10. How do we fix behaviour training?