Give it a go

27th January 2006 at 00:00
Sue Cowley offers practical tips on managing your class and delivering your lessons

Make some New Year's Resolutions for your classroom

Did you make some resolutions on New Year's Eve? Maybe you decided to go to the gym, or give up smoking? This year, why not resolve to make some changes to your classroom management as well.

* Pay attention to the quiet ones: There are some children you just can't help noticing - those who are always misbehaving, or the really bright and bubbly ones. This year, resolve to pay more attention to the children who slip under your radar. They deserve an equal share of your time and effort, and paying attention to them will often improve the behaviour of the rest of the class.

* Use more rewards than sanctions: It's easy to get into a "punish them"

frame of mind, particularly when a class is hard to handle. Try to focus on reward-based approaches. Even in the most difficult class there will be children who deserve praise.

* Keep the noise down: When you teach a noisy class, it is easy to slip into the habit of being equally loud. Too much noise in the classroom raises stress levels for both teacher and pupils. Shouting at your children shows them that they can make you lose your temper; it can also damage your voice. Speak quietly this year, and avoid shouting as far as is humanly possible.

* Talk a bit less: Teachers often get into the bad habit of talking at a class for long periods, whether to introduce a lesson or to nag about misbehaviour. Limit teacher talk to a minimum this year: your pupils will learn more effectively by playing an active part in lessons.

* Be experimental: It's tempting to play it safe in your first year and not to teach lessons which have the potential to go wrong. Once in a while, try out something totally different and see what happens. Even if things do go pear-shaped, you will learn a great deal about classroom management from the experience.

* Smile: You might have been advised "not to smile until Christmas", but this is a bit of an old wives' tale. It's not whether you smile that matters, but how clear you are about the behaviour you will accept. In any case, now that you've survived the first term, relax a little, and let the corners of your mouth turn upwards from time to time.

* Make some time for yourself: Finally, and perhaps most importantly, create some time for yourself this year. Don't let teaching take over your life. In the long run, it will make you a far more effective teacher.

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