Over the course of my relatively short (pun intended) career, I have discovered that the standard behaviour management techniques typically do not apply to very short teachers – of which I am one. I know of many physically imposing teachers who have perfected the art of a military-style broadening of the shoulders, grounding of the feet and a loud shout down a corridor of noisy and misbehaving youngsters. This controls them with great and immediate effect. If I attempted the same techniques as these teachers not only would I look like a squeaky, angry guinea pig, I would look like a squeaky, angry guinea pig being ignored by a corridor full of kids. So, this is how I manage behaviour as a tiny teacher.
1. Silent discipline
At the start of the year, I establish my “place” in the classroom, usually at the front, in the middle of the room, and I train the students that when I return to “my place” I am ready to do some teacher-led activities.
Within a few minutes of standing still in “my place” and not talking, the group task has ended and a class of quiet students are sitting in front of me. It doesn’t happen instantly – it needs constant practise – but if you stay patient and keep repeating it, in time you will have a fail-safe method to start and stop noise.
2. Use props
If you have an interactive whiteboard, you can use the timer tool on it, with the alarm switched on to make the class silent. If not, a good old-fashioned clock works well, too.
Likewise, using a variety of silence signals can assist such as “5-4-3-2-1”, or a clap and response like “Clap once if you hear me”, “Clap twice if you hear me”, etc. The more that you do it, the more that your students will get used to it.
3. Sitting down
When the time comes that you do need to do some reprimanding, wait for the lesson to end, keep the said student or students behind and before you begin your telling off, ask the student to sit down while you remain standing, thus surreptitiously giving yourself a height advantage when it is needed.
Katie White is a teacher at Kingsbridge Community College in Devon
This is an edited article from the 11 March edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here