Behaviour Management Strategies for Relief and Contract Teachers

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Everyone has their own classroom management strategies that work for them. These can vary from school to school and class to class. We speak with hundreds of relief and contract teaching personnel each year and we’ve compiled the Top 6 Classroom Management Strategies that work for them. This list may give you some new ideas, act as a simple reminder, or provide a list that you can share with beginning teachers that might just be finding their way.

1. Utilise behaviour management that provides difficult students with a fresh start. 

Even when you know that the student has previously been a problem in class, operate on the premise that they will behave as all class members will – at the start at least! Sometimes students will attempt to live up to their reputation of being a class clown or deliberately disruptive in class.

2. Avoid putting difficult students on the show.  

Many contract teachers like to seat their disruptive students in the front of the class, near the teacher. The problem with this arrangement is that they have the eyes of the whole class pointed toward them. You know the kids who need a leader to misbehave. Well, they now have them. This disruptive student down the front can perform for the class. When teaching, a good tip is to move them discretely out of view. The far-left corner of the classroom can work well where their performance will be seen by only a few.

3. Don’t spend more time with difficult students than needed.  

Kids are astute. A teacher providing extra attention and frequent check-ins communicates loud and clear that they’ve got your eye on them. This often plays into the students’ hands because they have shown the class how good they are at being difficult.

4. Don’t speak to difficult students any differently.  

Make sure classroom management procedures start and finish with courtesy and respect. Teachers can snarl at their students from the inside but demonstrate to the whole class that they undertake behaviour management like a professional. This will give teachers a big thumbs up from the kids who make a difference and have a desire to learn.

5. Don’t bring up the previous offences.  

By way of warning, it’s a common tactic to let difficult students know—in no uncertain terms—that you’re aware of their previous behaviour problems. But this undermines your ability to build rapport. It puts you at odds and in competition, and makes them want to push your buttons, get under your skin, and misbehave behind your back.

6. Don’t ignore their misbehaviour.  

Often relief and contract teachers will ignore the less serious, less disruptive behaviour of difficult students. Misbehaviour, silliness, and distraction then become their mantra to which they identify and are identified. Contract and relief teachers often fear the drama that behaviour management can sometimes generate. But ignoring the misbehaviour sets up a dangerous precedent. You must acknowledge that you noticed the misbehaviour even if you choose to deal with it later.

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