7 Teeny Tiny Behavior Hacks Guaranteed to Change Your Classroom (Student Teaching)

This one’s for you my beautiful and handsome student teachers!

Behavior interventions tend to take a while to hone in on as a new teacher. They can be tricky and change from student to student and class to class. Also, teachers often think that behavior interventions can be complicated and hard to implement. In reality, when you set down a strong groundwork of behavioral expectations in your classroom, behavior interventions come easily. I have compiled 7 behavior interventions that are quick and easy to implement.

1.Set rules and expectations beforehand

This is vital. How can you expect your students to behave how you you want them to when you give them absolutely no guidelines? Let’s say you’re doing your very first lesson in your student teaching placement. The students have never worked with you before or seen you teach.

Set expectations. Write them down. Make a catchy anchor chart. Review it.

“Alright everyone, during this lesson I expect you to stay in your seat, have your eyes up front, and raise your hand to answer questions. Someone raise their hand and tell me one of our group expectations! Fantastic. Someone model for us what that looks like.”  Having expectations clearly laid out also makes behavior corrections easy as well. You could crouch down and whisper, “You need to be raising your hand to answer questions”. Keep on reading to hear about corrections, my people.

2.Understand that most behavior is for attention

I really want to stress this. MOST BEHAVIOR IS FOR ATTENTION. For what? FOR ATTENTION. One more time for the people in the back. FOR ATTENTION. Wait what? Attention. I can confidently say I ignore 90% of behaviors. Dropping picture sorting cards on the floor? Attention. Hitting their pencil on the desk? Attention. So what happens when we holler at them in front of the whole class? They get what they want: attention. You can handle a behavior while still ignoring it. Say whaaaat? Yes. You can handle a behavior while still ignoring it. Student acting up in small group or whole group? You have multiple options.

-Give them a sign language clue. I use the signs “stop” and “sit” SO OFTEN. It’s a super-fast non-verbal way to correct behavior.

-You also could have students turn to a partner and discuss whatever you’re working on and quietly crouch next to your perpetrator and whisper a correction with eye contact.

-You could give them the infamous teacher eye.

-You can give them teacher proximity.

Let’s say they’re tapping their pencil. I slowly and calmly walk by and put their pencil on the desk and make eye contact. Let’s say they’re throwing cards on the floor. Slowly and calmly pick up the cards and put them back on the desk. They keep doing it? Calmly ask them to clean up and pick another activity. RIP to hollering at students in front of the whole class. That’s over, my people.

Please don’t give your attention to behaviors that don’t deserve it.

3.Handle behavior privately

This point follows the previous for a reason, and they could even be combined into one big bullet. Let’s say that your student goes beyond behavior that can be ignored, which is something that happens daily. We need to handle those behavior conversations in private. Behavior is something to be handled between the student and the teacher and the parent. NOT the student, the teacher, and the rest of the class. Some gened teachers would say I’m absolutely nuts for saying this, but I’m FORREAL YALL. Handling behavior privately rather than publicly cuts down on the small fires that happen regularly in your classroom. Students start to understand that inappropriate behavior in your class gets them nothing else other than a reprimand from you. Keep in mind though, some students may be doing behaviors purposefully so that they can have uninterrupted time to talk to you, so make sure to listen during those behavior conversations. Listen, ask questions, and give your time to your learner.

4.Be firm with corrections

No more “shhh please class”. Nope, we, bruised apple family, are firm with our corrections. We hold our students to very high expectations, and when our students don’t meet those expectations, we correct. Let’s say a student is yelling out rather than raising their hand. You can crouch down next to them and start with a reminder, “I expect you to raise your hand to answer questions” *remember that this is between you and the student, hence why you crouch down, make eye contact and whisper*. Let’s also say that the behavior continues. I would then say, “Not raising hand is unacceptable in our classroom. If you continue to not raise your hand, you will lose your privilege to choose where you sit” (or any other predetermined consequence). Keep your corrections short, private and strong. LET’S SAY it continues. I would crouch down and say, “You have lost your privilege to choose where you sit, please move to the seat up front”. Once they move I would then say, “Please stay after class so we can talk about your choices”, then continue with the private behavior conversation.

5.Refuse to be talked over

Allowing yourself to be talked over sends a message to your students that what you have to say is not important. What you say is important and you should not speak until you have every single pair of eyeballs on me. I usually remind, “I should have 48 eyeballs on me” and wait. For that fact, do not allow anyone to be talked over in your classroom. If a student is sharing an answer in my classroom, the others are expected to have their eyes on the speaker and track them. If there is chattering, I generally remind, “Please wait, name. I want everyone to hear you” or “name please repeat what you said, everyone needs to be tracking you”. I LOVE this clip from the book Teach Like A Champion. Check it out here! Link. Ms. Diggs does so many fantastic things in this clip. She name drops, gives teacher proximity, makes her students track, she sets expectations, models the behavior, checks for understanding. I mean ugh. Very perfect.

6.Ask for the behavior to be repeated correctly

This one’s short. If I see a behavior done incorrectly, like running in the hallways, I make students re-do the behavior. What do they learn if we don’t make them re-do the behavior? “I can run down this hallway until the mean lady says WALK then I can speed walk to my classroom”. When we ask students to re-do the behavior, we’re aiming for positive long term behavior change. I’ve done this with many behaviors, including exiting the classroom quietly. I’ll make you re-do your behavior 500 times, but it’s got to be done right.

7.Set up a secret code

While I was student teaching I explained the game of nose-goes to my students. This served as our secret code, so whenever I needed them to focus with their eyes on me, I would put my finger on my nose. Once my students noticed, they had to sit quietly with their eyes on me and their finger on their nose. Other teachers chose to say “show me your SLANT” or “Give me 5”. Whatever you chose, make it fun and use it regularly!

I hope everyone’s February is going absolutely amazing! Especially you, student teachers. Comment and let me know if you’ve ever used any of these methods or if you’re going to start using them! Please share on Facebook if you like the article so that our bruised apple family can grow!! Much love!

-Laura

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