Teacher Tips Thursday (Child Behaviour Guidance)

Welcome to the first installment of my "Teacher Tips Thursday" weekly posts :) Each week I will be writing up quick tips that I think will benefit new and experienced teachers alike. I love collaborating, so if there is something you would like to add to this list, please leave me a comment in the comments field below and I will add your tips with credit to you. 

Child Behaviour Guidance 

I'm a firm believer that child behaviour guidance is something no teacher every really masters. It's something that is very fluid - always flexing and growing from year to year. This is precisely why there is always so much professional development in this area. So I have decided to share my short list of some tried and true child behaviour guidance tips:  

Less is More.

What's the first thing you do when your class is acting up? Raise your voice? We all know what our "teacher voice" sounds like, and truth be told we all would probably cringe hearing ourselves using it. So why do we do it? To get attention? To be louder than everyone else? To assert our authority? While it seems to have its advantages, I can provide you with an even better, more peaceful way of reining in our classes without bombarding students with our constant talking (that's when we get tuned out, right?). It's quite simple but very effective. Ready for it? Here it is: Be Quiet. That's right - whisper quietly your requests to our classes. I like to whisper "hands on top...and of course my students put their hands on their heads and whisper back, "that means stop." At first, a handful of children will take notice and follow through. Then a few more children will join in, and within a minute the remaining students join in and you've got everyone's attention without using the dreaded teacher voice. I also maintain a quiet, peaceful speaking voice throughout the day because it provides a much calmer, happier environment. With all the speaking that we do, I think our voice tone really sets the tone of our classrooms. (Tone and tone, see what I did there?) There's definitely a connection, so let's try to remember that and not just talk for the sake of talking.

Observe and Mediate. Don't Solve.

Sometimes we tend to jump quickly into situations without checking things out first. That means we can miss important information and jump to wrong conclusions which can quickly escalate things. So the next time you see two students arguing, listen first to their words instead of sending one or both parties to a time out. Take the time to mediate the situation - without solving the problem for them. If anything, things have escalated because they haven't learned how to properly problem solve, so it is that much more important to teach them those crucial social skills. Mediating their problem solving means each person has the opportunity to speak and offer up their own solution. Telling students who is right or wrong, or separating them to opposite sides of the room is not solving anything. This leads to the same problem occurring again and again...until you observe what is happening and walk them through the process together. Like anything else, practice makes progress. So let your students practice solving their own problems, even when things get hairy. Remember, "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." 

Document Everything

Be sure to communicate effectively to parents regarding their child's behaviour. Always put it on paper-whether it's an occurring issue or a one-time deal. Having a paper trail will not only cover your back if things become escalated, but also help determine triggers and potential solutions. I use weekly behavior charts with my students who have ongoing issues in the classroom. It is an effective tool for school to home communication and helps tremendously in fostering a collaborative relationship with parents so they are continuously in the loop. Here is a quick screenshot of my Weekly Behavior Chart, available for download in my TpT Store;
Student Weekly Behavior Chart
What else would you add to this quick list of teacher tips? Comment below and I will add your ideas to this post. Thanks for reading!