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Classroom Management - Managing Behavior

Page history last edited by cholloway@ihmadrid.com 12 years, 4 months ago

Classroom Management- Managing Behavior 

Ask yourself honestly the following question: Why do you want good behavior?


Some possible answers:


  • ·         your sanity
  • ·         the students best learning interests
  • ·         safety
  • ·        


The reality is that good or appropriate behavior allows you to better manage the learning of all the students in your class. It is not to make your life easier or better as a teacher – it will, but that is not the objective. It must be about what is best for the students, not the teacher.


NB: in classes involving children, their safety is more important than their learning. This means that in YL classes, CRM has the double aim of ensuring that all the children are safe (i.e. not able to harm themselves or each other physically or psychologically) and learning.


The problem is that we often design our CRM to deal with bad or inappropriate behavior after the fact, rather than how to proactively manage – incentivize, reward and thereby encourage – appropriate behavior.


In other words: Manage for GOOD not BAD behavior


Causes of inappropriate behavior


In small groups, think about some causes of inappropriate behavior. Write your ideas here:










Here are some other ideas:


Don’t understand the class

Frustration at lack of progress

Parental or peer factors

Work pressures

Affective factors


Distractions – economy, political situation

Attention - if they can’t get positive attention, they will look for negative attention

Power – is there a power imbalance among the students or between students and teacher?

Revenge – are they brining in prejudices or feelings from outside the classroom? Towards the teacher or another student?

Helplessness or assumed disability 

Dissatisfaction with the teacher in some way?


Find out why your students are not behaving appropriately. Your strategy for dealing with each may be different. Here are some ideas:


-          Use written instructions as well as spoken instructions

-          Pair or group students

-          Check understanding of instructions by asking a student to repeat, rephrase or translate

-          Use a metaphor to show how learning a language is a long and difficult process (e.g. running – you can’t run a marathon after one training session)

-          Discuss learning with your students

-          Ask what you can do to help them

-          Pay attention to your students’ lives, ask them to discuss (if they want to, of course) their families, friends, work etc


Your sensitivity to the root of the inappropriate behavior may be sufficient to stop it and convert it into something positive: Their respect for your professional approach can be transposed to their attitude to the classes. 




Nevertheless, students often act in ways that present themselves as personal attacks or insults to the teacher. It is important not to take a personal approach to this and to act in a way to deal with the behavior as a problem and not the student.


Set Expectations, rules and


One of the causes of misbehavior can be the attitudes or strategies of teachers in a school, so for that reason it is important to have clear limits and rules both for teachers and students.


Make sure that students know what you expect of them. For young children present classroom rules clearly using pictures to reinforce the message. An explicit set of rules and consequences which can be referred to will help reinforce appropriate behavior and discourage inappropriate behavior. For example, in International House Madrid we use the following:















For older children and adults you should be able to negotiate rules for the classroom. They should be positive, specific and concise. Rules are more effective if they are simple and clear, so the teacher can focus on teaching.  


Publish them in the classroom, talk about them together or distribute them for students to sign. Collaboration in the creation of the rules makes them stronger because the students themselves have created them.


2 things to remember


  1.  REWARD WHAT YOU VALUE. Think about what is important in your classroom and reward examples of this. For example, if you reward good behavior but not good use of the target language your will encourage good behavior but not necessarily use of English. On the other hand, if you praise only the language use and never the behavior or attitude or effort, you will encourage only those students who are sure to have the correct answer. Remember our goal is to create a safe, fun and dynamic environment for experimenting, testing, making mistakes and correcting: for language learning.


  1. THE SOONER THE BETTER. Especially with children, the sooner you praise the desired behviour, the stronger the link which the student will create between the behavior and the praise. If you can specify the behavior which provoked the praise and let the other students see it, you will encourage further examples from all the class. Specific praise to the parents of children in front of the children will also have a very strong positive reinforcing effect.



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