Top Five Rules for a Harmonious Classroom November 29 2011

All teachers crave a well behaved classroom, where they are able to get on and impart all of their knowledge to a room full of interested students. However, keeping a class in order is one of the main issues that any teacher will face - be they a veteran of many years or a newly qualified teacher just starting out. Below we outline some key tips for making sure a classroom can be the fun and informative place it should be - these may be especially useful for those in the supply teaching industry, who often find that classes will try and be more unruly than usual.

Positive Reinforcement

Establishing a set of rules for the classroom is a very good idea, the list should not be too long - usually four or five will suffice - and most importantly they should say what pupils should do, as opposed to what they should not. For example, rather than saying do not shout out, a rule could say raise your hand and wait to speak. Praise good behaviour - but obviously don't go overboard - and when a rule is broken, remind the student about the rule and what it is they should have done instead.

Nip it in the Bud

If you can see that a class or individuals in a class are getting out of hand, then it is important to deal swiftly with a problem before it spirals out of control. This is important because bad habits can be hard to break, so if there is a particular problem - for example chatter when the class is supposed to be silent - you should ensure that this will not be tolerated, so the class know not to take liberties.

Be Clear with Consequences

Make sure that students know what the consequences of their actions will be. This could be a code where repeated bad behaviour will result in more serious punishments or making sure that adequate warning has been given, either verbally or referring them to the list of rules they need to comply with. A gradual escalation such as removing their liberties e.g. not letting them choose where they, to taking away their free time, can be a good strategy for demonstrating that actions do have consequences.

Establish Start and Finish Routines

Having a solid routine for the start and finish of a class is an extremely useful tool in any teacher's armoury. A good starting routine can be to set a class to work straight away such as silent reading of a text book, a dictation exercise or for something more light hearted a pop quiz to recap a previous lesson. All this can help avoid unnecessary distractions at the start of lessons and mean that pupils know that work has to happen in the classroom. At the end, always make sure you leave to time wind down, in order to be able to clearly state what homework is required and hopefully to be able tell the kids what a good lesson you have just had.

Be the Boss

The teacher is the adult in the classroom and you need to be in charge. Students will often think of numerous ways of getting out of doing work, showing off to their peers or otherwise not doing what is required of them. Therefore, it is important that you stand head and shoulders above them - like a boss - and that they know that you are the one who is in control but equally someone they respect and can be approached to help them.

These are just a few tips, there are undoubtedly many more but we think if you stick to these principals, you are sure to have a harmonious classroom.

Jonathan is a freelance writer with interests in the education industry, including supply teaching, primary and secondary education and education news.