Accessibility Links

Behaviour management strategies for secondary teachers

14/02/2020 Anthony

Pupils misbehave when they’re bored or struggling, and as a teacher, this can derail your lesson plan. Those who are struggling in the classroom will find it difficult to regulate their emotions which is why it’s critical to take a proactive stance rather than a reactive one. But it’s not an easy task to maintain control over behaviour in a classroom - in fact, Ofsted reports that only one in three schools are judged as having satisfactory behaviour.

The following five behaviour management strategies can be used in your secondary classroom to help you foster a better learning culture. But before you start reading, remember that you must hold these standards for the whole school year because there is nothing more confusing for students than inconsistency. 

Establish low-level behaviour expectations 

A YouGov survey, commissioned by Ofsted, found that students are losing up to an hour of teaching time to low-level disruption, which amounts to 38 days over the course of the year. While a small amount to disruption in the classroom in unavoidable and perhaps necessary at times, it needs to be managed so that students are not missing out on almost 20% of their learning time.

Ofsted advises tackling this issue by establishing low-level behaviour expectations and using these as the basis for your expectation of students’ behaviour. Enforcing strict rules such as not chewing gum, having phones out or shouting out answers will convey to students that there is a high standard for behaviour in your classroom. Your pupils will become aware that if you won’t tolerate misbehaviour at this low-level then they certainly must respect the more serious rules. For this to be effective students must be clear on how you deal with bad behaviour. Here’s one strategy for directly dealing with misbehaviour.

Refrain from acting on secondary behaviours before you reprimand primary ones

Consider a scenario where a teacher has sent a student out of the classroom for talking and as they walk out, they slam the door. Does that sound familiar? It’s important in this situation to address the primary behaviour – talking – before the secondary, otherwise the student will determine that there are no repercussions for talking in your classroom. Take note of the secondary behaviour and be sure to reprimand for this later.

Be aware that negative secondary behaviours appear when students are having difficulty regulating their emotions and often, they don’t recognise that they are presenting a behaviour problem because they are reacting without thinking. Their behaviour is an attempt to communicate and understanding this can be stressful for teachers, which is why it is essential to develop stress coping mechanisms.

The when-then approach 

This approach is a form of rewarding and giving privileges to your students – something that is just as important for secondary pupils as it is primary. Though in the long run rewards can undermine motivation to learn because students begin to work for the bonus, this strategy avoids that scenario because the reward is further learning. A great way to enforce this is to tell your classroom that once they complete the set task you will move on to playing an interactive game or watching a video – technology can be a great tool to support your lesson plan.

‘Catch them being good’

This behaviour strategy is formed from the understanding that children are motivated by attention and if they’re not getting it for their good behaviour they’ll start misbehaving. Here you can find 50 things to ‘catch them being good’ at. The reward for their good behaviour can be as simple as verbal praise, or if it’s a behaviour that a particular student rarely exhibits the reward should be amplified to reinforce it.

The 5-to-1 ratio

The 5-to-1 ratio method – commonly used by SEND teachers - expresses that for every negative interaction you have with a student, ensure that there are five positive ones. For example, if you have given criticism or reprimanded a pupil five positive interactions may be: a smile, praise, a friendly conversation, eye contact and positive feedback. And evidence proves this is an effective behaviour strategy - a 2017 study by Cook et al found that when teachers adopted this approach the level of disruption in their classroom reduced and students’ engagement consequently rose.

Teaching Personnel are here to help you find your next teaching job

Are you ready to put these behaviour strategies into practice? Start your search for a new secondary teacher job or focus your search by subjects. Teaching Personnel are always looking for maths teachers and science teachers

Add new comment