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Four tips for encouraging responsible student behavior

Encourage responsible behavior with these classroom management reminders

We want our students to behave responsibly in class. But how can we ensure they don't get distracted? How can we make sure that our students are engaged in the lesson and not chatting about the latest college volleyball matchups?

Encourage students to behave responsibly in class. Talk it through with them. Remind them why their behavior is important and impress upon them the importance of following the expectations that we've laid out for class.

Influence students to behave responsibly by setting up the classroom environment in such a way that most of the distractions are minimized and turned into powerful learning tools. The distractions that remain can be addressed and minimized through appropriate classroom management techniques.

Behavior is difficult to change, but with some effort, you can work towards guiding your students towards positive behavior. If you are dedicated and passionate about encouraging good behavior in class, you will succeed.

Here are some tips to help you along the way...

1. Maintain order in your classroom for a positive learning experience

One of the most significant ways you can help your students is to create a safe environment for them to learn. This means that they do not have the freedom to behave the way they might at home or in their neighborhoods. You can also expect that they will be respectful of each other and of you as their teacher.

When you maintain order in your classroom, you are showing your students that they need to follow the rules in order for you to keep them safe and get them right. You clarify that when they are in your class, they need to focus on what you are teaching them rather than on what others might be doing or saying.

This gives them an opportunity to learn how to manage their behavior, how to respond appropriately when others act inappropriately, and how to manage their impulses before they get out of hand.

This allows for a more productive learning environment where each student can get the full benefit of your teaching.

2. Provide engaging lessons to keep students from getting bored

It's easy for students to get bored in a classroom, especially when they aren't interested in what you're teaching. One way to keep them from getting distracted is to give them an engaging lesson that applies to their interests. The lesson should either be, in some way, interactive, hands-on, or entertaining


Yet, in an effort to make lessons engaging, it's all too easy to fall into the trap of talking about what students find interesting and entertaining, and glossing over the less entertaining but more important information we need our students to learn.

Although we may feel that we're doing a good job of keeping our students engaged, we may not be providing them with the information they need to be prepared for the next step in their learning.

We shouldn't assume that keeping our students engaged means keeping them entertained. There is a big difference between keeping someone entertained and keeping him or her interested.

We all know people who are entertaining but not very interesting. Likewise, we know people who are interesting but not particularly entertaining.

Being engaging has more to do with being reliable and informative than it does with being hilarious, flashy, or edgy.

3. Establish a routine so that students know what to expect from class each day

It's important to set up a routine so that students know what to expect from class each day. The first step in establishing a routine is to decide how much time you will spend on each part of the class period.

Next, decide a sequence of events for each day of class. This sequence should be logical and make sense. Tell them precisely what will be covered in class. This way, the students know what to expect and can prepare for class as needed.

Next, decide how you will handle misbehavior in your classroom. If your students know ahead of time what will happen if they misbehave, then they will think twice before acting out during your classes; disruptive behavior must be stopped immediately, before it gets out of hand.

Once you have established a routine for your classroom, stick to it. Your students will learn to follow your lead and behave responsibly as well as they can in your classroom.

4. Reward good behavior with attention and acknowledgment — give correction when necessary

When you're teaching, it’s important to offer positive reinforcement when students are getting it right. Acknowledging good behavior is an important part of the learning process and it helps them to feel like they’re making progress.

This will work if you are consistent and persistent. If you take the time to reward good behavior and correct bad, your students will learn to behave responsibly.

The key to this method is consistency and persistence. Some students will respond immediately, but others may take a little longer. Some may even test your limits, trying to force you to either give up or change your behavior somehow.

When this happens, it is important not to give in. Your response must be the same in every case: good behavior earns acknowledgement, inappropriate behavior earns correction.

If you back down from enforcing discipline when a student steps over the line, you send a message about how seriously you take your responsibilities as a teacher and role model. The class will lose a bit of respect for you because they will quickly conclude that there are no negative consequences for misbehavior.

By encouraging students to behave responsibly, teachers and staff members can reduce disciplinary problems and increase everyone's ability to function cooperatively in a learning atmosphere.

Classroom management and discipline may seem like a generic and uninteresting topic to many teachers. Teaching the lesson, planning for the next period, diagnosing individual student needs — these are things that you probably focus more of your attention on, right? But classroom management is an important part of encouraging your students to behave responsibly in class, and if you're not committed to it, your students (and colleagues) will notice.

The trick is to create an environment where the vast majority of classroom disruptions don’t happen at all, or where they can be remedied easily.

It isn't about controlling your students; it's about creating the optimal conditions for learning and fostering a positive learning environment.


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