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Behavior Management

When the management of student behavior is effective, teachers save a lot of time and relieve a tremendous amount of stress.

Negative student behavior is the number two cause of teacher stress, trailing right behind principal pressure to improve test scores on benchmark and high-stakes tests.

Here are some rules to streamline the management of students' behavior (not listed in any special order). Internalizing these rules probably requires about three years of practice.



  • Understand that neither reward or punishment has a major effect upon learning, but lots of misbehavior in a classroom does affect learning in a negative way
  • Understand that students are less likely to misbehave if they are active and engaged in learning that is meaningful to them
  • Discover students behaving well and reward them before they misbehave
  • Follow school rules yourself, and ensure that students observe you as a positive role model ("Do as I do.")
  • Make contact with parents with positive things to say about their child before having to explain classroom misbehavior to them
    • Spell out the five rules that you have decided upon, and explain that you are 100% consistent with these rules
    • Communicate your belief that all students can learn if they have enough time, and if they have help in learning
    • Describe your strategies for providing one-on-one correction for learning, whether peer tutoring, parents helping their child, homework hotlines, etc.
    • Express confidence that by working together, their child's learning will improve
    • Express confidence that once the child's learning improves, the child's behavior also will become better
  • Establish the classroom as your territory, and be in the classroom first (This is the "lion tamer" theory of behavior management
  • Avoid engaging students in a power struggle.
    • Students will always win
    • Students are more ruthless than ethical teachers and will go to extremes that teachers can't match
    • Engaging the student in a power struggle gives the student more power and validates the student's effort
  • Avoid belittling or putting down students (They will get you back)
  • Convince students that you care for them, and that you are on their side
  • Never use the "Office Trump Card" (i.e., "If you do ...I am going to send you to the office")
    • The students are in your class, deal with them
    • The folks in the "office" generally make conditions worse, rather than help
    • The student receives yet another "chance"
      • To students, another chance translates into the number of times that the student can break the rules before a consequence occurs
      • The number of times that students get another chance needs to be "0"
      • Negative consequences need to be certain, not severe
      • If negative consequences are too severe, the student wins the public relations battle, and the teacher is hesitant to follow through