Hilary Swank as Erin Gruwell (one of the educators I greatly admire), speaking with a student after class (Image taken from http://www.post-gazette.com)

This is quite a large and important issue, in my opinion. What I write further down, may not be the right answer, may be too short to cover the issue of classroom management and behaviour.

It depends on what happens, what kind of behaviour is displayed, how serious the repercussions are – whatever they are though, I believe they must be dealt with immediately. No matter should be left pending, as the problem will not be solved right away and most probably not in the right way and also the students will not be able to trust us – they will feel the uncertainty hanging in the air, even if they are involved in the matter or not. I remember when I was a student and another student’s negative behaviour was not dealt with immediately, I could feel the air hanging heavy in the classroom for days and it even affected the learning process and the relationships among the teacher and the students.

For that reason:

  • Clarify the ways you would like the class to function in order to ensure a healthy, learning atmosphere. If you have new students joining during the year, do the same with them. That way the new students get to know how the class works from the beginning and those who were there from the beginning of the year feel safe, as the rules apply to everyone.
  • Deal with any negative behaviour the moment it happens – if it is something serious, give yourself a little bit of time to clear your head, in order not to consider repercussions you would not normally consider with a calmer mind. In moments of anger people function much differently and most of the times in the wrong way.
  • Speak to the student who has done wrong – privately. Public humiliation in front of the class is the worst thing that can happen. Pointing out the wrongdoing mildly in class can help to avoid any imitative behaviour. But do talk to them. Let them know that you value their presence in class, that their behaviour is doing nothing else but harm themselves first of all and then the rest of the class and the learning process, of which they are a vital part.
  • Last but not least, take into consideration the background of the student. Think where this conduct can be coming from. Are there problems at home? Unsolved issues of any kind? Put yourself in their shoes first.

If you have any other ideas about how to manage a classroom, I would love to hear them – and your opinions as well.