Student behaviour – A checklist of 10 essential strategies
Daniel Harvey checks off the areas teachers should be mindful of at this time of year if they wish to see their students progress and succeed by next summer
Now that we’re well into the first term of the year, you’ll have hopefully had the chance to enjoy a well-earned half term break.
In between the (probably much-needed) unwinding and recuperation, the break often provides an ideal opportunity to reflect on how well you have set up your classes at the start of the academic year – particularly if you’re still at an early stage of your teaching career. In what ways have you sought to ensure that your pupils will be successful? How have you looked to maximise their learning time?
Those are both broad questions, so it can be helpful to break them down by devising a checklist and marking off what’s been working well in your classroom as you go, while identifying the next steps you can take for improving students’ capacity to learn.
Below is an example checklist that I would use when can looking to improve the foundations for learning in my classroom:
1. Entry routines
Do you have a welcoming and effective entry routine for your classroom? Many teachers chose to meet their students at the door, welcome them personally to the classroom and direct them to the first task.
2. Engaging starts
Do your students know how the lesson will start? You could use a retrieval quiz linked to previous work to begin the lesson. This could be either handed out or displayed on the board.
3. Distribution of materials
Have you taught the students a simple routine for ensuring all books and other lesson materials are handed out effectively? Students should be taught to ensure that such items are distributed to everyone in the class as smoothly and as unobtrusively as possible.
4. Student register
What is your own routine for taking the class register, and is it as effective as it could be? It’s important for every teacher to ensure that their register is completed accurately, consistently and on time.
5. Seating plans
Do you use seating plans for your classes? Have you learned your students’ names? If your answer to the latter is ‘no’, seating plans can be a useful aid to memory, as well as helping you check instantly whether every student is seated where they ought to be.
6. Awareness of need
To what extent do the aforementioned seating plans contain essential information that will improve your standard of teaching? Examples of this might include details of which students are in receipt of Pupil Premium or have SEND, as well as reminders of previously agreed personalised strategies or prior attainment information.
7. Check your position
When teaching, do you take up a good position in the classroom where you’re able to see if all students are paying attention to you and are engaged? Scanning the class constantly, while simultaneously teaching or speaking, is a crucial skill for ensuring that every student remains focused.
8. Clarity regarding participation
When teaching, do you make the means of participation clear to all students, so that they can meet your expectations? Always clearly explain to students if and when they should put up their hands, or when you’re intending to use a ‘no-hands technique’ such as cold calling.
9. Class circulation
When the students are working, do you move around the classroom to see what work is being completed? This is a hugely important thing for teachers to do, and means that when you check students’ work later, you are less likely to encounter any surprises.
10. Recognition and rewards
Take time to recognise those students who meet or exceed your expectations, and be sure to make regular use of your school’s reward or recognition system. That way, you can start building lasting and positive relationships with students as early on as possible.
Daniel Harvey is a GCSE and A Level science teacher and lead on behaviour, pastoral and school culture for an inner city academy