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The 7 Biggest Behaviour Mistakes Teachers Make – And How you Can Avoid Them

Sue Cowley takes you through typical errors teachers make when trying to manage 30-odd children at once, from thinking you've given clear instructions to shouting to wasting energy keeping them all in check...

  • The 7 Biggest Behaviour Mistakes Teachers Make – And How you Can Avoid Them

If you want to watch the full video with all of these segments in one go, you can find it here. And there are loads more of Sue Cowley’s behaviour management videos to be found on our YouTube Channel Tips for Teachers.


1 | Lack of clarity about expectations

If you’re not clear with what it is you want from children, how do you expect them to do it? If you want them to listen silently, say so. If you ask them to listen quietly, you’re sure to get a few who think it’s OK if they whisper to each other. Remember, they’re children, they need clarity.


2 | Lack of consistency in expectations

Just as being clear is essential, being consistent helps maintain the groundrules you’ve put in place. You can’t expect children to follow your rules if you flaunt them when it suits you.


3 | Why you shouldn’t shout

It’s easy to lose your temper when a class of children aren’t doing what you ask. But while it might temporarily get their attention, it also lets them know that they know how to push your buttons.


4 | Letting your emotions rule

As a teacher, when you let your emotions affect your behaviour, children see that they’re getting to you. Here, Sue suggests that as a teacher, it’s a useful thing to remember that how you feel inside inside shouldn’t dictate how you present yourself. Fight your instincts, and keep a calm and measured exterior.


5 | Asking rhetorical questions

Rhetorical devices might work in the adult world, but not only will children likely miss the point of a rhetorical question, but the minute you ask a question you also open up a window for them to engage in an unnecessary dialogue. Asking ‘Why are you out of your seat’ is more likely to be met with an answer of ‘Your lesson is boring’ than actually getting them to sit back down.


6 | Doing all the work

Exerting all of your efforts to get children to follow the rules sets the precedent that they can do what they like until you tell them otherwise. And of course such interventions take up your teaching time too. You want them to regulate their own behaviour, which they won’t if you’re constantly on top of them.


7 | Sticking to the front of the room

It can feel safe at the front of the room, but that also lets children at the back feel safe to misbehave. Here, Sue advises you to try to touch all four walls during the course of a lesson, and also be aware of favouring your dominant side. Right-handers tend to face right, left-handers left, and so one half of the room gets more attention than the other.


If you want to watch the full video with all of these segments in one go, you can find it here. And there are loads more of Sue Cowley’s behaviour management videos to be found on our YouTube Channel Tips for Teachers.

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