Behaviour Management & SHIFT- One teacher’s perspective…


I’m frequently asked questions about behaviour management by graduate teachers. This is a huge issue for teachers and always has and will be. This post is not about students with disabilities.

There’s a lot of pressure placed on teachers to have students beautifully behaved and quietly working. 

Remove this from your mind and think long term because there is no such thing as the perfect student, perfect teacher or perfect classroom.

However, a teacher does need to have a strong set of values or beliefs about student behaviour which is supported by the school philosophy and that’s the reason I love working in IB schools.

Most classrooms are made up of students of similar ages but this does not mean they are emotionally or socially at the same stage in their development. As teachers, we know this! Classroom management is about knowing each student as an individual, including their background. Behaviour management is part of each student’s learning plan and there is no one method which will work with all students.

One size will not fit all!

Equally students need to be given opportunities to learn from their choices, even if those choices are not the best. Understanding this means you can start thinking about your impact as a teacher.

It’s also about the individual and not the whole class. Many students are managing themselves well. Identify those students and make sure they know that you know. This group may feel forgotten and they can be your greatest support.

Once you’ve identified those students who require support with their behaviour management you can start developing your strategic plan. I look for the behaviour which needs immediate changing first and this means you may have to ignore some other behaviours, but never ignore aggressive or antisocial behaviour.

My goal is for students to change their behaviour for themselves and not for me.

If it’s just for one teacher, it’s not sustainable change. The impact is low. Students need to own their behaviour and change their behaviour because they feel benefit and need. Changing their behaviour themselves will improve their self-esteem.

The Shift…

When a student’s behaviour starts to change I call this the SHIFT.

The shift is when the student starts to make appropriate choices in their day and this is when your quiet personalised feedback has impact. Making  note of any behaviour change or good choices made by a student is important for targeted  feedback to the student. This shows the student that you are really seeing the positive from the negative.

Behaviour change is slow, however, if you want behaviour change to be ongoing, sustainable and owned by the student, you need to be prepared for this.

It’s said that it takes six weeks to change a behaviour and form a new behaviour so don’t expect long term change overnight. It’s also much easier to establish this at the beginning of a school year.

What I don’t do…

  • I do not use stickers nor do I have a bag of goodies. I use feedback.
  • I do not put a misbehaving student’s name on the board.
  • I avoid disciplining the whole class.
  • I avoid keeping students in at recess.
  • I do not give learning tasks as a punishment. 

What I do and am…

  • I plan teaching and learning to meet the needs and abilities of individual students.
  • I do put a daily quote on the board and this might be something a student or teacher has said. It does not have to be a famous quote. I don’t draw attention to the quote but it always amazes me that the students do read them and comment. They will remind me if I forget to write one.
  • I do give feedback to students about their behaviour choices.
  • I have students set personal goals.
  • I am very resilient and patient.
  • I am an observer.
  • I am by nature a positive person. I believe all students can become responsible for their behaviour with support.

Cheers Nina




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