How you can improve the behaviour of students after the lesson from hell.

So, you have had the lesson from hell and you are dreading the next lesson.  The behaviour of students was out of control and your internal chat might be “I can’t do it anymore”, or “I’m done! Is teaching really for me?”.  The post lesson teacher response to such behaviours is so important for classroom management, below we will explore these responses.

How to respond to misbehaviour after the lesson.

Using the PDP Framework (Pre-During-Post Framework for Classroom Management), we can reflect and create a plan to go back into that same class with confidence. This is what the last P in PDP is all about. There is much work that can be done post lesson with regards to the behaviours that occurred within the lesson.  

Yes, it is time-consuming and a real pain, but not as painful as putting up with the same behaviours each lesson for the rest of the year.  Yes we teachers, are time-poor. I guarantee this will be time well spent and more importantly will help you create calm productive classrooms.  

Reflect on the lesson.

The aftermath of a terrible lesson can make you feel terrible. Re-living it is probably the last thing you want to do, but you must.  You probably just want to numb out the memory with a stiff drink. I know I have been there.  But at some point, regather your thoughts and remember what happened.  

For example, “So, there were three boys consistently talking during instruction, then when I used my low-key skills, they just continued.  I sent one out and continued instruction, then he opened the door and trapped a small branch with leaves in the door and everyone was then laughing at him.  I remember feeling so tired as I hadn’t slept well that my temper was boiling, but I kept my cool.  My choice language went to crap, but I regained control of the class with a ‘reset’ chat and the lesson got back on track. The branch boy even re-entered and got on with work. I remember giving out some warnings and detentions, but it’s all a blur now”.  

Make a plan.

First, think about the students who were responsible for disrupting the learning and label how they were disrupting it.  Then think about a logical follow-up consequence for each.  Some of the behaviours may only need a conversation with the student or parent, but others may need detention, informal chat, or they may need to be buddied to an alternative class for the next lesson.  If you’re not sure on the level of consequence, have a conversation with your line manager or a member of the pastoral care team.  

What to say on follow up parent calls.

Calling parents can be daunting at first. Most parents are very supportive and can have a positive impact on student behaviour. But not always. Again ask student services regarding the student’s background before calling home if you are concerned.

An example phone call home can sound like this.  “Hi, my name is Miss Fowler and I am Joe’s English Teacher, is now a good time?  I just wanted to let you know that Joe was very disruptive in class today.  He completed very little work and when I reminded him about his continual talking, he became very argumentative.  I will catch up with him tomorrow in my free time and discuss his behaviour and his new seating arrangement.  If his behaviour doesn’t improve next lesson, I will be keeping him in at lunchtime to complete his uncompleted work.  Thank you for your support’.

Follow up with consequences.

Post-lesson is time to follow up with behaviours. If during class any detentions were given, then it is paramount to follow through with these. If we do not, then further warnings of such consequences in class become powerless. Students will learn over of the grape vine that we do not follow up on given consequences.

Some schools have detention rooms that are supervised at recess and lunch. Some have departmental spaces with teacher supervision. Other less time consuming ways include asking students to meet you out in the yard when you have lunch duty. It might be appropriate for students to tidy the yard, depending on the behaviours displayed. If students have fallen behind with work through misbehaviour, a more appropriate consequence may be an after school or before school detention. With guidance on work they need to catch up on. Ensure you follow the school policies on this and always get parental permission.   

Informal chat.

For ongoing disruptive behaviour an informal chat with the student could reset their behaviour. This chat happens outside the classroom and could go like this. 

  1. Firstly, tell the student what behaviours are of concern.  Ask the student about these behaviours and the reason they think they are doing them.  They may say they don’t know; they may say they find the work too hard or too easy.  
  2. Then together make a plan for change.  I had a big surprise from a student who was always acting silly and showing off with his friend.  He asked me to move him further away from his friend, but I was not to tell his friend it was his suggestion—the power of peer pressure.  The student may offer this up and agree to change. If they do not, remind him of the classroom rules and expectations.  
  3. Keep this informal chat positive but ensure the student is aware of the concern you have.  
  4. The student is then informed of what will happen if there is no change and what the consequence will be.

Subject behaviour monitoring/tracking sheet.

If there is no improvement in behaviour after an informal chat, then a subject behaviour tracking sheet might be appropriate.  This is a formal process and will need to be communicated with parents and line managers.  You may ask line managers to join in on the conversation with the student for support if deemed necessary.  The conversation will happen in a formal setting such as an office.  I recommend having a formal form, something like the below image.

Behaviour monitoring

Firstly, discuss the problem behaviours and the reasons such behaviours are not allowed in the classroom.  It might sound something like, “Your behaviour in science is becoming increasingly concerning.  You are not following simple instructions and are distracting others from their learning by consistently turning around and talking across the room to your friends.  If I cannot trust you to follow instructions in the science room, it is not safe for you to participate in the practical session. Do you understand my concerns?”  

Agree on goals.

The conversation will then steer towards agreed-upon goals.  For the above student, goals agreed might be to follow instructions first time without reminders and not talk across the classroom and distract others.  Then discuss the consequences and reward of achieving and not achieving these goals.  In the above case, the consequence might be that he does not participate in practical activities.  For rewards, I like to give the student a choice but students like positive phone calls home.  

Make the goals measurable.

For example. Using the above example form. Inform the student that they will be marked out of 5 for four lessons. If they get a score of 15 or above, they might choose a positive phone call home as a reward. However, if they get less than 15 they will stay after school for a detention.

Natural consequences.

Detentions do not need to be long and punitive to have an impact.  Of course, this depends on the behaviour. If a student has truanted and missed work, a natural consequence would be they say after school to catch up on missed work.  Of course, this is discussed with parents and school policies followed.

When discussing consequences with students, ensure they are aware of the reason for the consequence. An example might be. “The reason we have consequences is to remind students that skipping class is not safe and you are missing important school work. We care about your safety and we care about your learning and do not want to see them fall behind”.  

It should be a natural consequence and not an act of punitive revenge towards the student. If teachers are punitive in their desists, then student behaviour may become worse, not better.  Students may seek revenge themselves and even start to hate the teacher and subject, then everyone loses.  Think carefully about your language when giving choices and consequences – words matter. 

For the Pre classroom skills, click here. For skills during the lesson skills. Click here.

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