Teaching to Minimize Misbehaviour

By | First Published: | Last Updated: 27 September, 2021

The way you go about organising and structuring your teaching affects how well your students behave. In this article, you will find 5 critical tactics – especially with a new class or when working with a difficult class.

Tactic #1: Be Prepared

Being unprepared is a common cause of poor student behaviour. Therefore, it is important that you are well prepared. Focus on your planning and your resources.

Having plans is essential, but they must also be good plans. And, good plans start with a clear understanding of what your students need to learn. More specifically, they describe what you want your students to:

  • Know and understand
  • Be able to do

This clarity comes from

  • Year Level Standards
  • Unit Goals
  • Lesson Goals

You can download a sample goal-based daily plan here. Add resources to this, and you are well prepared.

Being prepared involves both planning and organisation. When dealing with a new or challenging class, always have your day planned and your resources ready before you start the next day.

Structuring Your Teaching Tactic #2: Explain & Demonstrate First

Asking students to do something that you haven’t shown them what to do is a recipe for both frustration and misbehaviour.

Always start your lessons by clearly:

  • Explaining anything that your students need to know
  • Demonstrating anything you want your students to be able to do

Do this in a clear, step by step manner. And use:

  • Visuals to support your explanations
  • Thinking aloud, while demonstrating how to do something

Tactic #3: Individual Learning First

After you have:

  • Explained what your students needed to know
  • Demonstrated what they must be able to do

You need to get them to individually engage with the material.

The specific strategies you use to engage them will vary depending upon what you want them to learn. For example:

  • Summarising, taking notes, making connections to prior knowledge and rehearsing are ways to engage students in learning surface knowledge
  • Practising is a good way to master specific skills or procedures
  • Reflective writing and reorganising material are good ways to promote deeper learning

But what matters in terms of managing the behaviour of a new or challenging class, is that:

  • The students work individually
  • Doing so well becomes a routine before you start taking your eyes off the class and helping individual students

This allows you to keep an eye on the class as a whole, and use on-the-spot techniques to nip small problems in the bud.

Structuring Your Teaching Tactic #4: Judicious Use of Group Work

Do not use group work with a new or difficult class until they can work well on their own (over several lessons).

Even then, you still need to use groupwork judiciously. This involves ensuring that each student has a sufficient understanding of the:

  • Material the group will work on (enough individual mastery first – then groupwork)
  • Steps or strategies you want the group to use (have you explained/demonstrated it first)

Tactic #5: Hold Your Students Accountable

Students are more likely to behave well when they know you will check:

  • They have produced enough work
  • That this has led to adequate learning

Asking students to show what they have done, and marking work as a class are 2 quick ways to do this.

Organising & Structuring Your Teaching Minimizes Misbehaviour

To organise and structure your teaching use these 5 tactics:

  1. Being prepared
  2. Explaining and demonstrating things first
  3. Getting students to work on their own – and watch them
  4. Making timely and careful use of groupwork
  5. Holding your students accountable

These 5 tactics are not all there is to good teaching, let alone great teaching. Nor are they all you need to do to manage your students’ behaviour. But they are an important foundation. For more on behaviour management, see the articles:

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(MEd., MLead.)

Shaun Killian (me) is an experienced and passionate teacher, as well as a past school principal. After a heart transplant and having both my legs amputated, I am not yet capable of returning to work. Yet, my passion for helping students succeed has led me to use my time to research teaching and associated practices. I then share what I find in practical ways through this website. The greatest compliment I have ever received from a past student was I never left any student behind. That is mission of most teachers and I hope you find the information on this site useful.

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