Troublemakers. We have all seen them do their thing, causing mayhem and disorder in the classroom; perhaps you were even one yourself at some point during your time as a student.
Troublemakers are the bane of every teacher's existence and they make our job go from difficult to pounding headache and hair-tearing proportions.
I'll admit, I was a goody-two-shoes in school and I rarely caused any trouble in the classroom. I sat in my seat, spoke when called on and never, ever disrupted the class with outbursts or antics. So, when the roles were reversed and I became the teacher, I foolishly assumed every student would be just like I was when I was in school.
I hope you caught my use of the word "foolishly"; I couldn't have been more wrong with that assumption.
After 15 months of being a teacher in two countries, I have had to deal with my fair share of troublemakers in the classroom. It has been frustrating to say the least.
When I first started teaching, I was quite soft with discipline and I think this is quite common for first time teachers; we are anxious to have our students like us and don't want to start off on the wrong foot by coming across as a dictator in the classroom. Now, after having my soft tactics being used and abused by my students, I've become a bit of a tougher disciplinarian and I'm not afraid to crack down on the first troublemaker.
My students don't fear me, they just know that fooling around during class won't be tolerated and if they want to have a fun and engaging class, they need to show me the same respect that I show them.
Here are a few of my tactics I wanted to share. If you are a first time teacher, I hope you find these useful and if you are a long-time educator, please share your own experience and advice in the comments section!
1. Three Strikes: I find the "three strikes and your out" tactic very useful. Usually, I do it for the whole class and will draw three stars on the board. I explain the concept and every time a student, or group of students, misbehave, I will erase one star. At the end of class, if there is one or more stars left on the board, we will play a quick game at the end of class and if all the stars are erased, then we don't play a game.
I find this very useful because the students feel more in control, their behavior decides if they get to play a game or not, and they have a visual to keep them aware of where they stand. It also encourages the students to work together because they are responsible for everybody being able to play a game, not just themselves. I find this works for all age groups.
2. Names On The Board: This is something I do when a few students are being extra rowdy and it is necessary to single them out. Usually, I will draw a star and then a sad face on the board; for kindergarten kids I will draw a happy and sad face and dub them "Mr. Happy" and "Mr. Sad". When a student is being very well-behaved, I will write their name under the star(or happy face) and single them out as an example for everyone else.
Students who are misbehaving have their name written under the sad face. I will usually reward the well-behaved students with a sticker. You can decide if you want to do this on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on your students. Another suggestion is, as the misbehaving students being to smarten up and fix their behavior, you can erase a letter or two from their name, eventually erasing the whole name...hopefully.
This allows the student to recognize that their good behavior is having positive repercussions.
3. Sit In The Corner: When a student is being exceptionally disruptive, I will have him sit next to the board or sit outside, provided I can see them. This usually puts an end to the behavior and shows the student that you mean business and their behavior will no longer be tolerated.
I continue to have them be a part of the lesson though and when they have demonstrated that they are paying attention and taking the lesson more seriously, I let them go back to their original seat.
4. The Principal's Office: This is my least favorite tactic and a last resort. Sometimes, I will either threaten to call the principal or to send a student to the principal's office.
I don't like making the threat, or following through with it, but sometimes the student may need the principal to become involved in order to realize their behavior is unacceptable. Just be careful with how many empty "principal" threats you use, or else they could be become ineffective when the students become accustomed to you actually not sending them there.