My teaching journey has had chequered times. I recall my first teaching post after leaving university some 30 years ago. It was a tough school, and I was a new teacher. I was alone in the classroom for the first time and made the major mistake of trying to be the student’s friend. When misbehaviour happened, I gave lots of chances and didn’t establish boundaries early on. This leniency resulted in a breakdown of basic discipline. Students became disruptive, leading to a chaotic and unproductive classroom environment.
One day, in particular, stuck out for all the wrong reasons. Somehow, a group of students had learnt my first name. I heard them calling it in the corridor on the way home. I tried to ignore them, but they followed me out of school, calling after me, ‘SEEE - PO. SEEE - PO’. I eventually lost them at the train station. I left the school two weeks later, losing my sleep and creating much anxiety.
That awful experience many years ago made me promise myself that I would never let something like that happen again, and I became a lot better at managing behaviour, or what I like to call classroom culture.
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Approaches to Classroom Culture
Many teachers already employ various strategies, from setting clear expectations to varying their voice pitch and volume, depending on the situation.
You might want to try
- Learning students' names
- Setting clear expectations of how you want students to behave
- Ensure that you do not speak over students, and they are quiet before you talk.
- Where do you position yourself in the classroom?
- Always follow up with students where necessary and always, always do what you say you will do.
- Having a clear voice and varying your pitch and volume depending on the situation.