In children’s and youth ministry, you generally only have students in class for an hour or two a week. You can’t afford to lose valuable learning time to student misbehavior. Yet, many volunteer teachers have little training in managing classroom behavior so students can learn.
There are a lot of tips for handling student behavior that is inappropriate. What though, if you could have students who you didn’t need to constantly correct and re-direct?
Using these tips, should drastically reduce the amount of disruptive behavior during class.
- Have rules and tell them to students. Often students “break” rules, because they don’t even know they exist. Acceptable classroom behavior can vary greatly from teacher to teacher and between schools and church. Students my even think there are no classroom behavior rules because they are at church. Choose three or four of the most important classroom behaviors and tell students your rules. If they seem to have trouble remembering them or you have a lot of students who are irregular attenders, you may also want to post them where students can see them.
- Explain what the terms in your rules mean. Don’t assume your students know what you mean by being quiet when working on activities. The definition of words like quiet, respectful and more also differ greatly from teacher to teacher. Explain in detail what you expect their behavior to be if they are following your rules.
- Love and trust your students. If you walk in the first class with a scowl on your face, launch into a lecture on the evils of technology and throw a cell phone basket down for mandatory deposit of all phones – good luck! Students are more likely to act respectfully and obediently for a teacher who in turn shows them love, respect and trust. Especially for teens, rules should be stated as an assumption they will do what you expect (i.e. not text, etc during class) and then using things like cell phone baskets for those who break the rules. Otherwise it feels as if they are getting a negative consequence before they have ever done anything “wrong”.
- Be consistent in enforcing rules and giving consequences. If students learn you are tougher when you are in a bad mood or more lenient when you are in a good mood, they will learn to manipulate you and the rules. It’s also unfair to enforce rules more strictly with the child who bothers you, while allowing the students you like better to do the same things with no correction. Consequences should be well known and consistently enforced. If students know what is expected and what will happen if they break the rules – every time – you are more likely to get consistent behavior from them in return.
- Make sure your lessons and activities are practical, hands-on, experiential, meaningful and memorable. Students often misbehave because they are bored. Not sure how students are perceiving your lessons and activities? Use our free Classroom Evaluation tool to help.
Secular classroom teachers regularly spend the first couple of weeks of school making sure students thoroughly understand their rules and to expect correction and consequences to be applied consistently when broken. Those teachers have learned that spending a little extra time in educating their students on what classroom behavior they expect, saves them tons of wasted class time the rest of the year. The tips that work for them will work for you, too. Try it and see what happens!