One of the most common concerns of student teachers is how to go about keeping a class under control.
Classroom control is about how you use your voice, your body language and how you engage with your pupils, and it is a skill that will improve through training and experience.
Each school has its own policy on encouraging positive behaviours so you should familiarise yourself with this and discuss how it works in practise with the class teacher.
It is important that you ask questions if you are ever unsure, however here are some useful tips:
• Be organised and methodical.
• Read the school’s behaviour and discipline policy and be aware of what sanctions you can use.
• Always be clear and expressive when talking to your class.
• Protect your voice as it is an important tool. Avoid shouting and use visual signs as well as silence or pauses.
• Use facial expression to convey emotions as it encourages children to be enthusiastic.
• Be calm, consistent and fair at all times as this will help you to avoid confrontation.
• Use one-to-one eye contact. This will increase children’s attentiveness and help you to observe their facial expressions.
• Do not make assumptions about pupils from outward appearances.
• Try to intervene with misbehaviour early as this can prevent it becoming a greater issue.
• Rewards work much better than punishment. Good classroom control is gained through encouragement and praise rather than negativity and criticism. Different rewards suit different children so it can be good to give the child a choice. For example you could present them with a certificate or a sticker, or allow them to talk to their classmates about what they have done to receive an award.
• Should you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to restrain a pupil to prevent them harming themselves or others, any force used must always be reasonable and proportionate. You should always attempt to summon help if possible, ensure you keep a written note of what happened and then contact your EIS Rep for advice.
Over time you will develop your own style that suits you and the children you teach, which will help to make your classroom a happy and productive place.
Your working week is covered by the Working Time Directive unless you have a job where:
• You can freely choose how long you will work (For example, a managing director).
• You work in the armed forces or the emergency services.
• You are a domestic servant in a private house.
Most employers have their own policy on breaks, so it is best to read you company’s policy handbook and your contract. There is a legal minimum requirement is for a 20 minute rest break if you are expected to work for more than 6 hours. This time can comprise of a lunch or coffee break and your employer can specify when you take it.
Your break must be somewhere in the middle of your shift and must never be at the end. Always remember to take your break so you don’t burn yourself out.
For some students, their hopes for their time at University are clouded by employers who take advantage of their lack of experience. Some employers try to impose working practises on students that more experienced workers would not accept, and the EIS works with the STUC and other trade unions to better terms and conditions for our members.
The NUS and the STUC Youth Committee have campaigned on issues including zero hour contracts, long and inflexible working hours and poor pay, and they are lobbying at a national level for a fairer deal for students in the workplace.
As a qualified teacher you will receive better terms and conditions than the legal minimum requirements. For more information go to www.worksmart.org.uk that has lots of useful information on it.
If you are encountering any issues at work you should speak to your manager in the first instance.