Skip main navigation

The importance of behaviour management

Watch this video on a new teacher who considers her own experiences of classroom observation and first starting out as a trainee teacher
Looking back and talking to my colleagues, I think managing the classroom was the thing we were all most worried about before we started. As you’ve heard, it can be learned and developed. So it’s not something to be fearful of. I’m not saying it’s always been easy, and there definitely has been some challenges. But major incidents are incredibly rare. And it’s actually more about dealing with low level disruption in the classroom, like pupils constantly talking. There are definitely things that you can do before you start your teacher training to help you find your voice and be assertive in the classroom, which will allow you to have a good start with your classes. Your voice is an important tool in your classroom.
You don’t need to shout. But you do need to be clear and be understood by your pupils. When we were interviewing for teacher training, we were asked to do a presentation. It was evident who had prepared well, who had thought about what they were going to say. But also about who had the most potential to talk to a class. The teachers are not looking for students to be a finished article, but you do need to have some presence and good communication skills before you start. I used to practise what I was going to say to my classes at home. I would stand at the top of the stairs and see if my sister could hear me from the kitchen.
I didn’t shout. But I did have to project my voice using my stomach muscles, something I’d never really had to think about before. There are lots of videos and hints online that you can use to try and help you do this as well. You will need to make sure that your voice can be heard above the classroom noise when you want to get the class to be quiet. It’s also really important to speak clearly. Some of the trainee teachers on my course had quite an accent, which there’s nothing wrong with. But they did have to be very careful about their pronunciation, especially with those key words, making sure that they are clear for others to understand.
If you’ve got pupils in your class who have hearing difficulties, or are learning in a second language, then it is especially important for them to be able to understand what their teacher is saying. If pupils cannot understand the instructions, then they’re most likely to start playing up and misbehave in your lesson. A good idea is to record your own voice, and listen to it back, and check what you are saying and making sure that it is clear. It’s not always a comfortable thing to do. But it’s definitely a worthy thing to do as it reveals a lot about yourself. Your body language is another important tool for managing your classroom.
You need to come across as confident, even if you’re not inside. But it has to appear that you are in front of your class. The children are more likely to respond to your instructions if you have a confidence about you, and you are able to carry yourself well in front of them. It sounds a little bit daft. But you can practise in front of a mirror, or even record yourself, and then watch it back. Think about things like, how does the way you stand project your confidence? What about your facial expressions? You don’t have to frown, a confident smile, in fact, will be a positive start with your classes. The most useful thing to do is to watch other teachers.
They will have their own way of doing things. But you can definitely pinch their ideas. Think about things like, how do they address their class? What do they do to signal that they want the class to be quiet? How do they make use of their voice? Behaviour management is a bit like having a tool box. The more tools you have, the easier it is for you. The earlier you start collecting your tools, the better. It also shows you’re ready to tackle a classroom environment when you apply for your teaching training course.

Concerns about becoming beginning teachers

As Skeena explained, behaviour management is a skill that can be learnt the same as any other. That said, it is often one of the areas that beginning teachers most worry about when they start their training. Often having a space to discuss these concerns and consider alternative approaches to deal with any concerns is sufficient to alleviate anxieties applicants to teacher training may have.

Watch these videos on how to project your voice:

The best exercise to project your voice

Taking care of your voice

Using your voice effectively in presentations and public speaking

Use the comments to discuss any behaviours or particular concerns you may have about training to teach within classrooms.

This article is from the free online

Preparing for Teaching

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education