Behaviour Management Strategies

10 Top Behaviour Management Strategies for Supply Teachers

1. One of your best Behaviour Management Strategies should be to Know the Behaviour Policy

When you arrive at the school for the first time, ensure that you ask about the behaviour policy including sanctions and rewards and the behaviour management strategies involved.  Catch students being good and issue them with a reward as much as possible.  This shows you have knowledge of the school systems.  Ensure you are aware of the sanction procedure also. Many schools will have a system that involves stages of intervention and give students the opportunity to correct their behaviour.  Behaviour is only effectively managed when the whole school works together. There must be clear policies and procedures in place which are understood by everyone in the school and these must be followed consistently.  Students like teachers who follow the rules. They like boundaries. They like to feel safe. They like to learn. You should always follow the school’s policies.

2. State Your Expectations Early

Research shows most teachers state such expectations, but it is the teachers who get students to practice them (while correcting along the way) that succeed. A very good idea as one of your behaviour management strategies is to keep the number of formal rules to a minimum and explain the reason behind the rules, as you need to present the rules in a positive way. Limiting the number of rules you adopt enables students to remember them without being overwhelmed. Explaining the reason behind rules helps students see them as being fair. Framing the rules in a positive way clarifies what students are meant to do (not just what they aren’t allowed to do) is an excellent one of the behaviour management strategies.

3. Correct small misbehaviours.

A good behaviour management strategy is to apply the broken glass approach by correcting small misbehaviours e.g. ensure that if uniform rules are broken, you apply the appropriate school sanction. Most misbehaviour can be dealt with quickly and easily. You can do this by correcting minor infringements on-the-spot and then moving on with the lesson. Corrective actions can include things such as: making eye contact with a student, moving closer to a student or group or reminding them of a relevant rule or simply telling them to get back to work. ‘You establish what you establish’.   Right from the start, anything you allow becomes established as allowed; and anything you challenge is established as unacceptable. The classic is noise level and off-task talking. If you do not challenge students who talk while others talk, you establish that this OK; it is no good getting bothered about it later. If you ask for ‘silence’ and then accept a general natter then you give the message that this is acceptable. If you want silence – you have to insist on it.

4. Develop Strong Teacher-Student Relationships.

When supply teaching, behaviour management strategies can be difficult to achieve on short term placements.  Essentially students want to know that you like them, enjoying teaching for them and have time to listen to and respect their opinions while being firm and organised in you management of their group’s behaviour. You forge strong relationships by being both firm and caring – while also motivating and enthusing your students to do their very best at school. Welcome your students as they enter the classroom with a Good Morning and compliment them whenever you can catch them being good. Tactical ignorance is sometimes good but be aware that low-level misbehaviours can escalate if they are not dealt with quickly and consistently. A student’s behaviour is reinforced when they gets attention for it, but don’t be tempted simply to ignore it. Find a calm and quiet way to let the student know that you see exactly what s/he is doing and that there is a consequence, without making a fuss, getting upset or sounding annoyed. Use eye contact or a question.   Avoid confrontational situations where you or the student has to publicly back down. Talk to the student in terms of their choices and the consequences of those choices, and then give sufficient “take-up” time (see the above on starting expectations early)

5. Use positive language in your Behaviour Management Strategies.

For example, instead of “will you stop talking”, say “I’d like everyone listening”; instead of “stop turning around”, say “I’d like everyone facing this way please”. Say please and thank you as often as possible. Use choice direction such as “You can either work quietly by yourself or you can come up and sit with me” or “when/then” e.g. “When you have finished tidying up your desk, then you can sit wherever you want.” Make a deliberate pause to gain students’ attentions and a direction to ensure they have sufficient time to act: “John … could you face this way … and listen, thank you.”.   Use positive body language. Gain their attention with eye contact before you say what you want to say. And again, always allow “take-up time” – ask someone to co

6. Partial agreement.

One of Bill Roger’s Behaviour Management Strategies is teachers being able to model the behaviour they expect. This includes not wanting the last word. Partial Agreement is an essential behaviour management strategy for avoiding or resolving conflict. It means teachers not trying to have the last word, or asserting their power in a situation when a student disputes their judgement.

Example 1

Student : “I wasn’t talking, I was doing my work”.   Teacher : “OK, Maybe you were but now I want you to to finish the task.

Example 2

Student: “It wasn’t me… it’s not mine… I didn’t do anything”.   Teacher: “Maybe not – but we’re all clear on the rules about that aren’t we..and I’d like you to help me out next time, Thanks. ”.

The focus is on the initial misbehaviour, giving students take up time and a choice about consequences.

7.   Have Eyes in the back of your head.

As a supply teacher asking one of the students to take the register while another writes any cover work for you on the board is a key method of these behaviour management strategies. Having a student take the register prevents any issues with pronouncing names also and gives you the opportunity to scan the room and see what is going on. Stand confidently when doing this and circulate as necessary. Students are far less likely to misbehave when they know their teacher notices every little thing going on in the classroom. Students need to think that you have eyes in the back of your head. During the lesson do simple things such as positioning yourself so you see all of the students, continuously scanning the room to see what is going on. Limiting times when you have your back to the class can make a big difference.   Demonstrate your authority by the position you take in the room; keep on your feet as much as possible and be where you can watch everything that is going on.

8. Structure the Cover Lesson

If the work set includes different options, gives students times for each activity until you move on to the next bit or divide it up as appropriate. If a task that you have estimated to last say 10 minutes seems to be taking more time for the high effort students, review progress at the end of the time period with a group Q&A discussion and then set more time.

9.  Group Reinforcement

involves rewarding or penalising whole groups. These may be small groups within the class, or the ‘entire class group’. For an example of small group reinforcement, you may reward one small group for being the first to be ready for the lesson or you may penalise a small group for not focusing on their work. As an example of ‘whole class’ reinforcement, you may choose to supervise the whole class for 5 minutes extra play if they are lined-up well and ready to go after their lunch break for 5 days in a row. Group reinforcement works well because of the pervasive power of peers.

10 Your emotions and Behaviour Management Strategies.

Sometimes it can happen and you may be tested to your limits and ‘lose it’. Acknowledge this and share with the group.   “I am angry because….’’; “I am raising my voice now because I’m so frustrated…” When as soon as you can, model the behaviour you want to – calm, measured, warm, encouraging and showing you care. ‘Repair and Rebuild’ is a great concept discussed by Bill Roger. Sometimes, the trick is to take the most difficult student aside, away from a lesson and build up a rapport so that they see you as human – and you see them as more than just a naughty brat.  Managing misbehaviour can be an emotional ordeal. However, you have more impact when you remain cool, calm and collected. When you are composed, you can keep things in perspective, deal with them quickly, and get back to your main task – teaching your students. When a student misbehaves, it is human nature to become defensive and to want to get tough, but getting angry and taking it personally is counterproductive. All students are different and hence there are bound to be disruptions and uneven behaviours. Instead of being upset, teachers need to learn to read these behaviours as call for help and adopt appropriate behaviour management strategies in working with these students.

Keep the Rules of the Classroom Simple

1. Raise Your Hand Before Speaking Or Leaving Your Seat

2. Respect Your Classmates Learning


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Reasons for poor behaviour.
1 Bored or Stuck.

When students are bored, they might entertain themselves by being naughty. They might talk or throw paper.. They are either trying to alleviate their boredom or trying to make you aware that they’re bored and need more challenge, or indeed both.   When they are stuck, they might sending signals by being naughty to draw your attention to their difficulty or they might try to mask the fact they’re stuck by being naughty.   Whether they’re bored or stuck, the cure for their ill behaviour is better differentiation. If they are bored, the work is too easy. If they are stuck, the work is too hard. Discuss the work with the student and ask them how they feel about the level of challenging. Discuss ways together of how they can get round this and make notes for the permanent teacher. E.g. if they are stuck they could make additional notes from a textbook. If it is not challenging enough the students could produce a resource to teach lower ability students the concepts.

2 Additional needs.  

Students with additional and different needs such as students with ADHD cannot always control the way they behave. They may lack social skills or have difficulty concentrating. Students with additional and different needs should have an individual education plan (IEP) or individual behaviour plan (IBP). Whatever the circumstances, you are not alone in dealing with students who have emotional and behavioural difficulties, and you should discuss this with leadership and seek help, following the school’s policies and any IEP at all times. Find out as much as you can about the specific learning needs of each student you teach and ensure you take account of IEPs and IBPs and follow your school’s policies and procedures, seeking expert help where relevant.

3 They are just naughty.

Sometimes students are neither bored nor stuck, and do not have any specific learning needs or disabilities: they are just plain old-fashioned naughty.   They just want to be naughty.   Perhaps it’s fun, a distraction, a means of reminding others of their existence. Perhaps it’s a way of taking control of their lives because, let’s be honest, children’s lives are not really their own and that must be frustrating.  Use the 10 behaviour management strategies listed above.

So you are not to blame for students’ misbehaviour and you are not responsible for it either. But, as the adult in the room with a responsibility for teaching, you do have a role to play creating a climate which minimises misbehaviour as well as a duty to respond to misbehaviour when it happens. This can be difficult in supply but download our behaviour management template and classroom rules poster for some useful resources to help you during your day. The satisfaction from redirecting an unruly pupil and seeing them progress and happy with their efforts is a true and heart warming benefit to supply teaching.

An exemplar Behaviour Management Flowchart

Step 1 – Redirect the student’s behaviour

e.g. “I want you to complete this work in silence or ”I want you to aim to get to the end of task 1 by 10.15”

Step 2.     Redirect the student and give them the consequence

Let them know what will happen if there is continued poor behaviour making it clear that they will be choosing the outcome by the way they decide to behave e.g. ‘If you do not work in silence, I will move you to this chair at the front of the room’

Step 3.     Carry out the consequence

If step 2 fails to result in the behaviour required you will then need to ask the student to move.

Step 4.     Repeat step 2 & 3 with a higher level of consequence.  

If they fail to move, again give them the choice with the alternate option being to be removed by a senior member of staff. Ensure that you know how this member of staff will be contacted. Punishments can also include time-outs, working by themselves and detentions.

Class Room Rules Poster Download

Behaviour Management Plan Template Download