Behaviour management tips for ECTs

28/10/2022 | All

As an ECT starting your first role, behaviour management can be daunting. When you begin to teach your own class, you are your pupils’ pillar of authority day-in, day-out. Your aim as a teacher is to build respect and trust from your students and a positive rapport in the classroom from the get-go. As an ECT you may be wondering where to start on behaviour management and how to get off on the best foot. We have put together our top behaviour management tips for ECTs!

Familiarise yourself with the school’s behaviour system

A great place to start with your behaviour management strategy would be to familiarise yourself with the schools’ behaviour system. Different schools will have different approaches and different strategies of behaviour management in place. Students should be well aware of the behaviour system that is in place. If they recognise that you are familiar with it and are implementing it, you will be more quickly seen as a clued-up enforcer of the rules instead of being unsure!

Things to look out for in your school’s behaviour system could include:

  • School ethos and behaviour statement
    • You should be able to find out what the school’s ethos is and the general behaviour principles that will guide the headteacher
  • Roles and responsibilities
    • Identify the roles and responsibilities of your headteacher, SLT, governers, colleagues and support staff in relation to behaviour
  • Standards of behaviour
    • What exactly are the expectations? What is good behaviour and what is not?
  • Teaching of behaviour
    • Find out how good behaviour is expected to be taught in the school. What are the rules in detail?
  • Rewards
    • What rewards are used to reinforce and praise good behaviour? These often include postcards home, certificates, positive feedback, house points or golden time. Find out when these are given out and who can issue them.
  • Sanctions
    • Perhaps the most important aspect to look into is the sanctions for those students who don’t comply. Sanctions should always be proportionate and reasonable in the circumstances. Examples can include verbal reprimands, traffic light systems, detention and ultimately suspension/exclusion. Remember that sanctions should always take into account the students age, any SEND they have and any religious requirements.

Respect is key

Perhaps the most integral factor that accompanies promoting good behaviour in the classroom is respect. As an ECT, you are walking into a classroom of students who are not familiar with you, your ways of teaching or your learning techniques. You are also walking into a classroom of students who you are not familiar with. Some students will naturally want to please you whereas others may be tempted to push your boundaries. You may be tempted (especially if feeling a little daunted during your first week) to go in with a stern approach from the get-go. However, this may not be the best way to earn your students’ respect. It is recommended to go in with a balanced approach – you want to let your students know you are on their level and are there to help them and guide them, whilst also managing behaviour expectations in the classroom. 

Use the power of positivity

Behaviour management often comes along with negative connotations – it’s easy to focus on dealing with bad behaviour. However, a top behaviour management tip for ECTs would be to focus on the positives. Praising your students when they do something good or behave well is just as important, if not more important, as setting rules and having sanctions. When you enter a classroom, keep an eye out for students demonstrating good behaviour and make sure you praise them for this. 

For example, you may see a student swinging on their chair whilst another student is sitting quietly ready to learn. Although your instant reaction may be to discipline the student swinging, using positive praise to the other student is likely to be more beneficial. By saying something like ‘Thank you for sitting so well Ben, you look like you’re ready to learn’, you are not only praising the student for their good behaviour (making them more likely to repeat it) but are also demonstrating to other students what you want them to do. If Ben is sitting nicely, he gets praised for it, so other students are likely to follow suit. As mentioned previously, respect is key and you will be more likely to gain it through positivity. 

Be relatable

Being relatable for your students is another key trait that will help with gaining their respect. Strive to be humorous and relatable, whilst maintaining assertiveness. When first starting, have fun with your class and crack some jokes. Talk to them on a human level, explaining why you are there and what you expect from them.

A top tip for ECTs would be remembering what you respected from your teachers when you were at school. Often you will remember the teachers who treated you like a human – who could still have a laugh whilst making expectations clear and maintaining respect. 

Establish your expectations early

It is key when starting your new role to ensure your behaviour expectations are set from the very beginning. Prepare a 5 minute talk or presentation to start your first class with which lets your students know what you expect from them. It may seem intimidating but establishing good behaviours in such a short time is more than possible. 

Looking for a new role? i-teachers can help you!

At i-teachers, we aim to support you and allow you to explore teaching roles with our ‘Step into Teaching’ programme to support all graduate roles in education. Our experienced education consultants will place you in a paid teaching assistant position that is perfectly suited to your skill set, in a school that suits your personality. We believe that practical experience is invaluable and learning from teaching experts is key. On your ‘step into teaching’ programme you will get to experience the life of a teacher or teaching assistant, and truly impact the lives of pupils, whilst in a fully supportive environment. It is fantastic work experience both for your own personal development as well as for your CV, and you can earn whilst you learn!

Take a look at some of our current Graduate Teaching Assistant roles now, or contact us for more information!