Your lesson starts outside your class! It’s now your opportunity to start the process of gaining respect from your students, getting to know them, and informing them regarding your expectations.
This is an approach that will help form the backbone of your teaching tactics for managing secondary school behaviour. Not only will it help facilitate you in gaining silence and getting your students attention but implementing a student meet and greet will gain you the respect of your class in a short time span.
So! It's your first day in a new school! What now?!
Get yourself prepared and ensure that you're stood at your door prior to anyone arriving. As your students arrive, ask them all in a calm but authoritative voice to line up against the wall outside the classroom.
"Remember, they are watching and waiting to see how you deal with them."
It is a given that they will talk amongst themselves - you're a new face and a new teacher to figure out after all! It is now up to you to raise your hand and inform them that when you do this you expect them to come to silence. In other words if you raise your hand, they too need to raise their hands and focus on you.
Awkward?! Quite possibly. Embrace it as this is your opportunity to make a positive impact. Remember, they are watching and waiting to see how you deal with them.
Some of the group will pick this up straight away, others may feel awkward whilst some will push their luck and just be downright mischievous!
You may have to practice this more than once before letting the students into your class – if they will not come to order outside for you then it is unlikely they will inside the classroom.
Persevere: it does work. Once the students respond to you putting your hand up and they focus on you, quietly explain to them that your expectation both inside and outside the classroom is that when you put your hand up they need to do the same and focus on you without you having to speak at all.
If you consistently repeat this then your students will start to respond (you may need to reinforce your expectations from time to time if some are not responding in a time). This is an important tactic for attention as you should never need to shout over them, helping to prevent further arguments and disruption within the classroom.
By doing this, you are working towards whole school behaviour by being visible and on the corridor at a prime time.
Now that you are happy with the group and have informed them about your expectations when entering the classroom, your next step is perhaps implementing a seating plan. If they do not enter and follow your expectations, do not shout or get frustrated. Simply raise your hand to get their attention, quietly ask them to line up outside again and repeat the process.
"Study student behaviour, good and bad so that you get an idea of peer group dynamics or lone students."
What else can you learn at meet and greet? Study student behaviour, good and bad so that you get an idea of peer group dynamics or lone students. You don’t need to use this information straight away, it is the start of the process and will help in other decisions you make such as seating plan development.
If you discover a student who is clearly very upset, ensure that you speak with them when the others have entered the room aligning your care in conjunction with the schools' safeguarding (you need to know the school system to get them to pastoral if that is what is needed.)
By doing so, you will have already started to build a respectful relationship with this student as you have avoided making them feel embarrassed by dealing with them away from other students. By showing empathy and demonstrated knowledge of school procedures, you have identified yourself as an approachable authority figure.
Having a conversation away from the entire class, means you are able to identify and pinpoint any students that you need to talk to regarding student behaviour and whether parent intervention is needed.
Treat “meet & greet” as the start of your lesson – get off to a great start.
About our Community Expert
Former Detective Inspector
Community expert and former Detective Inspector, Paul Raynor has direct experience in teaching educators how to better manage behaviour within secondary education. He is an expert in his field.