Whose job is it to manage student behaviour? This is a question asked by many tour guides. It is an important one because if children are not well managed, no learning occurs and tours become a stressful experience for all involved. It is important to remember that there are many variables which contribute to student behaviour and management. This blog will briefly look at a few of them and attempt to answer the question, whose job is it?
The first step in managing student behaviour is to limit opportunities for student misbehaviour. Do this by delivering an interactive programme and by identifying variables which may cause a problem. Boredom is one of the key factors contributing to student misbehaviour. Therefore alleviate boredom through engaging, interactive activities. Choose resources which are interesting and able to be used by students. If they can’t touch they will get frustrated. Consider: Is the space you’re planning to work in big enough? Is noise an issue? Will students get distracted?
Once you have planned your tours you need to get the teachers and parents on board. Before schools visit send them out a letter detailing what you expect of them and the students in regards to behaviour and behaviour management. If you believe, like I do, that the role of the guide is to deliver the programme, not discipline the students, tell teachers this before they visit. This helps them prepare everyone before they arrive.
A meet and greet is also an important step in managing student behaviour. Before the day begins tell everyone how the day will run, when lunchtime is and other safety and housekeeping details. This will alleviate any student anxiety and help students, teachers and parent helpers organise and manage themselves and the students more effectively. Also tell everyone what you expect of them. Set expectations for student behaviour and tell parents and teachers again what you require of them. Sometimes parents and teachers need to know it is okay to intercede, so give them permission to do so by clearly, but politely telling them it is.
Finally here are some tips to help you control the masses during visits.
- Be organised, be prepared
- Establish expectations, boundaries and routines early i.e. ‘If you have a question put your hand up. Do not yell it out’.
- Use positive language. Say ‘you can do this’ rather than ‘you can’t do that’.
- Praise good behaviour.
- If you see inappropriate behaviour occurring try to catch someone being good and praise them. State clearly what they are doing that you like. For example, ‘I like the way you are sitting quietly and listening Mary. Well done’. Watch the ripple effect. This technique is particularly useful with the younger grades.
- Use a carrot. Say, ‘we have a few fun things to do today (give an example) that I will need to pick special students for. I will be looking for those that are doing the right thing’.
- Don’t waffle. Stick to the topic.
- If students are getting restless, quickly wrap up what you are doing and move on.
- Use age appropriate language. Higher grades can handle ‘bigger’ words and more complex definitions.
- Keep it simple.
- Be friendly but firm.
- If a student is constantly misbehaving ask them to sit near a parent or teacher for the rest of the tour. Ensure the parent knows it is their responsibility to help the student do the right thing.
- Relax and breathe.
So, whose job is it to manage student behaviour? The answer is guides, teachers, parents and students themselves. The trick is to be proactive, give teachers and parent’s permission to help, set expectations, limit opportunities for misbehaviour and make it fun!