Behaviour management is the
proverbial during university education degrees. The lecturers are confident that you’ll figure it out for yourself when you’re on prac. On prac, the supervisors handle all of the obstinate learners for you, while you die of shame in front of them. The Teacher Instruction literature guilts you into believing that if the students are misbehaving, then your educational practice is unsound. The Inspirational Teacher literature is not worth consulting when it comes to student discipline. It contains more verbose imagery and orchestrated catharses than poorly-written erotica.The maxim referenced by most of them is: “The only behaviour you can manage in the classroom is your own”.
I do manage my own behaviour. I enact coping mechanisms to prevent myself from physically harming the students or other staff members. This behaviour management approach protects my career, and prevents episodes from being exacerbated, but it does not improve the behaviour of my students in that instant. When I go home, I have to enact further strategies to ensure that I can still interact with other humans.
Excuse me while I disembowel this orc to release my frustration and carnal rage.
When it’s your turn to manage behaviour for the first time in first year, you have to decide where you’ll draw the line, and you have to make constant judgements about when a kid is playing you and when they’re being sincere. Sometimes, you will be wrong, and most of the time, you will be accused of favouring a student who you like more.
News flash: I tend to dislike students who lie to me, swear at me, physically threaten me and refuse to participate in my classes. Students who wait for instructions to be given so that they know how to do the wrong thing incur my wrath. It is therefore nonsensical for a student being disciplined for any of the above behaviours to complain that students doing the right thing are not being given punishments.
Nonsensical is what teenagers do best.
If anybody wants to talk to me, or ask me to do something: tough. I’ll be sitting at my desk plugged into a musical paradise working by myself.
There are also instances when the students are very clearly managing your behaviour, and you don’t have the emotional energy to stop it from happening.
“We’re not going outside, we’re too tired. If you take us out there, we will run away from you and make you chase us. Go back to your staffroom and get us a DVD!”
Seniors are the professionals when it comes to manipulating me. Homework extensions can be easily granted and excursions can also be wheedled out of me for the price of smiles and consolations and the promise of ‘a posse’ during playground duty.
I don’t care what we eat for dinner, in fact, I think I might be too tired to chew. I change my vote to soup or coffee.
I find it most difficult to manage my own behaviour when there are spiders in the classroom and when I am undertaking playground duty. During Winter, a huntsman spider took up residence above the doorframe of my lab. The first group of students to come through that door after the huntsman moved in were Year 12 Biologists coming to school for a study day. When they noticed him, they screamed and ran to the opposite corner of the room. They all tried to stand on tables and chairs and there were shouts of “Miss! Miss! Kill it now!” I REALLY wanted to be among those standing on chairs. There were no other staff members around because they were at home for the holidays, so I looked for my male biologists. They were cringing behind the girls, covering their heads. I found some adrenaline somewhere and by standing on a lab bench, I was able to sweep the offending creature into a beaker with a dustpan and brush. This did not curb the bloodlust of my class, so I had to spray the beaker full of insecticide and watch the spider jerking as though subjected to the cruciatus curse.
Student/teacher interactions during class:
Student/Teacher interactions during playground duty:
During recess and lunch, you again have to decide what level of behaviour you will demand from the students and then enforce it. The most frustrating part of playground duty is when the executive members of staff do not support your decisions or follow up the reports you give to them.
Irritated and enraged to the point of tears after dealing with students, I have no wish to engage in an argument with you, my colleague. If you provoke one, you will not get sane or stable answers. My sarcasm and flippancy is designed to evoke the same feelings inside of you as the feelings that are inside of me. I will also retaliate at a later date by pulling a prank on you.
You have to carefully balance managing your behaviour and de-stressing. Too much either way will undermine your professionalism or cause your teacher identity to absorb your everyday alter-ego.