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LMS

Politeness

Behaviour Management

Politeness

a guide for classroom teachers and teacher aides

Learning support officer supervising young students during a activity.

You may have noticed that many behaviour management techniques are very similar, often related or that they overlap in some way. They are quite often used in conjunction with each other. This particular technique is used alongside many others and is highly effective. People new to the profession often find it difficult to figure out how to be caring and supportive on the one hand, while simultaneously being confident and in-charge on the other. Politeness can help with this dilemma, especially for newly qualified teachers trying to find their feet.

Being polite is more of a rule of thumb than a technique – it’s very simple, effective and anyone can do it. Regardless of your tone, volume, technique or demeanour, always use polite and respectful language. There are several reasons for this. First, it’s just plain professional, and professional teachers should always address their clients (students) with respect. Second, it’s very difficult for students to argue with a very polite and respectful teacher – it’s even more difficult for students to escalate. Third, if a student complains to his or her parents or your boss, you can rely on about 25 witnesses who will attest that you were nothing but professional and polite, as always. Finally, using polite language shows the target student and their contemporaries that you are calm, confident and in full control. This in turn will help them to calm down and de-escalate. Be wary of insincerity however, and don’t go overboard.

People new to the profession often find it difficult to figure out how to be caring and supportive on the one hand, while simultaneously being confident and in-charge on the other.

Here are some of the ways you can use polite language:

  • Say ‘please’ when giving instructions.
  • Say ‘thank-you’ when students do what you ask.
  • Tell students you appreciate their efforts and compliance – ‘much appreciated’.
  • Use students’ first names regularly.
  • Use honorifics such as ‘Mr’, ‘Miss’ and Sir.
  • Use polite actions (hold open the door, pick things up etc.).
  • Apologise regularly (e.g. ‘sorry I am not feeling that well…’ or ‘sorry I am going to ask you to…’ or ‘sorry I went a bit overboard there’).
  • Don’t interrupt or talk over the top of students – let them speak if they have something to say.
  • Be honest – if you make mistakes or could have done things differently (e.g. overreact), say so and use it as a teachable moment.
  • Think before you speak – spend 5-10 seconds planning the best response, especially when stressed.

Hint: Being polite is an important element in building relationships with students and positive relationships have been shown to be paramount to students’ wellbeing and learning (Egeberg et al., 2018).

References:

Egeberg, H., & McConney, A. (2017;2018;). What do students believe about effective classroom management? A mixed-methods investigation in western Australian high schools. Australian Educational Researcher, 45(2), 195-216. https://doi:10.1007/s13384-017-0250-y

About the author

Image of the managing director of ITAC.

ADAM GREEN

Adam Green is an advisor to government, a registered teacher, an instructional designer and a #1 best selling author. He is completing a Doctor of Education and was previously head of department for one of the country’s largest SAER (students at educational risk) schools. Adam is managing director of ITAC, an accredited training provider for thousands of teacher aides every year.

Source: Behaviour Management Skills and Strategies for the Modern Classroom: 100+ research-based strategies for both novice and experienced practitioners.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to check his article for accuracy, information may be outdated, inaccurate or not relevant to you and your location/employer/contract. It is not intended as legal or professional advice. Users should seek expert advice such as by contacting the relevant education department, should make their own enquiries, and should not rely on any of the information provided.

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