Prac Teaching Survival Tips

The teaching relationship is based on trust and respect. This atmosphere is not easy to create in the short time available to you especially when students know you are a 'student' yourself. The fear most commonly expressed by student teachers is that they will not be able to control their class.

'Class control' is not an end in itself. It is the creation of a learning environment that is important. In different circumstances the learning environment may be a totally silent classroom or the busy, bustling group activity session. So if you are worried, you are not alone. In reality, classroom management is just another one of the skills that you will gain with training and experience.

These tips will help you to stay on top:

  • Use your pre-visit to discover which children have behavioural/and or learning difficulties- talking with the class teacher about individual children.
  • Ensure quiet, orderly entry to classroom, not only to set the tone for the lesson, but for reasons of safety;
  • Have realistic expectations of your students, and be organised and methodical.Use a seating plan to keep conflicting children apart;
  • Start with tight control. Relaxation can follow when you get to know your class(es). It is much more difficult to regain control after a 'laid-back' start;
  • Use a clear speaking voice with sufficient volume to be heard at the back of the class, but do not speak more loudly than is necessary and control your pace of speaking;
  • Always face the students whilst you speak. If you are writing on the whiteboard/electronic board, cease and turn to address the students when making explanations;
  • Ensure that your explanations are clear, and seek feedback from students to ensure that you have been understood;
  • Do not talk for an excessive period of time without some form of student activity;
  • Avoid the development of unconscious mannerisms and oft-repeated phrases;
  • The most effective form of discipline is self-discipline motivated by interest and a sense of purpose. However, this is not always possible to create in every student and it therefore becomes necessary to protect the education of the majority of students from that small minority whose disruption affects their own and their classmates' education;
  • Be sure that you know the disciplinary code of the school and how you are to use the sanctions available;
  • Try, as far as possible, to contain any problem situation within the sanctions available to you and avoid at all costs a confrontational situation which can undermine your credibility by forcing you to back down;
  • Any matter which you cannot resolve, within the sanctions available to you, refer to the appropriate member of the teaching staff;
  • At all times be fair and, most important of all, be consistent with sanctions;
  • Do not concentrate on the negative side of conduct and performance. Where possible highlight good work and good conduct; If you need to criticise bad behaviour, make sure that it is the child's actions that you comment upon, not the child him/herself.
  • Remember that we all respond better to praise, encouragement and fairness than to criticism and doubt.
  • Performance must always be related to ability. Therefore, praise not only good work but also substantial effort;
  • Do not criticise a student for making an honest mistake;
  • Make sure you follow up any work you have set. The best motivation for students to produce correct, neat and punctual work is for that work to be promptly and neatly marked and for praise to be given whenever possible.
  • Try to understand why an incident of poor behaviour has occurred; and how you can prevent it in the future.
  • Avoid labelling or targeting any one child for repeated sanctions, unless absolutely unavoidable.
  • Make sanctions reasonable and avoid setting extra work as punishment/detention, as this can convey the wrong messages.
  • If you want to impose a detention, always consult with the class teacher and make sure you follow school policy.
  • Corporal punishment is not allowed in government schools.
  • Try not to physically restraint any student - it could be construed by the student as an assault. If you have to restrain a student, you should do so only to prevent harm to others or to the student him/herself, to prevent damage to property. Make a note of the incident and how you dealt with it. Tell the teacher responsible for the class as soon as practicably possible of any incident.
  • If all else fails and you start to feel desperate - ask for help, either from your teacher-tutor, the Teachers Federation school representative or a trusted colleague.

Personal presentation

Although personal appearance has little to do with intellectual or moral qualities, to school students (and some teachers) an eccentric mode of dress or an excessively casual appearance can imply acceptance of lower standards. A 'smart' appearance will therefore enhance your chances of obtaining good standards of both work and behaviour from your students. A good guideline is to study the dress habits of the staff of the school and to dress to just above what appears to be the accepted norm.