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Acceptable behaviour in the classroom

A free professional blog to support English teachers


The classroom should be set up for learning and this includes the behaviour and attitude of the students and educators (yes, even educators). By clearly defining and upholding acceptable behaviour, we can establish a foundation for effective teaching and learning, while also instilling valuable lessons that extend outside of the classroom.


What is acceptable behaviour in the classroom?

A positive classroom environment starts with the teacher. It is important that we, as educators, start by defining what is acceptable behaviour in the classroom. Naturally, acceptable behaviour will look slightly different to everyone but the basic principles remain the same. Common sense tells us that behaviour that disrupts a classroom and disrupts the learning of others is not acceptable. Acceptable behaviour in the classroom encompasses a wide range of qualities like respect, paying attention, cooperating with others, listening when others are speaking, not talking out of turn and taking responsibility for yourself. 


The Importance of defining acceptable behaviour

Clear behavioural expectations set the tone for the class, making it easier for both teachers and students to learn and communicate. By establishing these guidelines and being consistent, teachers create a safe space for students to express their thoughts, ask questions, and work together with their fellow students without worrying about being judged or interrupted.


Think about your approach

When introducing acceptable behaviour to students, it is important to think about your approach. Begin by explaining why these guidelines are important. Help students understand that mutual respect and a supportive environment are essential for effective learning. Model the behaviour you expect from your students, talk to them with respect, listen to what they have to say without interruption or judgement and remember, consistency is key.


Examples of acceptable behaviour in the classroom

  1. Active Listening: Encourage students to listen when other students or the teacher is speaking. This demonstrates respect for the speaker and ensures that important information is not missed.
  2. Respectful Communication: Teach your students to express their opinions and disagreements respectfully. Help them to use positive language that promotes healthy discussions rather than negative or hurtful arguments.
  3. Be on time: Highlight the importance of arriving on time to class. This will help them understand good time management, which is important in a future career. It also minimises disruptions for everyone in the classroom.
  4. Cooperation and Collaboration:  Encourage your students to work together on group projects and support each other's learning, the importance of using positive language and no judgement is key here.


Addressing Challenges

Expect bumps along the way. A lesson without some disruption, particularly with very young children is to be expected. Some students might struggle with certain aspects of acceptable behaviour. Remember, all behaviour is communication, so rather than using punishment consider this a teaching moment. Engage the student in a one-on-one conversation try to understand any underlying issues and offer guidance on how to improve.


Positive Reinforcement

While it's important to address unacceptable behaviour, positive reinforcement for using acceptable behaviour in the classroom can be effective. Praise students when they demonstrate qualities like respect, responsibility, and cooperation. This reinforces their understanding of what is expected and encourages them to continue using this behaviour.


If you would like more resources on acceptable behaviour in the classroom and how to enforce it be sure to have a look at our hand-picked resources here and here

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Written by Rebecca Sparling


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