Setting clear behavioural expectations with students is an important part of creating a productive learning environment, even for adult learners. While clear behavioural expectations in an engaging learning environment keeps most students on track, there are situations where you may need to address student behaviour.
Imagine you’ve got a class in front of you, and you’re setting the stage for positive classroom management: You’ve set clear expectations for behaviour, your guidelines are written and spoken, maybe you’ve led an exercise where students generate the classroom behaviour policy. You’ve covered all your bases, but still something happens in class. A student falls asleep, a cell phone goes off, side conversations happen during presentations, a student makes a rude outburst, or something else. We probably all have stories about ways we’ve addressed student misbehaviour, for better or for worse. Most of us are looking for tips to help us handle students who push the boundaries of good behaviour.
So, what do you do when a student pushes boundaries in class, or outright challenges your authority? In the Magna Commons 20-Minute Mentor, “What do I do when a student challenges my authority”? Ivan A Shibley Jr. PhD outlines a strategy to use in the moment to help de-escalate a situation, regain control, and uphold respect for yourself, the misbehaving student, and the other students in the class.
He advises you to WAIL. It stands for:
W – wait
A – assess
I – individualize
L – lighten the mood (if possible)
He explains that this strategy lets you pause to regain composure, and make a clear assessment of the situation before taking action. Sometimes that small pause can delay a reaction that would escalate the situation unnecessarily. By focusing on the individuals who are pushing the boundaries, you can respectfully target the behaviour, and hopefully be able to lighten the mood in the class to help get things back on track.
If you want to learn more about this, attend our workshop on Classroom Management on February 29th, or check out the 20-Minute Mentor on Magna Commons
Thanks for reading!