Bahaviour Management: How to Stop a School Yard Fight

The truth of the matter is that sometimes you are going to be confronted with a disagreement between students. This can happen within metres of a teacher.
Here are simple strategies that (usually) work.
If an important goal is for our students to treat each other with respect, then the responsibility for modelling respectful communication is on you. Words can be very powerful. Be careful how you use them. Be sure that your words focus on the behaviour not on the student.
There is a very big difference between saying, “You are so lazy!” and, “You haven’t done your homework.”
Teacher remarks should be about behaviours. Students should know you value them even when you have to address areas that need improvement.
It is important to remember that some of our students will test us to see if we can maintain our respectful attitude even after they push our buttons. Never personalize students’ remarks or behaviour.
Always remember that often the child who acts like they need approval the least is the one who needs it the most.
In the event of a major conflict, try these strategies.
Firstly, DISTRACT students from hurting or hitting – what ever is occurring. This might be a whistle or calling out. (Water on the fighting dogs!).
The aim is to get the offenders to focus on you, not each other. (“I’m here gentlemen/ladies. Look at me!” – repeat this calmly.).
If you can use humour, now is a good time to apply it. If not – DON’T.
Never get in the middle no matter how big you are.
Secondly, DIFFUSE the anger by NOT being angry yourself. (Riots develop when both sides are angry.)
Avoid shouting or panicking. Be calm – at least sound calm.
Keep your directions short and clear. Never give more than ONE direction at a time. “Bill, thanks for standing over there. John, thanks for putting your hands down.”
Repeat if necessary but do not change the directions. “OK. Let’s sit down and face opposite directions.”
Having students sit on the ground really has a calming effect. (Watch what NYPD do). and then handcuff them to the nearest pole.
Thirdly, DISPERSE. You only need the offenders. Chase the watchers away. (Move on citizens. Nothing to see here)
The next step depends on your level of authority. If you are comfortable dealing with the offenders at this point, then do it. I suggest if you are a relief teacher you probably need to pass the offenders over to some one.
Now… that is another article!

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