Behavioural Management in the Classroom: Student Centred Approach

4 mins read
Rozalyn Blake

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”  – Benjamin Franklin

By increasing student agency in your classroom management strategies, you can increase student motivation to participate in your classroom in a positive and safe manner.

  1. Allow Student Involvement in Setting the Rules
  2. Assign Students Roles in the Classroom
  3. Involve Students in Marking Rubric Design
  4. Write Group Contracts
  5. Use Peer Assessment
  6. Create Learning Experiences That Involve the Community
  7. Allow the Use of Modern Technology in The Classroom
  8. Allow Students to Give Feedback in Different Ways


1. Allow Student Involvement in Setting the Rules

Sometimes, the school rules we keep telling our students to follow can be ambiguous and lead to problems in the classroom. Negotiating a set of rules and expected behaviour with your students can increase learner engagement and accountability.

Giving your students a say when setting behavioural expectations is beneficial because it helps to:

  • Empower them
  • Make them feel valued
  • Increase motivation
  • Make expectations clearer
  • Show the power of collaboration
  • Create a safe learning environment

While they discuss their ideas and consider the needs of their classmates, your students are also implicitly learning the importance of diversity and respect for different opinions in a broader community sense.

2. Assign Student Roles in the Classroom

“The only way for children to learn responsibility is to have responsibility.” Chip Wood.

Actively increasing your students’ responsibilities for their classroom can instil a sense of pride and ownership in looking after school property.

Establishing more inclusive attitudes towards everyday classroom procedures can involve:

  • Assigning classroom jobs
  • Explaining the benefits
  • Negotiating a roster
  • Including all students
  • Demonstrating assigned tasks
  • Rotating jobs
  • Tweaking jobs as needed
  • Reinforcing student/class success

The benefits can include saving you time, promoting teamwork, and boosting incentive for students to peer-police problems like littering and vandalising equipment.

3. Involve Students in Marking Rubric Design

When students fail to see the point or when their abilities are not valued, they will feel disengaged in the classroom and act out. Research suggests that allowing student input in to marking criteria for an assessment helps to boost confidence and increase overall marks.

Effectively designing marking rubrics encourages student achievement by:

  • Catering for the diversity of learners
  • Asking students to reflect on learning
  • Setting clear and achievable goals
  • Setting clear criteria for success
  • Clarifying assessment expectations
  • Providing fast, quality feedback
  • Motivating achievement of personally set goals

As your students succeed through increased agency in the learning process, they will feel valued and their self-esteem will grow.

4. Write Group Contracts

You know there are many benefits of assigning your students group work. When group work is assessable, have each group devise a group contract that you and each member will sign before work commences.

Ask students to detail:

  • Group member names including what each member does and when things are due.
  • Expectations of members including what happens when a member doesn’t contribute or performs below set goals.
  • Thoughts on the process including individual and group reflection.

Providing copies of the contracts to students, parents, and caregivers to encourage a student’s participation in group activities by:

  • Increasing ownership of their learning
  • Reflecting on their past experiences
  • Communicating their ideas and expectations
  • Being accountable for their work
  • Meeting group expectations
  • Submitting work on time

You will also have documented proof to show parents and principals of a student’s knowledge of expectations, criteria and due dates, and group commentary on their participation during group work activities.

5. Use Self and Peer Assessment

Studies show that using a variety of self-assessment and peer assessment strategies can motivate engagement, critical thinking, and learning in the classroom.

Self-assessment involves students:

  • Setting goals
  • Defining criteria
  • Self-correcting opportunities
  • Reflecting on learning

Peer assessment involves students:

  • Clarifying assessment criteria
  • Learning through giving feedback
  • Engaging in reflective comparison
  • Developing life skills

Through carefully structured practice, you can teach your students how to give and receive constructive feedback to their peers. With increasing student ownership, you can foster a learning environment where your need to step in with feedback and assistance is reduced.

6. Create Learning Experiences That Involve the Community

Educational researchers Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp found that “when schools, families and community groups work together to support learning, children tend to do better in school, stay in school longer and like school more.”

Bringing the community into your classroom could look like:

  • Inviting guest speakers
  • Students interviewing community members
  • Creating solutions to problems in their neighbourhoods
  • Promoting community events
  • Helping local charities
  • Voicing youth issues at council meetings

Seeing a real-world application for what they are learning promotes student engagement because there is apparent value in it. You can facilitate greater connectedness between the classroom and the community to help students understand their role in society and the need for cultural sensitivity and appreciation of diversity.

7. Allow the Use of Modern Technology in the Classroom

Teachers are increasingly integrating modern technology in the classroom to present information better and promote student involvement. This reflects the ever-evolving nature of the workplaces our students will enter after school (or even during school) and the skills that employers will be looking for.

Finding ways to integrate technology to actively increase engagement includes:

  • Allowing use of devices for schoolwork
  • Using apps and social media to complete activities
  • Setting up a virtual classroom
  • Creating podcasts, digital videos, and other multimedia
  • Setting assessment tasks
  • Giving feedback

You can also use technology to keep a detailed track of a student’s progress allowing you to provide extra support when necessary.

8. Allow Students to Give Feedback in Different Ways

Part of a teacher’s reflective process involves asking our students for feedback on their education. Student feedback can provide us with insight in to how well their needs are being met so it is important that they are all given the opportunity to express themselves in a way they feel comfortable.

Encouraging opportunities for giving feedback can encompass a mix of:

  • Asking/fielding questions
  • Checking-in
  • Using questionnaires and surveys
  • Using an anonymous feedback box
  • Writing reflective journals
  • Facilitating peer feedback

It is important for you to clarify the purpose of feedback, to allow students to practice giving feedback, and finally—be brave—to be prepared to take on their feedback and make necessary changes. It can be confronting, but students will see that they’re valued in your classroom and this will create a more productive and happier learning environment.