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10 Behavior Management Tips for High School Students

As an educator, you are tasked with creating an environment that is conducive to learning. How do you do that with a class full of hormonal and moody teenagers?

Don’t worry – it’s not the first time someone has asked that question. Although there are numerous behavior management techniques out there, some tactics continue to show success time and again.

What are these behavior management tips? How can you employ them in your classroom? Read on to find out.  

1. Don’t Compare

As tempting as it may be to single out students who are modeling desired behaviors, don’t do it! It will likely result in more harm than good. 

Comparing students to each other often breeds animosity and jealousy between them. In many instances, it causes the model student to feel embarrassed and stop displaying the praised behavior. Instead, make general observations and praises about desired behaviors.  

2. Discuss Consequences

Be transparent with consequences. Explain the reasons behind the ramifications for your students’ actions and what you hope they’ll learn from it. One easy way to do this is by coming up with repercussions together. 

Do this either as a whole class or on an individual basis. Allowing your students to be a part of the decision-making makes them feel like their opinions matter. Students are also more likely to face consequences without protest when they play an integral role in designing them.

3. Be Authoritative, Not Authoritarian

These words are more commonly associated with parenting styles. However, they apply to education as well. In this 2018 study, researchers found that schools with authoritative climates had less bullying and antisocial behaviors.  

Responsibility for creating an authoritative atmosphere doesn’t stop with the teachers. Principals, school counselors, psychologists, and special education directors all play a role. Want to keep up with the latest developments in classroom behavior management? Check out our free monthly webinars to learn about a variety of behavior management topics.

4. Avoid Assumptions

Disruptive behaviors rarely develop without cause. In most cases, they are born out of an emotional need that is not being met. Rather than make assumptions about the student or their behavior, consider the root of the issue. 

Are they having problems at home? Do they feel excluded by their classmates? Do they feel valued, appreciated, and validated? 

Practicing activities like the 5×5 assessment is a great way to start challenging your assumptions. It involves holistically thinking about five students for five minutes each day. Do this outside of class time, and make sure to rotate through your students so that you don’t leave anyone out. 

5. Focus on Relationship Building

Building positive relationships with your high school students is essential to effective behavior management. Research shows, students who have quality relationships with their teachers have better attitudes towards education. 

Teenage students learn better when you take the time to get to know them. Listen to and validate their concerns and care about their interests, emotions, and well-being. 

Solid relationships are even more essential when working with students who have special needs. 

6. Treat Them Like Adults

You must earn your students’ respect before they respect you. This doesn’t happen by treating them like children, even though they might act like them. 

When interacting with your students, avoid talking down to them. Be understanding of their struggles and pain points. Remember, navigating the road to adulthood is often confusing, frustrating, and difficult. 

By respecting their personal journeys, you establish a foundation for trust and mutual respect. This display of empathy has the power to decrease disruptive behaviors and reduce school suspension rates

7. Greet Your Students

Get up and greet your students at the door. Studies show that teachers who are proactive from the moment their students enter the room experience fewer behavioral disruptions throughout the day. 

Nothing about sitting in your chair and remaining passive makes your students feel motivated. Start the day off right by leaving your baggage at home and welcoming each student with warmth and encouragement. 

8. Be Clear About Expectations

This is one of the oldest behavior management techniques in the book. Establish clear rules from day one and keep important rules posted around the room throughout the year. Even in high school, students benefit from repetition and visual reminders.

9. Be Consistent

Ever heard the phrase consistency is key? This is absolutely true with behavior management systems. Let’s look at an example. 

Bob regularly breaks the “no phone” rule during class. Whenever you see him exhibit this behavior, you confiscate his phone until the end of class. One day you catch Jim, who is always well behaved, texting on his phone. 

A consistent teacher would take the device and put it on their desk next to Bob’s phone. However, many teachers respond by ignoring Jim’s behavior because he only did it once. This inconsistency sends the message that certain students are exempt from the rules and encourages other students to circumvent them.  

10. Set a Good Example

Model the behaviors you want to see in your students. If you don’t want your students to yell, don’t yell at your students. If you want your students to follow a rule, you need to follow it, too. 

Here is a classic example of modeling undesired behavior: 

Mr. Sanderson prohibits his students from being on their phones during class. However, every time students are assigned a silent activity, he sits at his desk and takes out his phone. By doing this, he is giving his students a free pass to break the rules.

Modeling good behavior also means taking ownership of your mistakes. Owning your missteps reinforces the idea that mistakes are okay. It also encourages students to take ownership of their errors in judgment. 

K-12 Behavior Management Techniques

Behavior management for high school students takes time and dedication. As you implement these strategies in your class, remember to cut yourself some slack. After all, in many ways, you’re also a student. 

If you’re struggling to manage your classrooms, these ten behavior management techniques are a great place to start. If you need more resources on developing behavior intervention plans, find out how we can help you create legally-defensible BIPs in under an hour.

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