Low-level disruptive behaviour

Classroom management

Teachers can promote student learning and positive behaviour by using classroom management approaches that are consistent, inclusive and supportive, such as:

  • explicitly teaching expected behaviour and social emotional competence
  • acknowledging appropriate behaviours in multiple ways
  • using a continuum of strategies to respond to inappropriate behaviour
  • using data to monitor and adjust strategies.

Classroom management practices are based on specific theories of behaviour. It is important for teachers to understand the theoretical foundations that underpin their approaches in the classroom in order to cultivate environments where positive relationships, teaching and learning can thrive.

Learn more about classroom management theories and key theorists on classroom management.

Key considerations for effective classroom management

Approaches that address social-emotional learning are more effective than strategies that primarily focus on teacher behaviour or student behaviour alone.

Classroom management programs that are student-focused, strengths-based and proactive have been shown to have a positive impact on student behaviour. These programs include clear communication of expectations, explicit teaching and frequent acknowledgement of desired behaviours and timely responses to disruptive behaviour.

More information

Fact sheet Promoting positive behaviour (PDF 187.11KB).

Fact sheet Developing behaviour programs (PDF 154.82KB).

Fact sheet Kindergarten: setting up for success (PDF 136.45KB).

Fact sheet Positive class climate (PDF 145.25KB).

Fact sheet Incentives (PDF 142.93KB).

Classroom management resources on the Department's Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation site.

Tools and resources on the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) site.

Establishing a positive environment and having a well organised classroom helps students to focus on their learning.

Predictability and consistent routines helps to prevent anxiety and encourages pro-social behaviour, which provides more learning time. For organisational visit the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership positive learning environments.

Examples of what teachers can do to establish a positive classroom environment include:

  • preparing interesting and engaging lessons
  • arranging learning spaces ahead of time
  • having good transition strategies to move students in and out of the classroom and between classroom activities.

Learn more about mastering classroom transitions.

Learn more about sound routines.

It is important to establish and teach rules that communicate and maintain high expectations for positive behaviour in the classroom.

Rules are most effective when they are:

  • developed collaboratively and communicated widely
  • explicitly taught, modelled and reinforced
  • few in number (six or less)
  • stated positively and clearly
  • based in logic and easy to understand
  • displayed prominently and referred to regularly
  • aligned to clear consequences which are applied consistently.

Learn more about establishing classroom expectations for primary schools.

Clear and short instructions help students understand what they are expected to do.

Teachers use different strategies when giving instructions to students such as:

  • using verbal and non-verbal cues
  • following each instruction with a short pause to scan the room
  • phrasing instructions as a direction rather than a question
  • using a firm and measured voice
  • using positive language.

Learn more about explicit instruction in the classroom.

Appropriate student behaviour can be reinforced using non-verbal cues and by regularly acknowledging when students behave in ways you want to encourage.

Teachers can help promote a positive class environment where students feel welcome and comfortable by using positive body language. This includes body posture, facial expressions, voice modulation and using non-verbal cues to acknowledge students being on task. Learn more about effective body language in the classroom.

  • Descriptive encouraging can be used to show students what is expected of them, and to acknowledge or improve learning and behaviour. It includes describing exactly what you want to see and hear from students, for example ‘Well done. I like the way your group is working together on this project.’
  • Reinforcing positive behaviour may include having a reward system in place, with some kind of incentive such as using a star chart with agreed targets or cumulative house points. These types of systems are particularly effective when linked to a broader classroom or whole school system.

There is evidence that physical activities during lessons such as ‘brain break’ type activities can have short-term positive effects on students’ behaviour.

Professional learning

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Classroom Management Techniques. Incudes discussion questions and a five minute video of an assistant principal facilitating a practical workshop to increase teachers? knowledge and understanding of classroom management.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Manage Challenging Behaviour. Incudes discussion questions and a five minute video of a welfare coordinator leading a professional learning session on behaviour management principles and processes.

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership Transformative Classrooms. Incudes discussion questions and a four minute video of a classroom teacher exploring how teachers can create a learning environment characterised by well-paced lessons, explicit instructions, and response to individual learning needs and abilities.

Centre for Professional Learning Classroom management through effective teaching. The course provides participants with practical strategies and deeper understanding of the theory and practice of good management and good teaching.

Online Training Australia understanding personalised learning and support explores processes and strategies to support the additional learning and wellbeing needs of a wide range of students who require individual planning approaches.

Online Training Australia understanding and supporting student behaviour explores what is meant by difficult behaviour, how teacher practice can influence student behaviour and how positive classroom management practices support the learning and behaviour needs of all students.

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