Assertiveness is not saying the same thing over and over (the ‘broken record’) neither is it continually stepping into confrontations with students. We know that discussing ‘choices’ with students is an important part of managing behaviour. Being in control of the choices we make in our own behaviour is the foundation for assertiveness.
When you encounter students behaving inappropriately, be it in the classroom or around the school, there are many ways of acting assertively apart from intervening immediately. Enjoy the skill of stepping back and choosing which strategy to select. Do you:
- Record what you have seen and follow it up later?
- Speak very briefly to the student and arrange to meet later to discuss the behaviour?
- Provide an immediate sanction?
- Use non verbal signals to let the student know you have seen and noted the behaviour?
- Feign shock and surprise at the behaviour?
- Give the student a written or verbal warning?
- Move the conversation away from other students?
- Use humour to prevent escalation of the behaviour?
- Seek the support of colleagues nearby?
Selecting the strategy which you are going to employ is an assertive act. It also allows you to see the interaction for what it is – an adult teaching a child what appropriate behaviour is and that inappropriate behaviour has consequences.
By taking time to make a choice and vary your response to inappropriate behaviour you can:
- Control the number of interruptions to your teaching/day.
- Demonstrate your assertiveness to students.
- Remove your ’emotional buttons’ from display (‘Watch what Mr Adams does when I throw this…)
- Deal with behaviour away from other students
- Use the time you spend following up on incidents to begin building trust with the students