Over the next few weeks however, I did put more norms into place that were adhered to consistently. These involved routines like shake breaks – where the children get up and dance to music for a minute after every period (of 55 minutes), and expected behaviours like quietening down when anyone holds up the “silent fox” hand symbol, and waiting for the assigned monitors to give out and collect sheets or books. These routines in the classroom definitely reduced behavioural issues, and my students now know exactly what is expected of them in any situation – be it break time, class time or free time after finishing their work. I have also seen that the academic progress of most students has improved from the beginning of the second term. To check on this, I used the previous teacher’s colour-coded class list. The children were coded a particular colour depending on their academic ability. As the term progressed, I found more children had moved from the lower ability group upwards to meet class expectations. I do believe a lot of this has to do with the fact that the classroom was now more effective than previously. An effective classroom runs smoothly, reducing confusion, and so maximizes student learning (Evertson & Poole, 2003). Research also supports the statement that teaching and enforcing rules and procedures consistently across time increases student academic achievement and task engagement (Evertson, 1985; 1989; Evertson & Emmer, 1982; Johnson, Stoner, & Green, 1996).
Research suggests that students both want and need teachers to demonstrate authority by setting realistic academic and behavioral expectations (Brophy, 1998). This short exercise helped my students to understand what kind of classroom I expected, and outlined specific behaviours that were acceptable or unacceptable in the classroom. I did realise later on that I was not very regular or immediate with following the logical consequences we had set in order to appease the students since I was still new to them. In retrospect, had I followed the consequences more regularly, I may have avoided any and all behavioural issues that followed. My inconsistency could have been viewed by the students as a lack of commitment on my behalf to the expected behaviours or led them to think that my expecations were not serious (Evertson & Poole, 2003).