When is the Best Time to Address Classroom Behavior?

behavior management classroom expectations classroom management heart centered classroom
When is the Best Time to Address Classroom Behavior?

Learning how to confidently handle behavior in your classroom is one of the most important skills a teacher can develop.

Behavior challenges – not following directions , using unkind words and language, work refusal – can keep your entire class from learning, connecting, and enjoying being at school. 

To keep everyone on track and decrease challenging behaviors, it’s important that you learn when to address classroom behavior and when to wait for a better moment. 

Let’s work through different scenarios together to give you a clear understanding of when to correct students and when to hold off.

Just remember – serious classroom behavior should always be addressed. It’s just a matter of finding the right time for you and your students.

Why do you need to address classroom behavior?

As a heart-centered teacher, you set clear expectations for your students when they are in your classroom. If you set expectations but fail to uphold them – by addressing behavior and redirecting students when they need to do something differently – you’re telling your students you don’t really expect them to follow through.

Consistently addressing classroom behavior helps you:

  • Model necessary social skills
  • Teach students how to respect one another and respect you
  • Establish a safe, supportive classroom
  • Create a positive learning environment

We know addressing behavior is important, but when we address that behavior also matters. Choose the wrong moment and it can have negative effects and even backfire!

When to avoid addressing classroom behavior

It may feel like you need to immediately correct a student the first time you notice they aren’t meeting your expectations, but this can quickly spiral out of control.

There are some specific scenarios in which you should hold off on redirecting or addressing the behavior.

During transition periods

Let’s say your class of first graders is in line walking down the hall to the cafeteria. You see one student talking when they are supposed to be silent. If you choose to stop the line and talk to the student about their behavior at the moment, you’re going to have an entire class of restless students waiting on you. The student who needs to hear the feedback will also be antsy to get to where they are headed and much less likely to pay attention to what you’re saying.

When emotions are high – for the student or you

No one can take feedback well or make important behavior changes when they are angry, frustrated, or feeling any other charged emotion. You are also unable to share meaningful feedback or help a student make important corrections when you’re feeling heated. Always avoid emotionally-charged exchanges if possible!

In front of the class

Even if a student acts out in front of the class, addressing their behavior in front of everyone can end up being so embarrassing the student is unable to learn from their mistake. Whenever possible, talk one-on-one with a student to address behavior concerns and have a private conversation about changes or improvements they need to make. 

You won’t be perfect at choosing the right moment to address classroom behavior, but being more intentional and careful about when you engage with your students about their behavior will lead to more effective, long-term success. 

Remember, you’re trying to help them learn how to do better, not trying to shame or punish. 

The best time to address classroom behavior

Just like with the scenarios of when to avoid addressing classroom behaviors, the “right” times won’t always be perfect either. 

But being intentional about when you choose to address classroom behavior will lead to better outcomes for your students and less frustration for you.

Safety first

No matter what is happening, if a student’s behavior puts them or another student in danger, you should always intervene immediately. You probably already know this, but it bears repeating. 

Get ahead of the problem

When you can proactively address behavior, it will lead to fewer issues and keep small problems small. This means recognizing and addressing small behaviors that lead to bigger problems before the behavior escalates. You can often pinpoint specific “small problems” that get out of hand for specific students and proactively address them in the moment.

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After a lesson

If you immediately address a behavior issue in the middle of a lesson, it’s easier for other students to lose focus and get off task, too. Waiting to speak with a student until a lesson is over or you’re ready to move on to something else will help you avoid interrupting important instruction time and give your student the space they need to really listen to what you have to say. 

In private

When you can sit down with a student, get on their level, make eye contact, and have a focused conversation – the student is able to pay attention without being embarrassed or distracted. It’s also easier for you to maintain control of your emotions and strike up a calm, helpful conversation when you don’t have to worry about managing other students at the same time. 

Addressing classroom behavior in the right moment will help your students learn from their mistakes and make better choices in the future!

Heart-centered classroom behavior practices

When you’re a heart-centered teacher, you do things differently. And that applies to addressing classroom behavior, too!

One heart-centered strategy to keep in mind is repairing relationships. If a student’s behavior harms or affects another student, we want to help them acknowledge the hurt and take appropriate steps to repair the damage. This can look like writing a letter to a friend, reflecting on their choices and how they affected others, and engaging in conversations about how they felt and how they think others might have felt in the moment. Click here to watch a video of a repair in action in our classroom.

We always want to start our interactions from a place of empathy, not punishment. The goal is to help your students learn and grow – not to make them suffer a punishment.

Collaboration and communication are the linchpin of the heart-centered classroom. That means involving other students, teachers, parents, and support staff in classroom behavior conversations and expectations. Everyone is on the same team!

Addressing behavior in a heart-centered classroom

Choosing the right moment, and avoiding unhelpful moments, to address classroom behavior will help your students learn and grow. It will also help you maintain a calm, steady demeanor instead of letting your anger or frustration take over.

Everyone wins when classroom behavior is addressed consistently, calmly, and in the right moment. 

What’s next? Download my Back to Basics Behavior Bootcamp Freebie!

My downloadable Behavior bootcamp mini-series will help you set clear expectations surrounding behavior to provide a foundation for a positive, consistent, heart-centered learning environment.

Included in this pack are:

  • 7 one pager mini-lessons on each core behavior
  • 7 activities that help reinforce the core behavior being taught

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