One of the hardest things you’ll deal with as a teacher is getting compliance from your students. Students have different energy levels, backgrounds, and personalities and all of those will come into conflict with your behavior compliance efforts.
Here are just a few compliance strategies you can use in your classroom. These strategies might seem trivial and insignificant, but small tweaks can have big changes.
1. Speak Quietly, don’t yell across the room.
The best way to get your students to do something is to model it for them. When you speak quietly to students rather than yelling, you accomplish two things.
One, you make situations less stressful. Often, when we speak louder it can be misconstrued as we’re yelling or angry. By speaking quietly you make it clear to your students that you’re not angry, just being stern. You also capture their attention more than you would by yelling.
Two, you’re modeling an appropriate classroom and conflict volume to your students. If your students see you being quiet when giving a directive, they can mimic this too.
2. Give them time and space to comply
Giving your students time and space to comply is critical. You value your personal spaces and so do students. When we’re put into stressful situations, we can feel cornered or trapped when someone is standing right over us. This makes it harder for us to comply with what’s being asked, even when we fully intend to!
Giving your students time to comply with an action is also important. In stressful or tense situations your brain can work on overdrive. Sometimes all you need is a moment or two to reflect, collect your thoughts, before complying with an instruction.
3. Give them a “do” command, not a “don’t”
If one of your students (or all of your students) are talking too much, sometimes it helps to say something like “get out your book and turn to page 37.” We respond better to neutral “do” commands than we do to aggressive “don’t” commands.
By saying “stop talking” you can come off as too forceful, pushing your students away and causing them to have a gut-reaction of “I’m not going to listen.” However, asking them to open their books is a neutral command that doesn’t immediately signal to a student “hey I’m doing something wrong” but rather refocuses their attention elsewhere.
4. Don’t ask questions when you’re giving a directive.
This one seems so simple but it’s really effective! When phrasing directives as questions you give students an opportunity to say “no” and then you’re stuck. Instead of saying “would you like to start math?” Say, “It’s time to start your math.”
5. Give one direction at a time.
A lot of your students will be great at taking multiple directions at once. However, a good number of them won’t be. Sometimes students just get overwhelmed with too many requests at once and don’t know where to start. Make it easier for your students by breaking it down for them.
By breaking down your directive into multiple directives you give your students more chances to be successful and multiple times for you to give them positive feedback!