Working as a primary school teacher in England I've discovered the secret to staying out of trouble in class is letting the teacher get on with teaching, and the other students get on with learning. If the behavior of an individual disrupts teaching or learning, trouble will no doubt ensue.
Teachers understand that every child in a class is working at their own level, both in terms of behavior and academic ability. Any student that consistently tries hard to improve themselves will stay in the teacher's good book. Teachers love effort.
There is great pressure on teachers to improve the grades of their students, and barely enough lesson time to cover the curriculum. Teachers find it very frustrating to waste this valuable learning time dealing with petty disagreements and inappropriate behavior.
To help the children in my class know exactly what I expect from them I have six 'Golden Rules', which if followed, ensure students stay out of trouble.
'Never put yourself or others in danger.'
Everyone, including staff, have a right to feel safe in school. It is impossible for anyone to learn effectively if this basic human requirement isn't met.
'Respect yourself, others and the school.'
A little care and consideration for the property and feelings of others can stop many potential problems from happening.
'Always empty your hands and sit in silence when the teacher is talking.'
It is vital that everyone in a class has the chance to listen carefully to key parts of a lesson.
'Always work quietly unless you have been asked not to.'
Although it is important to give children opportunities to work in groups and discuss topics, they must understand how to work sensibly without distracting others. Chatting instead of working is responsible for many unfinished pieces of work and lessons overrunning.
'Always put your hand up when you want to speak.'
With more than thirty people in a room no-one would get heard if everyone spoke at once. Teachers often direct specific questions to certain students or groups to test their understanding, and don't appreciate answers being called out from across the other side of the room.
'Always stay in your chair unless you have asked for permission to get up.'
Classrooms can be dangerous places with chair legs to trip over and desk corners to bang heads on, not to mention the distraction of people wandering around.
Students should also remember that there are several benefits to behaving well in class. Teachers are much more likely to plan more fun, interesting or practical lessons if they can trust the class to behave appropriately. It is usually the most enjoyable lessons, like art, music or P.E. that get scrapped if extra time is needed to complete the work for the more mundane academic subjects.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of all is that if students behave well they will learn more to help them achieve their goals in later life.
Rather than just trying to stay out of trouble, why not strive for excellence? Teachers really like it when students go the extra mile to help or show kindness to others, make positive contributions to class discussions, try to answer questions even if unsure about the answer and ask for help when they need it.