Every classroom I've been in has rules. Some are phrased as a positive statement: "We are good listeners". Others are more clear cut: "Don't rock on your chair". Teachers view these as the backbone of their classroom. Their proverbial rod of iron, so to speak. In one class I went into they had a full display board of rules. Fifteen of them. In my opinion, that's way too many.
As an NQT, my main focus was to be a good teacher by ensuring my teaching 'happened'. I needed rules that allowed me to teach the lessons I'd planned. Nothing unusual about that. But the interesting thing was, one year, I didn't put up my class rules display (I had 7 rules on my display) and the strangest thing happened... The class did as I expected them to, without the big list of rules.
In my previous article I discussed ways of minimising misbehaviour and creating a positive classroom climate. But, like an English summer, even the most temperate lesson is prone to showers. The following tips are designed to help you prevent a drizzle of mischief becoming a deluge of disobedience.
Keep the lesson flowing. When dealing with misbehaviour, always start off with the least intrusive intervention possible. For example, a pupil is tapping a pencil whilst you are talking. He might be doing it absent- mindedly, or he might be trying to provoke a reaction. In either case, try ignoring it. (This is called “tactical ignoring”: you are making a positive choice to ignore the behaviour, not failing to act because you are unsure of what to do.) If the tapping doesn’t stop, point your gaze at the source of the noise or move towards it. That will usually be enough to get it to stop. Other low-level intervention techniques include asking a relevant question (which is often all that is needed to bring the pupil back on task), and using non-verbal signals - such as a finger to the lips or even just a raised eyebrow. These enable you to maintain the flow of your lesson and not distract other pupils while ensuring that the class knows you’re monitoring its behaviour. Responding too quickly or too aggressively to minor misdemeanours can leave pupils feeling aggrieved or humiliated – and faced with a choice between defying the teacher and losing face in front of peers, many will defy the teacher. The issue then escalates, the disruption is drawn out, and the lesson flow is interrupted.
Everyone knows the old adage “prevention is better than cure”. This is as true of classroom management as it is of anything else. Preventing disruption from occurring in the first place is far better than struggling to regain control when things have all gone pear-shaped.
As staff mentor, I was once asked by a newly-qualified teacher if he could come and observe one of my lessons. He wanted, he said, to see “How you deal with confrontation”. I told him he was welcome to come and see my lesson, but he was unlikely to see any confrontation because I tried hard to make sure it didn’t happen. Of course, the question he should have asked is “How do I avoid confrontation in the first place?”.
That’s it. As the meerkats say ‘simples’. If I catch every student doing something well, and reward them, then they do more of it. And it rubs off on the others. If I don’t believe in them, then they soon switch off. Does that sound like rocket science? No it doesn’t. But I’d like to see Brian Cox, Einstein and Steven Hawking get together and teach my year nine on a Friday afternoon! And no, it is not simply a positive outlook.
The trick is to work out what the secrets are to being a brilliant learner. Then, let your students into that little secret and be relentlessly consistent in spotting them doing ‘good things’. Don’t change what you teach but notice the students who persevere, ask for help or help someone else and praise them. Whatever you pay attention to, you will get more of. Put like that it sounds easy.
Driving efficiencies to provide real cost savings will be top of every secondary school Headteacher’s agenda in 2011. Managing and monitoring pupil behaviour is often administration heavy causing it to be a common time thief for both teachers and non-pastoral staff. An effective way of easing this burden is to implement a well-designed robust IT system that can record, monitor, analyse and manage pupil behaviour.
As teaching, learning and behaviour are inseparable issues in school, managing pupil behaviour efficiently is a core consideration for Headteachers. Without good order in the classroom, effective teaching cannot take place and pupils’ learning is inhibited. Even low-level disruption in the classroom is a significant source of stress for teachers. Poor behaviour, whatever the severity, impacts on every aspect of school life; from exam results to teacher and pupil wellbeing.
Effective and positive behaviour management is achievable in every UK secondary school, through the combination of a well-designed robust IT system and properly supported and trained teachers. Sounds like a simple strategy, but putting a software system in place that enables a school to record, monitor, analyse and manage pupil behaviour effectively can be problematic. This article discusses some of the key considerations when procuring and implementing an effective behaviour management IT system.
Teaching, learning and behaviour are inseparable issues in school. Without good order in the classroom, effective teaching cannot take place and pupils’ learning is inhibited. Even low-level disruption in the classroom is a significant source of stress for teachers. Poor behaviour, whatever the severity, impacts on every aspect of school life; from exam results to teacher and pupil wellbeing. As a result, managing pupil behaviour effectively is at the centre of a school’s core business.
Are some schools confusing behaviour modification with punishment? Many schools use the system of ‘on report’ for managing individual pupil’s behaviour. This can take several forms, but the most usual is a card or sheet with the day’s lessons in a grid and a space for the teacher to make a comment or mark a grade and sign. Often there will be some sort of target set for the day or week. Most schools will have several types of report, usually at increasing levels of staff seniority: Form Tutor Report, Head of Year Report, SLT or Head Teacher Report, for example. On report can be a very useful tool in modifying pupil behaviour, but I wonder to what extent some staff in schools just miss the point?