Positive behaviour for learning

Adam Speight

Award-winning teacher Adam Speight is a Middle Leader in a secondary school in South Wales and also works as an FE lecturer specialising in ICT and Computer Science. Aside from Adam's teaching commitments he also runs his own education consultancy business - Mr Speight Consultancy and since qualifying as a teacher in 2011, he has worked in both Wales and England in the state and independent sectors in a variety of roles. He is always keen to share his ideas and is a frequent educational writer and speaker. Adam is always looking for new, innovative teaching ideas, so that no learner ever gets left behind.

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A student’s behaviour in the classroom can be determined by a whole host of different factors, and their relationship with you as their classroom teacher is fundamentally the most important factor. However, in order to get good behaviour in a classroom with an individual, a lot more is needed than just sanctions and high expectations. This is where positive behaviour for learning comes in to play.

Positive behaviour for learning is all about working with your students; it is not about trying to change them overnight, but working with what you’ve got and trying to turn any negative behaviour into positive behaviour. In order to do this as a teacher, you need to invest time in getting to know your students and, most importantly, work out what makes them tick. Once you know what makes your students tick, then you can then employ a series of different techniques in order to ensure positive behaviour for learning can take place.

Positive behaviour for learning in my classroom can take many different forms. However, I always try to ensure that whatever strategy I use is universal so that it can be used with all of the different age ranges which I teach. My rationale behind this approach is based on the view that all students are equal, and should therefore have the opportunity to be treated as equals. The strategies which I use in order to ensure positive behaviour for learning takes place in my classroom are constantly changing. However this article is now going to focus upon some of the best strategies which I’ve used up until now in my teaching career.

Mr Speight’s Wall of Fame

Students in my lessons are always encouraged to try and do something different in order to impress me. If a student does something which impresses me, in order to celebrate success their name gets to go up on a huge board in an area which all students and staff can see.

In order to make this scheme worthwhile to the student, the student gets to write their name on a star and this star goes up on the Wall of Fame; the student immediately takes ownership and pride of their achievement. A student can only go on the Wall of Fame once, and that place has to be earnt and not just given to the student. By using this scheme with all of the different classes I teach, my students immediately get to see there is nothing wrong with going on this board, and as such it helps to create a positive mindset within the minds of the students which I am teaching.

Star of the Week

When devising an idea in order to instil positive behaviour for learning, I often look at what teachers in the primary sector do in order to reward their students. This is because, at this particular age range, students are most acceptable to learning. Therefore, by implementing a scheme students are used to, it will help to engage them; the scheme can even be implemented with a bit of humour in order to encourage and get them involved.

With this scheme I use certificates, just like the ones which were used in primary school in order to make the students laugh and smile about their achievements. Each student who is Star of the Week gets a certificate to keep and a copy of that certificate also gets displayed in my classroom for a period of time. As such, the student is given something tangible in order to reward them for their success.

Pound Shop Prize Board

Each year, in order to get my year eleven students to achieve their target grades, I implement a very simple but effective scheme. This scheme works very simply, by the fact that all of my students have to select an item from the Pound Shop which they would like me to purchase for them. I only purchase this item providing they achieve their target grade and so far, in my teaching career, all of my year eleven students have achieved their target grades! I believe that this has happened because this scheme has given all of my students a tangible goal to focus upon, and by investing my own time and money it shows to my students that I really believe in them and gives them something which they will always remember.


Biscuit Fridays

As much I impose strict behaviour standards in my classroom, sometimes a unique and very different strategy is needed in order to fully engage a class. Biscuit Fridays work very simply, whereby at the start of a lesson I will get a class to set themselves some specific targets for the lesson, in terms of behaviour and academic attainment.

If the class then achieves those targets, they are rewarded in the following lesson with a packet of biscuits to share. However, they don’t just get given the biscuits; they have to earn them in that following lesson as well. This scheme, I find, works really well with tougher classes who appreciate a quick tangible reward which they can get their hands on, and at the same time it helps to break down barriers so that positive relationships can be formed.

In conclusion, these are just a few of the schemes which I’ve used so far in my teaching career. I personally believe that the key to success for each of these schemes is that they’re devised with my students, and used at different times so that learning doesn’t become predictable. Therefore, students have many ways in which they can be rewarded for their efforts. Students always smile with my schemes, and that is because they are always given something tangible to focus upon, something which fully engages them and is achievable to them as an individual.

How do you go about making the most of good vibes in the classroom? Let us know in the comments.

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