It is well known that certain schools and pupils suffer significantly from issues associated with overall behaviour and the accepted norms within the school. The background to falling standards of behaviour is well documented lack of respect, poor parenting, lack of positive role models, and disengagement from the education system as a whole, resentment of being restricted and asked to comply with the schools expectations. All these and many more cause issues creating a negative spiral which reinforces the perception of school being pointless.

The role teacher’s play in arresting this decline with the full support of the school is fundamental to breaking the cycle. A single teacher within a school attempting to address the issue whilst courageous is going to struggle without the entire leadership team on the same page with overt consistent positive reinforcement from the entire leadership team.

Pointers to help with Behaviour:

Setting up the relationship:

Respect for pupils that seem to be doing all they can to undermine is demanding but essential. Looking beneath the pupils attempt to sabotage lessons what is driving them? There is always a reason, attempting to understand what that is with genuine compassion is an important step.

Typically the school will know some of what is driving the issue, overall the school investing time with the pupil to actively attempt to understand is a foundation block to setting up a relationship with the pupil. The knowledge of the issues once explored should be shared with colleagues so the relationship can be built based on understanding – if the pupil has started to share what is driving their resentment the relationship has the potential to build – if no effort is made by the teachers to understand then the issues will never be addressed and the prognosis is grim.

Always use a positive greeting:

A positive demeanour of the teacher including with the most difficult classes is important the initial greeting can go two ways uninspiring don’t bother, oh no this class again, or positive inspiriting we’re going to have a good lesson.

Try greeting the pupils at the door:

Certain pupils carry their resentment with them all day, every day, all week onwards. By simply acknowledging them at the door in a positive manner makes an impact, that pupil knows you are interested in them – that can make a massive difference alone here is a teacher that spoke to me before I’d even got into the classroom.

Know your pupils names – use sticky name labels if you are changing classes or schools daily:

Good idea to include the pupils name all the time in every conversation you have with them – this can be demanding for a supply teacher, sticky labels will help if the pupils are willing to participate in the process without too many alternative names being used.

Presence and leadership in the classroom is the key;

We all know when somebody is uncomfortable and children pick it up just as well if not better. Confidence and presence are essential, pupils want to be led and the teachers’ leadership and confidence is critical in managing the class.

Body Language
Body language is fundamental, we know that by crossing ones arms and sitting back you are closed off. Conversely a smile with eye contact when greeting pupils by name at the door makes a massive difference. The relaxed posture when moving around the class is very important too.

Moving around the Classroom
Moving around the classroom to engage all students demonstrates you are expecting their engagement in the topic; it shows your interest in them and that you are active, you want them to participate in this interesting item too.

Relaxed Posture
Holding a relaxed posture shows pupils that you are willing to hear what they have to say, are open to debate, are creating a learning environment. This can be enhanced by using nonverbal language such as pointing to congratulate engagement.

Resting your finger on your chin to show your interest in what a pupil is saying.

Research suggests that a person who moves from one foot to another with one hand in their pocket is more relaxed and approachable.

Choose your battles carefully

You have heard this many times “choose your battles” – it is so true in every walk of life as a parent, employer and teacher it holds true. With pupils attempting to sabotage the lesson forming instant alliances to destabilise the class for fun. It is really difficult to take that moment to step back and decide, is this the battle, is this on my terms, do I know what the outcome will be, do I know where this will go, how will the other pupils react, what are the options?

The bottom line is that one should never confront or shout, both these reactions give an audience to the problem and can accelerate an issue quickly.

It is much better to lower your voice or take the pupil quietly to one side and explain what you expect.

Behaviour leadership is preferable to behaviour management

Overall behaviour leadership, rather than management is the way forward with a consistently positive demeanour, respect for each named pupil, empathy with and understanding of their issues, the gentle building of a respectful relationship and holding a relaxed open posture at all times.

The above discussion points are snippets from a recent 4myschools CPD event on Behaviour Management given senior lectures from The University of Hertfordshire, Schools of Education. If you would like to attend any of these CPD events simply drop us an email using the contacts form or directly to CPD@www.4myschools.org