April 2021 BLOG
It was in February 2020 when we last had a teaching and learning blog about behaviour management, when Chris Watson shared with us some useful tips from staff about the setting of routines and dealing with behaviour situations that are common to us all. Dave and I thought it would be a good time to return to this as we approach a new term and to continue to make sure we are all playing our part to make sure standards in the classroom remain at a very high level.
Tom Bennett recently said that if we get behaviour right, everything else is possible. He stated that behaviour is the beginning of safety, equity, dignity, curriculum, opportunity and learning, not an afterthought or something that only matters when students misbehave. We also know as professionals that when our teaching is of the very highest quality, this helps our students remain on track and enjoy being in the classroom.
Since the students have returned to us full time before Easter, it was clear that some students have partially or entirely lost the learning and behaviour habits that we had instilled in them whilst at College previously. It was also clear that students with less privileged backgrounds struggled from going from few or no boundaries to the structure and routine of being back in the classroom. This proved a challenge for some students who pushed boundaries with staff at times.
There are some points that Chris mentioned in his blog that Dave and I believe support all teachers and ultimately help the students in the classroom to become better learners. If all teachers consider these at the start of term and we, as staff remain consistent with these principles, this will lead to a successful term for us all.
Chris talked about the importance of planning and strongly recommended us to read page 57 of PLAN, MARK, TEACH. This is vitally important when dealing with challenging groups. Chris described how important a ‘Do Now’ task was for the students, to settle them down straight away. The pace of the lesson is crucial, and the differentiation to make sure all students are challenged in the right way will keep students on track. Really consider your planning, have you supported the students who need guidance so they don’t feel disengaged or disheartened and can make progress? Is there challenge and rigour for the more and most able students so they can stretch themselves with their learning? As professionals, we understand that when this level of planning is absent, this can often lead to the most challenging of behaviours.
2. Bring it back to learning
Whenever I ask students why they come to Crookhorn and what the point of turning up everyday is, they generally always say ‘to learn’. We drum this into them during transition and in SLT and pastoral assemblies. Refer the students to our OPEN MIND and Cornerstones philosophies, this is really important. Are they showing respect for their teachers and classmates, are they taking responsibility for their own learning, how can they prove they are committed to the learning and ultimately, are the achieving their potential? Use these terms with them, remind them what it takes to be a Crookhorn learner.
3. Define what you mean by good behaviour
There is an opportunity here at the start of term for you in your classroom to re-evaluate what you want behaviour to look like. We as teachers should define what behaviour is ideal in our classrooms, be concrete with your rules. Vagueness is the enemy here. If you are vague, you’ll barely be aware of when behaviour goes wrong; and students will not grasp what is expected of them. What does fantastic behaviour actually look like in an assessment or when students are coming into your classroom?
4. Good behaviour must be taught, not told.
The best teachers actively teach the behaviour they want to see, as if it were a curriculum. Do you want students to be kind, or work hard, or listen hard in assemblies if you are their tutor? Teach them to do so, don’t just tell them. Set the example, highlight when students have done something well and share. Chris mentioned in his blog about praising students when you notice good behaviour, so other students know what this looks like.
5. Build routines, habits and norms.
When dealing with students you should consider these questions:
- What behaviour do you want them to think is normal? Then, tell them what it is and teach them what normal means in many circumstances. Challenge them when it is not met. Show them how to do it. Correct them every time they can’t or won’t do it. Never let it slide. Define the new normal by bringing it to life.
- What habits do you want them to develop? If you want them to be punctual, clarify what punctuality means. Insist upon it. The more a behaviour is demanded, and challenged by its absence, the more practice students get performing it, until it starts to feel habitual. We seek, ultimately, to change their behaviour habits, not just their behaviour.
- What routines do they need to learn in order to succeed as learners and human beings? This is crucial. In order for it to be as easy as possible to behave, students should be taught the specific sequences of behaviour they are expected to demonstrate.
- Build the habit of phoning home, and not just when things are difficult. We know the positive phone call when a student has done well is so important when building a relationship with parents, so when things aren’t going so well you have a relationship in place and parents are more likely to support.
6. Make boundaries meaningful.
Students need to know that deliberately misbehaving will result in consequences. When behaviour is poor, or fails to meet the standard, it must be challenged. Students need to know a line has been crossed. These lines can be managed by many means. Sanctions can act as a deterrent but only if consistently and fairly applied, and when there is a high expectation that they will occur. Rewards too can have a small, short-term motivating effect. Both sanctions and rewards are an essential part of our system- please use them consistently.
We know that a well-planned out lesson delivered by an enthusiastic and motivating teacher in a classroom is the best way students learn, of this there is no doubt after what we have been through. I honestly believe the vast majority of our students believe this too now (which is a silver lining in these difficult times!). I have attached Chris’ blog again if you want to refer back to the top tips.
If you would like any further support within this area, please contact myself, Dave or Chris and we will be delighted to help.