The topic of the week is Behaviour for learning with 5-11 year olds.
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This week we were delighted to be joined by Deputy Head Teacher, Russell Ingleby. Russell has helped to develop Chickenley Community School’s approach to behaviour management to point at which they are starting to concentrate on behaviour for learning rather than just managing conduct, manners and rules.
When Russell started several years ago at his current school, each class had a different approach to behaviour mangement. Part of his role was to work across many different classes and he found it difficult when he was slightly unsure what the rules and approaches were in each different class. There was a lack of consistency.
They started a jounrney towards consistency by adapting a set of Golden Rules from the Circle Time books by Jenny Mosley. These were displayed in every classroom from nursery to Year 6 for consistency.
The next step was to move on from rules which described what the school didn’t want to see to rules which described desirable behaviours. ‘Don’t waste time’ changed to ‘We work hard, we don’t waste time’ to ‘Work hard’. They described these not as rules but as ‘what we want to see’ in the ‘Chickenley Way’.
In an area of quite high deprivation, the children values the fact that there was consistency at school. They know what the expectations are and they have now begun to pick up staff who they think are not following the expectations themselves.
As part of work in restorative practice, the staff started talkign to the children in a different way. From ‘Why did you do that?’ the conversations changed to ‘What happened – which of our ways of behaving do you think you weren’t following?’ In fact, this often turns out to be a different aspect to the one the adult had assumed the child would identify.
All staff were involved in the changes and Russell says that one of the biggest challenges was the changing of mindsets. Some staff were ‘consequence heavy’. It’s important to see what’s behind the behaviour at times – the home situation or other areas of stress in a learner’s life.
One of the hardest aspects has been embedding the importance of the follow-up which is essential when you are using the principles of restorative practice. The most successful practitioners are those who make the time to follow up every single incident.
Pauls calls this, ‘Picking up your own tab’.
Given the high level of ‘churn’ in the staff with frequent changes, Russell stresses the importance of having the systems and culture as resilient as necessary to help new staff take on the approaches the school has established. This makes the induction of new staff extremely important, including getting to know all the children, including their home backgrounds. This takes time.
How to shift the focus from behaviour to behaviour for learning:
Choose a couple of mantras to display all around the school e.g. WQL – walk quietly on the left and RTL – are you ready to learn?
With these simple ideas, children can begin to control the behaviour for themselves rather than having staff telling them what to do – they can begin to take ownership.
Paul mentions that inspectors he has talked to say that you don’t get a grade 1 or 2 for behaviour if the learners are just following rules set for them by the staff – rather they need to be able to make the right choices for themselves and become self-disciplined.
Russell and Paul describe some great examples of where teachers and other adults in schools have modelled learning for the pupils – whether this is learning a musical instrument or sharing the book they are reading. This does a great deal to prove there is a culture of learning in an establishment.
The key is to shift from thinking about behaviour to having a focus on learning. Your mantras about behaviour change to mantras about learning – ‘Is that your best thinking?’
What learning attitudes do you teach to different aged children – they should be different.
‘We are losing learning time here’ rather than focussing on the poor behaviour.
Acknowledgement systems can also be moved from rewarding good behaviour to acknowledging good learning. Russell describes his school’s Reader of the Week and Mathematician of the Week recognition systems which have been put in place specifically to support the move to focussing on learning rather than behaviour.
For lots more detail and context, listen to the episode!
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- Magnificent Cultures of Teaching and Behaviour – deconstructing excellent practice – 12th March 2014 featuring Paul Dix and Phil Beadle and including an education debate at the end of the day
- Early notification – Improving discipline, raising attendance and boosting achievement – a conference by Teachology – 7th February, 2014, London, UK
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