The topic of the week is Scripted behaviour interventions.
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This time, Paul and Kevin discuss one of the fundamental building blocks of classroom behaviour management – scripted interventions. This is a type of intervention you would use when a pupil has ‘dug their heels in’. After trying a few small nudges, you aren’t getting anywhere and it’s time to turn to your pre-planned script. The script gives you are clear plan of how you can get into the interaction with the pupil, deliver your message and then get out, with your dignity and the child’s intact. The script gives you all you need to be sure you can make this positive intervention in no more than 30 seconds. Surprisingly, it is possible to use the same script with all children – they value the concept of teachers using a predictable approach, ensuring fairness and equality. Memorising the script once you have structured it is the easy bit. Good schools and teachers use the same script, the same process in the same order whenever it is needed. Paul has used the same script in all appropriate circumstances for over 20 years. He has also seen amazing transformations in schools where a single script is used consistently. He relates an inspirational story from a Pupil Referral Unit which used a single script to revolutionise the behaviour in the school. The school managed to remove itself from special measures as a result in nine months. Four years later, the PRU is still using the same script. The script protects the pupils and the adults. It is particularly useful when teachers are under pressure or tired. It’s a way of ensuring consistency. It can be used by individual teachers – perhaps even only occasionally – or a whole department or school. Paul has even used the same script with his own children and shared the approach with school and business sector managers as well as football coaches.
Example 30 second script structure:
- 1. Open well and do not start a dialogue with the child – “I’ve noticed you’ve had a problem starting this morning.” Physical approach – kneel down next to the child, pull a chair up or stand at the side of the classroom side by side with them – preferably have the child looking down at you
- 2. Refer to why you are there and a specific rule – “You know our rule about getting involved with the group. I can’t have you sitting outside of it, I need you to be involved.”
- 3. Sanction – at the second stage of a stepped consequence system – “I’m going to need to see you for five minutes after school today.” The pupil will more than likely protest at this stage. It’s important at this point to remind the child of previous good behaviour that you have ‘pegged’ in a positive note or other previous interaction. “Do you remember last Thursday, I gave you the note to take home? You had a brilliant week last week. You were kind, you brought in that extra research, your group work was great – that’s the behaviour I need to see now, that’s the behaviour I want to see from you. Thanks very much for listening.” Then you leave the situation. It’s almost impossible to argue with someone who is praising your previous good behaviour. Holding your nerve at this moment is the real heart of behaviour management. This is where you can model that emotionally resilient adult behaviour for the children. Listen to the podcast episode for lots more detail on how and why to use scripted intervention.
How to begin In the beginning, practise scripted intervention with your loveliest children – the ones who would very rarely need a scripted intervention. They may look at you strangely but it’s a great way to get used to the technique. Don’t try to use it immediately with the most challenging pupils. It will probably take a couple of weeks to become confident and fluent in delivering the 30 second scripted intervention. If you feel you need to adapt the script to your situation, don’t make it too elaborate and don’t leave out step of reminding the pupil of their previous good behaviour.
Fogging To support the intervention, use the age-old technique of ‘fogging’. Rather than entering into an argument, agree with the child by saying something like, “I understand what you are saying, and yet I’ve noticed that…and our rule is…and you’re better than that…” This shows that you are listening to the child. Another phrase to consider is, “Be that as it may…” This can all help to ensure the intervention is 30 seconds long despite the pupil wanting a five minute argument. Get in touch If you use this technique, do let us know by calling in on one of the answerphone lines below, we’d love to hear about your experiences.
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