The topic of the week is Resetting behaviour management.
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Paul and Kevin discuss resetting the behaviour management in your classroom this week. It’s possible to make a few simple tweaks to reset your expectations and reset your relationships with the class. There are bound to be plenty of positives from the first half of term but sometimes the boundaries do need to be redrawn and a fresh start made – not only by newly-qualified teachers but also by experienced teachers for whom it does sometimes go wrong as well.
Paul describes from his own experience the power of standing in front of a class where his behaviour management had gone wrong and apologising to the pupils. He honestly explained what he had done wrong, pointed out things he wanted to change in his own behaviour and showed a little humility. The class were silent but six weeks later some individuals came up to Paul and told him that he was the first teacher who had ever apologised to them and how much they appreciated it. That was a great way to start the process of change.
In behaviour management, humility is strength –
it can be a great way to model the behaviour you want in your pupils. Be honest with the class. Trying to change behaviour without the apology can be a risky thing to attempt. The things which happened previously can’t just be forgotten – relationships will have been damaged.
This humble approach can give you a platform for change. It requires courage, of course, but if you feel you can’t manage alone, invite a colleague in just to sit and make sure the listening in the room is the right quality to allow you to get your points across. Make it a three-minute task – don’t labour it or draw it out, then go on to talk about some of the tweaks and adjustments you are going to make.
Your plan for the next half term Very often, the key to reestablishing behaviour can be a simplification of approach. In your plan for next half term, try: 3 rules 3 expectations 3 reinforcements 3 sanctions Also: Step back from confrontation more often than you step in Strip out negative emotion from your tone of voice and the vocabulary you select Separate the child from their behaviour Do much more in class which is private Refuse to tarnish the class with the same brush as other teachers may have done in the past Focus on previous, successful behaviour The balance of reinforcement and admonishment needs to be delivered carefully so you can make sure you are not always delivering the negative. Make sure you create medium term plans which can be reviewed regularly. It’s easy to get bogged down and ignore the positive so make sure you examine the situation quite frequently – but not on a day-by-day or weekly basis – it’s just too short.
What if you can’t tell why your behaviour management isn’t working as well as you would like it to? If you aren’t sure where you are going wrong, ask the other adults in the room, if you are lucky enough to have some. If you invite different people in, they will inevitably change the dynamic of the room. Video can be useful but doesn’t tell the whole story. Try observing a trusted colleague when they teach your class and discuss strategy with them. Nobody minds being asked to share their good practice.
What next? Go back to your routines Target specific students Schedule pro-active communications with parents – positive notes, phone calls, emails, invite parents in Send a letter to parents explaining the changes you have made and why Concentrate on rebuilding trust Best practice of the week – plenaries A really good plenary isn’t just parroting back to the teacher the objectives of the lesson.
A good plenary would be to relate and interpret the content of the lesson to a person who was not present. This could be done: At the dinner table After a week or a month, not a single lesson In a parallel class, with another teacher Paul mentioned Sugata Mitra, Professor of Education at Newcastle University and his work with the Granny Cloud by which children have to re-explain what they have learned.
If there are people at home who are a generation apart, this is an even more testing challenge for pupils – these people don’t necessarily have the necessary reference points which parents have. Children can be told to deliberately seek out someone who knows nothing about the subject.
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