This blog post is a very quick one but one that I thought was worthwhile.
On Wednesday, I delivered some training to a group of NQTs as part of our Academy Trust training programme, The session was great, very informal in terms of delivery style but well structured. At the beginning of the session, some of them put up post-its with particular questions that they would like answering. Rather than paying them 10 minutes lip service at the end, I said that I would respond to them as a whole by email so that they could be used as a starting point for further discussion if necessary.
This blog post is simply the questions that were on the post-its and the answers that I gave in the email. It seemed a shame to waste them!
Girls – chatty and attitude
Girls can be a nightmare to manage because they often have behaviour problems which are more understated. It is often very easy to see with boys what the issue is, therefore it is more straight forward to manage. Scripts can be used to deal with this. When a child is chatty or shows attitude, you really must stop yourself from reacting. Even if you’re furious inside, keep calm and identify that they are trying to wind you up. Whatever you say, say the same thing every time without changing the intonation in your voice. Keep it monotonous, keep it low and slow and assign a sanction to the end. “Sarah you’re talking instead of… If you continue, this will happen…”
Boys – How to handle the competition of ‘top dog’
Boys vying for top dog is something that happens a lot. These boys crave attention an excellent way is to feed them this. Create competitions in the class, create multiple choice questions that they can vote for or anything of the sort. It is all about culture change, making them see that it doesn’t matter. This is a long fix but putting children in uncomfortable positions where they will not always be the best etc will help. Reading up on some growth mind-set may be helpful here, particularly anything by Carol Dweck as she was the founder of the idea.
How to break the cycle of children seeking negative attention over positive attention
Some kids crave attention, this is fact. We all know them from the super helpful ones who want to sharpen every pencil in the school to the ones who seemingly shout out for everything with no real reason. The trick here is a change in the adults practice in the room. We need to give nothing, or at the very least minimal attention when they are doing something wrong. If a child shouts out on the carpet, rather than stopping to reprimand them verbally, simply hold a hand up and continue. Planned ignoring works well but only when things are safe; there is no point using planned ignoring if they are climbing the blinds! On the other hand, when they are doing appropriate things, give them things to do. Let people stand at the front of the line, take the register down to the office, run errands, answer questions. It doesn’t need to be explicit, just don’t ignore them when they are behaving properly otherwise they’ll revert back to negative tactics.
Children who can’t keep hands to themselves, e.g. nipping
Without much context, I will take it that this is something that is happening in class such as being on the carpet or lining up. If children are lining up, manoeuvre them into positions that will keep them from others. They could hold the door or stand at the front with no-one in front of them. If it is a carpet issue, move them with some space and keep them close to you. Close is safe! If incidents do happen, apply a sanction but be consistent. It may be that it is a few minutes time out every time that they do it. Use a sand timer or something equivalent so that the child can see this as fair. Think of the sanction like speed bumps in the road – small and consistent!
If a child runs out of the classroom and you have no support, what do you do?
If a child is running out of the classroom, there needs to be a plan in place anyway. Speak to the behaviour lead in your school (if you’re not sure who it is, find out!) and arrange a meeting to sit down and write a plan. Who will help? Who can be asked for? If it is not a known risk, as in it is a child who does it for the first time, send a child with a note to the office. The office will know who can be called upon to deal with this so that you may carry on teaching. You will probably have to apply a sanction such as speaking to parents after an event. Make sure whatever you do, you do something every time.
How do you handle a deaf child using British Sign Language (BSL) covering his eyes when he does not want to follow
I taught a profoundly deaf boy once who had serious behaviour issues and he had been permanently excluded from a specialist deaf provision. I had a signer in class with me and there were many times where the child did exactly this. We tackled it in two ways. Way one – whenever he would do it, we ignored him and did not try and communicate unless he was ready. If we tried to sign to him, he would cover his eyes again immediately. We left it until it was time to move on etc and then we would apply a sanction. I can assure you that when it is lunchtime, playtime or home time, and you will not let them go, they will listen. This is the time to explain the sanction for ignoring you and then apply it. The second way was to use visuals and we used visual images that represented the signs to construct two pathways – one to show what happens when they get it right and one that shows what happens when they choose to ignore (the negative one showed the sanction). Once this has been ran through with the child once or twice, it only needs pointing to when they start to demonstrate the poor behaviour. It does not need explaining, they already have had the explanation and then they have the choice to make. The trick is simply finding the sanction that works.
Changing needy pupils in KS2 into self-supporting pupils
Again, this is a culture one. Do not spoon feed them in anyway. If they ask for a spelling, make them go and get a dictionary or ask a partner. If they ask irrelevant questions, simply ask them if they really need you to answer that question (One child once asked me where she should put the water once she had finished it… she was Y5). The biggest thing though is setting the children to work on collaborative tasks, not simply partner work, but tasks that end up creating something much larger which may go over many lessons. The children will need clearly defined roles to foster accountability. Also, give them jobs in class and rotate the jobs. Some kids will have good jobs one half term and the second half term, they may have the responsibility that others don’t want at the end of the day such as tidying the cloakroom up.
Use of traffic lights – What to do if a child is often in red. Some pupils do not see being off green as a big issue
This needs to be made a big issue by being relentlessly consistent, insistent and persistent. Be firm but fair and apply sanctions where necessary (not assign a sanction because they went into red – this is not a definite) Read my notes attached about scripts and use the script attached to traffic lights.
The wanderers – Those that wander to the toilet, around the classroom and in search of resources
When children ask to go to the toilet, tell them they have a specific time. Say to them that you expect to see them back in class in XX minutes. If it is any longer, keep them in for the extra time at a lunch or break. Don’t make it a big deal but make it matter of fact. If children wander around the classroom, use traffic lights with a script (if your school uses traffic lights, see my notes). Again, be fair and firm. Raise the expectation and let children know that wandering around aimlessly is unacceptable and then just be fair in your application of sanctions (remember, sanctions do not have to be huge!)
Respect towards adults and peers
Lead by example. Speak to children with respect and speak to other members of staff around the school with respect. Be overtly explicit in your good mornings etc. If you want children to open doors, be polite, speak in a quiet voice – you must do this and not just demand it. As for respect towards peers, pull children up every time (privately if necessary) and explain how they were disrespectful and how they could improve. Be honest but consistently pull people up. Children get this very quickly. Just remember that no one deserves respect unless it is merited so we shouldn’t blindly respect others but it is each our responsibility to be respectful. This is a life skill.