Planning to Get Behaviour Right: Research Plus Experience

@LeadingLearner

There is nothing like a discussion about behaviour and discipline, either in the staff room or in the classroom, to get people talking with passion, intensity and all too often from totally different perspectives.

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Promoting the Positive

A week or so ago, I worked with a secondary colleague from within our Multi-Academy Trust. He is an Assistant Head who has responsibility for behaviour (like me) in his school. We were tasked with creating a behaviour audit that could be used to audit a school in order to pinpoint where they may need extra support. As it stands, once it was finished, we realised that this document could be used as a self-assessment tool for schools to audit themselves too. It basically has several areas, with questions within each area. The key areas are:

  • How was the school behaviour policy developed?
  • Understanding behaviour
  • Whole school approach
  • Setting and implementing standards of behaviour
  • Promoting positive behaviour
  • Responding to negative behaviour
  • Classroom behaviour
  • Behaviour around the school
  • Paperwork and guidance
  • Analysis of behaviour
  • Exclusions

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NQT Support

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…”

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Teaching Behaviour

As educators working in schools, our primary job is to impart knowledge to others. Maths, literacy, scientific skills et cetera. There are many other elements to the job but the only thing that we should be doing when directly working with children is to educate them, to teach them something. This may be something academic but it can also be a whole plethora of other things, such as how to ask politely for something, how to share, how to resolve their issues, communicate… In fact, every time we interact with children, we should always teach them something.

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Lead by example

“One of the most important things we adults can do for young children is to model the kind of person we would like them to be.”

Carol B Hillman

The new academic year is nearly upon us and I work in a large primary school with about 550 children in it. Seeing as though we have 20+ classes, we always have a few teachers move on and start somewhere else for September. We have three new teachers this year, all NQT’s and as part of my additional responsibility for my new role, I am their mentor. This got me thinking… There are all of the formal ways to support them as laid out by the appropriate body for the Local Authority that I work within but I think they will learn far more from the informal discussions, support and most importantly, observations of other staff around the school. This post isn’t about NQT’s per se, but about how adults act in and around the school and the monumental impact that this can have, positive and negative on the children.

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Just over a year on…

It is just over a year on from going back to mainstream education from the primary PRU that I worked at for four years and it has been a rollercoaster for me. I half expected to go back and hang on only. There were so many issues to deal with for me. There was an increase in class size for starters with my PRU class being no more than 7 children, working with more staff again (from 3 classes in the PRU to 21 in my school now) as well as putting a major emphasis on the teaching and far less on the behaviour.

One of the biggest issues that I had was that although I wanted to return to mainstream education, I knew that I would still pine to have an influence with behaviour on a larger scale then my classroom. Fortunately for me, I have landed in an awesome school that has allowed me to do all sorts of things. I wanted to take this opportunity to take stock and reflect as well as look forward to the coming year.

  • I have been very lucky and been asked to support two of our schools in our academy trust with behaviour. I have been working with one since January and picked up the second one in June.
  • I was invited to speak at a trust wide training day and delivered a workshop session which ended up being delivered to 200+ people.
  • We managed to go from special measures to outstanding in all areas in 18 months in our school.
  • I became accredited as a Team Teach instructor.
  • I have recently being made the cluster lead (about 6 schools) for behaviour
  • And to top it off, I applied for and got an Assistant Head role in the school I am working in. I will continue to teach in the morning and the rest of my time will be split with behaviour in our school, NQT responsibility in our school and supporting a few other schools.

My biggest regret is that I did not keep blogging so that is a massive way forward for the year. I have had a super year and I am delighted that I will be able to positively impact on more and more children in my new roles. Roll on for the next academic year!

Feelings and Behaviour

After working with children with challenging behaviour for a number of years, and more recently taking up a role in a mainstream academy as well as supporting other local schools with behaviour, I know more than ever how difficult it can be to persuade/encourage other members of staff to change how they manage behaviour. Where effective behaviour modification in children takes place, it is usually down to how the adult changes their behaviour. The driving force behind this… is the adult being aware of the feelings of both parties.

Our feelings

When we feel in a calm and serene mood, we may behave in a particular way. The behaviour may be in the actions we undertake, but it is also in our body language, tone of voice, the things we say and the look on our faces. On a Saturday morning, after a full week at work, I am usually in an extremely calm frame of mind. I have put the week behind me (until at least the Sunday night work!) and I get to spend the morning having a cup of tea with my wife, spending time with my kids, reading or whatever else suits my agenda. I am relaxed in my posture, my mannerisms, with the things that I say and I am even handle frustrations more easily. None of the kids electronic devices are not connecting to the wifi… no problem. I’ll sort it.

Fast forward this to a time when I am not feeling so calm, maybe to a state of anxiety or frustration and as you can guess, it is not the same idyllic picture. I am more edgy; my movements are quicker and sharper; I am more easily wound up and simply short with everyone. My kids come to me saying the wifi has gone off while I’m in the middle of writing reports that are due the next day and it is already 8.30pm? Big problem… it seems as though the end of the world is nigh!
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Workload: “And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint…”

A very insightful read. Thoroughly enjoyed this well written blog post!

Othmar's Trombone

Maître-D’: Today we have for appetisers: moules marinières, pâté de foie gras, Beluga caviar, eggs Benedictine, tart de poireau — that’s leek tart — frogs’ legs amandine, or oeufs de caille Richard Shepherd — c’est-à-dire, little quails’ eggs on a bed of puréed mushroom. It’s very delicate, very subtle.

Mr Creosote: I’ll have the lot.

[Pause]

Maître-D’: A wise choice, monsieur. And now, how would you like it served? All mixed up together in a bucket?

Mr Creosote: With eggs on top.

Maître-D: But of course, avec les oeufs frites.

Mr Creosote: And don’t skimp on the pâté.

Maître-D: Monsieur, I can assure you, just because it is mixed up with all the other things we would not dream of giving you less than the full amount.

The bilious Mr. Creosote: undeniably one of the Monty Python team’s…

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Non-verbal communication – The silent power!

“Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating.”

Charlie Kaufman

There are many forms of communication and they all have merit. Some forms of communication are more effective depending on the circumstance. The most effective type depends on the relationship between the two parties, what is going on at that point, how receptive they are to certain modes of communication, the purpose of the communication and their current emotional state. For example, being spoken to in a diplomatic manner by a bank manager when opening an account is perfectly acceptable and delivers their message effectively but the same cannot be said to a police officer chasing a criminal on foot. As they are puffing and wheezing, they might scream stop. Their message is short and their voice level is on the opposite end of the spectrum to the bank manager… it wouldn’t quite work if officer asked the criminal in a quiet and patient voice.

This is similar in mainstreams with children. Read the rest of this entry

Getting routines right!

“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”

Mike Murdock

During this month, I had the pleasure of training some NQT’s as part of my academy chains offering to them. The 7 of them (4 of our own) that came were advised that they were going to receive some training on behaviour. I didn’t arrange this. It was landed on me at relatively short notice. I’m glad it was!

These new teachers were taking their first tentative steps into a long, difficult and rewarding career in one of the most challenging sectors available. At this stage, they are malleable and the support that they receive will be at its most influential. We all know members of staff who are too stuck in their ways and unable to adapt. What do these NQT’s have to adapt from? Nothing… exactly.

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