Breaking Down Behaviour

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Naughty children in classroom

Hanna Beech

Hanna Beech has been teaching for ten years and has a range of experience across Key Stages 1 and 2 in a large Primary School in Kent. She is a phase leader for Years 3 and 4, and also leads on teaching and learning for...
Read more about Hanna Beech

How can we manage challenging behaviour?

Challenging behaviour: it’s what NQTs often worry about and what experienced teachers often grumble about. But what can be done and where can you start?

Think About It

Ask yourself the following questions about the challenging behaviour in your classroom.

  1. What is the behaviour? Write down three behaviours from most to least concerning.
  2. When is the behaviour? Identify when the behaviour occurs – and when it doesn’t.
  3. Why is the behaviour happening? This is the single most significant question you can ask because it helps you understand a situation, increase your empathy and helps you problem solve.
  4. Who has the relationship? Someone, somewhere in school, has a connection with this child. You’re going to need them. If no one has, why is this the case?
  5. What is of high value to the child? Finding out and using what they care about to motivate them can be useful.
  6. What are the school’s expectations? What resources or support do you need to put in place?
  7. Who has authority? You need someone with authority to regularly monitor so staff feel supported.
  8. What do parents/carers need to know?
  9. Finally, in an ideal world, what will the outcome be? Forget zero-tolerance!

Why is it a good strategy?

Think Tony Robbins: If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.


Keep the end goals in mind. Don’t expect things to go perfectly; you’ll likely be disappointed. Be persistent, positive and consistent. It will be worth it, for you and for the pupil involved.

2 thoughts on “Breaking Down Behaviour

  1. I worry when I hear teachers talking about ‘behaviour’. William Glasser says “All we do is behave” so behaviour is ‘natural’, a ‘normal’ response to any situation, relationship or set of circumstances. What teachers often mean is ‘non-compliance’ or challenging behaviour, Challenging in the sense of some notion of what learning behaviour is or looks like; sit still, face the front, don’t doodle, pay attention, listen etc. In a teaching situation, we should look at behaviour as a symptom of having our learning needs met. I do not mean learning styles, I refer to those needs we have in order to comfortably engage in learning. There are four of them and they are at the heart of any learner engagement situation. Hanna does not mention them by name but they are within her text. So when we talk about ‘behaviour’ let’s be clear we mean ‘learning behaviour’ and let’s ensure that meeting four needs )power, belonging, choice and fun) are part o four lesson planning as well as delivery.

  2. All behaviour serves a function. Find the function. If we give alternative social behaviours more reinforcement then they will increase. Managing behaviour is really about differential reinforcement,

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