Master Good Routines = Master Great Behaviour!

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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How can all teachers get off to a solid start at the beginning of a new term?

The main reason for exclusion in English schools in general, is persistent disruptive behaviour (Gill et al., 2017) – approximately 40 pupils per day!

Reasons for poor behaviour

There are numerous reasons for challenging behaviour in the classroom. Many of these reasons are due to a lack of understanding from the pupil about what is acceptable in school and what is not. Other reasons can be more deep-rooted and may require additional support outside the classroom.

The following are some of the more common reasons for challenging behaviour in the classroom:

1) Boredom

This is perhaps the most common reason for challenging behaviour. Pupils can become bored for many reasons, such as the work being too easy or hard or if they feel they are not being challenged. Take a closer look at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on ‘the flow – immersion‘.

2) Lack of attention

Pupils can also become disruptive if they feel they are not getting the attention they need. This can be for several reasons, such as feeling they are not being listened to or if they feel they are being ignored.

All behaviour is a form of communication … 

3) Low self-esteem

Pupils with low self-esteem can often act out to get attention. They may feel they are not good enough or not worth the time and effort. Post-pandemic, increases in poor self-esteem and anxiety are a concern to all schools

4) Lack of boundaries

Pupils can also become disruptive if they feel there are no boundaries.

Effective teachers own their classroom domain and can break down barriers to learning with good discipline, routines and rigour. This can be achieved with compassion, but clear boundaries are required and must be used daily.

Managing behaviour …

To manage behaviour in the classroom, teachers need to be proactive and clearly understand what is acceptable and what is not. You may want immediate results, but that’s not likely; it can take months to see significant progress – especially with vulnerable pupils and those with severe learning needs.

Several strategies can be used to manage behaviour …

1) Classroom rules

Classroom rules are a great way to manage behaviour in the classroom. Having a set of rules makes pupils clear about what is expected of them. These rules should be displayed in the classroom and reviewed regularly. Try this ‘Classroom Noise-O-Meter‘ – designed to support classroom management, helping teachers to communicate expectations … 

Noise-O-Meter Classroom Behaviour

2) Rewards and sanctions

Rewards and sanctions are another great way to manage behaviour in the classroom. Using rewards, such as praise or stickers, pupils are encouraged to behave correctly. Sanctions, such as time out or loss of privileges, can be used to discourage pupils from misbehaving.

3) Behaviour contracts

Behaviour contracts are another useful tool that can be used to manage behaviour in the classroom. These contracts can be used to set out expectations and agree on appropriate behaviours. Try this 10-steps resource for building better behaviour as a longer-term approach …

10 Steps for Building Behaviour Ethos by @TeacherToolkit

4) Differentiated instructions

Differentiated instructions can also be used to manage behaviour in the classroom. By differentiating the work, pupils are more likely to be engaged and less likely to misbehave. Behaviour scripts are essential for being consistent, clear and precise about choices and consequences, and for reducing workload. Try this 7-step behaviour script.

Firm and Fair Behaviour Management by @TeacherToolkit

Behaviour is a precursor to learning …

A good curriculum helps underpin all of the above; great subject content engages students. If new teachers can master all of the above in their formative years, developing subject knowledge alongside a widening teaching and learning repertoire, this becomes a good recipe for success.

However, you can be the teacher who knows the most about your subject and every teaching and learning strategy ‘under the Sun’, but your efforts will be fruitless if you cannot control the class. This, alongside a lack of support to manage behaviour, is a simple way to ensure teacher wellbeing burns out very quickly.

As much as I love everything to do with teaching and learning and its complexities, no teacher cannot unlock learning without good class behaviour. Therefore, behaviour is a precursor to learning.

Talk to your SENCo (special educational needs coordinator) for specialist strategies.

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