24 May 2013

...Positive Behaviour Management

Why does 'positive' management of pupils' behaviour matter? Well, by its very definition, it suggests clarity and confidence - both necessary attributes for successful teaching. However, taking a positive approach also helps us to sustain a classroom environment in which pupils feel safe and respected, and which is conducive to learning.

To promote positive behaviour, we should adhere to some well-documented key principles. (Indeed, my own posts include discussions about establishing rules and routines, and maintaining a learning climate.) But I believe that by adopting a positive mindset, and using consistently positive language, we can have a significant  and long-term impact on a class's learning behaviour.

Addressing Challenging Behaviour
Occasionally, but hopefully infrequently, pupils may display inappropriate behaviour despite their teacher's patience and positivity. So, where does that leave our positive approach to behaviour management? In tatters? Well, no. There will always be identifiable contributory factors when a pupil displays behaviour which threatens to interfere with learning in a classroom. 

When behaviour threatens to get out of hand, and certainly if you feel it has done, you need to reflect on the contextual circumstances which have led to the incident. When faced with behaviour 'problems' I encourage teachers to approach situations systematically, starting by noting the following specifics:

1. the inappropriate behaviour which the pupil(s) displayed
2. the rule that the behaviour contravened
3. the context such as time of day, location etc 
4. the teacher's (re)action to the incident, i.e. their own behaviour
5. the required behaviour which was expected of the pupil(s) at the time

By reflecting on incidents in this way, we automatically separate behaviour management from pupil management, removing any likelihood that feelings or beliefs about pupils will interfere with improving the situation. Employing this approach can also uncover assumptions we may have formed, or patterns we may have missed, about the cause of the disruptive behaviour. Then plans can be drawn up to address the behaviour and/or prevent its recurrence.

Ten Principles
Finally, by way of a self-audit of your management of classroom behaviour, look at the list below. How many of these items are you confident that you provide pupils with, during your teaching?

  • clear boundaries which relate to class or school rules
  • high expectations of behaviour and of work
  • choices for pupils, rather than reprimands
  • consequences which are fairly applied
  • consistent treatment between different pupils
  • achievable challenges which enable pupils to succeed
  • clear instructions so that pupils know what to do
  • meaningful and relevant tasks for pupils to engage in
  • regular acknowledgement of on-task behaviour
  • praise for both good behaviour and good learning

How did you do? Whether or not you scored 10/10, what could you do differently / better / more of, when you're next in class, that is likely to have a positive impact on learning behaviour?


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Regards, DJA