I think I have found a successful formula for my blog to get a lot of traffic. That is either be on the receiving end of a one sentence critique from @oldandrew or to point out the poor leadership of my line managers.
However I didn’t start to blog for that reason, or for financial gains, or even to make a potential career away from teaching. I did it because I want to become a better teacher. I wanted to share my thoughts and ideas, be challenged on them and either justify them or refine them.
The blog post that got the wonderful hatchet job can be found here. It was just a summary of an experienced teacher sharing their ideas about behavior management and what works for them at a 15 minute Teach Meet in the morning. It was no way school policy or a directive that this is the ‘only’ way someone should manage behaviour. I attended the internal school teach meet, made my notes and then I thought I would share them as there was some interesting points made, especially as it was a very different style of behaviour management compared to mine. However if I’m going to use blogging as a way of self improvement then I should have probably reflected on the points made at the same time. So here they are:
1. Get the balance right as the students will mirror you.
Not my approach at all. I set the standards and then the students meet them. I don’t drop on this, and that actually can be a very tiring part of the job. This is hugely important in PE as it is a potentially dangerous environment for children; swimming pools, rugby scrums and javelins to name a few. If in those situations I allow anything other than what I want, then there will be potentially career ending incidents.
2. Have high expectations of them so they have high expectations of themselves
Have high expectations of the them, so they meet it. Communicate clearly and regularly what those expectations are and enforce and explain when they don’t meet them. I think kids don’t know the capacity in which they can push themselves or achieve. I believe you have to model that. Have high expectations of yourself so they can see what that looks like.
3. If you are polite and respectful they will be too. Model the behaviour you are looking for.
I think this is a fair comment. I do this regularly. However my approach in doing this is slightly different. How I act is dependent on how they act. If they can act in a mature and respectful manner, then they get that back. If they don’t, then they get treated like children.
4. Also, apologise when you make mistakes (which you inevitably will)
I have done this but usually when I have overreacted or got something completely wrong. The reaction is usually one of shock and reconciliation when I do this. I will probably continue to do this unless anyone can prove to me without a doubt this has a negative impact on my management of behaviour.
5. Be too soft or reward / praise students when they don’t deserve it then they will not respect you or your classroom.
I don’t think I would ever be described as soft. My line manager does feel I could learn to praise students more often. They are probably right, but the praise I generally hear is for students doing what is expected of them. For me praise is reserved for going above and beyond the minimum expectations. As a teacher a ‘thank you’ is enough for doing my job, I don’t expect praise for doing that.
6. Plan for positive behaviour. Make sure you are keeping them challenged in class; the quickest way to encourage poor behaviour is through poor planning.
For me this means expect poor behaviour in your classroom and be ready to deal with it. Know your school and/or departmental behaviour policy. Be aware of what bad behaviour is and then try to follow the policy with sanctions and consequences consistently
7. Never let negative comments or behaviour pass unnoticed or un-commented upon in your lessons. Be clear as to the sort of climate you want in your classroom.
8.Always follow through and don’t back yourself into a corner. Never give whole class detentions as this actually alienates you from the class not the people who have been disruptive.
These are pretty standard for me. I never idly make a threat about a sanction and when I do I ensure I follow it through. It is time consuming, it can feel like an endless task but down the line it is usual worth it. When they realised they’ve tested your boundaries and worked out whats going to happen most children adapt. Picking up on negative comments is something I’ve been really trying hard to work on recently. Racist, sexist and homophobic comments seem to come out a lot in the changing rooms and on the sports field. When ever I hear these they are challenged immediately and I usually get SLT involved.
9. Harness the power of perception!
As I’ve been teaching a while in one school I have built the power of reputation, not of perception. Following through and not letting things go, even if it is a pain, does actually save you plenty of hassle in the long run. The amount of times I’ve overheard children say to their peers ‘ don’t do that with him, you won’t get away with it’ has been increasing. That has taken a lot of time, effort and willingness on my part to fully understand the rules and ensure they are met by the children to the best of my ability at all times. Trying to explain how I’ve built that reputation is quite difficult though, and I’m not sure how to break it down. I’m not even sure I would want other staff following my style of behaviour management as it is something I feel comfortable with and works for me in the context of my own school.
An area of behaviour management that I want to improve is how to deal with parents that don’t agree or support your decisions. As a HoD I need to support my staff when they are confronted with this. I always take these issues out of their hands, asI don’t believe they should be dealing with them. I don’t think I manage them very well at the moment, so would be very open to advice how other colleagues manage this situation.
So what have I learnt from this?
- Don’t post someone else’s words in full unless either a) you fully agree with them or b) you critique them.
- Be prepared to be challenged or critiqued yourself if you post something. I suppose that is the main reason why I’m blogging.
- My current school hasn’t managed to build a culture of sharing at the moment, let alone at a point where people feel comfortable to be challenged about their approaches. I’m trying to assist in changing that culture where knowledgeable, successful and experienced staff feel confident enough to share their practice. I believe you can’t change practice till people are open and honest about. If I jump straight in to challenge what they say or do then I think colleagues in my school will shut down again. It is a fine line to tread to build confidence to share, but feel supported enough to be challenged by other colleagues on approaches and have a proper dialogue about the practices that occur within my school.
- Context is everything. Just because something works for one person, doesn’t mean it will for the other. When reading or listening to advice try to be open minded and then reflect on whether it is correct, appropriate or even works for you. My style of behaviour management works for me because I’ve been practising it for over a decade and refining it. It might not necessarily be the ‘right’ approach, but I have spent a long time developing it.
On a side note I actually went and checked with our HR manager regarding NQTs at my current school. Within the time I’ve been at the school we have had 19 NQTs of which 18 are still in teaching. Of those 18 left there are 14 still teaching full time in the school and the other 4 left to take more senior roles in other schools. Just because someone shares their thoughts, opinions and experiences about how they manage behaviour themselves doesn’t necessarily ‘destroy an NQT’ and it certainly doesn’t explain how NQTs are supported in our school. I do think those figures speak for themselves.