First Steps Into Teaching - Behaviour Management
This is often the area of teaching trainees are most concerned about and it is true that a classroom where behaviour is well-managed is one in which effective teaching can thrive.
As Tom Bennett rightly states however, what we call ‘behaviour’ is “actually the sum of an enormous number of habits and attitudes and skills that adults frequently take for granted.”
In essence, behavior must be taught and it is up to teachers to instill, support and develop these skills and habits.
During the School Direct programme, you will be introduced to key behaviour theorists, examine the importance of holding high expectations and raising aspirations, explore what influences children’s behaviour and the strategies you can implement to manage behaviour and meet children’s needs in the classroom.
There are two main approaches you will learn about, which have been summarised here:
1. Proactive Behaviour Management
2. Reactive Behaviour Management
Proactive Behaviour Management
Good teachers don’t just react; they anticipate and plan for how they will manage behaviour. They are explicit in teaching pupils what is expected of them, what this looks like and how this will help pupils succeed.
They support pupils who need additional support by adapting their approach, for example through the way this is communicated, to better meet pupil needs. When you observe experienced teachers doing this, look out for the way they:
- Introduce class rules and expectations to pupils and how they ensure all pupils understand these and what will happen if these are not met. What adaptations can you see teachers using?
- Communicate the behaviours they are looking for and find opportunites to highlight and reward these behaviours;
- Apply precise and concrete expectations to all routines, no matter how small.
Once teachers have clarified and communcated their expectations to pupils, they need to use examples so that the behaviours are clearly modelled.
They check for misunderstanding and then revisit, reinforce and revise the routines and expectations they have set on ongoing basis.
Fundamentally, they build positive relationships with pupils -getting to know them and showing they care about their progress.
If you can understand behaviour management as a process, not something you merely do at the start of the year, this will be key to your success.
To get a head start in September, request the behaviour policy of your main placement school so you know how rewards and consequences are implemented. If you are able to visit, observe this in action as well as the ways that teachers establish a positive climate for learning through language, tone, body language, and their movement around the classroom.
Reactive Behaviour Management
Even with the clearest rules, routines and expectations, pupils will test the boundaries and many children who struggle to regulate their emotions and behaviour will need additional support. Knowing who these children are and planning with your mentor for how to meet these needs will be key.
It is useful to think of behaviour as a form of communication and teachers should remain curious about what children may be trying to communicate through their behaviour.
Is it frustration at not being able to access the work? Are they tired, hungry or thirsty? Is the work unchallenging? Remember that many primary-aged children will not be able to verbalise why they are behaving in a certain way; it is up to you to try and identify whether there is a barrier to learning and put in strategies to remove that barrier.
When you are observing, look out for how experienced teachers do this in practice.
All of the above is key but it is also essential to prepare for what you will do if children do not display the behaviours you want to see, despite the proactive strategies you have in place and the learning barriers you may have tried to remove.
Make sure you are clear on what kind of behaviours require a consequence. Again, refer to the school’s behaviour policy and observe teachers in the school to note when and how they implement sanctions.
In September, script and practise what you will say and do with your mentor so that you feel confident in dealing with poor behaviour when it happens.
Further Reading and Resources
Early Career Hub Archive
Access the Early Career Hub Archive by joining the Chartered College. This is free to do so in in your training year so sign up and make the most of this resource
The Work of Tom Bennett
As a leading behaviour advisor to the Department of Education, Tom Bennett has some straight forward suggestions on behaviour management