In a recent blog entitled 'Managing low level disruption' I shared my strategies and thoughts on low level disruption and how if unchallenged can have an impact upon teachers teaching and children learning. But what do we do when that behaviour moves beyond low level and what impact does it have on learning?
Really bad behaviour is in lots of ways more tricky than the low level disruption because the implications can and often are quite big for indivdual pupils as well as whole classes.
I used to be of the belief that bad behaviour was generally rooted in KS2 and beyond. I have now though come to realise that actually bad behaviour can begin with quite young children and that this is where some of the bad behaviour of older children can perhaps stem from if it isn't managed.
Bullying is one example of bad behaviour that exists in all schools indeed in all areas of life amongst children and adults. I don't use the term bully lightly, after all as a teacher I have heard it bandied about quite often to describe simple disagreements or 'falling outs' between children.
So how do we manage it? That's a tricky question to answer because often bullying is similar to level disruption but instead of it being lots of children in a class disrupting a teacher it is often one child disrupting lots of children but often focussing on a couple of specific children.
As with the low level disruption the first step is acknowledging it exists which is difficult because it's time consuming but also sometimes we don't want the hassle of dealing with the consequences including the parents of the bully.
Bullying is also quite often not one incident such as a fight but more likely little incidents, sly comments, pulling faces, pushing in the line, snatching things etc. These incidents happen day in day out and the impact is huge!
How often do we get told that a child has done something we make light of it 'Oh stop fussing' or 'don't tell tales'. Yet this is the child or children telling us directly. As experienced professionals (don't tell Michael Gove I said that) we know the difference between telling tales or telling us what we neec to know. So we must listen, write it down somewhere see if there is a pattern if it is a fussy child or if it is constant low level nuggling that actually constitutes bullying. This recording may be useful when managing it later.
Managing bullying once identified needs to be consistent. It really is one of those 'stick to the policy' moments. Seek SLT support.
Above all be brave because after all if we, the adults in charge aren't brave enough or can't be bothered to deal with it the bully will go on unchallenged and the bullying will probably continue. The victim or victims learning and self esteem may be affected for ever!