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Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Road to Outstanding Part 3 - Behaviour for Learning

All teachers have experienced pupils behaving badly both in and out of the classroom. Bad behaviour can take many forms from verbal, physical to low level disruption. Whatever the type of bad behaviour the impact upon learning is the same, learning is disrupted. In some cases it is only disrupted for one learner but in many cases bad behaviour has a ripple effect and then directly impacts the learning of whole groups, classes or even schools.

It is not surprising therefore that behaviour has always played a part in Ofsted judgements of schools as a whole. What has changed is that behaviour is now one of the elements that go towards an Ofsted inspectors judgement of an individual teachers grading. This is linked directly to the Teachers Standards. Several of which link directly towards behaviour for learning:

  • Encourage pupils to take a responsible and conscientious attitude to their own work and study.
  • Have clear rules and routines for behaviour in classrooms, and take responsibility for promoting good and courteous behaviour both in classrooms and around the school, in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy
  • Have high expectations of behaviour, and establish a framework for discipline with a range of strategies, using praise, sanctions and rewards consistently and fairly
  • Manage classes effectively, using approaches which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them
  • Maintain good relationships with pupils

So what is the difference between the behaviour of pupils in the school, classroom or behaviour for learning? Quite simply not a lot. The question that all teachers and SLTs need to ask is 'do students' attitudes to learning 'hinder their progress in lessons'? If the answer is yes then learning has been disrupted.

Whilst behaviour of pupils around the school and indeed the school ethos towards behaviour cannot be controlled by individual teachers the outstanding teacher can manage the behaviour of their class despite these barriers. The key lies in the word 'expectation' if the teacher has low expectations of behaviour then bad behaviour will ensue however if the expectations are high then pupils will respond appropriately. As it says in the well known quote 'No one rises to low expectations'

Managing behaviour is not rocket science however, it is evolving constantly and what may be a tried and tested method with one class will not necessarily work with another one. Whatever systems are put in place It shouldn't be based upon fear or punishment:

“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” Albert Einstein

I have blogged before about the importance of teaching the three Rs, Respect, Responsibility and Resilience this is an excellent place to start. Get this right and the rest will follow.  I have also got lots of suggestions for  Managing low level disruption. 

If out on the corridor, in the dinner hall or in the classroom down the hall the pupils are not as well behaved that is a matter for the SLT and unless you are part of that team you cannot be held responsible, it may make your job more difficult but it is not impossible. 

Remember rigorous behaviour systems, good teacher/pupil relationship built upon trust and responsible, respectful and resilient pupils are all clearly evident in the classroom of an outstanding teacher.