Dumbing down, an Echo Chamber inspired blog.

Having just read two blogs from Twitter links I am again driven to blog. Hopefully a short missive this time and my own assertions as usual. Read on if you will.

The first blog related to misbehaviour and the fact that this was not being dealt with in any effective manner in many schools. First, I would be somewhat cautious about the cry that it is an issue in many schools. I don’t deny that there will be issues in some and I don’t know how to quantify many. But some is too many for me. In each secondary school roughly a thousand students are at risk of having their education damaged by misbehaviour from themselves or other students. John Hattie says the presence of just one disruptive student in a class negates the performance of nearly all the rest of the students. Damaging indeed.

I have a simple response to this and that is that it is, in my experience, relatively easy, though not without some degree of determination and fortitude, to sort out misbehaviour. The way to do this does depend on the detail and will be tactically different in different schools but in essence, if the problem is one student across many different teachers then the issue is one which SLT have to deal with by acting on that child. I am not at all apologetic about the use of the word ‘on’ in these situations. Acting on includes low level interactions which might just be talking to the student to influence the behaviour but will end in permanent exclusion if the child will simply not behave in an appropriate manner. Let me repeat the key phrase of this section, ‘across several teachers’. We just cannot allow one child to continually disrupt 30 others each time they enter a lesson. We can not!

The second is when the issue is one child and one teacher. This is dealt with in a number of different ways which might mean moving the child to another teacher in that subject. I don’t believe in finding a difficult solution when a simple one will do. If the move sorts it, then fine. If this does not resolve the matter then the child is making inappropriate decisions which he/she does not have the right to make.

One teacher and several children is a more difficult issue as one probably can’t just move a few into other classes.

It may be that the teacher does need to alter their own behaviour but to make that decision I would watch the teacher’s lessons with the child present. I would expect to know the typical ‘style’ and ‘triggers’ that the teacher had, from previous visits to the lesson.

I visited every lesson in my own school on at least 3 days each week. The question was. “How’s it going, Sir/Miss?” Any misbehaving child would be removed and dealt with. Perhaps returned immediately but it may be that I would remove the child to spend some time in our Time-Out room. My heads of year and other SLT members would also be following the same procedures, though HoYs would generally only visit their own year group for these lesson visits. These sanctions were applied intelligently and were more frequent and sometimes more confrontational at the start of the behaviour management programme.

There is a lot more to tell but as this is meant to be a ‘short’ blog, perhaps another blog is needed.

Actually I will deal with the second blog at another time.

I have worked with a number of schools, some in some degree of disarray, and the only time I was not able to make a very significant difference to behaviour was where the head teacher was opposed to my methods and worked from a very student centred, restorative justice direction. That school is still in some degree of trouble.

If I were to summarise my approach in one statement it would be that we cannot accept poor behaviour that disrupts the learning of others.


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