SLT Driven Behaviour Management

This is the third blog in the behaviour management series. Blog 1 here. Blog 2 here.

What’s in it for me?

I am assuming you are considering an SLT run behaviour management system and moving away from the, common, expectation that each individual teacher is responsible for managing the misbehaviour in their lessons – common in secondary schools.

What advantages are there and why should we add to SLT workload

  • Massive reduction in teacher workload and stress. Teachers are not handing over the behaviour of the children in their lessons to some remote behaviour management system. Each teacher is responsible for delivering lessons that enable all children to learn as well as possible.

  • There is a common and consistent system of behaviour management across the school. It does not depend on the capability of individual teachers to entice their children into behaving. There is no need for 3 strikes and you are out type systems. Though I do like the “names on the board system” for recording low-level disruption. It works!

  • Teachers are trusted. They simply have to identify misbehaviour that is stopping others learning and they know it will be dealt with and they do not then have to weigh up their need to be planning and giving a detention.

  • Children know they are in an organised system where the expectations are clear. They will have heard them in an assembly and had good as well as poor behaviour explicitly modelled.

  • SLT has a visibly direct link to what happens in a classroom. They are seen every day showing how important classrooms are in the school. Actions speak louder than words. Schools are fundamentally about what happens in lessons, not what goes on in offices and in meetings!

  • Central detentions work. A child who does not attend knows that people with time, SLT, will catch up with them the next day. Kids know teachers are busy teaching and non-contact time for teachers is precious.

  • Corridors are supervised by touring SLT. And SLT gets to see all classrooms. A real plus.

  • Misbehaviour reduces dramatically! That benefits all and learning increases. Who does not want that? Surely, that is the core of your mission statement? If not, why not?!!

  • It is a very easy system to implement. Announce and explain in assemblies then just get into the corridors and classrooms and do it.

How to Set Up and Run Behaviour Management in Secondary Schools.

This is the second post about behaviour management. Post 1 is here.

I want to make this as easy as possible to understand so it is going to be a list of actions, behaviours and attitudes to ensure your school has high-quality behaviour that allows teachers to teach and children to learn. You and other senior staff need to be touring the school and visiting all spaces where children are being taught, frequently. Meet up to share experiences, frequently.

  1. Believe misbehaviour can be reduced to close to zero in all lessons. 
  2. Accept that if a child misbehaves in more than one lesson changing the way those teachers try to manage that misbehaviour is probably not going to be productive 
  3. If a child misbehaves in only one lesson, it may be that the interaction between that child and that teacher needs adjusting. Both parties may need to change. 
  4. If misbehaviour, at any level, is apparent in more than one lesson then it is the role of SLT and other leaders to solve. It is not an issue for those teachers.
     
  5. Check for basic skills competency. Is misbehaviour, masking, for example, poor reading or mathematical skills?
  6. Ensure you always maintain a relationship with the worst behaved child so that it is possible to continue to discuss their good and not good behaviours. Or at least make sure there is someone in school who can do that if you can’t.
  7. This is not suggesting remote behaviour management. It is far more than that. No good just telling, threatening, a child to behave or else. Time is needed to help the child learn to behave. 
  8. Children need rules and those rules must be fair, kind and scrupulously applied. No favourites. No favours. No exceptions. 
  9. The fact is that some children need more teaching to then be able to modify their behaviour so that they and others can learn. 
  10. You can only know all there is to know about what actually goes on in your classrooms if you visit them all, at different times of the day, several times each week. If you have an issue with behaviour then you need to put in the effort to collect the information. 
  11. You are not checking on teachers. You are checking on student behaviour. 
  12. NEVER feedback about an individual teacher any evidence you collect from this “lesson visit” process. 
  13. If you encounter behaviour you do not approve of, the threshold for this will alter as your school improves, consider removing the child for a discussion in the corridor. If you ignore poor behaviour you are condoning it and letting teachers and children down. 
  14. Use assemblies and any other opportunity to explain why poor behaviour is so damaging to learning. It is a distraction of attention thing and also makes a teacher’s job so much more difficult. 
  15. Explain clearly, we used set-up videos of good and of poor behaviour to exemplify what we wanted, to all students. Be very clear about the expectations.. 
  16. Work with one year group for a week or so. 
  17. Insist that all adults buy into the new behaviour system. Train the adults as well as the children. 
  18. Reduce the paperwork teachers have to do to report misbehaviour as much as you can. You are touring the school frequently.  
  19. You should see significant improvements over the course of a school term. The problems will not be easy to resolve. 
  20. You may need to remove some children for significant discussion. In the early days, I did almost nothing else during school time. If an hour was needed to begin teaching a child how and why to behave properly then I spent that hour. As did my deputies, other SLT and heads of year. 
  21. Stick with it. It is hard work. 
  22. Involve parents and explain to them what you are doing and why. Reassure them that you are not simply collecting evidence to use to exclude children. Parents want their child to be in a calm, productive classroom to learn.

 

Behaviour Expectations Raised Significantly in all Schools

 

Although the title says ‘all’ I really only want to claim that this blog is about secondary schools. If you want to think about how this may extend to primary then feel free.

Let’s imagine that the government’ set a ‘rule’, a strong expectation’ that children would be in serious trouble in school if their behaviour disrupted the learning of others. Just imagine that had happened. What might the effects be?

Short term it could well lead to more exclusions – both fixed term and permanent as well as what in the school I was headteacher of we called internal exclusions. Actually, that is very much the situation when I took over the leadership of the school in North London that I loved. There were more exclusions. We set us a system where a ‘time-out’ room was staffed by a non-teacher full time.

We monitored time-out and other exclusions data to identify where exclusions were happening and why. We identified interventions and we worked with children in all sorts of different ways. My office often was a place where you would find some of the most difficult cases. I would spend a great deal of time discussing the child’s behaviour and how they might change as well as being very clear about the end result of the continuing misbehaviour. Children knew I was serious. Assemblies I gave were simply summarised by the theme – sit down and listen to your teachers. You do not have the fight to misbehave in class and you may not disrupt the learning of others. The rest of the staff who led assemblies were far more creative and covered all the aspects of school life you might imagine.

It took some time but certainly, within a year the school was a very different place. Lesson disruption was minimal and teachers had time to teach. It was a very quiet place and many visitors used to ask if we had children in the school. You could visit any lesson at any time and you would be pleased with what you saw.

We did not have to ‘train’ staff how to manage behaviour. They knew the expectations. Amazingly, without expensive training by consultants who claim, through their training, that individual teachers were to blame for misbehaviour, teachers could organise productive classrooms

Children were not cowed, exactly the opposite.

Parents commented on how their child now enjoyed school and felt safe at all times.

If you use the argument that exclusions will increase when a school gets a proper hold on its behaviour as a reason to rail against such a system then you are taking a short term view. Take the long term view.

Imagine that this was a national system. We might find that parents worked harder on teaching their child the expectations of behaviour mattered. We might find that teachers worked harder knowing that misbehaviour would be dealt with. We might get what is called system change, for the good of all children.

Next: A list, probably, of the way to achieve the above…