S is for Structure

So far this has been a week of revelations, self reflection and Easter fun! I was also presented with a very interesting opportunity to see different teachers handling the same class. The usual year 1 teacher has now left for her maternity leave and has been replaced. With this new member of staff has come new structure, new techniques and new routine. It  has been amazing to watch the same (quite unruly) class react to a different teacher. I was very keen to reflect on a few things I noticed to help me develop my behaviour management skills (It’s something I definitely need to work on) So here are a few techniques I noticed the new teacher using that seemed very effective with the class…

Tone of Voice
As I develop and learn throughout my PGCE I have no doubt I will change a lot, but currently I would say that I am definitely not one for shouting. I don’t think it’s a very effective way of managing behaviour, and I think it often indicates that the teacher has lost control. The new class teacher has a firm but calm voice at all times and is fantastic at using her tone to show authority, without having to shout. This seemed to be working well with the year 1 class, and it was so interesting seeing the difference in the group as the previous teacher would raise her voice much more frequently. That’s not to say this is definitive proof of anything, it isn’t! However it is a good example of the importance of adapting your behaviour to suit your class. What works for one group of students may not work as well for another.

Tone of voice is definitely something I need to work on. As I’m not big on shouting I can sometimes leave myself in danger of coming across too placid. A teacher who is calm and in control can still be authoritative using their tone, without having to shout constantly. This is definitely a note to myself! 🙂

Clear Instructions
As I said previously this class can be slightly unruly. The new teacher structured her day in a very clear and bitesized way, meaning that everything was explained well before the students did anything. That’s not to say that the previous teacher failed at this, but their teaching styles were very different. The students seemed to respond well to a calm atmosphere and small structured activities. Due to the nature of the pupils needs and behaviour there were still disruptions throughout. However the classroom management worked well to keep the class moving forward as a whole and maintain order, despite any interruptions or outbursts. I found this to be real food for thought, especially when working with KS1!

Behaviour Charts
Sometimes it can be easy to focus on the poor behaviour, rather than the good, but I think this can be a big mistake. The class seemed to respond very well to the new teachers behaviour chart. It meant that more focus was being given to the children working well, but also it was clear what we expected from them, as we were frequently praising pupils who were sitting well, listening, or following instructions.

I’ve seen variations of behaviour charts at a few schools and they seem to work fantastically. The teacher monitored behaviour in her class by having a smiley face side of the chart and a sad face side. She reminded the children often that she was looking for people to move onto the smiley face, keeping them motivated and focussed on their behaviour. This also served as a visual warning for pupils who were moved onto the sad face. I think this chart works well as it’s a clear indicator of what’s expected and how pupils are doing. However it also leaves room for improvement as someone put onto the sad face could later be moved across to the smiley face when they change their behaviour.

The same idea can be implemented in lots of different ways. Here’s one I found online. I think this design works well, and is actually better then a simple happy/sad face, as there is room for lots of progression throughout the day on the chart. It’s also very clear how many warnings a child has had, and action that needs to be taken.

Positive Reinforcement
Along the same lines as the previous, another thing I’ve seen time and time again is the impact focussing on the positive behaviour can have on the negative. For example, if you have two pupils sitting next to each other, and one is sitting beautifully and listening whilst the other is chatting and being silly, it isn’t necessarily best to remind the second child of what you expect from them. If you instead just praise the child making the right choices, the other is likely to correct their behaviour. Only giving your attention to children working hard and making the right choices is a good and positive way of dealing with poor behaviour. Of course this doesn’t always work, but when trying this with smaller groups I have found it to often be very effective.


 

These are just a few points I’ve noticed from the change in class teacher. I could go on all day but lets not make this into an essay! I hope this was somewhat interesting. More than anything though I just wanted to make note of things I’m learning to help me reflect on my practice.

If you’ve got any thoughts then please let me know!

I hope you all have a good week, especially those of you that are already on Easter hols. I’ve got 3 days left (not that I’m counting)

Katie

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