A discussion about student behaviour

Poor behaviour does not happen in isolation – something is driving it, and a one-size-fits-all approach to behaviour management will not work. Sarah Long, an assistant headteacher and SENCO  advises in SecEd.

When I started thinking about behaviour, I was transported back to my time as an NQT – a long time ago! I started remembering the diametrically opposed advice I got off other teachers about how to manage children’s behaviour:

  • Don’t smile ‘til Christmas.
  • Never say anything negative to any child you work with.
  • It is like a war and you are the officer in charge.
  • Display the behaviour that you want the children to mirror back to you.
  • Do not let the little monsters grind you down and make sure you are a bigger bitch than them.
  • If you treat a child with respect, they will remember you forever.
  • Children are like dogs – they sense fear.

All these little gems of wisdom were very interesting, but they did nothing to help me decide, as an NQT, how on earth I was going to control the behaviour of 30 children.

Lots of children, sadly, live in a reality where they think no-one likes them and feel that they are unlikeable. We sometimes forget that behaviour does not just happen in isolation, something has to be driving it: unmet special needs, a lack of boundaries and direction and sometimes, even more sadly, it is learned behaviour observed from the actions of people around them.

I do not underestimate how difficult it is to manage behaviour with the ever-increasing complexity of the children in schools. However, sticking to some basics makes the job a lot easier:

  • Get to know your children before they walk in your classroom door – know their levels, their SEN, any home circumstances that might affect their behaviour (this comes back to treating children’s behaviour on an individual basis).
  • Have very clear expectations and routines from the very first lesson and stick to them.
  • Communicate frequently about behaviour (good and bad).

Read more advice for making the job easier and what alternative approaches you can take A discussion about student behaviour

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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