Teachers should ignore disruptive students to improve behaviour in classroom, study says

Teachers should ignore low-level disruptive behaviour in the classroom to reduce it, a new study suggests. It found that rewarding well-behaved pupils with praise – instead of focusing attention on poorly-behaved students – can improve the behaviour and mental health of school children. The Independent reports.

The study, led by the University of Exeter Medical School, found teachers who were trained to overlook children displaying low-level bad behaviour – such as swinging on chairs, tapping desks and moving around the classroom – were more likely to see positive results in their conduct.

The study, which involved more than 2,000 primary school children in 80 schools, measured the pupils’ development through a series of questionnaires of teachers, parents and students. 

Observers also sat in on lessons in a quarter of the schools – without knowing whether the teachers had undertaken the training – and concluded that children’s compliance in the classroom got better. 

Professor Tamsin Ford, of the University of Exeter Medical School, which analysed the success of the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management programme, said it shuts down the “naughty kid route”. 

She told The Independent: “Once you get into that mindset of praising children for doing what you want them to do and what they should do, it encourages the others, and stress levels among everybody is down,” she added

Teacher Sam Scudder, at Withycombe Raleigh School in Exmouth, East Devon, who undertook the training as part of the trial, said “Of course there are some behaviours you can’t ignore, but the focus is around really celebrating the kids who exhibit the behaviour you want: those who are quietly listening, yet are often overlooked in classrooms.” 

“It has a ripple-effect as more children copy that conduct.“

Read more Teachers should ignore disruptive students to improve behaviour in classroom, study says

Have you tried something similar? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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