In 2016 DFE produced a review of several documents which looked at successful school cultures and classrooms. The summary document was used to support Initial Teacher Training but the information below is a useful reminder to us all of some of the reasons behind the kinds of behaviour exhibited and what we can do to successfully manage this to ensure the best possible progress and outcomes for our students. Here is a summary of the DFE advice on behaviour management in the classroom. If you want to access more resources on classroom management read from SupplyWell’s very own former deputy head, Dylan’s top ten tips on classroom management.
Behaviour management is key to the success of most classroom outcomes. What we call behaviour is actually the sum of an enormous number of habits and attitudes and skills that adults frequently take for granted. None of these factors are innate, and they must be imparted or taught in some way. Pupils vary enormously in these capacities due to their histories and circumstances. Teachers that assume all pupils are equally capable of behaving successfully, soon discover they are not.
Behaviour must be taught. The habits and skills that comprise successful class behaviour should be taught to all pupils. It is entirely possible to do for most pupils.
The two main approaches that new teachers should focus on are proactive behaviour management and reactive behaviour management.
Proactive Behaviour Management
Behaviour management should be seen as a process, not of merely reacting to misbehaviour when it occurs, but more importantly of actively supporting pupils by proactively teaching them clearly what behaviour is expected of them, and how it will help them to succeed.
This involves the following elements:
- Introducing the pupils to the rules and expectations of the classroom as soon as possible, preferably on the first encounter.
- Not allowing pupils to work out what good conduct looks like; this penalises the less able pupil. Instead, be precise, and carefully communicate what behaviour will help pupils to succeed, what is prohibited, and what the consequences of both will be, emphasising the benefits of engaging with the processes.
- Being clear in one’s mind what good behaviour looks like.
- Avoiding ambiguity, grey areas or interpretation. Be concrete. What behaviour do you need in a line-up? When you are speaking? When they are working in pairs? Actions for when they are stuck? Late?
Once this has been clarified, communicate it clearly to pupils. Be clear, use examples, and check for misunderstanding. Teach, rather than tell, the pupils what you expect of them. Behaviour should be seen as a curriculum, and it should be assessed, revised and refreshed constantly.
Pupils frequently look to one another for social cues about what is acceptable behaviour, or desired/popular behaviour. This is driven by, among other things, a desire to fit in, not stand out, and to gain the approval of peer groups. It is entirely to be expected that pupils will compete for status and attention amongst one another. But if misbehaviour is normal, pupils often drift behaviourally towards that norm. The teacher must assert what the norms of the room should be, even if they fall short. Pupils must see and hear them promoted and required constantly.
Use normative language to encourage pupils to grasp norms: ‘In this classroom we…’ for example. Respond whenever norms are broken. Demonstrate that they are important and be consistent with them over time.
Another form of norm that significantly affects behaviour is the use of routines – specific sequences of behaviour that pupils are required to perform practically all of the time without significant deviation. Examples include:
- Entry routines
- Class dismissal
- Corridor conduct
- Transitions between activities
We hope you have found this summary of the DFE Guidance on Behaviour Management in the Classroom helpful! Get involved in some discussion, SupplyWell hosts an online monthly event that gives supply teachers, teaching assistants and cover supervisors the platform to openly discuss their time on placements and how they manage their classrooms, find out more here.