Confidence comes from discipline and training.
Behaviour guidelines need to be simple, for the child and for the adult.
The key thing is consistency. We all know this…..but sometimes following through with it is a different matter. This is why it is so important that the system in place can be applied consistently across all the children in the school.
As a new teacher, dealing with behaviour can be one of the biggest challenges that you face. Before my NQT year, I was fortunate enough to do quite a bit of supply teaching which forced me to adopt a clear behaviour plan so that I could quickly manage disruptive or negative behaviours that I came across in each new setting.
Often in schools, the behaviour policy is a long and daunting piece of paperwork. There tends to be more of a focus on the consequences rather than the rewards. If you were to analyse the behaviour policies of most schools, the rewards would be the focus, however, when translated to the children or to the parents, the focus seems to be on the negative.
Children respond to ‘rewards.’ Therefore, the focus of any behaviour policy must be on the ‘positive’ rather than the ‘sanctions.’ Praise in the classroom should be obvious and form the ethos of the school. Staff and children should celebrate and share their success publicly.
There will always be children who cause mischief or can be very difficult to manage. So, the policy needs to have a clear explanation of how ‘consequences’ will be dealt with. As I said, these need to be simple enough for your four year olds to understand – and simple enough for all the teachers to easily use in any situation.
Children need discipline. They need to know where their boundaries are so that they feel safe. Consistency is key in eliminating all poor behaviour because they know they will never get away with things without there being a consequence. When sanctions are carried out only ‘once in a while,’ children will test the limits thinking that they just might get away with their poor behaviour without getting into any trouble. With consistency, however, they know they shouldn’t even try.
I used to work in a EBD school for boys and with this experience I was able to do my undergraduate dissertation about rewards and sanctions in schools. Since then, I have used the same system for behaviour management and implemented it in every school I have worked in. It is simple, easily maintained and can be applied consistently; it focuses on rewards rather than sanctions and children see it as a fair and just system. When it has been in place across the schools I have worked in, Ofsted have always graded behaviour as good or outstanding.
Consistency is the key – but the term ‘consistency’ can look quite different from school to school. Doesn’t ‘consistency’ mean just that? Schools sometimes question why behaviour is poor and their approach isn’t working, but when they look at how their policy is actually applied, they will find that ‘consistency’ is the reason.
So, what does consistency look like in your school?