A change of face can improve pupil behaviour
Not all behaviour management techniques and strategies need to be complex or time consuming. A simple opportunity for pupils to speak with someone other than yourself can be a very powerful motivator for them to make better choices in their classroom behaviour.
A vicious circle develops
Your relationships with individual pupils are a major force in determining how they behave in your lessons
All too often a barrier can be quickly built up between yourself and a pupil, either through their chronic low-level behaviour and the need for you to be constantly intervening, or a perceived, if not real, clash of personalities. The vicious circle this barrier leads to can be both exasperating for you and demotivating for the pupil. If you are in a situation where you only see the pupil three or four times per week, you begin to dread that particular lesson coming round, which in turn affects your enthusiasm, making it very difficult to be positive not just with that one pupil, but often the whole class. The pupil’s attitude, in turn, also becomes negative and his or her behaviour in your lesson deteriorates.
The situation can become even worse if you are a class teacher and your class group stays with you for most of the working day. Your relationships with individual pupils are a major force in determining how they behave in your lessons and how you are able to manage and change their unacceptable behaviours.
What's not working?
How many times have you had to intervene with the pupil and attempted to get them back on to the work in hand or stop them chattering and disturbing others? How many times have you had a one-to-one meeting with them away from the rest of the class, spoken to other members of staff about them, or spoken or written to their parents about their behaviour?
Are any of these strategies working? Do you feel that you are banging your head against a brick wall in your efforts to change their behaviour – almost to the point that you feel that if you have to approach them again in the classroom to remind them of their behaviour, you feel that it may even be your own behaviour which needs modifying?
Perhaps it’s time to try a strategy which doesn’t put all the emphasis on you, in order to try to change the pupil’s unacceptable behaviour.
Changing the face
At its simplest, the ‘change of face strategy’ would run as follows:
You are a class/subject teacher and you have a teaching assistant or learning support assistant in the room with you together with your normal class group. Pupil A has been off task, chattering, refusing to comply and generally making a nuisance of him or herself for the most part of the lesson. You have used all kinds of strategies to get the pupil back on task and now your patience is wearing thin. You now notice that he or she is out of their seat and bothering a group of pupils at another table.
Avoid impulse reactions
Your first instinct, as you are now getting really annoyed, is to go over to the pupil and speak your mind – after all he or she has been wasting time and annoying you for over half an hour now. Try to avoid that instinct and simply catch the eye of the learning support assistant, indicating that he or she should be the one to intervene this time. A change of face for the intervention will often change the pupil’s response.
It is important to define adult roles in such a situation and for the LSA or TA to understand that they too have a responsibility for the appropriate management of all pupil behaviour in the class group, even though they may have a primary responsibility to assist a named pupil in the group
It is important to define adult roles in such a situation and for the LSA or TA to understand that they too have a responsibility for the appropriate management of all pupil behaviour in the class group, even though they may have a primary responsibility to assist a named pupil in the group.
A clear strategy
One-to-one meetings are another typical example of when a change of face strategy can have a positive impact on helping a pupil make better choices. Don’t feel that you are simply devolving your responsibility for that pupil by involving another member of staff. It is a clear and predetermined strategy to remove any negativity which your relationship with the pupil may have on the outcome of the discussion.
In such situations it is vital that you have very clear and accurate information about the pupil and that it is made absolutely clear to all parties why another member of staff is involved. It should not be seen as your being unable to cope with the pupil, and the other member of staff need not – in fact in the first instance, should not – be a senior member of staff. Just as in the first example, the other member of staff could be another teacher, learning support assistant or teaching assistant. The important aspect of the strategy is that the pupil understands that it is their behaviour that is the major factor in the intervention and not their relationship, good or bad, with an individual member of staff.