Ask most people in the teaching profession what stresses them on a daily basis (workload aside) and the answer is likely to revolve around low level disruption. The near-constant chat, interruptions, and general lack of focus that can occur is incredibly draining and can be challenging to eradicate.
While some schools, very much in the minority at the moment, have opted for a “no excuses” approach to behaviour management, many schools remain cautious of the strategy. Characterised by a hard line approach to any indiscretion, major or minor, “no excuses” is a controversial strategy with apparently positive effects. Yet some former “no excuses” schools have moved on from the approach in order to create a warmer, more supportive environment. Evidently, it’s not the cure all it was once thought to be.
6 strategies that work
So, without falling back on seemingly crude measures such as “no excuses”, what might work in the quest to motivate children so much that they don’t want to interrupt and disrupt? What’s worth trying, if low level disruption is creeping in, especially at this time of year? These ideas may help:
– Use the whole room – tempting as it might be to stay up front in order to regain silence and attention, moving around to pre-empt disruptions is likely to be more effective. It’s your classroom; your domain. Own it and use it.
– Be flexible – if your school offers the chance for the most disruptive to spend some time away from your classroom until they can be more cooperative, use it. Your classroom needs to be as conducive to learning as possible.
– Talk – no matter what the age of your pupils, talk about your expectations of their behaviour. What are the ground rules for your room? Are these known and discussed regularly? If a lesson goes awry do you explain your expectations and the points at which they weren’t met and why? Open discussions in calm moments can be worth their weight in gold. This is about relationship building; it’s time never wasted.
– Stay calm – no matter how frustrated you feel, there’s little to be gained from not remaining balanced and calm.
– Be consistent – your standards and expectations need to remain high regardless of the challenges they face. There also needs to be a school-wide policy on dealing with low level disruption that is adhered to.
– Be firm – poor behaviour needs to be dealt with promptly and fairly. It affects the entire class so behaviour will only be transformed if it gets picked up and corrected whenever necessary.
There is no such thing as universal, fool-proof behaviour management, but the key, as ever, is to take what might work for you and personalise it for the context in which you work. If you have any great ideas that could be added to this list, let us know.
Find out more…
This Ofsted report on low level disruption offers information on types of disruption, school policies, and suggestions for getting it right.
About the author
After graduating with a degree in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading, Elizabeth Holmes completed her PGCE at the Institute of Education, University of London. She then taught humanities and social sciences in schools in London, Oxfordshire and West Sussex, where she ran the history department in a challenging comprehensive. Elizabeth specialises in education but also writes on many other issues and themes. As well as her regular blogs for Eteach and FEjobs, her books have been published by a variety of publishers and translated around the world.