… from the newsletter notes of Head Teacher John Boyce
If a school’s behavioural management system is not well-organised, there is often a lot of frustration, blaming, and a lack of morale among staff and students.
We are determined not to let that happen at Garin.
Why do schools need a behavioural management system?
Because young people are still learning what is important for them, and can become distracted. When that happens in a class of 25, the teacher needs a simple way to deal with the distraction without stopping the learning of the other 23-24. If the teacher does not have a simple and effective system, there will be frustration, anger, and maybe shouting. The other students stop learning because the teacher is not focussed on them.
We cannot allow that. We also refuse to allow students to be sent away from the learning environment.
- We train our teachers in different ways of planning and different control strategies – but once they have tried that, their first priority is to the other students – so they place the student to one side of the class and give him or her a sheet to fill out. We call this a “thinksheet” and it is designed to help the student think about – and take rsponsibility for – their own behaviour and learning. If that doesn’t work, we try another strategy and parents are automatically informed.
- We try not to start with blame – we have found it is better to discuss the issue, resolve it, and get on with learning. That usually works.
- If it doesn’t work, we will try a few other things – but if we still are not returning to learning, we ask parents for help – because it is serious: here is a student who is not learning.
In the classrooms teachers have several principles to ensure students are well-behaved and working.
- The first is good planning. A well-balanced lesson with clear objectives and a range of sequenced activities will assist student learning and the development of a sense of purpose.
- The second is “rich tasking”. Teachers look for a variety of activities to engage students with different preferred learning styles. They try to cater for the different gifts students have. Our experts in this field are Howard Gardner of Harvard University, and Benjamin Bloom of the University of Chicago. These two educationalists did very influential work of the nature of intelligence and the nature of learning. You will see an outline of how we use them here.
- The third is to treat students as individuals and speak with them quietly about their actions and our expectations.
Then we have a range of strategies ranging from a quiet reminder and eye contact, to changing seats, to staying in after class.
But then, if the problem remains, the teacher must put other students first, and we move into a more formal system.