Use *one* behaviour management system well

2nd February 2013  |  by Greg

In my experience quite a few teachers use two approaches to behaviour, simultaneously, but there are good reasons for using just one, highly effective behaviour management system.

The mix is different from teacher to teacher, but here are the two types of system I often see teachers using.

System 1: A Wonky Hierarchical Approach

Here, the teacher does their best to implement a stepped approach to behaviour and understands how planning a suitable and reasonable reaction is important. The system has a beginning and an end but it is poorly and inconsistently delivered. In the end it fails and it leads to resentment. Children and young people see that their teacher doesn’t care enough to make sure things are fair.

System 2: A Shouty, Naggy Approach

“Why did you do that?”

“How many times have I told you?”

“Don’t be so stupid!”

“Why am I talking to you again?”

“Put that down.”

“Stop doing that.”

“Leave him alone.”

“Get on with your work.”

“Why can’t you behave yourself?”

You know the sort of stuff.

Use one system

I’d advocate that all adults working with children use one approach. This approach is simple, planned, fair and delivered supportively.

The biggest reason we use this approach is so we don’t have to shout and nag, because nothing breaks down relationships quicker than that.

Successful Teacher-Student interactions

In the (essential) Raising the Emotionally Intelligent Child, John Gottman shares the research into the features of successful parent-child interactions. Although the construct surrounding the relationships is different in schools, the same principles can be applied to teacher-student interactions too.

The features of are:

1. become aware of the child’s emotion;

2. recognise the emotion as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching;

3. listen empathetically, validating the child’s feeling;

4. help the child find the words to label the emotion he is having; and

5. set limits while exploring strategies to solve the problem at hand.

In a school context, the big problem is that, more often than not, we haven’t got time to stop everything to address all the emotional needs of all children, everytime they present themselves. If we are mid-lesson we can’t have these high quality, emotion-coaching conversations. So, my suggestion is that we have a system that allows us to calmly deal with the situation in that moment, leaving no doubt in the child’s mind that we will coach them emotionally soon. We might not be able to do the coaching right there and then, but we can put it on hold and ensure the relationship is in the best shape possible for when we do get this time.

One approach, done well. The future.

Looking for where to start with your single system? Try the Crucial Four.

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