Essentials: Key Classroom Management Strategies To Transform Pupil Behaviour (With Rob Plevin)

Essentials: Key Classroom Management Strategies To Transform Pupil Behaviour (With Rob Plevin)

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Are you a teacher looking for effective classroom management strategies that promote positive behaviour and student success?

Join us as we dive deep into this question with Rob Plevin, a renowned authority in the field of classroom management. In this bite sized episode of School Behaviour Secrets, Rob unveils the secrets behind creating a conducive learning environment and shares actionable techniques to encourage positive behaviour among students.

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Show notes / transcription

Simon Currigan

Ever wished you had a secret arsenal of skills to effortlessly navigate the chaos of a classroom? Well, buckle up because Rob Plevin is here to spill the beans on the game changing strategies that every teacher needs in the classroom. Forget the painful trial and error phase. Rob's got the keys to unlock seamless behaviour management, and he's sharing them with us today. Tune in now, and join us on a journey into mastering the art of classroom management. Welcome to the School Behaviour Secrets podcast.

I'm your host, Simon Currigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton, and we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and of course, students when classroom behaviour gets in the way of success. We're gonna share the tried and tested secrets to classroom management, behavioural special needs, whole school strategy, and more, all with the aim of helping your students reach their true potential. Plus, we'll be letting you eavesdrop on our conversations with thought leaders from around the world. So you'll get to hear the latest evidence based strategies before anyone else. This is the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. Hi there.

Simon Currigan here, and I'm back today with another special essentials episode where we share some key strategies and insights from an earlier episode that can have an immediate impact on the students that you work with. And if you're enjoying this podcast, please remember to subscribe in your podcast app now so you never miss another thing. This week, I'm going to share part of a conversation I had with Rob Plevin back in 2022. Rob's an author and expert on the topic of classroom management. And in this episode, he explains the techniques that he uses to create a productive learning environment. So what sort of specific classroom management techniques do you find have the most impact then on encouraging more positive behaviour in class?

Rob Plevin

Okay. So in in terms of encouraging behaviour, I think one of the very best to do, there are many, but one of the very best thing is to focus on positive reinforcement. But we've gotta do that right.

Now I'll give you an example. My daughter, she's 7. She had a friend over a little while back and they're both quite lively. My daughter's quite lively and her friend's quite lively. It was in danger of becoming mayhem. I found myself almost slipping in to being that type of dad that does a lot of shouting, and he's quite angry and very stressed out. And I don't want to be that dad.

I've been that dad before, and it doesn't work. So I I don't wanna be that that kind of person. And I just remembered that this really is the key to it, positive reinforcement, looking out for things going right rather than being quick to jump on things that go wrong. It's a totally different environment. It's a totally different way of working in terms of managing behaviour, and it brings very, very different results. So, basically, all I did was as soon as I saw the slightest improvement in either of them or either one of them doing something right, I immediately praised them and thanked them and said, you know, you're making the day go really, really smoothly. You're making everything wonderful by the way you're behaving.

And immediately, the other little girl wanted that positive attention. She wanted that positive reinforcement. And the behaviour changed in an instant. Kids love to please. They love to do the right thing when it's acknowledged and when it's reinforced. So it was really just about paying attention to them doing anything positive. I've got to apologize for my dog.

Simon Currigan

He's desperate to get on on the interview.

Rob Plevin

Every single time we do anything online, he's there in the background.

Simon Currigan

He's more than welcome.

Rob Plevin

I give strict instructions to my family to keep the dog quiet. They need to do some praise with him, you see. He'll respond to that. But yeah. So when we switch to that watching out for them doing something right, it's it's miraculous and amazing. Never ceases to amaze me how quick they respond and how quick they change. So positive reinforcement has to be done right because this is really important.

Years ago when I was teaching in special schools and there was this directive that came round from senior staff saying, we really need to address positive atmosphere in our classrooms. We need to do more to establish and maintain this positive language and positive environment. So from now on, you need to be using far more positive language than negatives. We want a lot more praise and a lot less criticism. So you got this situation where support staff were going around literally with a a checklist, and they were putting a check mark on a piece of paper every time a member of staff said anything positive, such as well done, that's great, excellent, and a little cross every time we said anything like, don't do that, don't do that, not that. So any negative got a cross and any positive got a tick. And at the end of the lesson, the support staff are going, this is incredible.

We've said, like, 80 positive phrases compared to 5 negatives. Isn't that brilliant? But actually what was happening was that we were paying all our attention to volume and quantity. And it was all about how many positive comments can you say. So you got these wishy washy throwaway comments like excellent, well done, brilliant. And staff in in many cases weren't even looking at the students they were talking to. They were so concerned with getting through the lesson and saying a load of positive comments that they didn't really pay attention to the kids.

The comments didn't really hit home. And so consequently, it had very little effect. Praise has to be really authentic. It's gotta be from the heart. Real authentic praise comes from the heart, and it goes straight to the heart as well. So if we notice what a student's doing, if we'd noticed they've done something right, and we jump on that and acknowledge that, then we will see differences, and and we see it very, very quickly. And it doesn't have to be huge thing.

You know, just thanking a child for holding a door or, you know, in some cases, actually bringing a pen to class, they are very small things. But if we just let them go, unacknowledged, then what's there to make them do it again? You know, behaviour is reinforced and we get what we pay attention to of course. So if we're constantly saying not that way this way and don't do that, do this and don't do that then we're not gonna get the positive change that we're looking for.

Simon Currigan

Can I just unpack one thing actually? I just wonder if you've got any sort of strategies or advice. You said it's very easy to slip into this reactive highlighting the negative. We need to be intentional about our practice if we want to change it and encourage more positive, authentic praise in the classroom. How do we change that as the person in the front of the room?

Rob Plevin

Actually, you're dead right to unpack this because I think in any training situation, as a trainer, you know, we're very quick to say this is what needs to be done. But oftentimes, we don't say this is how you do it. Now we can talk about changing behaviour on a superficial level, I. E. On the behaviour level. And we do it with kids by reinforcing it through praise and through reward and things like that. But with adults, how indeed do we get them to change their behaviour?

It's a bit like making a new year's resolution to lose weight or go to the gym. And seldom does that habit get ingrained unless we're really committed to it and we put everything else on hold and we really diligently say right, I'm gonna lose x pounds or whatever. Focus is a big part of it but I think we've gotta get underneath what actually drives our behaviour and this goes for kids as well. It's our emotions, it's our feelings, it's our beliefs, and it's our attitudes that lie underneath our own behaviour. So if we have the attitude, for example, that these kids are frustrating, time consuming, really annoying, unteachable, and really bad, then our behaviour in terms of the responses that we use, in terms of the strategies we use, and the tools we use to manage them is gonna be very different to having an attitude of care, support, dare I say it, love, and actually wanting these kids to succeed. You have a very negative attitude, you use a negative toolbox. It's obvious.

As you have a positive attitude, you'll be more inclined to use positive responses. And as we all know, the positive responses are the ones that work. When kids see that we are there to help them, to care for them, to help them succeed, and really are interested in them, and really value them as individuals then they will respond. If we're constantly on their backs nagging them, threatening them, punishing them, At best we get reluctant compliance, at worst we get a brick through our car window. I've seen that many times in some of the centers I've worked in. So if we're gonna make the changes, it really starts with our attitude. And I'll give you one really good way to in fact, I'll tell you about the way to find that out later.

I'm gonna keep that one back Okay. Because it's game changing.

Simon Currigan

Which technique do you think has the most impact on managing negative classroom behaviour?

Rob Plevin

I would say without doubt, it's, the relationship. So the relationship that we have with our children, the relationships that we build in the classroom. So not just the teacher student relationship, but the peer relationships that that whole classroom camaraderie is really essential to rectifying behaviour problems and encouraging more positive. I believe it's the single most important aspect actually of classroom management, teacher student relationship. There's a saying in marketing that people will only buy from you if they know, like and trust you. And if we look at teaching and working with kids, it's actually true too. You know, kids are gonna behave better for, work harder for a teacher that they know, they like, and they trust.

It's a basic human need to be connected to others. We're pack animals. And so if you're aloof and you you don't really want anything to do with these kids, your view is that they should just be taught and they should sit down and quiet and just listen to you because you got all this knowledge to impart and nothing else, then you're not gonna get the same results as a teacher who really wants to get to know these kids, really values them as individuals, puts the relationship at the forefront of the practice.

Simon Currigan

And I guess if we all think back to a teacher who influenced us or, you know, inspired us from the past. That's someone who took interest in us as an individual. There was a form of connection there. It wasn't just business. We felt they cared about us in some way.

Rob Plevin

Absolutely. Yeah. 100%. I mean, I can remember back to my favorite teachers at school. Well, the only teachers I respected actually. I had a rough ride through the education system. I was kicked out of school actually.

The only teachers that I remember with any positive kind of memory are those that I had a relationship with, you know, those that took that time to get to know me and and, who I was.

Simon Currigan

With all your experience now, if you could go back in time and speak through a time portal and give a newly Rob Plevin a piece of advice about classroom management, what would it be?

Rob Plevin

It would absolutely be changing that attitude first. That to me is the is the fundamental strategy if you like, but it's also a mindset shift. To move from this attitude of maybe you're tired out, maybe you're burnt out, maybe you're just frustrated, or maybe you just see these kids as, you know, problems, then switching that to an attitude of care and support is gonna make all the difference. My mother had a a lovely saying. My late mother I should say had a lovely saying. And it was, she used to say to me whenever I got wound up, whenever I was in a one of those foul moods as you are as a as a teenager, she used to say to me, Robert, she taught like that. Robert, life's like a teapot.

You get out of it what you put in. If you put weak tea in, you're gonna get weak tea out. It's all about your attitude.

And it's so true. You get back what you put in.

Simon Currigan

And if you'd like to hear my whole conversation with Rob, and I definitely recommend you do, all you need to do is click on the link at the bottom of the episode description to head directly back to episode number 46. If you found today's episode helpful, do please take a moment to rate and review as it takes just 30 seconds. And when you do, it makes a real difference to us because it helps grow the show. Because when people subscribe or leave a rating, it tells the algorithm gods to share School Behaviour Secrets with other listeners just like you and that throws some good karma out there and gets this information to other teachers, school leaders, and parents who need this information. Thanks for listening today, and I look forward to seeing you next time for another educational adventure, yeah, I said it, on School Behaviour Secrets.

(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)