Essentials: Strategies For Reducing Low Level Classroom Disruption

Essentials: Strategies For Reducing Low Level Classroom Disruption

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Low level classroom disruption hinders both teaching and learning, and creates unnecessary classroom stress on a daily basis. So what can you do about it?

In our latest School Behaviour Secrets podcast we explore key classroom management techniques to tackle this familiar problem head on, providing practical tips to help you manage classroom disruption with confidence.

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Show notes / transcription

Simon Currigan

In today's episode, we address a common classroom obstacle, low level disruption. And despite its seemingly innocuous name, low level disruption hinders both teaching and learning and creates unnecessary classroom stress on a daily basis for so many teachers and students. Join us as we explore 4 essential classroom management strategies tailored to tackle this challenge head on. Not only will we unveil these strategies, but we'll also provide practical insights on implementing them within your own classroom. Welcome to the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. I'm your host, Simon Corrigan. My co host is Emma Shackleton, and we're obsessed with helping teachers, school leaders, parents, and, of course, students when class room 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 welcome to episode 201 of School Behaviour Secrets. It's like the sequel to 101 Dalmatians where instead of adorable puppies causing mischief, it's 201 pupil interactions creating challenge in the classroom. Woof. Woof. In our in our shorter essentials episodes, we share with you bite sized strategies or ideas from an earlier podcast that can positively impact how you support the SMH needs of the children in your school today.

And this week, we're going back to original episode number 59 where my co host, Emma Shackleton, and I share strategies that you can use in your classroom to reduce low level pupil disruption. And if you find this useful, please don't forget to subscribe and tell your friends or colleagues about the School Behaviour Secrets podcast. All you have to do is open up your podcast app and hit the subscribe button or the share button. And now, here's part of my conversation with Emma about minimizing low level disruption in your classroom. And you will find that by giving them these specific deadlines, holding them to account, you'll create a much more productive focused classroom where kids develop this habit of work where they get their heads down, they know what they need to achieve, and they can start to achieve their best.

Emma Shackleton

I think as well with that deadline technique, it's really useful if you've got pupils who are working on something that they don't particularly enjoy. So if maybe they're doing a piece of writing and writing's not their favorite thing, if they can see that there is a clear end to this piece of writing, many of them will be more inclined to put the effort in, work hard because they know it's a burst of hard work, and then they're gonna stop, and that's gonna be done. And that can be really helpful. Lots of children find starting and stopping difficult. So when we give clear deadlines, we give a little bit of a structure and a boundary around that, and it can make it more palatable and more manageable for children too.

Simon Currigan

And if you've got a class who don't have such a habit at work, they're not very industrious, and they're not used to concentrating for long periods, you can combine this technique with chunking. So you might just say in the next 15 minutes, this is what you need to get done. Make sure you concentrate on going to hold you accountable. And then you have, like, a mini break, like a 5 minute mini plenary where you talk about the work and give the kids a chance to recharge their attention before you shift into another chunk, which has also got a deadline attached to it.

Emma Shackleton

And just to add in there as well, you can also be sensitive to those children that find deadlines stressful, because there will be children in the class that might feel panicky. But as long as you can give them reassurance that as long as they are working to their best, there will be additional time if they don't get all of the tasks finished. Some children get very worried and upset if they don't complete a piece of work and it's hard for them to move past that. So we can still use deadlines, but we'll be sensitive to those individual needs. And we'll make sure that there are systems in place so that children understand this is what the expectation is in this session. And then if you need more time later, that time will be given to you.

Simon Currigan

Our third strategy is to use both of your oars. So here's the analogy. Here's what I mean by using both of your oars. I want you to imagine that you're out on a calm river or a lake and you're in a rowing boat, and your rowing boat has 2 oars. It's got a negative oar and it's got a positive oar. And in this analogy, which is whole class management, we're going to make progress, we need to use both oars. If you only use the positive oar, which would be giving praise and recognition and rewards for good behaviour, what you will find is that the boat, because you're using 1 oar only, is just going to go around and around in circles.

You're never gonna make progress or get to where you want to go. If in your classroom management you are only negative and you only talk about expectations and enforce boundaries and give consequences, you are going to go around and around in circles because you are still only using one of your oars. If you want that boat to go from the middle of the lake to the edge of the lake so you can escape the lake without getting wet, you are going to need to use both of your oars. If you're only using one side, if you're only using positive, however hard you work, kids are looking for where the boundaries are in the classroom. If you're only using positive praise, actually, sometimes what we tolerate says more than what we promote. Kids still need those expectations and boundaries. If you only use negative, you're gonna go around and around in circles.

Plus, when you only use negative, what you're doing is you're damaging relationships with your pupils. You're showing you only give attention for negative behaviour, which actually encourages it. So we need to use a balance of both. What I like in this analogy is I want you to imagine you've got a positive oar and a negative oar, and the negative oar is about 3 or 4 times bigger than the positive oar. So we've got one big negative oar and a much smaller positive oar. If we want to go in a straight line, we need to be rowing that positive oar much harder than the negative one. We need to be turning that positive oar 3 or 4 times for every single stroke on the negative oar because actually, negative interactions are much more powerful than positive ones.

So to keep that boat going in a straight line, we have to use much more positive than we do negative, and it's the same in our classrooms. Positive interactions are actually much weaker than negative ones. Positive interactions help us build relationships, so they do all sorts of good things. But the research shows that when we have a negative interaction with someone, we remember it and we hold onto it in a way that we don't do with positive interactions. So we have to overcome that big negative oar with a positive one.

Emma Shackleton

I really like that analogy, actually. I think that appeals, and I've been thinking about this. In other situations as well, It's getting the balance, isn't it? And not just relying on one method or one technique. It's having a range of techniques and using them in the right proportions. So we'll have to use both oars to make the boat progress, and we have to encourage and kind of lighthouse the positive behaviors. So look around, look for children who are engaging in the prosocial or pro learning behaviors that we want.

So children who are concentrating, focusing, listening, collaborating, sharing, taking turns, Look for those behaviours and talk about those, and that lets children know what our expectations are and it sets the boundaries. But we've also got to remember, there will be some negative correction as well if you like, but we've got to keep that proportionate. So that's a big powerful whack with the oar when we use that. So there will be that balance, but we've got to counterbalance that with lots and lots of positive interaction as well. And when you look at research, the research actually says you need 3 to 1 or maybe even 5 to 1. So you need 3 times or maybe even 5 times as many positives for each one negative. So the research doesn't advocate no negatives.

So all groups need boundaries, and kids do need constructive criticism or correction, but it's just important that we do it in the right way.

Simon Currigan

And if you're driving and you haven't been listening carefully, we're not encouraging you to take oars into the classroom.

Emma Shackleton

And just thinking about that correction, what we tend to say is to praise in public and correct in private. And of course, there'll be some children who don't enjoy public praise, so will be sensitive to that. But on the whole, people prefer to have their shortcomings or the correction, if you like, spoken about privately or quietly with them, rather than broadcast across the heads of the rest of the class.

Simon Currigan

Our 4th strategy is be consistent with your behaviour management.

Emma Shackleton

Well, absolutely. Because if they don't know what to expect, then kids don't know how to behave. It creates confusion. So what pupils will do then is try out different behaviors to see where the boundaries are. So if the boundaries are consistent, they are clear about how far they can push. They know when they get to the line, they need to stop. And if that boundary never moves and it stays the same every single day, every single lesson, every single week, then they quickly realize, okay, this is where the boundary is.

If the boundary keeps shifting because the adults are inconsistent, it's like we're moving the goal posts. And the kids get a bit wobbly, and they're not quite sure where the boundary is, so they keep on testing. And the way they do that is by exhibiting a a range of behaviours to see what happens. Will I get away with it today? I got away with it yesterday, but I didn't get away with it the day before. So they keep on testing. Lack of consistency also doesn't help pupils with additional needs, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, because those children find it even harder to link cause and effect.

So if what we do in response to their behavior keeps on changing, that's very, very confusing for them.

Simon Currigan

And that was just a small part of an earlier discussion I had with my co host, Emma, where we share some of our key strategies for eliminating low level disruption in the classroom. If you'd like to hear all 4 of our key ideas, simply click the link at the bottom of the episode description to go back to original episode number 59. I definitely recommend that you do. If you found today's episode helpful, please take a moment to rate and review us. It takes just 30 seconds. When you do, it prompts the algorithm to recommend School Behaviour Secrets to other listeners. So let's spread the word and help this podcast grow reaching fellow teachers, school leaders, and parents far and wide.

Thanks for tuning in today, and I look forward to seeing you next time for another educational adventure on School Behaviour Secrets.

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