Essentials: Three Key Strategies To Improve Classroom Behaviour

Essentials: Three Key Strategies To Improve Classroom Behaviour

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Ever wondered how successful teachers maintain a purposeful classroom?

In today's episode we share 3 actionable hacks for enhancing whole class behaviour. Transform your teaching approach today and watch your students become more focussed, engaged and positively behaved.

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Show notes / transcription

Simon Currigan

Picture this. A classroom buzzing with energy, students deeply engaged in their learning, and a teacher confidently guiding them through their educational journey. What's the secret sauce behind such a harmonious scene? It's none other than effective classroom management. So join us in today's episode as we reveal 3 invaluable hacks for enhancing classroom behaviour. Welcome to the School Behavior 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 classroom behavior 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 this week's essentials episode of School Behaviour Secrets, a mini episode where I share with you an important strategy or idea from an earlier podcast that can impact on how you support the children in your school with their social, emotional, and mental health needs.

And this week, we're popping back to episode 51 where my colleague, Emma, and I shared our top 5 hacks for improving whole class behaviour. So whether you're a seasoned educator seeking fresh insights or a novice teacher embarking on your journey into teaching, this episode is your compass to navigate the seas of classroom management. Aye aye, captain. Remember, if you're enjoying this podcast, please remember to subscribe in your podcast app so you need never miss another episode. So without further ado, let's press play as I reveal 3 of those 5 classroom management hacks. So hack number 1 was set the tone the moment the children walk through the door. Hack 2 is use your seating plan strategically.

Now your seating plan can be one of your greatest classroom management tools. I don't believe there's any such thing as bad kids, but my experience have taught me from being in the classroom for years years years and having the opportunity to observe in thousands of classrooms that there's definitely bad combinations of children, children who negatively impact on each other's behaviour. And conversely, there's also positive combinations of children, children who impact positively on each other's behaviour. So we shouldn't be leaving our seating plan to chance. We need to think about exactly where we are going to put our kids physically in the room to get the best out of them.

Emma Shackleton

Yeah. That's right.

Never, never, never leave seating to chance. And don't fall into the trick of asking children to say alphabetically either because that's pretty much as good as random. So be clever about your seating arrangements. Think carefully about which combinations of children need to be split or split up for some of the time at least. Think about which children can cope with some distraction, such as who will be able to manage being close to a window or close to the classroom door, for example, or in a high traffic area, such as near the children's trays, and who needs to be closer to the teacher for the majority of the time, or closer to the toilets, or who needs to be seated with a friend. Some children do need bodying up with somebody, and that really helps to give them confidence in their environment.

Simon Currigan

I don't know if I've mentioned this tip before, but a great way of working this out is when you meet the class for the first time, tell them just to come in and say, you know, sit where you want, it's good to meet you, and just watch where everyone goes, watch the social groupings, perhaps take a photo of where they've sat or draw out a little map, draw out the tables and write the names of children, which seats they went to. Now put that drawing or photo in a photo frame and stick it on your desk because that is the worst possible arrangement for positive classroom behaviour that you could possibly imagine. Avoid that organization of children at any costs. I'm joking slightly because what that will do is the children that often impact negatively on each other are often drawn to each other for some reason. They form these social groups where they kind of compound each other's behaviour. And we want to avoid that. By asking the kids to sit together, sometimes what they'll do is they'll show us where those negative groups are.

The flip side of that, of course, it will tell you about friendship groups and it might give you some information about, you know, some kids who are shyer maybe, the kind of people that they want to sit next to to get the best out of them, you know, in a positive way. So sometimes asking the children just to sit anywhere can give you a lot of information about negative and positive friendship groups, which you can exploit in your strategic seating plan.

Emma Shackleton

And don't forget if they're available, it's really handy to talk to the previous class teacher. Ask them about which combinations they felt were good together and which are the bad ones to avoid. You don't have to reinvent the wheel here. Use the information that's available from any previous staff that have taught these children before. And don't be afraid to switch it up from time to time. So once you've established your seating plan, it isn't set in stone. Sometimes we spend a long time finely tuning a plan.

We get it exactly how we want it, and then in reality, it doesn't work so well. So don't be afraid if something's not working to have a switch up, to have a move around. And sometimes the benefits wear off. Don't be scared of having another change if necessary.

Simon Currigan

Our next hack is differentiate, differentiate, differentiate. This is so important for order in the classroom to create a productive working environment. Kids need to be able to access the work. If they look at the work and they can't access it, what they do is they fall off task. And then it's not long until you get low level behaviour like mucking around, shouting across the classroom, off task behaviour. Being able to access the work is everything. Kids who are directed and do the work.

There's that old saying that the devil makes work for idle hands. Well, if kids feel like they can't do the work, they fall off task.

Emma Shackleton

And linked to that, if the work is too short or it's over too quickly or it's too easy, again, you're gonna get kids falling off task and you will get low level behaviour rising. And that's because there's nothing else for the children to do. So when there's a gap and they're just milling or killing time, that's when those behaviours that we don't want tend to creep in. And that time frame where there's kind of nothing much going on and there's no expectation, that's called dead time, and we're gonna talk a bit more about that in a moment.

Simon Currigan

Some children with low self esteem or low resilience, they might look at a piece of work and think, you know, that's a bit hard. I'm gonna make mistakes with that. I'm gonna fail with it. And if you don't have the sort of internal confidence to be able to make a mistake and learn from your mistakes, if you see any errors in your work as evidence that you are no good as a learner or that you're a bad person, often what those kids will do instead of taking a risk with the learning, they will reject the work before it rejects them. I'm gonna say it again. They reject the work before the work rejects them. And that's why it's so important for some kids that we use our differentiation really, really carefully and cannily because differentiation is more than just about pitching the work at the level that's academically appropriate for them.

Emma Shackleton

And sometimes you actually need to pitch it lower than what you know that they can do because if they perceive that the work is too hard because of their emotional state, they are gonna reject it as Simon says. So sometimes you do need to go a little bit lower just to build up their confidence, build up their esteem, build up their resilience, and then you can bring them up to working on work which is at the right level.

Simon Currigan

And sometimes people say when we talk about this, oh, but Ofsted say that we should be stretching them. Look, the point here is with this subset of children, the kids with low self esteem and low resilience is when you do stretch them, they're not doing the work.

They're off task. They're walking out. They're rejecting the work. Instead of all, think about the cart before the horse, I mean, to get their emotional state right, we know to build their confidence, and then they engage in the task. We'll talk about that more another time. But sometimes for some children, for a short time, the purpose of a task is to be on task and to be developing, you know, this sense of pride, this sense of developing an automatic habit of work and feeling like they can achieve and succeed in the classroom. So our next hack is eliminate all dead time, which Emma started to allude to earlier.

Dead time is any time that the children aren't directed to a task or know what they should be doing. They are awaiting without clear instruction about what they should be up to. So examples of dead time, let's imagine the kids have been asked to line up to go out to lunch and no one turns it for 10 minutes. And what you've got is a queue of kids with nothing to do, just sort of hanging around, and then then you start to get low level behaviour. In the classroom, that might be kids just waiting at the tables while the teacher sorts out piles of photocopying and books and they might just be left waiting for 2 or 3 minutes. Maybe they've completed a task, and they don't know what to do next. So they should hang around without any clear guide or instruction about what to do next.

Dead time is really, really dangerous.

Emma Shackleton

I think dead time is so dangerous because it just crushes any of the good order that you've managed to achieve. So you might have really good systems in place, you might have really good routines, you've got the children listening, they're all on task, But then once there is nothing to do and they're left hanging around waiting, where there's a gap, children will always fill that gap. That's perfectly normal behaviour. But often the behaviours that they resort to to fill the gap are not the kind of things that we want to be happening in the classroom. So, yeah, dead time is dangerous because it really goes against the routines, and it goes against all of the things that you're trying to put into place to maintain good order. And once children have slipped down that slippery slope, it can be quite hard to bring them back. So once they're being silly, once they're out of the line, once they're turning around, once they're chatting, it can take time to bring them back.

Simon Currigan

So we've shared with you 3 of our classroom management hacks for enhancing classroom behaviour. And if you want to know what the other 2 hacks were, of course, you do. Simply click the link at the bottom of the episode description to go back to original episode. That was episode number 51. I recommend that you do. If you found today's episode useful, I'd really appreciate your support. It only takes you 30 seconds to sprinkle some podcast joy by rating and reviewing us.

And by hitting the subscribe button, you're not only securing your spot on the journey ahead, but you're also helping us share these valuable insights with educators, school leaders, and parents across the globe. So drop anchor with us, and let's set sail towards brighter educational horizons together. I promise next week, there'll be no more nautical references. Thank you for tuning in, and I look forward to seeing you next time for more fun and games on school behaviour secrets.


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