Activity

1.4: Learning about… Maintaining consistently high behavioural expectations

Time allocation

30 minutes

Instructions

  • Read the text.
  • Study the examples for practice.
  • You will discuss with your mentor how to implement the ideas for practice.
Learn that
7.2 A predictable and secure environment benefits all pupils but is particularly valuable for pupils with special educational needs.
Learn how to
Demonstrate consistently high behavioural expectations and establish effective routines, by:
1f Teaching and rigorously maintaining clear behavioural expectations (e.g. for contributions, volume level and concentration).
1g Applying rules, sanctions and rewards in line with school policy, escalating behaviour incidents as appropriate.
1h Acknowledging and praising pupil effort and emphasising progress being made.
Develop a positive, predictable and safe environment for pupils, by:
7a Establishing a supportive and inclusive environment with a predictable system of reward and sanction in the classroom.

Praise and rewards help to create a safe, predictable environment

A sense of predictability and security is important in setting and maintaining an effective climate for learning. This is beneficial for all pupils, and especially those with special educational needs, whose learning may be particularly hindered when the learning environment is not calm, secure or predictable. We will look more closely at how to adapt teaching for the learning of all pupils in Block 3. The key to making pupils feel safe and secure is to always be predictable and consistent in your response to pupils. 

Have a look at the table below, which highlights some of the things that you can do to create a predictable, safe environment.

What to do How this creates a predictable environment
Establish routines and stick to them.
  • Pupils know what they need to do.
  • Routines become habit. 
  • Takes away anxiety because pupils know what is expected of them.
Greet pupils at the door with a smile every lesson.
  • Pupils will begin the lesson in a positive way.
Be consistent in the way you deal with behaviour.

Use rewards and sanctions consistently, in line with the school policy.
  • Pupils will know what will happen if they do A or B.
  • Pupils will understand the consequences of their actions.
  • There will be no surprises.
Respond quickly to any behaviour that threatens emotional safety.
  • Pupils will trust that you will deal with anything that hurts them.
  • Pupils feel safe.

A positive, predictable and safe environment makes pupils feel that they are supported to learn, respected and cared for. 

You can use praise and rewards to develop a positive, predictable and safe environment in your classroom:

  • Acknowledge and praise expected behaviour using verbal and non-verbal signals. 
  • Use in-class rewards and praise alongside whole-school rewards. 
  • Make praise and rewards ‘high value’: don’t praise work that is not at the standard expected.
  • Focus praise on effort and progress, not attainment. This encourages further effort, whatever level the pupil is working at.
  • Use positive language to give directions or address behaviour: sanctions are used positively with a focus on returning to learning as quickly as possible.

Try this…

Use non-verbal signals to provide feedback about behaviour. For example, in an upcoming lesson, practise:

  • Using smiles and nods rather than verbal praise for pupils who are following your routines effectively.
  • Positioning yourself in the classroom near pupils who are not doing what is expected.

By narrating the positive things pupils are doing in your classroom, you can quickly get pupils on task and encourage good behaviour. If you do this every lesson, it will create a positive climate for learning as pupils will expect you to recognise and highlight the good things going on in your classroom. Take a look at the video below to see how you can do this in practice.

Video

The final version of this video will be available from spring 2021, as the publication of this programme was fast-tracked in response to disruptions to this year’s initial teacher training.

Title

Praising positive behaviour

Video type

Classroom footage

Short description

In the classroom, a class gets started on a task

Guidance

  • What does the teacher say?
  • What does the teacher do?
  • What is the impact of this?

Filming brief for teachers

  • Give clear instructions for a task.
  • Visibly scan the room to see how pupils are getting started.
  • Give praise to those pupils who are following instructions ‘well done……I can see you are opening your book and getting started’.
  • Praise individuals and tables as appropriate.
  • Focus on the pupils who are doing the correct thing.

Video script

NARRATION
Instead of correcting negative behaviour, I want to demonstrate and model positive behaviour. One way of doing this is through praise and verbalising the positive things going on in the room.

CLASSROOM INTERACTION
Mariah, what am I asking you to do in this task? Exactly right, you are going to be working in pairs to answer question 3. Off you go.

I can see that Josh and Harry have made a really great start. Good to see you both on task so quickly.

Who else can I see showing great focus? Thank you Bettie, thank you Catherine. Really focused in this corner here, well done.

Sacha, I see you’re getting started already, that’s excellent. Sophie has settled quickly to work, thank you Sophie, I like what you’ve done with that first sentence.

Jon and Karl are getting books and pens out of their bags. Nice and quickly now thank you.

Maria and Ryan have made an excellent start, well done you two.

NARRATION
By narrating and modelling the positives, everyone will be encouraged to follow the good examples. My high expectations will be evident, and I am more likely to have full co-operation and participation from the class.

In your notepad

  • What does the classroom environment feel like?
  • What does the teacher say?
  • What does the teacher do?
  • What is the impact of this?

It is important to plan HOW pupils are going to do things as well as WHAT they are going to do. You can make this clear when giving instructions. It is important to consider the ‘reasonable adjustments’ you can make for those with SEND, for example a pupil with SEND may need the instructions written down or one instruction given at a time.

Example

“You are now going to complete the next part of the story working quietly in pairs. This means you will only be talking at a whisper and you should not be able to hear what the pair next to you are talking about and they should not be able to hear you. You have four minutes to complete this task. When you have finished, you will complete the extension activity on the board on your own and in silence.

Susannah, how long do you have to complete this task? Thank you, Susannah, four minutes. Kieran, who will you be working with? Thank you, Kieran, you’ll be working in pairs with your partner. Kirttana, can you talk while completing this task? That’s right, Kirttana, you can talk in a whisper. Leo, what should you do if you finish? Thanks Leo, yes, there is work on the board if you finish.

I’ll be coming round to help so put your hand up if you need me. I’ll write the names of pupils who have worked well on the board. Thank you.”

Let’s take a closer look at the example and pick out the ways the teacher has used their instructions to make it clear HOW they expect pupils to complete their work:

“You are now going to complete the next part of the story working quietly in pairs. Expectations clearly established.

This means you will only be talking at a whisper and you should not be able to hear what the pair next to you are talking about and they should not be able to hear you. Pupils are being explicitly told what is expected of them.

You have four minutes to complete this task. When you have finished, you will complete the extension activity on the board on your own and in silence. Timings are clearly established.

Susannah, how long do you have to complete this task? Thank you, Susannah, four minutes. Kieran, who will you be working with? Thank you, Kieran, you’ll be working in pairs with your partner. Kirttana, can you talk while completing this task? That’s right, Kirttana, you can talk in a whisper. Leo, what should you do if you finish? Thanks Leo, yes, there is work on the board if you finish. Expectations are checked and reinforced.

I’ll be coming round to help so put your hand up if you need me. Ensuring that support is available if needed.

I’ll write the names of the pupils I’m impressed with on the board. Showing the class that you are looking for pupils to do well and will be acknowledging pupils who are following your instructions.

Thank you.” Pre-empting focus and showing trust in pupils. Saying thank you assumes and encourages a positive response.

In your notepad

Have a go at writing instructions for a task from an upcoming lesson. Use the example above to help you. 

In your instructions, focus on how you expect pupils to do the task, as much as what to do. 

You should aim to:

  • Explicitly tell the class what you expect from them.
  • Notice and highlight positive behaviour.
  • Give pupils opportunities to change their behaviour before they get a sanction.
  • Decide whether you will give the instructions verbally or in writing. 

Ask your mentor to review your instructions and help you to plan to use this instruction. 

Escalating behaviour incidents as appropriate ensures a predictable and secure environment for all pupils

In the previous part of this section we explored the importance of always being consistent when responding to pupil behaviour. We are now going to think about this in terms of poor behaviour. When you are teaching, you want 100% of pupils to be focused, on task and engaged so that you are able to teach and they are able to learn. So, what should you do if a pupil misbehaves? Let’s consider the following key questions you should ask yourself:

  • How can I maintain the positive environment I have created?
  • What does the school policy say?
  • What intervention will be the least invasive and will get the behaviour I want to see?

Knowing the different interventions you can employ, and the order in which to do these, is a vital part of dealing with poor behaviour in your classroom. Ideally you want intervention to be fast, invisible and always to use the least intrusive approach possible.

Using the least intrusive intervention allows us to:

  • Promote good relationships
  • Make pupils feel safe and secure
  • Prevent poor behaviour escalating
  • Help pupils self-regulate their behaviour
  • Maintain the positive climate for learning.

Take a look at the table below to see the behaviour interventions beginning with the least intrusive and slowly escalating as necessary:

Behaviour intervention What is it? Impact Example
Non-verbal A signal to pupils to show the behaviour you want to see. You want to indicate that they need to follow an instruction without talking.
  • Allows fast, invisible correction
  • Does not disrupt the flow of learning
  • Teacher can maintain the pace of the lesson
  • Addresses behaviour instantly.
One pupil still has their book closed: the teacher walks to their desk and taps the table.
Positive group reminder If an individual or group are not behaving, you can give the whole group a reminder about what they should be doing.
  • Quick and positive
  • Corrects behaviour you see and those you don’t 
  • Anonymous and supports positive relationships.

“You should have your books open.”

“You should be reading the text carefully.”

Anonymous individual reminder This is the same as a positive group reminder but you make it clear that you do not have all pupils following instructions/on task.
  • Makes it clear that you cannot see 100% 
  • Tells pupils exactly what they should be doing
  • Anonymous and supports positive relationships.

“I can see 90% of the class on task, I am just waiting on the last 10%.”

“I am just waiting on one pupil to look this way.”

Private individual reminder If there is a pupil still misbehaving after you have given an anonymous individual reminder, you should wait till an appropriate moment and go over to the pupil, get to their level and tell them what they should be doing.
  • Tells the pupil explicitly what they should be doing
  • Making it private supports your relationship with the pupil
  • Does not draw attention to the poor behaviour.
“When I was talking I did not see your eyes on me. Remember we always have our eyes on the speaker to show we are listening. Can I see you picking your pen up and making a start? Thank you.”
Lightning-quick public reminder Give a quick correction directly to the pupil telling them what they need to do and then normalise the behaviour to what the rest of the class are doing.
  • Limits the attention the pupil gets for the poor behaviour
  • Tells the pupil what they should do rather than what they did wrong
  • Needs to be fast and clear.
“Jack, I need to see you looking this way. Thank you.”
Consequence If you have been through the different least invasive techniques and the pupil has not corrected their behaviour you should give a sanction in line with school policy.
  • By using the least invasive reminders first, you have given the pupil opportunity to correct their behaviour
  • A sanction is not the first choice
  • The pupil can see the escalation process as a result of their behaviour.
“Ayesha, I need you to move to this seat here to make sure you can stay focused on your work.”

Whenever possible, you should try to keep behaviour interventions as low-key as possible and escalate through the interventions as necessary. Your school behaviour policy will give guidance on what sanctions to apply and under what circumstances.

In your notepad

  • What is the purpose of choosing the least invasive interventions first?
  • How would this approach support a positive climate for learning?