Activity

1.5: Developing your teaching – your role in establishing positive behaviour

Time allocation

90 minutes

Instructions

  • There are four areas for you to develop your classroom practice. Click on each one to go to a summary of why it is important, what success looks like and ideas for practice.
  • Select one of the ideas for practice from each area to try out in your classroom (note that for some areas there is only one idea to try out).
  • This will require some additional planning either individually or in collaboration with a colleague. 
  • You should also evaluate the effectiveness and impact of this in discussion with your mentor.
Learn how to
Develop a positive, predictable and safe environment for pupils, by:
7c Giving manageable, specific and sequential instructions.
7d Checking pupils’ understanding of instructions before a task begins.
7e Using consistent language and non-verbal signals for common classroom directions.
7f Using early and least-intrusive interventions as an initial response to low level disruption.
Area 1 Area 2 Area 3 Area 4
Giving manageable, specific and sequential instructions Checking pupils’ understanding of instructions before a task begins Using consistent language and non-verbal signals Using early and least-intrusive interventions
  • Prepare pupils for an instruction or direction.
  • Give manageable, specific and sequential instructions for tasks and activities.
  • Ensure all pupils follow given instructions.
  • Use non-verbal signals.
  • Use consistent language.
  • Non-verbal prompts.
  • Positive group reminder.
  • Anonymous reminder.
  • Private individual reminder.
  • Lightning-quick public correction.

Area 1: Giving manageable, specific and sequential instructions (7c)

Prepare pupils for an instruction or direction.

You should…

  • Plan your instructions in advance.
  • Have an established quick verbal or non-verbal prompt to bring pupils quickly to silence.
  • Monitor and wait for all pupils to respond before continuing.
  • Intervene using the least intrusive intervention if pupils do not respond.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Aware of the routine, and the majority of pupils are prepared for instructions.

What this might look like in practice

  • Teacher raises her hand and says: “I am going to count down from 5”, which is the established routine for bringing the class to silence.
  • “5…4…making sure you are finishing your sentence…3….making sure you put your pen down…2…making sure your eyes are on me…and 1….thank you….well done this table that is a fantastic response…well done this table you are all looking forward….good I have all eyes facing forward, that’s 100%, well done everyone.”

Give manageable, specific and sequential instructions for tasks and activities.

You should…

Instructions are specific, sequenced and are broken down into manageable chunks. You need to think carefully about the instructions for tasks and activities, communicating these clearly, making explicit:

  • The task
  • Time expectations
  • What resources might be required and how to use them
  • How they are expected to work with their peers (e.g. on their own, paired work or in groups).

When posing whole-class questions, you are clear about how you wish the pupils to respond, drawing as much as possible on non-verbal or short verbal prompts as opposed to lengthy explanations.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Understand what is expected of them.
  • Begin tasks promptly and purposefully needing minimal guidance on what they are meant to be doing.

What this might look like in practice

  • “We are now going to move onto the next activity. As you can see there is a worksheet in front of you. In a moment, you will complete activity 1 on the worksheet using full sentences. You are going to do this in pairs, and you will have five minutes to complete it. If you finish before the five minutes is up, you will read your reading book in silence. Let’s do question A together first.”

Area 2: Checking pupils’ understanding of instructions before a task begins (7d)

Ensure all pupils follow given instructions.

You should…

  • Quickly and accurately gauge the pupils’ understanding of the instruction or direction before they begin. 
  • Expect all pupils to follow the direction, monitoring pupils’ engagement with the direction and intervening with minimum disruption if required to do so (see 1.4: Learning about… Maintaining consistently high behavioural expectations) OR ask pupils to perform the activity again if directions are not followed as desired.
  • Adapt swiftly and pre-empt where pupils might find a direction too complex so that learning time is not lost e.g. rephrase or break the direction down further.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Understand what to do, and follow directions quickly, maximising learning time.

What this might look like in practice

  • “Daniel, can you explain the instructions back to me?” 
  • “Show me on your fingers how many minutes you have to complete this task.”
  • “What should the noise level be when we work with our partner?”

What other questions could you ask to check the understanding of your instructions?

Area 3: Using consistent language and non-verbal signals for common classroom directions (7e)

Use non-verbal signals.

Raise your hand when you want silence.

You should…

Raise your hand

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Fall to silence quickly when they see the hand signal.

What this might look like in practice…

As the activity draws to a close, the teacher raises her hand. She does this a little ahead of when she wants silence, so she ensures there is enough take up time for this to be successful. As the class begins to fall silent, she praises individuals, and this brings more pupils to silence.

Use non-verbal signals.

Put your fingers to your lips instead of saying ‘shhh’.

You should…

Put your fingers to your lips

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Fall to silence quickly when they see the hand signal.

What this might look like in practice…

Instead of using ‘shhh’ which increases the noise levels and if ignored undermines the teacher, she instead puts her fingers to her lips to say ‘you need to be silent now’. By not contributing further to noise levels, this helps to bring the class to silence.

Use non-verbal signals.

Put your hands to your ears when you want pupils to listen.

You should…

Put your hands to your ears

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Respond quickly and know that they need to listen next.

What this might look like in practice…

This acts as an effective visual prompt for pupils and reminds them that they need to use their ears for listening.

Use non-verbal signals.

Tap a book open instead of saying open your book.

You should..

Tap a book open

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Understand to open their book and noise levels have not been raised.

What this might look like in practice…

Again, rather than contributing to noise level in the classroom, the teacher simply taps the book open to show what she wants to happen. This could be done for a variety of things, e.g.:

  • Pointing to the board
  • Pointing to the bin if a pupil is chewing gum
  • Putting a pen down and folding arms to stop pupils from tapping pens during instructions.

Use consistent language

Use ‘thank you’ instead of ‘please’ at the end of instructions.

You should…

  • At the end of a command, it is better to say thank you than please as it is more authoritative and less open to interpretation by the pupil.
  • Avoid saying “Can you…” at the start of your sentence.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Follow your instructions quickly and with little argument.

What this might look like in practice…

“I’d like you to put your pen down, thank you.”

“I’d like you to stand behind your chairs, thank you.”

“Turn around and face the front, thank you.”

Use consistent language.

Count down when you want silence.

You should…

  • When you have decided you want the class’s attention, use the counting down method to bring the class gradually to silence.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Gradually fall silent with little hassle or having to speak over pupils.

What this might look like in practice…

[while pupils are working] “In a few moments, I am going to start counting down from 5. When I get to zero you will be in silence.

5…4…start to finish your sentence…3…make sure you have put your pens down…2…put your eyes to the front on me…1….well done to X. X, X you are doing that beautifully…And 0…thank you everyone.”

Area 4: Using early and least-intrusive interventions as an initial response to low level disruption (7f)

Non-verbal prompts.

Explanation

A quick gesture or prompt (or remind) the pupil of the expected action they should take, given without interruption to teaching.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Return back to task quickly with minimal disruption to the rest of the class and learning.

What this might look like in practice

  • Gesturing a pupil to look at the board.
  • Nodding and smiling when a pupil has done what was expected of them.

Positive group reminder.

Explanation

A swift verbal reminder of the expected behaviour given to the whole class but providing a prompt for any individual you have noticed that needs it.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Return back to task quickly with minimal disruption to the rest of the class and learning.

What this might look like in practice

  • “I need all eyes on the board. Thank you, Simona. Looking this way please Ollie.”

Anonymous reminder.

Explanation

As above, but this time noting that there are some people who are not complying.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Return back to task quickly with minimal disruption to the rest of the class and learning.

What this might look like in practice

  • “I need all eyes on the board…I need two more sets of eyes.”

Private individual reminder.

Explanation

In this case, you might set the class off on the task and discreetly approach a pupil who has not been complying to give a private reminder of the expectation.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Return back to task quickly with minimal disruption to the rest of the class and learning.

What this might look like in practice

  • “Jacob, I need to be sure that you are working on this as hard as you can.”

Lightning-quick public correction.

Explanation

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.

If you are doing this well, you will see pupils…

  • Return back to task quickly with minimal disruption to the rest of the class and learning.

What this might look like in practice

  • “Anika, looking at the board, just like Mal and Jamie. Thank you.”