I have been thinking about this for a while now and understand that low-level behaviour can be left unchallenged in many schools due to higher priority behaviour. There are usually ‘big hitters’ in schools who are classed as the ‘naughty’ students or there are classes whose behaviour is way worse than other classes and so these are often the focus for teachers on the ground and those above analysing the data.
The problem I have is that this often leaves the masses unnoticed and low-level behaviour has been rife in all of the schools I have worked in so far.
Examples of low-level behaviour are things like:
- Talking underneath the teacher
- Not following instructions the first time
- Saying ‘no’ to staff
- Not completing homework
- Messy/incomplete classwork
You will always have students who dominate the class. This may be things like arguing with staff or refusing to complete classwork and they generally exhibit this behaviour in a number of lessons for a number of staff. They will sometimes be on report or be having their behaviour monitored by Heads of Year and tutors. They will probably have been involved in parental meetings between the school to try and ‘turn the student around’. Whilst these students should be a focus for a school, I think it means that often everybody else gets away with much more than they should. I also think these students mean we sometimes expect less of everybody else because we are just glad they are not doing the ‘bigger’ things.
My biggest pet-hate is failure to hand in homework but I also find that incomplete classwork is more common than I assume when I stand at the front and wander around monitoring classwork.
I know that systems within school don’t always support the teacher and if you are pedantic like me and want behaviour entirely under control it can be hard if you don’t have the correct channels to use.
I have been thinking then if I had to narrow down techniques and strategies with behaviour to five ones that should help with individual classroom management, what would they be? I have devised a little table with the things that I think help to minimise this low-level disruption even when the bigger system of the school doesn’t necessarily challenge it.
In many of these boxes, I have referred to consistency across all staff and whilst I appreciate this is the ideal, it is unlikely in most schools to be the case. I think that carrying out these actions yourself, in your own classroom also has a huge impact on your day to day dealings with low-level behaviour.
I am not saying that these will completely resolve all the problems when it comes to classroom behaviour, no man is an island after all, but I think it can help to make small changes in a school where you feel you are drowning in behaviour issues but don’t necessarily know how to tackle it for the best.