Behaviour Scenarios Resources to support Charlie Taylor’s Improving Teacher Training for Behaviour Scenario 9: Establishing your authority This Scenario has been developed for Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to enable trainees to demonstrate knowledge, skills and understanding of behaviour management
Introduction Behaviour2Learn has developed 17 Scenarios focusing on the 8 areas highlighted in the Teaching Agency's document Improving teacher training for behaviour. These are: • Personal Style • Self-management • Reflection • School Systems • Relationships • Classroom Management • More Challenging Behaviour • Theoretical Knowledge Improving teacher training for behaviour has been developed by Charlie Taylor, the Government’s expert adviser on behaviour, to complement the new Teachers’ Standards that all teachers have to demonstrate from September 2012.
Scenario 9 Establishing your authority You discover a pupil taking a cigarette from a packet. The pupil quickly hides the packet. You say “Please give that packet to me.” The pupil says, “You can’t have it, it’s my Mum’s” What do you do?
Key Learning Outcomes • Understanding that good relationships are at the heart of improving learning behaviour . • Increased ability to form positive, appropriate, professional relationships with pupils. • Increased skill in using the language of choice to defuse a situation and avoid conflict. • Practice in being assertive, firm but fair.
What do you do? Consider these responses and choose the best one(s): • Say firmly and clearly, “Don’t lie to me. Give me those cigarettes now.” and put out your hand. • Say, “I understand they are your Mum’s, but you know the rule about cigarettes in school. Put them on the table or in my hand now please, or there will be consequences.” • Take hold of the packet and remove it from the pupil, if necessary with minimal force. • Say, “Fine, I’ll ring your Mum now. You know what she will say and do if you don’t give them to me. This is your last chance.” • Tell the pupil to remain where he/she is and send for a senior member of staff. • Say “OK if you will not give them to me I am giving you a detention” and walk away to avoid further confrontation.
What may be the best choice? 2. Say, “I understand they are your Mum’s, but you know the rule about cigarettes in school. Put them on the table or in my hand now please, or there will be consequences.” This response is clear, offers a limited choice, explains that there will be a consequence, is matter-of-fact and assertive. In referring to the rule it also depersonalises the issue and avoids the distraction of challenging the ownership of the cigarettes. It keeps the focus on the primary behaviour ( the pupil bringing cigarettes to school) without arguments over the secondary behaviour (the pupil resisting doing what he/she was asked to do).
How might you prevent a recurrence • Pupils know that cigarettes etc. are not allowed in school – ask for them to be reminded in assembly of the consequences and that staff have the legal right to confiscate prohibited items. • Constantly build positive professional relationships and mutual respect with pupils and parents. This will reduce the likelihood of challenge to your authority when you need to correct behaviour. • Practise using the language of limited choice (e.g. “Please put that away or give it to me” “Please give me your work now or by nine o’clock tomorrow morning ” ) so that you reduce the chance of a confrontation when problems do arise. • A clear and comprehensive Home-School Agreement can be a great help in such situations, especially when you need to contact parents about a problem.
Underlying Principles • Good relationships with pupils provide a good basis for correcting misbehaviour – you will need to earn respect. • You will gain authority by being reasonable, keeping calm and being assertive. • Offering a choice and briefly explaining consequences can help to reduce further conflict as it enables the pupil to back down without losing face. • It is important to keep a focus on the primary behaviour (the behaviour that you want to correct) and avoid being distracted by secondary behaviour (negative responses to your intervention). • Allowing for “take–up” time, time for the pupil to do what you have asked, can also help.
Rights and Responsibilities • Teachers have the right to confiscate items that are prohibited in school. • Teachers are responsible for enforcing the school rules. • There is no obligation to return cigarettes to a pupil just because they are not his or hers. • Pupils should be aware of school rules and have a responsibility to keep them. It helps if pupils have been involved in drawing up and reviewing the rules from time to time and if everyone is regularly reminded of their purpose.
Activities to try • With friends, family or colleagues (and at school), see how often you can defuse disagreements by using the language of choice. • Ask a colleague to observe you teaching and to note ways in which you gained authority and ways in which you might have reduced it. Categorise your behaviour under three headings: authoritarian assertive weak or non-assertive. Discuss the result. What will you do next time to strengthen your authority?
Conclusions The vast majority of pupils appreciate and actually want appropriately assertive behaviour by school staff. By applying rules consistently and calmly you will gain pupils’ trust and respect. If you deal effectively with the misbehaviour of an individual, other pupils may observe what you do and be reassured that you are willing to take control of the situation. When pupils know that they have done something wrong, using the language of limited choice helps them to comply and save face. It reduces the likelihood of escalating confrontation. It is important to keep a focus on the primary behaviour (the behaviour that you want to correct) and avoid being distracted by secondary behaviour (negative responses to your intervention).
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