Behaviour management series
Why you should read Geoff Moss and John Bayley's article on behaviour management
For many schools, behaviour management is an issue. Whether you are an NQT battling with your first cohort or an experienced teacher who is seeing changing trends, it’s important to reflect on practice. Geoff Moss and John Bayley wrote an inspiring series of articles aimed at anyone with an interest in behaviour management. In this Knowledge Bank we draw out some important points from these articles and recommend you read the whole.
Culture, discipline, and the rules
The first article in the series, Moss and Bayley begin by looking at overall school practice and policy. As society changes, the methods used in the past may no longer be effective. A process of ‘social mediation’ might be the way forward. This approach requires that adults assume the role of the behaviour coach and model and encourage effective social values.
School culture is vital and any discipline policy need to be in line with the culture it is part of. There are perhaps four interrelated factors within school culture:
• The structural form of the organisation
• The core tasks
• The skills and attitudes of its people
• The methods or technology used
It is important that schools are reflective about these factors and understand how they impact on behaviour policy and practice. The authors provide a useful discipline questionnaire to help schools describe and understand their school culture a little more.
How important is consistency? In Geoff Moss and John Bayley’s article, ‘Clarity, neutrality, consistency’ the authors point out that consistency must also be tempered by flexibility according to the circumstances. For example, the boy who doesn’t normally behave badly might need different treatment to one who frequently behaves this way.
Moss and Bayley refer to the ‘Three Faces of discipline’ model to help unpick and deal with behaviour in the classroom.
Face 1 = basic positive behaviour management approaches using rules and consequences
Face 2 = ‘confront and contract’ which includes a formal or informal contract with the student
Face 3 = ‘relationship-listening’ or ‘gentle teaching’ using ‘I’ language which gives students space to examine their own feelings
The authors suggest that the ‘three faces ’ begin with a bottom-line approach using basic positive behaviour management strategies. This initial approach used at foundation periods throughout the year should then be tempered by other approaches that teachers might use according to their preferences and individual situations. Consistency but with a twist.
The three Rs of behaviour
In this article Moss and Bayley look at the conditions for learning needed to maintain good behaviour in the classroom. Classes vary enormously as to their behavioural needs. From those where what is expected is clearly understood and applied to those where high levels of direction are needed.
The authors emphasise the importance of the three Rs:
• Roles need to be clear, appreciated and respected
• Routines must be established that clearly identify the commonly occurring procedures within the learning environment
• Relationships between learner and teacher must be positive
The three faces mentioned in the previous article can be seen at work in different classrooms and according to the different roles that teachers adopt. Routines need to be taught and pupils need to know what is expected. These learning behaviours can be conveyed through a mixture of instruction and coaching.
Building a set of positive relationships with children involves moving from external to internal methods of controlling behaviour. To begin with, tangible incentives might be necessary with a large amount of direct praise. As the relationship builds there might be a need for a higher level of encouragement.
The authors include a very useful questionnaire to help teachers and senior staff recognise how well the three Rs are established within a classroom.
Training and the art of behaviour management
It’s no good staff just knowing what school policy is. They need to have the skills and understanding to apply it. Ensuring that there is adequate staff training in basic Assertive discipline skills is important, claim Moss and Bayley. They include in this article a 12-step checklist of competencies that should be incorporated into classroom practice.
Staff might move from a position of ‘unconscious incompetence’ to one of ‘unconscious competence’ but they need to be enabled to get there. The authors identify the different routes by which staff might be enabled to adapt their practice.
A mixture of training methods might include cognitive (lecturing, reading, observation), affective (solution focusing, case study, counselling) and behavioural (team-teaching, modelling, role-play, video and feedback). A teacher’s development level depends upon their level of competence and level of commitment.
Leading with behaviour
The final article in the series looks specifically at the role of senior managers in schools and the importance of them modelling the behaviour from staff and students that they expect. The authors provide a useful action plan that might provide a starting point for schools wanting to turn the behaviour of their students around.
This has been a very brief summary of five detailed and informative articles. We recommend that you read them for yourself.
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