How to make the best of a bad start in behaviour – PP137

Paul Dix
Paul Dix
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Paul returned to the podcast this week and we answered an email from an NQT who completed her PGCE recently. She says she is now struggling with her behaviour management.

In hindsight, she says, she would have  started the year differently by being more consistent and she is now struggling to bring the behaviour back to where she wants it to be. She is following the school’s behaviour policy but it’s just not working for her, including the school standard of using a ‘hand up’ which means ‘stop talking and listen’. In her Yesr 2 class, she has tried to use:

  •  Praising the positives using stickers
  • Marbles in the class marble jar
  • A ‘happy list’ for those doing the right thing

She is following the school policy for sanctions and has tried to remind the children of the expectations but is really keen to know where she might be going wrong.

Paul thinks the immediate problem is calling the children to order. He believes ‘hands up’ isn’t a particularly effective technique for the youngest children. This is because the children are in control of when the class comes to order. The teacher is passive, waiting for the children to nudge each other and notice that the teacher is waiting. This can take a long time, particularly with a Year 2 class who are busy and involved in their learning – they aren’t constantly checking what the teacher is doing and you wouldn’t want them to be doing that. So it’s important you have a mechanism that means you, the teacher decides when the class should come to order.

Calling the class to order is a ‘keystone routine’.

Instead of hands up, Paul recommends a countdown embellished loudly with positive observations:

For example – 5: Perfect Chelsea, you’ve got your eyes on me – 4: Brilliant that table – 3: If you could just pop those things back on the – lovely, thank you – 2: etc.

If anyone is still speaking when you get to zero, apply a warning, give a reminder of the rule.

Reflect on your performance

Also, it’s important to reflect on your performance in that countdown. This is because there is something about the tone of your voice which is crucial – the pace, the enthusiasm with which you notice good behaviour means it will work better next time. If the children sense that you don’t really believe that it’s going to work then it won’t. Keep going – keep practising.

Keep going for 30 days

Remember the 30 day rule…

Read the full show notes on the Pivotal Education site

(Creative Commons Sound clip by Johnny Pixel Productions, Inc. –

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