Archives for the month of: December, 2016

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The behaviour management I described in Part 1 is underpinned by an administration system and several other out-of-classroom supporters. These are absolutely crucial to the success of the system.

It would probably be helpful to have a diagram for this bit- but as I write these posts on my phone in the middle of the night while feeding my baby, that will have to remain an “area for development”- sorry! I hope my description is clear enough and welcome any questions.

Administration
The administration of the policy is incredibly strong. In fact it’s almost completely watertight. This creates the consistency and certainty of consequences that pupils need in order for consequences to be perceived by pupils as fair, and for them to be a strong disincentive. It also means there is almost no additional workload for teachers in applying the system. This is an important aspect as if teachers have too much to do, something will slip somewhere some of the time, even with the most conscientious teachers. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

When a C4 is issued, the teacher fills out a short form that the pupil takes with them to the department room. The teacher only writes the date, time and pupil name on the form. While in the department room the pupil fills in a few more details like the lesson and their form. The pupil has to give the form to the department room teacher at the end of the lesson to sign, and then take it back to the class teacher. In this way it is like a receipt of the pupil’s whereabouts during that time. The teacher then takes the form to the behaviour administrator before the end of the day. The behaviour administrator (BA) is a member of staff employed solely to administer the behaviour system. I would conjecture that the school saves the equivalent of her salary in reduced vandalism throughout the year as a result of the policy but even if this were not the case the post is absolutely worth the money. The BA records the information about the C4: the pupil, teacher, department on her system, and phones and texts the parents to inform them of detention the following day.

If a pupil who has been given a C4 does not return with the form at the end of the lesson, then the teacher fills out a different form but with the same information as before, and takes it to the BA in the same way. The different form is a cue to the BA that she should check that the pupil did attend the department room, and if not then where did they go and what further sanctions (usually a C5) should be incurred.

When giving a C4 other the teacher fills out a C4 other short form with pupil name, teacher name, time and tick a box for the nature of the misdemeanour. The teacher takes the form to the BA, who processes the detention in the same way as for a C4 (low-level disruption).

When giving a C5 the teacher fills out two forms. One is for the pupil to take with them to the consequence room. The other form is sent with a reliable pupil to the BA, who phones the consequence room to expect the pupil. If the pupil does not arrive then the consequence room radio SLT who then look for the pupil. In not going where they are supposed to the pupil would incur an extra detention on top of that already incurred by receiving a C5.

The BA collates registers on who has attended their detentions. If a pupil is absent on the day of their detention then the BA puts them on the list for the following day and phones and texts home again. If the pupil is in school but fails to attend their detention they incur a C5 (a day in the consequence room) AND they still have to do the detention the next day. This process is repeated as long as is needed until the pupil does their consequence/s. There is no escape! If a pupil hasn’t done their consequence on the last day in July then they are on the list for the first day in September.

The consequence room
This is staffed by two full-time members of staff and we have an overflow room supervised by teachers on a timetabled basis. The consequence room staff coordinate with the BA to register attendance. If a pupil does not take themselves to the consequence room in the morning then a staff member goes and looks for them in lesson- but they have to do an extra detention for not taking responsibility and getting themselves there. They always know if they should be there as either they are doing the second part of their day’s worth in there and so were there the previous afternoon, or if they were absent or the C5 was issued right at the end of school the previous day then they have still had the phone call and text home. In the consequence room, pupils work in silence in booths from textbooks provided by departments.

Detentions
“Department detentions” are run every night and hosted by a different department every night. A single department will host approximately once a fortnight, and rotate the supervision around teachers in the department. So as a member of a department of 6 I supervise detention approximately once every 12 weeks, or it could be as frequently as every 6 weeks if two rooms are used to accommodate more pupils. The name “department detention” is a bit misleading as they are for all pupils who got a C4 the previous day, regardless of what department it was. There is also SLT detention every night for detentions that have accompanied C5s.

The BA takes slips round to pupils during last lesson to remind them they have a detention. They are expected to take themselves to the detention at the end of school.

The BA sends out detention registers as whole school emails so there is never a case where a teacher is running a detention but doesn’t have a register. The register is completed by the teacher and returned to the BA, who then ascertains which non-attendees were absent from school that day and which were in school but did not attend their detention. The former are moved onto the list for the next day. The latter go on to the list for the next day’s detentions AND the list for the consequence room. Parents are phoned and texted.

In detention, students sit in silence and copy out the pupil code of conduct.

So every consequence has a paper record handed to the BA, who communicates the consequences to parents and pupils. All missed consequences are centrally recorded and escalated.

In Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch, they characterise human behaviour as being like a Rider perched on top of an Elephant. In order to change human behaviour, we must direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path. The Rider represents our rational mind, the Elephant our emotions, and the Path the environment around us. The Rider directs the elephant because he holds the reins but his control is precarious because he is so small compared to the elephant. If the elephant decides it wants to go left then the Rider probably won’t be able to make it go right. The Path provides an obvious path for the elephant to take: it is unlikely to choose to walk through dense trees when there is a clear path available. The authors propose that changing human behaviour is most effective when we “direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path”. Our system directs the rider with clear steps for every eventuality. The path is shaped by the fact that each step is very easy and very quick. We motivate the elephant by looking after the culture. I’ll wr

Mentoring
After our system had been in place for a few months we could see there was a group of pupils who were constantly in the consequence room. Some were doing things on purpose because they preferred being in there to lessons. These pupils typically struggle with interactions with their peers and would rather avoid them. Other pupils seemed to be struggling more with the higher expectations in lesson and these pupils were often sent home for poor behaviour in the consequence room. We now have a team of mentors, drawn from TAs and other support staff, who are assigned around four of these pupils each. Every week the mentors have a one-to-one meeting with each of their mentees to check-in, discuss any consequences incurred that week, and give encouragement. I haven’t seen any data yet to show if it’s working but it seems like a good idea.

Pastoral
The pastoral team helps pupils if they are having problems. Any member of staff can email or talk to them about a pupil who they think is having a problem. Pastoral staff talk to the pupil and may issue a ”

SEN
Where a pupil is judged to have SEN that make it difficult to cope with the policy, they are issued with a “Think and Return” card. Teachers still apply C1 and C2, but when they get to C3 they invite the pupil to use their think and return card. If they choose to do so, this allows the pupil to go to a SEN/nurture type room for a maximum of 10 minutes after which they must return to the lesson. The consequences still apply when they return, ie if they were on a C3 but create low-level disruption again they will incur a C4. If they don’t return within 10 minutes we send a C5 form. These pupils receive C4 others and C5s in the same way as other pupils.

SLT member responsible for behaviour
One member of SLT oversees this whole system. Some of the things  she does include:

  • Learning walks to check teachers are applying the system correctly
  • Training for staff 
  • Answering questions- there are a lot of these and there needs to be if staff are to understand and apply the system correctly. 
  • Dealing with parents if they challenge the system
  • Dealing with fixed-term exclusions (C6 and 7, depending on duration) 
  • Creating and sustaining the culture needed- staff need to feel safe to ask questions, unthreatened by learning walks, and motivated to apply the system every single time
  • Line managing the system staff: the BA and consequence room staff, especially the paper trail
  • Dropping in to detentions and the consequence room for monitoring
  • Looking for patterns and addressing them, for example the mentoring system that has been introduced 

All of these components together mean that as long as teachers pick up on the behaviours and fill out the very quick forms, then pupils will never slip through the net. No pupil is exempt from the policy, but we provide additional support to those who need it. The system isn’t simple, but it’s clear and it’s well designed, and it works very well. Please do ask questions below, and watch out for my next post on our culture for behaviour. 

There’s a discussion at the moment about whether teachers or a school are responsible for behaviour. My view is this: the school is responsible for having a good behaviour system and teachers are responsible for following the system. By “good system” I mean one which does not create work for the teachers; does not require them to teach for behaviour rather than learning; and in which follow-up and escalation are dealt with by admin staff and SLT respectively. We have such a system in my school.

In this and three subsequent posts I will write about our system and how we make it work. We are not the only school to use it but neither are we part of a majority. I think that many could benefit from using this policy or something similar.

It’s no exaggeration to say that adopting this system has been transformational. Our school is like a different place: we now plan for learning, in the pupil culture hard work is the norm rather than the exception and our results have improved dramatically. In my department A*-C were up 45% in one year.

In this post I describe what teachers do in lessons to manage behaviour using the system. I will write about the administration and culture in parts 2 and 3 respectively. I think many schools have something similar to what I describe in this post, but fewer have the strong administration system and culture that make it work so well. However it won’t make much sense to talk about those without first describing what we do “front-of-house”. So:

There are three distinct groups of behaviour the system addresses: low-level disruption, “non-heinous misdemeanours” and high-profile behaviour.

“Low-level disruption: C1, C2, C3 and C4”
Low-level disruption in lessons is dealt with as follows: a pupil will receive three warnings, called C1, C2, and C3, before receiving a C4 which results in two things. The student leaves the lesson and works in the department room for the rest of the lesson. This is a designated room for that period (usually with a class in it- we don’t keep a room and teacher free for this purpose). The pupil will also incur a one-hour detention the next day. Thus the pupil cannot disturb the lesson further and receives a disincentive from repeating the behaviour in the future.

Examples of low-level disruption include: talking when the teacher is talking, talking during silent work, off-task conversation at a time when work-related talk is permitted, too loud a voice during these times, pen tapping, turning round.

For a C4 to be given, the teacher must have gone through C1, 2 and 3. You can’t jump to C3 for example because the pupil is more disruptive or because you think they should have got a C1 earlier but you didn’t get round it.

Teachers are required to administer these warnings and sanctions with a dispassionate tone and narration of the reason. So it’s “James that’s a C1 because you’re talking during silent work” without a gleeful “gotcha” or an angry or harsh tone of voice. Indeed, we have no shouting.

When giving a C1, 2, 3 or 4 the teacher records it on a specially made small whiteboard at the front of the class. It has column headings “Name”, “C1”, “C2”, “C3” and “C4”. The teacher writes the pupil’s name on the board and a tick under “C1” and then more ticks if needed for 2, 3 and 4. In this way there is no room for a pupil to argue that they didn’t know which stage they had got to. It also helps the teacher to keep track.

An absolutely crucial aspect of the system is that we distinguish between thoughtless low-level disruption and deliberate attempts to undermine the lesson. We are very clear that children can be extremely clever in playing the system and that if, in our professional judgement, they are doing this, then it is not a C1, 2, 3 or 4, it is high-profile behaviour which incurs a C5. More on this below.

We also have Vivos for positive behaviour; teachers are required to award Vivos to at least two students per lesson and write those names on the main whiteboard (not the consequence board). This requirement reminds us to give them out.

The tone in lessons is positive with high expectations.

“Non-heinous misdemeanours: C4 others”
There is a set of behaviours that incur a “C4 other”, by which the pupil does not go to a department room but does incur the next-day one hour detention. These are: graffiti-ing one’s own book, graffiti on hands, chewing gum, using mobile phone at any time other than before and after school and break and lunch-time, food or drink outside of break and lunch-time, repeated minor uniform offences eg blazer sleeves rolled up, lateness, corridor behaviour eg friendly pushing. There is no warning in the form of C1, 2 and 3: it is just straight C4. I have invented the term “non-heinous misdemeanours” to try and make it clearer- we don’t call them that in school! When giving a C4 other the teacher must tell the pupil that they are doing so and why.

C5: high profile behaviour
If a pupil receives a C5 they go to the consequence room to work in isolation. They do one full school day in the consequence room: so if they receive a C5 during lesson 3 on a Tuesday, for example, they go to the consequence room for the remainder of lesson 3, plus lesson 4 and 5, plus lesson 1 and 2 on Wednesday, returning to normal lessons lesson 3 on Wednesday.
C5 behaviours are: high-profile uniform eg trainers, no blazer, no tie; swearing, regardless of whether it is aimed at a teacher or even anyone at all; rudeness, including body language and noises eg tutting; fighting; racist/homophobic/sexist language; vandalism including graffiti-ing someone else’s book; refusal; misbehaviour in the department room having been given a C4; a deliberate attempt to undermine a lesson.

A deliberate attempt to undermine the lesson can be many things. It can be trying to make somebody laugh while the teacher is talking, deliberately asking a silly question to divert the teacher, or trying to distract someone eg by throwing something at them or making a silly face. It also includes attempts to “play the system”: if a pupil repeatedly gets to a C3 and is then good to avoid getting a C4, and the teacher judges that this is a calculated strategy to cause disruption but avoid a consequence, then that is a C5. A pupil tapping a pen while the teacher is talking so as to undermine the teacher would count as a C5. I cannot overstate the importance of this aspect because it is the one place where pupils sense a weakness in the system and try to exploit it. There is an inescapable ambiguity around these behaviours, we know when a pupil is doing something deliberately but it is of course impossible to prove it. So we say: “I think that you tapping your pen as soon as I begin to speak is a deliberate attempt to undermine our lesson. However I will give you the benefit of the doubt because these things are difficult to be certain about. Now that I’ve explained this to you, if you do it again I will know that it is deliberate, and it will be a C5.” This is very effective.

Teachers are expected to follow the system at all times without exception. We don’t have to do much to apply a consequence (see part 2), but we do have to do it every time and never ever pretend we didn’t see something, or let a pupil off for any reason. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Next posts: administrating the system and supporting the culture

I’ve worked in several schools where behaviour has been judged “good” in an inspection while the school overall got a 3 or a 4 because of results. In each case the behaviour was actually poor and, I would argue, the main cause of the poor results. I would conjecture this error has been repeated many times. So why are Ofsted not picking up on the problem?

1: Pupils are loyal – often pupils in schools with poor behaviour behave a lot better when Ofsted were in. I’ve seen this many times in several different schools. Once, a year 9 boy who had been interviewed by an inspector told me, “Miss they tried to get us to tell them if there were any shit teachers, but we wouldn’t say anything. Yeah we might have shit teachers, but they’re our shit teachers, and we won’t grass.”
In my experience a school with poor behaviour expectations and systems can have the most lovely, charming pupils who really like many of theirs teachers, and their teachers really care for them too. This is not enough though for pupils to do well. I’ve written about this in an earlier post. 

2: SLT cameo appearances in the corridors during an inspection. Thanks for nothing guys!
3: Teachers have got behaviour to be good because they have learned how to plan for behaviour. I have written about this in an earlier post. Inspectors never seem to comment that the style of lessons being taught reflects low expectations of behaviour for learning and poor systems for managing it, and that this is causing the poor progress. Maybe it’s outside their remit, I don’t know enough about Ofsted to say. It’s certainly within the remit of edu-bloggers to make this link and so I do so with no compunction!

The third reason I suggest for people not thinking there’s a behaviour problem in schools is that teachers really do care for the pupils. I have heard, time and again, statements like “you can’t expect that from our kids, given their background” from really well-meaning people. People who work in these schools like the pupils and feel sorry for them, and also feel loyal to them. I think that teachers often think the pupils’ behaviour is good- for them – but this is an example of low expectations, of well-intentioned harm, of kindness leading to cruel effects. I contend that low expectations of behaviour are the main and direct cause of poor results for these pupils.
I say to these teachers: saying there is a behaviour problem is not a betrayal of your pupils. It is not even necessarily saying that they behave badly – for you, for the lessons you plan for behaviour. It is to say that low expectations, often well-intentioned but also often the effect of management shirking responsibility, have led our pupils to poor results and poor prospects. Schools can change this pattern but the problem must be recognised to begin with. It has happened in the school
I work in. With high expectations and effective systems, teachers can plan for learning and our pupils achieve results which will help them so much more than the excuses we could make for them.

I’ve never had a problem with “teaching to the test” as long as the test asked good things and had a good markscheme. With a few notable exceptions, this has largely been the case in science.

I was never comfortable with covering material that was not on the specification, unless it was A-level stuff that would help my students in the next stage. There were two reasons for this. The first was time- we never had enough of it for the specification, let alone “extras”. The second was that I conceived of the brain as a vessel with a finite capacity, and that if it was filled with extras there would be less room for the stuff that would be on the exam.

We have moved to a 3 year KS4 now so my first objection has gone. What’s more, I have come to understand that there are cognitive reasons that learning more content than is needed gives students a better chance in the exam: a schema acts like a framework of ideas on which we can hang facts and find them easily. Physics has several very counter-intuitive areas where significant misconceptions arise, and better schema will help students to better understand and recall. Below are some points in the physics strand where I will be going beyond the specification in order to provide better schemata. We are doing AQA Trilogy but I think most of the points are transferable.

Newton’s third law: Students find it hard to believe and then remember that if you push on a surface then the surface pushes back on you. This misconception is related to ideas about agency and the fact that friction goes unnoticed most of the time, but it is much easier to understand and then remember if you know that this is because of the electrostatic repulsion between the electrons of the atoms in your hand and in the surface. A similar reductionist explanation applies to friction, air resistance and upthrust. Strain is explained by electrostatic attraction between atoms in a material. If students learn this additional information then all these examples become more intuitive and also just special cases of a single force: the electrostatic force. Greater intuitiveness leads to greater fluency and ability to apply the idea in unfamiliar contexts. Seeing all the different forces as special cases of a single force is “chunking” and makes it easier to remember.

Potential difference: Students have been using the term “voltage” in KS3, and I believe the new term is baffling enough to exert a considerable strain on their working memory. What’s more, students are expected to recall the behaviour of current, pd and resistance in series and parallel circuits, and recall and apply three formula using V. I believe an explanation of electrical potential, while challenging, will support students with these curriculum points by increasing intuitiveness and allowing chunking.

Internal energy: Students are required to recall that internal energy is the sum of particles’ kinetic and potential energy. Kinetic energy is related to temperature, but potential energy is left without explanation or relation to other, better understood concepts. I plan to teach how potential energy is a property of “having had work done” and relate this to the points on latent heat and state changes. Indeed, this definition of potential energy serves as a schema for potential difference, GPE, and elastic energy stores.

Particle motion in gases: I’m going to teach all three gas laws here instead of just the one required, with graphs (not required), since I think they complement each other and a better understanding will be reached by studying all three.

Electromagnetic waves: There is no mention in the specification of oscillations in the electromagnetic field but I think I’m going to include it so that students can see where em waves fit in as waves. Without this explanation I fear working memory will be consumed trying to figure out what it is that “waves” and limit students’ processing power.

Ionising radiation: I’m going to teach how, not just that, some radiation causes ionisation so that ionisation is not just a fact to remember but a logical consequence of radiation hitting an atom.

Would you add anything?

Pupils now have to remember 21 esoteric physics formulae and this is going to be tough. How can we help our pupils remember 21 equations like P=I^2R and KE=1/mv^2?
It’s clear we need to make good use of drill, spaced practice and interleaving here. I’m also going to give choral response a go, and put the formulae onto Quizlet so students can practise on their phones. One thing I’ve been puzzling is whether to use the symbols. There’s no requirement, as far as I can tell, for students to recall symbols, just the equation itself eg voltage = current X resistance but not V=IR. At first I thought the symbols might be an unnecessary extra if pupils don’t need to know them, but I’ve concluded that it will be easier to learn the symbols and the formulae in symbols, than the formulae as words alone. V=IR just comes off the tongue better. Still, it’s a lot of memorisation that doesn’t easily fit into schema or mnemonics so we will need to plan carefully. Finally, I’m writing a lot of drill questions with answers so that pupils can undertake deliberate practice and gain immediate feedback, to build their automaticity.

Have I missed anything? I’d be interested to know how others are approaching this.

There’s been a lot of fuss recently about discipline: about Michaela’s “no excuses” policy, about Twitter polls and the like, and I’ve been wondering about the reasons for the contention. I believe that many schools have a problem with behaviour and that Ofsted and many teachers are not good at spotting it. I believe there are several reasons for this and here I consider reason 1: Many teachers have “gone native”.

“Go native:
Used humorously, to go native means to take on some (or all) of the culture traits of the people around you, often said of people who go to foreign countries or far away cities. These traits may include dress, language, accent, etiquette, religion, etc.” – urbandictionary.com

Before I address the reasons I should say: there is absolutely a behaviour problem in many schools. In some cases it is high profile but in many, many more there is an insidious culture of low level disruption which is a direct product, I believe, of the culture of “teacher responsibility for behaviour”.

Now I believe many teachers will deny this is a problem because they’ve got good at planning for behaviour. That’s what I used to do:

For a typical key stage 3 lesson, we’d kick off with an easy starter that everyone could do to so as to start the lesson positively. Then we’d have a whizz-bang hook so everyone wanted to be in the lesson and didn’t want to be kicked out.I’d use non-verbal behaviour management , tactical ignoring, focus on the task and positive reinforcement to keep the tone positive.

We’d do a practical every lesson so all pupils were active and engaged. My classroom looked like a hive of industry should SLT pop in. A focus on “skills” justified my all-practical-no-textbook approach. (More on that epiphany another time.)

Next would come a highly structured writeup so everyone could do it and therefore no one messed about. Ok, the writeup was a bit boring compared to the rest of the lesson but the class all felt they owed me now as they’d had such a cool and positive lesson.

Finally a jolly key-word game at the end so we finished on a high.

Plus a healthy dose of authoritative voice, body language, experienced management of transitions, routines, those tacit things you have after 10 years teaching…

And we all had a great time! The pupils liked me, I liked them, slt liked my lessons, Ofsted liked my lessons…

KS4 lessons were a bit more tricky as I actually wanted the pupils to learn, you know, “stuff”, so we did less practical, less fun stuff, but they behaved because I made them laugh and used all the positive behaviour methods mentioned above, and because I made sure everyone would always be able to do the work. They learned new things but never had an excuse to be off-task because I had always given plenty of scaffolding. I would even plan little bits of copying for after every potential disruption so as to keep control of the room. The level of the work, I see now, was part of my behaviour management.

I feel awful when I look back on those lessons, but at the time I thought I was doing a good job. Now the school has got a great behaviour system with centralised detentions and much higher expectations. Low-level disruption is specifically addressed. So now I can plan an enormously more challenging lesson than I used to, and pupils know that if (when) they find the work challenging, there will be a consequence for low level disruption e.g. talking. So they try harder and most of the time rise to the challenge. If they need help then they can have it of course, but I know I can plan work to stretch them without worrying about it causing poor, low-level behaviour. Pupils try harder because they’ve got nothing better to do and the classroom atmosphere is much more conducive to thoughtful work.

My conclusion is this: many teachers have found ways to be successful in a school with a poor behaviour system. In many ways this is an unconscious process. These teachers have good relationships with their pupils and few behaviour problems in their lessons. Therefore it seems to these teachers that there is not a behaviour problem- but there is. Even if every teacher in the school is in this position there is a problem. They are planning their lessons to enable this state of affairs rather than for what will educate the students to the highest level possible. We need proper behaviour systems with centralised detentions and high expectations to specifically address low level disruption so that we can plan lessons for the best possible learning.

 

I’ve reflected a lot on my teaching in the past year or so and I’ve faced some uncomfortable truths. In my last post I wrote about how I used to plan for behaviour rather than learning. Here I’d like to confess that I used to like being a bit of a Jedi knight.

Looking back on it now, I got a bit of a rush when I walked into a noisy classroom and got silence with a look. Quelling an unruly pupil with a raised eyebrow felt like I was a bit magic.

All my tricks were hard-won. As an NQT the floor of my classroom would be thick with paper balls. I must have been bloody-minded at 22 because there is no way I could go through that experience again now. But I did the time, the detention chasing, the phone calls home, the “planning for behaviour” …

And in time I built up confidence, body language, non-verbal tricks, and I acquired a general aura of “I know what I’m doing so do what I say”.

Actually I think I’ve made myself sound more scary than I was. The pupils didn’t do what I said because they were scared of me. They did it because we had a good relationship. They liked me because I was lavish with praise but firm with my expectations; I told them jokes and taught “cool” lessons in which we all felt they learned a lot (actually they were just on task and engaged- two of Coe’s “poor proxies for learning”).

The problem with using relationships with students as the basis for behaviour management is there will be times when you need to lower your expectations in order to maintain the relationship. Maybe there are some teachers out there to whom this does not apply, but I’ll wager they are few. I will try to illustrate:

Let’s say I’ve got a challenging year 11 girl completely on side: instead of kicking off like she does in most lessons she works really hard, puts her hand up all the time, is charming and polite. This is working great for me but I feel it’s fragile because I know it’s because she likes me. If she fails to work one lesson because she’s had a terrible morning, my instinct is to let her off, largely because I anticipate she’ll respond badly if I insist on work and dish out a sanction for non-compliance. The trade-off is clear: allow/ignore it this once, quietly chat with her at a later time when she’s more responsive, have my good girl back next lesson. Or: ruin the relationship and get no work from her in any future lesson because she now hates me. This situation arises in stronger and weaker forms every day and leads to low expectations “creep”.

Another consequence is the “dumbing down” of lessons. I realise now that if I don’t need students to like me I can teach higher level content better. I don’t need to make it cool or engaging.

It’s worth noting here that relationships as a basis for behaviour management effectively put the pupil in the position of power: they choose whether they like you and therefore whether they will behave for you.

If there are such serious problems with this type of behaviour management, why aren’t more people calling for it to go? One reason I believe is it’s difficult to see it as such when you’re “in the paradigm”. Furthermore, as paradigms go, this one makes you feel pretty cool. Everyone knows it’s suicide to try to be the pupils’ friend, well it is if you do it in a needy way, but isn’t this just a cool version of that? Doing things to make the pupils like you? But being clever about it so you show firmness and ostensible fairness as well, so they don’t cotton on that you’re trying?

This form of behaviour management isn’t available to all teachers at all times: for example, NQTs, staff new to a school, teachers who might be brilliant at teaching but can’t/won’t put relationships (ie being liked) before learning. I think that those of us who did make it work secretly quite liked the fact that we had the magic touch. The force, if you will. 

So I think that reason number 2 for not recognising the behaviour problem is this: once the problem is recognised and a proper system put in place to address it, those Jedi teachers will lose their special status because students will behave for everyone who follows that system. I’m not saying this motivation is conscious, on the contrary, I only recognise that I myself held it now that I am outside of the paradigm. But I suggest it is a powerful unconscious motivator in many of those who deny there is a behaviour problem in many schools.