Working with a few teachers recently, who are really struggling to manage “low level disruption”, I thought it would be good to offer some thoughts and suggestions from my own experiences and learning from some brilliant Behaviour Ninjas!
The smug answer, of course, is don’t let it happen in the first place-that’s what Behaviour Ninjas do. Don’t worry, we’ll talk through ‘what to do when’, but aim to develop an ethos that says, ‘not in my class’. Put routines in place that show you are high status, calm and in control. And don’t think you can’t afford the time to teach those routines-you’ll lose far less time this way in the long term.
So, first of all, and crucial if you want to present yourself, in the eyes of your learners, as a High Status Person; claim the room. Meet and greet at the door. That way you own the space, can gauge mood, pre-empt problems, remind a difficult child of a previous good lesson, set out expectations if someone seems a little hyper/impulsive/etc.
Once they’re in? Have a hook activity on the board, ready to go. Make dynamic use of the room. When giving instructions, stand close to disruptive learners, to focus their attention. When helping a child, position yourself so you can still scan the rest of the room. Teach from the back, so they can’t see you. This creates that slight unease that can help them to focus.
Plan engaging lessons. I’m not saying it’ll always work, or that if there’s disruption, it’s down to poor prep. But it will minimise off task behaviour. Idle hands and all that… So keep them busy, have resources to hand, rather than scurrying around searching-that is low status behaviour…
Use low level intervention for low level disruption. Proximity to a child, dropping their name into a learning sentence, getting eye contact, raising an eye brow, can all help in many cases, without interrupting the flow of the lesson or raising awareness amongst other children. Use positive language to redirect. So, ‘Jordan, complete the first two tasks in your exercise book, thanks’ is far better than ‘Jordan! Get on with it!’ or ‘why aren’t you working?’ both of which can distract others who were working!
Preferential seating is a well known approach to helping children to remain focused. Key players can be positioned well apart, or close to you. Also, consider room layout; some allow for better control than others, I like a horseshoe if possible, others like paired seating.
OK, that’s just a quick sample, there are tons of other things you can do. The key thing to remember is to stay calm, see the behaviour for what it is, rather than letting it create self doubt, and allow the challenge to be stimulating. Anyone can be a behaviour ninja! Check out the behaviour ninja app, on the Apple Store and Google Play, for ideas for every situation. Good classroom behaviour might look like it’s down to good fortune, but remember; the harder we try, the luckier we seem to get!
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