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How maverick teachers ruin behaviour management for everybody else

Every school has a maverick, the teacher that doesn’t play by the school’s rules and that never looks at the behaviour policy. 

Some are laid-back mavericks: want to take your tie off and kick back with your feet on the desk? Go ahead! Six of you want to disappear off to the toilet mid-lesson, together? Why not, this isn’t a prison.

Other mavericks take an opposite approach: phones out in the lesson? Let’s see if you move out of the way quick enough when I throw it at your head. Fancy turning up late? That’ll cost you 150 press ups and five minutes with your nose against the wall.

Schools tend to turn a blind eye to these discrepancies as long as no one complains, because the results that teacher achieves are invariably excellent. But according to an article by education consultant and behaviour expert Paul Dix in the 1 August issue of TES, this non-action is incredibly damaging for other teachers.

“You may think this doesn’t really impact how you operate in your own classroom, but you would do well to play closer attention. The maverick buys status on the cheap and everyone else pays the price,” writes Paul. “This is because great schools rely on deep consistency in the behaviour of adults. One unified message is one unbreakable wall, there are no escape hatches or openings for a student to manipulate. A maverick puts a crack in that wall and the flood of bad behaviour forces its way through.”

Paul explains that a maverick is most disruptive for NQTs, who “cling to the behaviour policy like it’s a life raft”.

“A defence of, ‘well she lets us do it in her classroom’ works better than it ought to in a school,” he explains. “The instinct of the child who wants to disrupt is to play ‘divide and rule’ with adults. They latch onto the inconsistencies in their teachers and exploit them ruthlessly. At times, just for their own entertainment.”

So what can you do? Well Paul advocates a number of approaches, but stresses that you are not trying to eradicate all the teacher’s maverick tendencies.

“With one hand your maverick needs some tough love to ensure they sustain a commitment to tight consistency; on the other they need the autonomy that makes them brilliant with the children,” he says.

For how to manage this feat, you will have to read the full article.

Read the full article in the 1 August edition of the TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.


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