Boost behaviour by letting your class set the rules

14th November 2014 at 06:00

Behaviour management is all about setting rules and then getting the little cherubs to obey them, right? You and the school determine what constitutes "good" behaviour and you lay down the law and use a system of sanctions to ensure it happens.

Wrong, argues primary school teacher Jon Brunskill in the 14 November issue of TES.

“Should you, like a benevolent dictator, simply recite the unshakeable norms of social conduct? Or should it be a more democratic exercise?” he asks. “Perhaps, like me, you favour the latter course of action, and agree upon a code that you will follow as a class. This approach ensures that the children actively engage with the expectations that are being set. That’s important because, like any other lesson, a buy-in from the students is crucial if you want the learning to stick.”

Brunskill says that by giving students a hand in formulating the rules, you “pull back the curtain to show the reasoning behind the dos and the don’ts”.

He concedes that this is an unpopular view among some teachers.

“Many people in education believe that this whole endeavour is laughably unrealistic,” he writes. “If you’re debating the rules, it suggests that they are, well, up for debate. That sort of uncertainty creates a very small, but very real, chink in the armour of your behaviour management.

“Perhaps even worse, they add, is the dishonesty of this approach. The children don’t ultimately get to change the rules, do they?”

Brunskill offers what he believes is a compelling counterargument. To read it in full, pick up a copy of TES.

Read the full article in the 14 November edition of 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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