Every class has a student that believes attention for bad behaviour is better than no attention at all. These students will play up and eagerly wait for the teacher to shine the spotlight upon them and, in full compliance with the behaviour management policy, that spotlight almost always arrives.
One teacher tells of a child who snuck off from circle time and put all the lunchboxes in the art sink. He then turned the taps on. He stood and waited for the teacher’s wrath as sandwiches floated past him, a firm smile solidly in place.
Another teacher reveals how a child managed to dismantle the headteacher’s bicycle in the space of a lunchtime, ‘hiding’ the pieces in plain sight by hanging them off the climbing frame. Again, the student did not run away, but waited for the teacher in eager anticipation, proudly directing staff to his small piece of art.
As primary school teacher and TES columnist Steve Eddison points out in his feature in the 4 July issue of TES, conventional behaviour management strategies do not work with these students. He uses his student ‘Brando’ as an example.
“Reward charts and certificates have been refashioned into enemy aircraft; golden times have been reduced to base metal; home-school diaries have gone missing in action and glittery pencils have been used as weapons of class disruption,” he writes. “When Brando received a Sparkle Award in assembly, he celebrated by wandering the corridors with a wet floor cone on his head.”
Having explored every avenue of deterrent he could think of, Eddison thought all might be lost, but then he suddenly found clarity amid the muddy waste of failed behaviour management strategies.
“I realised, it’s not my attention Brando and students like him crave but the attention of everyone else, especially his peers," he writes. "And the only way to change his behaviour is to change the way other students respond to it.”
How does he make this happen? You’ll have to read the feature in full to find out, but it involves a bit of circle time, a bit of incentive and a whole lot of patience.
If you have any other suggestions that seem to work, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below.
Read the full story in the 4 July edition of TES on your tablet or phone by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up in all good newsagents.