I have recently taken over as the head of year for our 13-14 age group. I already know most of the student cohort; they are a great bunch but, on the whole, they are regarded by many staff within the school as an immature group. The main issues include silly behaviour in class, poor organisation, rudeness to staff and a growing ethos that working hard in class is not cool. I have tried several things so far to counter this, but can you suggest anything to help me specifically with getting the students onside, helping the staff to change their view that it is my responsibility alone to manage behaviour and creating a sense of belonging among this year group so that it has pride and belief in what it stands for. I understand that I am asking for the holy grail here, but I really do want to achieve in this role. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
What you said
There needs to be a set of simple rules written down, with which all students, teachers and parents are made familiar, and agree to adhere to, support and implement. As year head, you can write them yourself to begin with, and hold one meeting with your teachers to get them approved. Some of your teachers may need support in implementing them in their classrooms, and a temporary sin-bin arrangement may be necessary for serious offenders.
The expert view
You need to make the year group see that not only are there rewards and positive benefits to behaving, but also unpleasant consequences for those who don't. You need to track the behaviour across the year and identify key players, the ones who really mop up everyone's time. To use a sporting analogy, bench them. Have them working away for short spells and make reintroduction conditional on their good behaviour. You wouldn't let a bad player rejoin the team if they kept fouling everyone and spoiling the whole match. That's how you get teachers on board, because you'll be showing them that you're really supporting them, not just hoping behaviour was better with smiles and best wishes.
You don't get the positive behaviour until you deal with the negative stuff. If you let some students misbehave, the better ones look at them and think, why the hell not? Also, well-behaved children cannot understand why teachers don't deal with their poorly behaved peers.
Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog (bit.lytombennett) or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. Watch his behaviour videos at www.tesconnect.combehaviourvideos
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