The behaviour question

7th February 2014 at 00:00

I am about to begin a job as an early years teacher, which will be my first role as a qualified teacher. I am excited and nervous but I am concerned that there is no behaviour policy as such in the class. I raised this with the head of the year group and explained that I would like to put in something visual - a happy and sad face or sunshine and thundercloud, for example - which the children could move between according to their behaviour. But I was told that I couldn't do it because it wasn't something that was applied further up the school. It appears that they have nothing in other year groups either. All they use is positive praise. Obviously I don't want to go in all guns blazing but this could prove very tricky to deal with. What would you recommend?

What you said


If it's not ingrained throughout the school then it will be tough, but that does not mean your behaviour management should suffer. Keep it simple, keep it positive and persevere. We call it "relentless, rigorous routines". You might feel as if it's not working but keep at it. Remember that most kids want the boundaries you set and want to behave well for you.

The expert view

Some schools don't make it easy for you. This is an absurd way to run an institution. Unless the children are perfect - and I'm guessing they aren't - then they're going to need a whole lot more than praise. What happens when they don't behave? Praise them again? That's a gun with no bullets. You need to set boundaries.

Tell the children what your expectations are. Tell them why you have them. Tell them what will happen if they dodon't behave and do it, every time, with no exceptions. I recommend that you have a tariff of sanctions: a telling off; a call home; keeping them in during break; moving them to a naughty table; whatever. But you have to have something. If you don't, then what on earth will amend their behaviour?

The expectations of the school sound dreadfully low if this is the way it handles behaviour. If I were you, I'd try the place on for size, but if it can't provide you with any strategies that help you to drive learning, then I suggest you look for another job as soon as it is convenient.

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

Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour.

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