Skip to 0 minutes and 1 secondBECCA KNOWLES: Welcome to the STEM learning question and answer session for managing behaviours
Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsTOM BENNETT: It's a pleasure. Thank you again.
Skip to 0 minutes and 6 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: online course that we're running at the moment. It's a real pleasure for us to have such an esteemed behaviour expert as yourself here. So one of the things that a couple of the participants have been talking about were whole school approaches to behaviour. And we've got, particularly, Adam, was what whole school strategies would you recommend for someone setting up a new behaviour system within a school? And we've got Chris, explaining how do you balance the whole school approach and routines in your classroom so you've got your own personality. So sort of linked questions about whole school. I was wondering your thoughts on that.
Skip to 0 minutes and 51 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. Honestly, I think this goes to the heart of what makes a school effective in terms of behaviour. I mean, we looked I've looked at a lot of classrooms. I think there's a high level of consistency between what very effective teachers do. But really, with the biggest lever in a school is the leadership of the school, because they create what I've repeatedly called the culture of the school. And if you're setting up a new system in a school, in a sense that's a gift. I mean, what a great opportunity to try to really make an impact, because a lot people inherit cultures that already been existing.
Skip to 1 minute and 25 secondsAnd I'd try to steer them slightly if you can set a new system up. I think that the main things that people need to be doing in that situation is, first of all, they need to ask themselves, and this sounds a bit philosophical, but it's really important, is what do I mean by good behaviour? Yeah? They have to really clear in their own heads, what behaviour am I looking for? Or perhaps another side question could be, what kind of values and culture am I trying to create? What kind of school do I want to see? You've got to be really clear about that. It's very easy to be woolly and think to yourself, well, I want people to behave well.
Skip to 1 minute and 59 secondsThat means a million different things. And also, people will have different ideas about it. And that's the problem, is that students and staff will have very different ideas about what good behaviour means. You'll end up with some people who think that it's OK to be five minutes late. Some teachers think is going to be 10 minutes late or no minutes late, and you just try and think of some way of systematising that throughout the school. So first of all, you've got to ask yourself, what values do I want? What behaviours do I want to see routinely expressed throughout the school? And that needs to be quite concrete. You need to really reify that.
Skip to 2 minutes and 37 secondsSo ask yourself, what does good behaviour mean in the dinner queue? Walking along corridor? Going on a school trip? What does good behaviour means to me at the start and the end of a lesson? Ask yourself, do I want all lessons to start the same way, or do I want teachers to invent their own starts to lessons? Do I want lessons to transition internally or externally between lessons? And so on. What don't want me to like to be the playground? I want you to really define that closely, and perhaps written down, if you know, we mustn't see these types of things, and we really want to see these types of things.
Skip to 3 minutes and 8 secondsThat's when you have to roll out to A, your key members of staff, first of all. Once you've rolled out to them, you train the staff in these procedures. Because one of the biggest mistakes that schools make at a whole school level is that they assume that teachers will just know how to do this, which is a bit like telling somebody who can't drive, just drive the car. They’re going to need to know in a reasonably sequential order what they need to do in order to achieve the types of behaviour you want to see.
Skip to 3 minutes and 37 secondsSo teach the teachers how to begin the lessons, how to end the lessons, how to manage corridor behaviour, what type of behaviour you want to see in the playground, and so on, and so on, and so on. So that they all know that there's a common standard. But that doesn't mean that all schools have to follow the same standards and routines. Schools can be very, very different. The question is, what do you want to see systematically expressed throughout the whole school? And once the staff are trained, then the students can be taught and trained in it. I think that's really, really important.
Skip to 4 minutes and 5 secondsI think the message I keep seeing again and again and again to people is the behaviour-- pardon me - is a curriculum. Behaviour isn't just something you can assume people know how to do. Behaviour is complex. Behaviour is habits. Behaviour is also knowing things. In many ways, behaviour is like any other part of the academic curriculum. It's something that needs to be taught. It needs to be instructed. It needs to be revisited. It needs to be revised. It needs to be mentioned all the time, and that's how you learn to get better at something. So that's the global approach I would take.
Skip to 4 minutes and 39 secondsTo address the second question that you proposed there, the tension that exists between whole school approaches and the personalised approaches of the classroom. I think that there is a tension here, and I think it's very useful to try to untease it. But there needn't be a tension, and it goes like this. Once you've got a whole school approaches, once you've got red lines, non-negotiables that everybody needs to follow, adults and staff-- sorry, adults and students. So for instance, you want everybody to walk on the left. You want lateness to the lesson to be within two minutes of the bell, or whatever it is you've said. You want the lessons to proceed in a certain way.
Skip to 5 minutes and 18 secondsOnce you've got that, then really it's like the old maxim that everything that is not forbidden is permitted. You can even give teachers, then, space to personalise their lessons and to have their own style. For example, the standards and procedures and routines of a drama lesson might be very different to a mathematics lesson, and so on. And that's fine, and you want people to have that scope and that leeway. But when there are non-negotiables, they must be non-negotiable. So it's like, people often say to me, how much detail do we need to go into as a school? How deeply do we have to drill into micromanaging the behaviour of staff and students?
Skip to 5 minutes and 57 secondsAnd again, to me, it just depends on the type of school you want to have. I mean, I've seen some schools where they really make them manage behaviour down to the blink rate of the students and so on. And you know, that's fine if you're getting the results that you want to achieve. If you think that it's working for you. I've seen some schools where it's very laid back and laissez faire and liberal and high fives and cuddles, and again, that's fine, too. It depends what you're trying to achieve. But if something's a red line, then it's a red line, and it can't be negotiated, in the same way that every community has non-negotiables. Murder, burglary, and so on.
Skip to 6 minutes and 33 secondsAnd you don't say, ah, but is that too draconian? There's some things, some rules, you need to follow in order to be an effective community. There are some areas that you can have a bit more leeway. And it's up to the leadership to work out where those two points lie in the spectrum with their staff.
Skip to 6 minutes and 50 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And I'd agree with that totally, Tom, but I also think, as well, that if you have got those particular classroom-based red lines of your own-- I'm particularly thinking in a practical classroom, for a science lesson, for example-- you also need the senior leadership to be aware of those additional red lines that might be subject-specific, and be able to support you on those as well. So I think it is a bit of a two-way thing.
Skip to 7 minutes and 18 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah I mean, I would certainly I mean, I agree with that level of personalisation, undoubtedly. I mean, one of the reasons why you sometimes see different behaviour or practises between people like design technology teachers or people that run Duke of Edinburgh trips or science teachers that run a lot of practicals is that for them, behaviour is non-negotiable, because student safety is at stake. You know? People can get seriously hurt. And what you frequently see in science classes is science teachers teaching children how to behave around Bunsen burners and whatnot. And Duke of Edinburgh organisers, if you don't listen to their instructions, you could fall off a cliff.
Skip to 7 minutes and 56 secondsSo these people really take it seriously and put it to the forefront of their instruction. And what I would like to see all teachers and leaders do this thing where, OK, so all behaviour is important, so it's important that we teach the children to do it. But of course you would want some very subject-specific instructions, too.
Skip to 8 minutes and 11 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Yeah, that's great. We've also had a question from Farouq, who's interested in your thoughts on ways of discouraging various forms of bullying that's not overt, but it's things like the silent treatment, cyberbullying, those types of things.
Skip to 8 minutes and 30 secondsTOM BENNETT: Right. That's a good one. It's quite a subtle one, because it's funny. There's always this tension in behaviours and conversations about behaviour. Some people think that trying to direct the behaviour of students is draconian and oppressive. And other people want to try to micromanage students rolling their eyes easier. You know? I mean, again, I don't have a strong opinion on it, either, because I think it just depends on the type of school you want to have. We all know, for instance, that in peer groups and in small communities of children, but also adults, that being ignored and being cut off is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can have.
Skip to 9 minutes and 9 secondsAnd to some people, it can be as traumatising and unpleasant as more active forms of bullying and name calling and teasing, or even physical assaults and so on. If I'm honest it's very hard for adults, particularly people who aren't in that peer group, to notice every single little micro gesture that people express. You know, you'll often find out after weeks and weeks and weeks that somebody has been cut out of a group, but you may not notice it yourself, because perhaps understandably, your business is trying to teach Mathematics or English or whatever.
Skip to 9 minutes and 44 secondsSo one of the most effective techniques in that respect is to try to be proactive about teaching behaviour. And again, this is something that we saw with the most effective classrooms and schools, which is that frequently, teachers and schools have got what I would call a very reactive model of behaviour management. They wait for something to go wrong, and then they punish or reward the pupil accordingly. I'm not against that approach. I think is part of the approach we need to have. You must have sanctions and rewards in any school system. But the schools that were really effective were good at that, but far more importantly, they were really good at teaching good behaviours, you know?
Skip to 10 minutes and 20 secondsThis is why I say that behaviour should be almost seen and addressed as a curriculum, to be taught explicitly and I do mean explicitly, and revisited and revised and so on. So for instance, at the beginning of your relationship with children, whether that be at the reception class or year seven or whatever you start with, you need to teach them what stability means, what good conduct means, what being kind to one another means, what being diligent, what persevering means, and so on. All these lovely character skills that we wish everybody had, and so on, can essentially be expressed as behaviours or habits. I think habits is a better way to describe it.
Skip to 10 minutes and 56 secondsSo you want to teach them what kind of habits you want them to have. Now, these can be academic habits, like how you structure an essay, how you conduct yourself in a debate, and so on. But just as importantly and I do mean just as importantly, you also teach the habits of being members of a community, members of a group, and so on, and what that normally means. And there's a wonderful bit in the old the Paul Hogan film, which many of your viewers will not remember, called Crocodile Dundee. Where he plays kind of, this kind of Australian outbacker or whatever, I'm not even sure what the phrase is.
Skip to 11 minutes and 29 secondsAnd he comes from this very, very rural place in Australia, and he comes to New York. And he's amazed by how many people there are. He turns to his friend and he says, ‘my god, how many people are here?’. His friends says, nine million. And he goes, ‘Wow, They must all be really friendly.’ You know? And there’s this kind of, the joke is, of course, that New York in the '80s wasn't meant to be very friendly. I expect, as it is now. But there's truth there, which is that when you co-exist in a community, you need to develop a lots and lots of little micro-behaviours of how to rub along with each other in a nice way.
Skip to 11 minutes and 57 secondsBut those behaviours have to be taught. It cannot be expected. And a lot of children will come to the classroom, perhaps not having had a lot of explicit instruction into how you get along in close quarters with people. So it's not just about good work. It's also about saying please and thank you and holding doors open and being nice to somebody, and not disrespecting them if they get a question wrong. And you need to explicitly teach that. And that includes things like bullying. This is how we treat people. And give them little demonstrations, and model it yourself, and mention it all the time, and call them out when they're not doing it.
Skip to 12 minutes and 28 secondsSo if it looks like someone is being bullied or left out, you just say, oi, we're not having that. This is how we treat each other in the class. And you make an issue of it. I don't mean, necessarily, a big public demonstration, but you speak to people at appropriate times about it. And that way, people see what's normal, what's not normal. And that's a really strong way of suppressing things like bullying and being ostracised and so on. It's not an easy process. It's a long, arduous process, but this is why we get paid the big bucks. Or we don’t.
Skip to 12 minutes and 57 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And I think that the other thing that I also think around that, is that that's got to be shared as one of those values or behaviours with the teaching staff in terms of their training as well. You know, that we're not only training about, shouting, calling out or shouting out. It's about how to treat each other kindly through
Skip to 13 minutes and 19 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah.
Skip to 13 minutes and 19 secondsTOM BENNETT: I'd like to I just have one more quick thing, and it's more specifically related to bullying, which is this, that very few people see themselves as the bully. We are all the protagonists in a self-penned melodrama. We're the heroes of our own stories. And frequently people, when you call somebody out on bullying, will say, oh, I wasn't bullying them. I mean, they deserved it. They were being rude to me. They were cheeky. And we frequently find that bullying is, very often, a very complicated circumstance situation. It's not often it's very one-on-one and, you know, there's a clear victim and a clear oppressor and so on.
Skip to 13 minutes and 57 secondsBut to really get adults to think about bullying, you have to get them think about their own conduct, too. And you know, you just have to look at social media to see people who consider themselves to be very, very nice people, and they very frequently put, you know, I believe in love and justice in their bios. And they're vile to one another online, because nobody thinks that they're bad. Everyone thinks that they're doing the right thing, and that if they're being bad to people it's because they deserved it. And that's something which adults need to confront as well, I think.
Skip to 14 minutes and 26 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I absolutely agree with you, particularly around that, because I think that it's too easy, especially on social media, to fire an un-thought-out response to something that people jump on the back of, whereas you wouldn't actually go and say that somebody's face. You wouldn't stand in a football stadium with it written on a placard so that people attributed it to you. And so actually, it's about teaching the young people and the adults that, actually, this is a public forum. You wouldn't stand and shouting about that in that way in the shopping centre, because you personally would look foolish. So think carefully before you start shouting about something on social media.
Skip to 15 minutes and 14 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. I know this may sound-- this is controversial to some people, but I really stand by this. Unless you've got a very specific reason to use it, I personally, I don't see a lot of value in having smartphones on the premises, or at least available to students. I think if you want to curb cyberbullying, one of the best things you do for them is to give them
Skip to 15 minutes and 34 secondsa safe space from smartphones between 9:00 and 3:00, or something like that, you know? Because then that's when they start to access it. And most police liaison, also, as I speak to, spend an enormous amount of time now dealing with the fallout of cyberbullying, which is extraordinary. That was just didn't happen, systematically, 10 years ago.
Skip to 15 minutes and 53 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: 15 years ago. Yeah.
Skip to 15 minutes and 55 secondsTOM BENNETT: I'll leave mobile phones alone.
Skip to 15 minutes and 57 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Yes. So we've also had some comments on the activity, which is about what is your harshest punishment. So we've had Oliver
Skip to 16 minutes and 7 secondsTOM BENNETT: [INAUDIBLE]
Skip to 16 minutes and 7 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: --asking for your views. And I thought, also, Teisoi was talking about the different types of sanctions and whether they were fair, if you were not doing your homework, throwing rubbish, or being late for school, getting the same punishment of cleaning out the yard or cleaning up around the school. So there’s this-- what's the harshest punishment question, you know? And what are your thoughts on that? And the thought about if there's consistency around the punishment, ie you get the same punishment for any misdemeanour. Is that, as Melvin thinks, a primitive approach? I don't know. I'm interested in your thoughts.
Skip to 16 minutes and 52 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, sure. Well, thank you for that. The question was what is harshest punishment? I don't know if it's still the case, but I know that in Poland, if you had three demerits in a year, you could be held back a year. I mean, you get a demerit for being late or not doing a piece of homework. Now, that's a fairly harsh punishment. Let me say that the ones are still available. I mean, people often talk about exclusions and so on. I'm not sure exclusion is a punishment. I think it's more a kind of consequence of an action.
Skip to 17 minutes and 22 secondsBut in general, I try to adhere to a few simple maxims, number one of which is that the certainty of a sanction is far more important than the severity. The certainty is-- I mean, it's an old saw in education, but it needs to be repeated more and more until people get the habit of it. And we know from plenty of psychological studies that sanctions tend to work best in what you would call a very high trust environment, when people know what's going to happen, when it's very, very certain. That's when the deterrent affect starts to kick in.
Skip to 17 minutes and 56 secondsAnd then when people think it's not as likely to happen, a bit like a speed camera that you think may be off, it has a very mild deterrent effect, which means you'll be doing the same deterrents over and over again for diminishing returns. So I do believe in sanctions. I think they're an important part of your behaviour repertoire. But what did-- I mean, but then you have to revisit, what are sanctions for? And essentially, they're to deter. There appears to be a mistaken expectation in education.
Skip to 18 minutes and 26 secondsNobody would say [INAUDIBLE] an assumption that if you got very highly sanctions-based system that there's just the right sanction for each crime, and that will somehow amend the behaviour, or justice will be served, to some extent. And I used to get this a lot when I was writing the T.E.S. Online Behaviour Forum. People would say, what sanctions should people get if they do this, or this, or this? As if I was supposed to create some kind of algorithm for the sanctions. And a lot of schools could tie themselves in knots and make it far, far too complicated as to what sanction. Sanctions are there to deter.
Skip to 19 minutes and 6 secondsAnd the cutest thing about sanctions is once you've incurred a sanction, it all of a sudden hasn't deterred you. So a lot of people go, well, that didn't work, so we should stop doing sanctions. And nothing can be further from the truth, because the sanction isn't so much there for the person who's incurred the sanction. The sanction is there to maintain the norms of the community, to deter everyone else. And everyone else needs to see that the sanction's happened for that deterrent effect to even occur.
Skip to 19 minutes and 34 secondsAnd if you take away the sanctions, and if somebody routinely incurs sanctions, and it doesn't seem to amend their behaviour, the mistake many schools will do is, oh, well we shouldn't have sanctions because it just doesn't work. Take them away and see what happens. And what then happens is people think, well, there's no consequences to my actions, and people who wouldn't normally misbehave think, oh, why not misbehave if I feel like it? Because we're quite egotistical. So certainty is very, very important, which doesn't mean you don't have the exceptions. You can have exceptions. You must have exceptions. I mean, in general society, it's frowned upon to murder people, I gather. I'm told. But you know, there are exceptions.
Skip to 20 minutes and 16 secondsThere are loopholes to that. You know, it's self-defence, acts of war, and so on and so, you know. Intolerable cruelty. I don't know, but there are various things that judges can take into account when you're either sentencing or whatever. And so schools should do that, too, particularly with the children with special educational needs. Particularly for things that children can't help, and so on. There needs to be exceptional exceptions, which are logical, consistent, and fair. So we could get that, too. That's far.
Skip to 20 minutes and 41 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And I also think Sorry. I also do think that young people also need to realise that there are some young people in the community that don't necessarily have the same sanctions as everybody else, because of the challenges in their life that they may be having at that time. I think that it's reasonable to express that to other young people, because they will say, but it's not fair. X has done this, and they got that sanction. And I think that being open about that is really helpful to have those norms and that behaviours that not everybody is the same.
Skip to 21 minutes and 19 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. I mean, I think a really obvious example, and I use this all the time. A child's got Tourette's, and they have got uncontrollable verbal and physical tics or mannerisms. You know, you don't give them detention for swearing, because that would be ridiculous. And the other kids get that. OK. Yeah, fair enough. He's got Tourette's. And it very quickly just becomes part of the background. Now, if something's a bit more sensitive, something's a bit more to do with disclosures or child protection and soon, you know, you don't want to be too open in the classroom. You can still say to the class, we are dealing with something here. And we are dealing with it.
Skip to 21 minutes and 58 secondsThere's things here we can't tell you, and we just need you to cooperate with us. And most kids go, all right. Yeah, OK. Fair enough. Something's going on. Because most of those kids will either been through or are going through or know somebody who's going through some dreadful circumstance in their life. And actual fact most of the kids probably know what's going on in their friends' lives, anyway. So there's a game you can play, but kids do appreciate that. What they don't like is, he just got off with that. Why didn't he get trouble? Why could he just shout out and swear and so on? And that's when that needs to be addressed.
Skip to 22 minutes and 30 secondsAnd the second question which your correspondent said, which was the same sanction for lots of different types of misdemeanours and so on. You must have an escalating tariff of sanctions. I see lot of schools and say, you know, if you break any rule you've got an hour of detention. Any rule at all. If you're late by one minute, an hour's detention, everything. It kind of reminds me of an old Star Trek episode. They went to a planet where there was lots of peace and civility. Everybody was really kind to one another, but there was only one penalty, which was death. So if you littered, you were executed. If you murdered, you were executed. So no wonder they had good behaviour.
Skip to 23 minutes and 14 secondsThat doesn't make sense, because it's crucially, crucially, it's just unfair. If somebody giggles in class or breaks wind too often, it's probably not as bad as bullying or punching somebody in the face. And people need to understand it. For something to be just, for something to be fair, people have to get what they deserve, rather than what they don't deserve. So that's a basic principle of justice. And secondly, you have to remember that sanctions are there to deter. So it's OK to have a similar, simple sanction, like a detention of 15 minutes or 20 minutes or half an hour or whatever, for a variety of different offences.
Skip to 23 minutes and 55 secondsYou know, so being a little bit cheeky in the lesson and being deliberately late, getting your phone out, or whatever, that might all be half an hour detention as a mild deterrent to remind people not to do these things. I've got no problem with that, because as I say, the sanction doesn't need to be complicated, fancy, or ironic, because that's not the effect it's having. A deterrent must deter. It must be something that people don't want to incur, which means it has to be mildly unpleasant. And by that, I don't mean contravening the Geneva Convention guaranteed rights. I just mean sitting in a room for half when they don't want to be there, something like that.
Skip to 24 minutes and 31 secondsI don't think that's particularly cruel, and I think it's a good way of reinforcing the norms of the community.
Skip to 24 minutes and 37 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Yeah, and I agree with that. I think the particular lunch time sanctions around picking up litter if you've thrown letter with a high-vis yellow jacket on so that other people can see that you're doing that. That's also a visible deterrent to everybody else.
Skip to 24 minutes and 56 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. I've got not issue with that, really. Honestly, I don't think that's a bad thing. In fact, I think a bit of community service is a useful thing for people to see. And I think people should be doing incidentally, I also think people should be doing the high-vis litter picking anyway. You know, kids should be doing that as part of their Duke of Edinburgh awards or whatever, so that people see it's not just a shameful thing. That it's a positive thing, that it's contributing back to the community.
Skip to 25 minutes and 20 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I think that I agree with that. That's great. OK. Now the next section of the questions we've got about is about parents and how they manage their children's Behaviour. So we've got Tracy, who's got some homework expectations in her school, which are very simple, reading once a day with an adult, practicing the times table, and practicing spellings. And she's wanting to help-- there's a lack of enthusiasm from the parents to motivate their children to do those activities. And I was wondering how she could motivate them, parents particularly, to become more engaged with that.
Skip to 26 minutes and 1 secondTOM BENNETT: Yeah. That's a good one. Who watches the watchmen? I think that one of the biggest challenges we have is managing our own behaviour. A bigger challenge than that is managing children's behaviour. And an even bigger challenge is then managing their parents' behaviour. Because your locus of influence gets less and less. You know, the further out from your own body you go, the less influence you tend to have. And if you're fortunate, if you're fortunate, and the demographic circumstances of your children in your school are ones of good fortune, of lots of social capital, lots of cultural capital, and so on and typically you'll see this in lots and lots of well-heeled areas-- parents really value education.
Skip to 26 minutes and 51 secondsThey see it as being transformative and so on. Obviously this isn't exclusively to well-heeled areas. It's just demographically, there's a high correlation. Then your job is much easier. If you're dealing with a parent who is time-poor or who may have different values to the ones you would hope for, who doesn't value education as much, and would rather just plop the children in front of the television or whatever and that could be middle class, upper class, working class. That could be anybody. If you're dealing with a parent like that, that's a real challenge, because those values are crucial, because those values then become the child's values, very easily. And those values then map onto behaviours.
Skip to 27 minutes and 27 secondsSo a child that doesn't value education, a child who is told, you know, why are you reading that book? You don't need to do your homework. Just shut up and go to bed. Just shut up and watch your television or whatever. will come into school with a different majors, obviously, because they'll have absorbed them from home. So this is a complex one, and one of the things I always remember, in the words of Professor Daniel Willingham when he said at a conference I saw him at in New York. He said that whenever you're trying to persuade somebody of something, you're not just trying to convince them come up here. You're trying to convince them in here.
Skip to 27 minutes and 57 secondsYou have to persuade people's hearts. There's the whole hearts and minds analogy. And people who are good at rhetoric and people like Aristotle have been writing about this many, many years ago the fact that if you want to win an argument, you want to persuade somebody, you don't just give them the information. You give them a reason to believe. You give them a reason to care about the information. So what is that you both care about? What is it that the adults and the parent and teacher probably cares about? The child, the well-being of the student. So when you talk to an adult, one of the things you don't do is you don't alienate them. You don't criticise, their parenting.
Skip to 28 minutes and 32 secondsYou don't say, you're a bad person. You don't say, your child as bad, either. What you say is your child can do better. Your child has got so much potential. That's the kind of thing that parents can go, yes, I agree. Yes, my child is [INAUDIBLE] And let's face it, most parents do care about their children. In fact, most parents care far more about their child than we ever will, because it's their child, not our child. And yeah, there is probably a fractional percentage of parents who are just pretty lousy. And that's a different challenge. But for the most part, for most parents, you can say to them, look, this homework's important.
Skip to 29 minutes and 8 secondsThey need to do this, because they'll get better, and they'll find school much more enjoyable, and they'll have much more fun, and they'll get that really strong satisfaction of being in school, being good at something. And I need your help, because what they need to do is to see that you think it's important, too. And I know you've got that. I know of all the pressure on your time, and I totally respect that, but just what I say and I say this to all the parents make sure that the homework time is important time. And you know what? Actually, you can make it a really good time. You spend some time with your kid.
Skip to 29 minutes and 37 secondsIt shouldn't be seen as a punishment on both of you. It should be seen as a nice chance for you talk about stuff. That kind of attitude normally gets you quite far with a parent. Secondly, what I sometimes find with parents, is that sometimes they themselves are a bit worried about doing the homework. They're worried about not being able to answer it, particularly with mathematics. But literacy, you know, it's something that perplexes a lot of people. And you know, I speak as somebody who is reasonably literate and numerate. I've been through university.
Skip to 30 minutes and 10 secondsI get involved in a lot of educational research, with teacher training and so on, and then when I have sat down with my own children, doing number bonds, I suddenly realised I didn't actually know how to teach this stuff. That, you know, I was much better at the secondary level than I was at the early years, in the junior level. And then I had to go re-read about it. I mean, I spoke to teachers. You know, a lot of teachers themselves were a wee bit unsure. They just kind of gave them number bonds and maybe give them an abacus. But it was all just hoping they would learn it by themselves. Think most parents feel, you know?
Skip to 30 minutes and 42 secondsThey need to know how to do good phonics instruction. They need to know how to do number bonds. They need to know how to do times tables and so on. They need to know, for instance, that some of it can just be repetition, repetition, repetition. Some of it needs to be explanations. Some of it needs to be, right, let's demonstrate using beads, sugar cubes, whatever. Several techniques. And once you've taught parents these sorry, this is a hell of a long answer but what I find with behaviour, adult and children's behaviour, is that very frequently, their reluctance to change their behaviour isn't because they don't want to change their behaviour.
Skip to 31 minutes and 12 secondsIt's that they don't know how to change the behaviour, particularly when it comes to teaching. And let's face it, we find teaching hard, so why shouldn't parents find teaching hard? It relies on comes first principles and axioms and basic steps.
Skip to 31 minutes and 24 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And so that really clearly links to the previous question about whole-school strategy. You've got to teach the adults first, before you can support the child. And the same goes for the parents.
Skip to 31 minutes and 39 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, oh, absolutely. And I think that we forget that at our peril. There's this assumption, and it's an assumption which permeates education, that teachers come out of training ready. The head teachers or school leaders, when they achieve position, already know what to do. The students come to schools classroom-ready, and the parents are somehow born to be parents and know how to parent. And anyone that's ever been a child or a teacher or a parent knows this is not the case. You need instruction. You need mentoring. You need help. Otherwise you'll invent the wheel. You'll reinvent the wheel, and you'll probably do it badly, or sub-optimally, shall we say.
Skip to 32 minutes and 19 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Great. I've got a few questions about whole class approaches, handling whole class behaviour situations.
Skip to 32 minutes and 28 secondsTOM BENNETT: Bring it on.
Skip to 32 minutes and 29 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: We've got Rosie
Skip to 32 minutes and 31 secondsTOM BENNETT: [INAUDIBLE]
Skip to 32 minutes and 32 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: who's talking about how do you handle the unresponsiveness from the whole class, which Jillian has replied to and says, yes, she finds this as well, that quite often you focus on individual behaviour management, but how do you talk about whole class? And we've also got Anita here, whose got her class, who is very unmotivated, even when she's planning games [INAUDIBLE] and they're just really disengaged as a whole class. Are there many ways in which you could support those questions around how do you manage large numbers of students in a class, either being disengaged, unmotivated, and not really engaging in the learning?
Skip to 33 minutes and 12 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, great question. First of all, this goes back to my original premise, which is that we mustn't just react to misbehaviour, because then we end up just putting out individual fires. One child does this, so we respond to that child. One child does this. We respond to that child. You'll spend your whole life doing that, and you probably won't amend that behaviour too much. So what children need is they need to be taught appropriate habit of conduct at a whole classroom level. Actually, in fact, that's far more effective. So you need to start your relationship by saying, this is what I expect from you all. This is how we're all going to get along.
Skip to 33 minutes and 44 secondsThis is how we're all going to learn. This is how you're all going to flourish and to do really, really well. And I believe in you, and I can't wait to teach you, but we're all going to have to do this, and this is why. So you sell it, sell it, sell it. You know, as I say, you use a bit of rhetoric. You try to engage them at a values level, a belief level, as well as just a "this is what you must do" level. So that's the main approach the way you deal with a whole class. And another thing as you talk about your subject like it really, really matters. You talk about it like it's important.
Skip to 34 minutes and 12 secondsAnd very frequent, I find in some schools, we treat some subjects as more important than others. You know, I'm always interested in the fact that most children in secondary school at least will acknowledge that maths is important. Now, don't get me wrong. Math is incredibly important. What I think is astonishing is that it's not only taken from the school. They normally pick up after the school, that school thinks maths is really important because they, themselves, can get graded on it. So whatever subject you teach, treat it like it's important. And just say, you know, I really look forward to teaching this. Talk about it with the same level of enthusiasm you have for the reason that you took the subject.
Skip to 34 minutes and 52 secondsAnd so that's another thing. You know, treat it like it's important. Lastly, when it comes to the demotivated class, you've got to remember, you cannot make people feel things. You cannot make people love your subject. It's impossible. But what you could do as a professional is you're going to teach it well, so that is intelligible. You can make sure that people have mastered the basics before they move on, that they've got the fundamentals before they move on to more complex matters. Otherwise, they'll never enjoy it, because they'll always feel like a failure.
Skip to 35 minutes and 21 secondsAnd every student needs to taste success in the classroom, somehow, which means that whatever level they're at in your subject, they need to feel some sense of affirmation, that, you know, I may not be a brilliant French speaker, but I did well for my ability. You know, I tried. I learned three more verbs today. I conjugated them well. I used them properly in a sentence. And, yeah, the person next to me might be speaking university-level French, but that's OK, because I am what I am, and I'm getting better at it, and the teacher tells me this. And they tell me to proceed to the next step. Which is basically just good pedagogy.
Skip to 35 minutes and 53 secondsThat, itself, will be very, very motivating, because the satisfaction of taking a subject well is quite addictive. I've met many students who don't get a lot of value in their life, a lot of meaning in their life from school. They find in other places, peer groups, you know, hanging out in gangs and so on. And if you can turn a kid on so that they get peer recognition and a sense of being valued and meaning in their lives in your classroom, that will help to create that kind of level of engagement that everyone's looking for. What you don't do is try to create artificial, synthetic engagement by having whizzy games.
Skip to 36 minutes and 25 secondsBecause what you're doing, then, is saying that the games are more important than the learning, that you're trying to sneak in the learning underneath a spoonful of sugar. But that's suggestive of the fact that learning is the nasty medicine. No, learning is the good stuff. Learning is the good stuff. And being good at something is the good stuff. And yeah, sure, you can leaven the pace and the type of activity in your classroom, because we also know that in order to achieve maximum levels of focus you have to have a variation of routine and pattern and pace and so on. Otherwise, it's like you can be the best speaker in the world, but people get bored of you, you know?
Skip to 37 minutes and 1 secondYou know you can do different things, different activities. So we know that, too. What we don't do is just have an endless range of you know Britain's Got Talent tasks. It used to be Blockbuster when I was a teacher, but that's no longer the case. That's also quite fascinating. So there's that. Also sorry, just one last thing. I'm on a roll. I would suggest that if you tried to see demotivation not so much as a state rather than as a behaviour that they're exhibiting, you can make low output you can reclassify that as being misbehaviour. So somebody doesn't do very much in the classroom, I have absolutely no qualms what so ever saying, that's interesting.
Skip to 37 minutes and 39 secondsI'll see you at 3 o'clock, when you can finish your exam with me. And then students very quickly to do the math and go, hmm, I better do it first time. But they'll do when you let them get away with. You know? There's a lovely line, what you permit, you promote. And if you allow them to do three questions when they should have done 10, they'll do three. They'll do three next time, because you've reinforced that expectation. But if you say to them, hmm. Three questions. That's interesting. Not good enough. I'll see you at 3 o'clock, and you can do the other seven. They'll do it once and go, ‘Oh this person's a hard-ass.’ They expect a lot of me.
Skip to 38 minutes and 11 secondsBut in a way, high expectations are also quite motivating, because it shows that you care about them. You believe in them. I know you can do better. So that's the way. There's no magic trick. And it's laborious and it's long-winded, but that's the way you get to students.
Skip to 38 minutes and 25 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I just wanted to pick up on your idea that you're saying about some senior leaders have more focus on some aspects of the curriculum, because that, I think, is being focused upon in the new OFSTED framework around the curriculum, intent, implementation, and impact, and how you can't have a one size fits all curriculum. It has to address the needs of the students. And it can be different for different contexts. And it shouldn't necessarily all be an academic focus. Do you think that's a good focus for the OFSTED framework to be having now?
Skip to 39 minutes and 5 secondsTOM BENNETT: If I can tease apart some of those things, I think that every school should expect every child to be exposed to and have the benefit of the same kind of well-rounded curriculum that every child gets. What I don't like seeing is this bizarre attitude whereby you’re 8 or you’re 9, we condemn some children by saying, oh, well, they're not really academic. Let's give them more, well, it used to be called metal work when I was a kid. You know, let's give them more stuff with their hands. And I know that's very well-meaning, but the end result is we think they're a bit thick and they'll never be able to learn. So there's that.
Skip to 39 minutes and 41 secondsThere absolutely is that, that we do need to make sure that we're not giving up on children and saying, actually, no, we do believe that you can achieve certain levels of literacy and knowledge of the world and scientific understanding and so on. At the same time, you also have to acknowledge that you can't just put every child through the same curriculum and expect the same outcome. If you do any work with alternative provision or Special Schools, you'll find that if a child is functionally illiterate at the age of 14, you don't put them through GCSE. You put them through phonics or something similar. So you can't have that one size fits all.
Skip to 40 minutes and 17 secondsYou have to understand where they're coming from or what their baseline is and so on. So I do certainly agree with that, because the new OFSTED framework, as far as I understand it, makes a strong case for, you know, we still expect that every child should be succeeding in some level. And it also makes a case for the fact that every school should be offering a well-rounded, balanced curriculum, including lots of extra curricular activities, up to what the budgets can afford. So I think those are two very important emphases, and I think they are slightly different. And they can sometimes be in tension, but I think they are still very important.
Skip to 40 minutes and 48 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Great. Thank you. So we've talked about whole classes. One of the questions that Andrew, who works in a FE college was talking about the fact that he has to move classrooms quite often. He's not got a dedicated classroom. I think that's not just an FE problem. That can be you know, you might be working in a multi-site school, or you might be a part time worker and you don't work in the same classroom. Quite often in those situations, you're just sometimes playing catch up with the classes, that arrived before you. How do you go about managing that situation?
Skip to 41 minutes and 31 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, that's [INAUDIBLE] I spent over 10 years in a school working in those circumstances. And when I went to school where you had your own classroom, it was an extraordinary experience. Because all of a sudden you've got a space which you inhabit, where the norms are known, and when people walk into your room, it's very much your room with your expectations and so on. So when you're in a circumstance where you're portable and your lessons are portable, I mentioned before about the importance of teaching children norms and routines.
Skip to 42 minutes and 2 secondsIf you're in a circumstance where the norm is that you get there on second, after them, the norm is that you're in different rooms, then you have to then teach them coping mechanisms and coping habits to deal with those norms. So for example, you might want to teach them a very closed system of routines for what they should do while they're waiting for you, which means you have to think ahead, and think, well, how can I make sure they've got something to do? Maybe it's work that I set at the end of the previous lesson. Maybe it's something to do with homework. Maybe some going to task. Maybe there was something on the board. Maybe I can-- whatever.
Skip to 42 minutes and 35 secondsMaybe I can email them something. It depends on your circumstances. But there needs to be a routine, an expectation, a norm of what they should be doing in those circumstances, which you then can follow up on, something which can be demonstrated immediately. As soon as you walk into the classroom, you can see they've done it or they haven't done it, in which case if they have done it, then you can work with them on it, and if they haven't done it, then you have some kind of consequence system. Even in an FE college, still need to have some form of consequence system.
Skip to 43 minutes and 0 secondsIt may just be a collegiate chat, so there might be something to do with phoning home or whatever. But you know, there still needs to be some kind of behavioural feedback, like, that wasn't good enough. I to see a bit more. Because if you just spent the first five minutes of the lesson doing nothing, then that's problematic. But when you walk into your room, even if it's the janitor's cupboard, if it's your room, they need to feel like it's your room. Or it can be the communal room that they do the activities that you set.
Skip to 43 minutes and 27 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Yeah. Great. Thank you. Olivia asks a really interesting question. Sometimes she really recognises and values talking to students privately around the consequences of their behaviour, but sometimes she feels that within a situation where you have somebody who's disrupting and you have to deal with it immediately. So how do you get the balance right, between minimising the public shaming, as she calls it, of the student, also taking back control of the classroom so that the other students aren't negatively affected?
Skip to 44 minutes and 5 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. I think that I mean, nobody, no teacher, no student, should be subject to indignity. They shouldn't be humiliated in any sense. I mean, that's just a basic axiom of civil conduct between people, of whatever rank or status. Everybody should be treated as though they have dignity and they're important. Somebody once said to me that that's what manners are. Good manners means treating somebody like they're important, whether you think or not. And I think that that's very, very true. But it means you have to model it yourself, which means you have to be dignified and reasonably respectful.
Skip to 44 minutes and 35 secondsHaving said that, if somebody is making it harder to teach, if someone's making their own learning, if someone's impeding their own learning and the learning of others about them, if somebody is impeding the dignity of other people, perhaps by being cruel or mean, not disrespectful to them, then it behoves a teacher to be the finger of justice in that circumstance, which means calling someone out on their behaviour. Now, it's reasonably easy to develop a way of speaking to people to call them out on their behaviour that isn't necessarily abusive. I mean, you don't have to humiliate somebody for misbehaviour. You just have to mention that that's improper behaviour.
Skip to 45 minutes and 13 secondsAnd whatever the feedback is, what are the consequences of your school has, then administer it there and then. So it maybe something like, I need you to be outside for two minutes, because I need to talk to you. Just, calmly, just please leave the classroom, please. Or it could be something like just a very mild reprimand, like ‘Come on’. You know what I mean, what should you be doing? Or it could be a little bit more in their face, like, ‘you know, you're very close to getting a C1 or C2.’ Whatever it is, you say it calmly, say it kindly as you like, and mean it.
Skip to 45 minutes and 43 secondsAnd I think it's that meaning it that gives, your directions, your commands, integrity, and it gives them gravity. You can say something with a smile on your, face but you have to mean it. And I think a lot people forget that. And because we're also not very good at giving directions and not very good at giving instructions, we become quite emotional about it and we become, oh, [SUCKING IN BREATH],, you know, we've got to tell them off now. (ANGRILY) ‘Right, that's enough. I've had it from you.’ Grr. Because you think that compensates for the feeling of insecurity and you feeling yourself about what if they don't listen to me? What if they don't agree with me? You don't need that.
Skip to 46 minutes and 16 secondsYou just need to be sincere about what you say. That's not good enough. You stop doing that just now, or this will happen. That's much better. Thank you very much. You know? And acknowledge [INAUDIBLE]
Skip to 46 minutes and 26 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And it's about having that confidence to be the adult in the room.
Skip to 46 minutes and 30 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
Skip to 46 minutes and 31 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I'm the person who's managing Behaviour in this classroom. I think in some ways, in the science lab or in a PE lesson or in another practical subject, you have, sometimes, situations where you do see something that's not safe going on, and you immediately have to stop the class to say, we've had this issue over here. Somebody might have broken a beaker or something. There might be glass everywhere. And so you need to have that command and take control of the classroom. Say something untoward's happened here. Just stop for a moment. Sit down. We'll sort it out, and then we'll carry on. And that's having the confidence, as an individual, to take control of the situation.
Skip to 47 minutes and 12 secondsYou don't have to be nasty. You just have to take control.
Skip to 47 minutes and 15 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. I mean, in that context, I mean, you're absolutely right. I mean, being nasty would be counterproductive anyway, because I've seen very, very nice students be incredibly turned off by a teacher who's just obviously a bit mean. I mean, it is reasonably rare. I mean, most teachers, of course, just want the best for their children, but a lot and sometimes think, right, I'm not sure if they're going to do what I'm going to ask them to do, so I'm going to be really, really intense with them. And the kids just go, god, want an ass that person is. And They don't respond to it. And there's a lovely line, professional warmth.
Skip to 47 minutes and 47 secondsProfessional warmth is a great way to go with it. You speak to somebody like you're ordering something over the phone. You know, I need you to leave the classroom just now. John, I just asked you to leave. Can you leave the classroom now, please? Thank you very much. We'll talk about we'll talk we'll talk about it in a minute. Thank you. You know, you've slightly dislocated yourself there, because you're not getting all like, (ANGRILY) John, get out of the classroom, or (PLEADINGLY) please leave the classroom. It's, (CALMLY) John, I need you to leave. And it's that sincerity which really communicates gravity. And students pick up on it. Because they find it very hard to do themselves.
Skip to 48 minutes and 18 secondsMost students are waiting to be instructed, to some extent, I think. They're waiting for an adult to come along and say, you should be doing this, or you should doing that. They're relieved by it, I think.
Skip to 48 minutes and 28 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: That's great. Now, you've sort of started on some individuals, and we've got a couple of questions around individuals. One, from Maria, which, she works in a private school. She's dealing with disruptive 13-year-olds who are very disrespectful towards teachers in the learning environment. It must be quite a challenge to work in a private school with quite privileged young people and to have that situation. And I don't know if you've come across this before.
Skip to 49 minutes and 1 secondTOM BENNETT: Yeah. It's funny, because I've worked with a lot of people in the independent sector. And yes, by and large, the behaviour tends to be much, much better, simply because you tend to have children who come from demographics where there's not only much higher levels of social capital and social interaction and so on. I say normally. You know, like I said, there's no causal factor here. But also, I've worked in a lot of independent schools where there's a lot of misbehaviour, too. Now, it tends to be a lot more to do with insolence and disrespect, more low-level stuff, that can be equally a kryptonite to your lesson.
Skip to 49 minutes and 42 secondsIn those kind of circumstances, I think what you tend to be facing are confident children, children who feel like, oh, I'm more clever than the teacher. Or, who's this new person? They don't have the right to tell me what to do. I've been in some private schools, for example, where I was at a very, very prominent international private school a few months ago where it was tens and tens and tens of thousands of pounds for each year. And I saw a student there who literally had never been told no by their parents. You know, they just couldn't understand it. Why are you telling me no? And they would throw a tantrum any time someone said they couldn't do something.
Skip to 50 minutes and 21 secondsBut then, to be honest, I've seen that in homes with very low income as well, where sometimes children get everything that they want at a different level. In those circumstances, the answer is normally just the same. They need to be taught how to behave, which means that teachers in an independent sector environment mustn't walk in and just assume the children are going to behave. The children still need to know that you know what you expect of them. So you can walk in and say, hi. I'm Mr. Bennett, or whatever your name is. I look forward to teaching you. This is what we're going to be doing this year. We're going to do some brilliant things.
Skip to 50 minutes and 54 secondsThis is how we're going to achieve it. These are the basic rules of the classroom, and I really need to see this happen. And if we do this, we're all going to rub along really well together and we're going to all achieve and flourish. And most kids are like, ‘Yeah, that sounds very sensible.’ And if you've got kids with lots of social capital, they'll probably all fall into line a bit quicker and go yeah, that makes sense. We'll just do that. If you've got kids who don't, who lack those norms or habits, you're going to have to work on them. So really, it doesn't matter what their income is.
Skip to 51 minutes and 19 secondsIt just depends on where their baseline behaviours are, and what we need to do to take them further than that. Whatever you do, don't assume they know how to behave.
Skip to 51 minutes and 27 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I think that's really interesting, because we've had a question from Jacob, who's talked about getting your class back on track at the end of the year, as it were. We're at this particular stage of the year where people are thinking about, how am I going to manage with my new timetable? Either starting now or starting in September, my new classes. You know, I think that it's very useful and valuable to spend time, as you get to know your new classes, and your new-- or resetting the agenda at the beginning of the year, when you're coming through to that. I wonder what your thoughts are on that.
Skip to 52 minutes and 6 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. Well, one of the things that I I keep going back to this idea of behaviour as a curriculum, which must be taught. Now, normally your basics will be taught at the start of your relationship. But then, constantly, throughout the rest of the relationship, you need to revisit those basics. And again, it's just [INAUDIBLE] we forget stuff really quickly. And that includes behaviour habits. And also, as good habits start to slide, erode and dissolve, they become bad habits. Because they tend to happen reasonably slowly, nobody knows it's happening. So what teachers need to really invest in is every so often, is to revisit those behaviour expectations very explicitly. And that might be weekly. It might be monthly.
Skip to 52 minutes and 46 secondsIt might be bi-annually. Whatever. But there should be some level of revisiting, some kind of retrieval practise going on when it comes to good Behaviour. Which also means that you are also thinking about yourself. So there's that aspect. It also needs to be stated constantly through the relationship, through every single conversation. Those expectations you set on day one must be constantly being re-visited and reminded, just everyday conversations, you know? You were late. What did we say about homework? What is the expectation when it comes to letting other people speak? Just mentioning these things all the time so that it becomes embedded and normalised in this conversation.
Skip to 53 minutes and 22 secondsWhen it comes to rebooting, though, rebooting tends to only need to happen if things have slid a little bit, if things haven't gone the way that you've wanted. And again, that can happen for lots of good reasons. You know, you might be drowning in misbehaviours. I try to use the analogy of a diet, you know? So let's say January the 1st, you say, that's it. No more mince pies for me. And you start losing weight. For a month to do really well. And you go to the gym every day. And then of course by February, everything dissolves, and it's back on the Mars Bars. And rightly so. Now
Skip to 53 minutes and 57 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: [LAUGHS]
Skip to 53 minutes and 58 secondsTOM BENNETT: at the end of February, you might look at your waistline and think, oh, god, that didn't go so well. You know, what happened? And you could do what a lot of teachers and a lot of school leaders do and say, well, that didn't work. It'll never work well. We'll never manage to do this. Or February, the 1st of March, the first you can say yourself, right, start again.
Skip to 54 minutes and 17 secondsIt's still in the way you proceed. You're like, OK. I didn't do what I wanted to do there. Let's try again. Let's think about, is there something I need to do to make it easier for myself? Maybe don't work in a sweets shop, you know, or whatever. But you need to say to the children, right, guys. We've done OK since the start of the year, but to be honest, the behaviour is not where it needs to be for us all to do really well. So let's go back to what I said at the start of the year. This is what we need to. Just the books down. Put the pens down. Talk to them about it.
Skip to 54 minutes and 48 secondsMaybe have a conversation about it as to what they think about the behaviour and the effect that it's having on them. But let them know that you still think it's important, because a lot children think, well, if the teacher isn't mentioning it, then it's probably not important anymore, and what you permit, you promote. So reboot, reboot, reboot. And you can reboot. And this is the brilliant thing about it. You can reboot anytime. You can start your diet again at any time. You don't have to think, oh, well I'll need to wait until September. I have to wait till the next January. No. People don't have time to waste. Kids don't have time to waste.
Skip to 55 minutes and 16 secondsWalk into the classroom the next day, and say, this is what we need to do. Let's reboot. We need to back to square one. But you have to mean it. And you have to and this is another good line I'll always remember make monitoring your routines part of your routine. So write it your planner, next Monday, check that everyone's got their equipment. Check their uniform. Or whatever it is that you're focusing on. Just write down the word punctuality in your planner. So if anybody is late on that day, then you make an issue of it. You remind yourself to make an issue of certain things. Or not finishing their work, or not putting their hand up or whatever.
Skip to 55 minutes and 50 secondsBut remind yourself what is it you think is important. And then nag them to death. [LAUGHS]
Skip to 55 minutes and 56 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I think that that's really it's really funny, because I remember that I have a very particular routine of young people entering the laboratory and where they put their coats and their bags And I remember really hammering it into them when I had the year sevens, when I first started. It was a real big focus, this routine of entering the classroom to be ready to work. And I think once you establish yourself in a school and you've been there a few years, what you'll see happen is what I had happened to me. So I hadn't taught that class of students again till year 10. So three years later, I then have that class.
Skip to 56 minutes and 34 secondsAnd they came in and did that routine because I'd hammered it into them so long in the year seven. But they had that expectation of you. This is the way you behave in Miss Knowles' classroom. And so it automatically they rebooted that for themselves in that and it was fantastic. So I've got a series of questions from non-teaching staff.
Skip to 57 minutes and 0 secondsTOM BENNETT: All right.
Skip to 57 minutes and 1 secondBECCA KNOWLES: So Magdalena, Yvonne, and Victoria. One of them's a covering supervisor. One of them's a librarian in a college. And another one is the after school club volunteer. And they're asking support on how they can manage the routines in those situations. And is it better to talk to teachers and use their routines, or establish their own routines in their
Skip to 57 minutes and 31 secondsTOM BENNETT: Right. That's a really good point. I mean, there's some quite different rules there as well. So a covering supervisor will be moving into a teacher environments. They are the teacher. Now, I know that legally, and financially, they're not treated the same, and I get that, but in schools, [? covering ?] [? supervisors ?] are very effective. You tend to find that there's a really good whole school culture. I remember once going to a school where I walked into a lesson and the behaviour was great. I said to the teacher, how long have you been in this school? She said, 25 minutes, because she was a covering supervisor.
Skip to 58 minutes and 13 secondsAnd she was or a supply teacher, which is obviously slightly different. And the students knew that this is how they behaved in school, so they behaved. And she had to do very little. But what she did have to do was show to know what the school systems were. So she was given a half an hour induction before she even set foot in the classroom, which was ideal. That's obviously not going to be everywhere. And very frequently, you're going to suboptimal circumstances where the school isn't totally perfect. And I'm sure that's challenging. So from a cover supervisor or a supply teacher's point of view, A, you need to know what the school systems are.
Skip to 58 minutes and 49 secondsYou need to know a few key names. You need to know somebody nearby that you can call in for assistance and their name. And you have to secure their offer of help. You have to have, at the very least, a basic parking and removal process in place for children who make your lesson impossible. Those four or five things, so that the students can see very quickly that you are part of the school. And you have to also talk about the lesson like it's a real lesson. If you walk in and say, you know, there's the work that's been given to me. Do it or don't do it, you know?
Skip to 59 minutes and 23 secondsOr if you communicate that by just sitting at your desk and then ignoring them, then you're condemning the children to do the work, if they're well-behaved children, and they'll do no work if they don't want to do it. Which isn't really what the job is. You know, your job is to supervise, not just make sure they're not killing themselves, but to supervise a lesson. Which means if you're a covering supervisor, and very good ones do this, they will say, right, this needs to be done. If you have any questions, do ask me. Obviously I'm not a specialist, but I'll do my best, and I expect to see some effort.
Skip to 59 minutes and 56 secondsAnd I guess that's all we can really ask them, is for effort. Maybe pair them up with people who can help them. For example, try to get a seating plan if one exists. So yeah. So borrow the authority of the school, because you're part of the school. And if you've been a covering supervisor for a while, you should know the school procedures very well after a while, but you must use them. And if you feel like the school isn't backing you up, then you insist upon it. And so a lot of managing upwards needs to happen.
Skip to 60 minutes and 19 secondsAnd I know a lot of covering supervisors have a really hard time because they're not treated as being proper teachers and the school doesn't see them as proper teachers, either, and that is that's dysfunctional. That's very unhealthy. If you're a librarian, I mean, it's kind of like you're a super-charged teacher sometimes. I mean, it's my room, my rules. You’ve not just got a classroom, you've got a library. You've got a space which is yours. It's one of the most important spaces in the school, I think, which means that you have to have norms for that environment.
Skip to 60 minutes and 50 secondsI would suggest that it is taught at a whole school level, somehow, either by doing classroom visits or doing something in an assembly, but really setting up, saying this is a library. It's an amazing place. It's a dream factory. Come on in. You know, jump in. The water's lovely. Libraries are campfires. Come and get warm. But [INAUDIBLE]
Skip to 61 minutes and 11 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: [LAUGHS]
Skip to 61 minutes and 12 secondsTOM BENNETT: But you've got to make sure that they do understand that, because very frequently it's just seen as a place to bunk, you know? Of it's a place where naughty kids get sent. I've seen that happen. You know, wait and sit in the library for half an hour. Oh, great. Thanks. No, it's not like that. So there needs to be norms and rules. But the librarian needs to know that they will be backed up by senior members of staff, which means there needs to be communication with senior members of staff. You know? These three kids in here are bunking and then ripped up a book. And very frequently you'll get, well, I'll deal with it later. No.
Skip to 61 minutes and 42 secondsThat's just as important as misbehaviour in any classroom. In fact, probably more so, to some extent. And what was the other one?
Skip to 61 minutes and 49 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Volunteer. So a volunteer who is working in an after school club. But it's interesting, because she also said that it's normally great behaviour, but in some situations there's a teaching assistant who reinforces a negatively formed perception of one student who's a charming troublemaker. I'm not really I'm not a member of staff, so I'm not comfortable with having a quiet word with the TA. Is there anything else I could do? And that's a very interesting question.
Skip to 62 minutes and 15 secondsTOM BENNETT: OK. That's a tricky one, because I mean, to be honest, if you're going to be an adult in an adult professional environment, you have be prepared to have adult conversations. And I know that's hard. And I'm certainly not standing in judgement here, because it's incredibly hard to have accountability conversations or these kind of professional conversations if you're not used to them, if you don't know these people, and so on. I really wish it was a kind of thing that we were trained in, either in teacher training or leadership training, because it's crucial. And many leaders aren't very good at these conversations, either. Would rather do anything than have a firm word with somebody.
Skip to 62 minutes and 52 secondsBut a firm word you need to have. Otherwise, life will walk over us. If the TA is doing something which you think is counterproductive, then have a conversation with them. There might be good reasons why they're doing it. They may very well know more about that student's circumstances and so on, that maybe they are helping without you knowing it. But you need to have that conversation to find out. And crucially, if they are doing something which you find is undermining you, then you need to let them know. And there's no such thing as a charming troublemaker.
Skip to 63 minutes and 20 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: No.
Skip to 63 minutes and 21 secondsTOM BENNETT: Or rather, they can be charming, but they're making trouble, and that's not charming.
Skip to 63 minutes and 25 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Lovable rogue. [LAUGHS]
Skip to 63 minutes and 27 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, a lovable rogue, and that, there's a lot of sin covered by that phrase. If you're running an after school club, I'm guessing in most circumstances that it's not compulsory for the child to be there. If they're making it impossible for you to run that club, if they're making it difficult for the people, if they're just disrespecting you, if they're treating you with indignity, then you should have the right say you can't come back to us.
Skip to 63 minutes and 56 secondsBut of course, before you get to that nuclear option, you need to have a conversation with ‘listen, I really want you here, but this way you're behaving just now is causing problems because..’ and this is the behaviour I want you to do. So youth workers or people that run clubs or volunteers or so on, they still need to know that they're the adult in the room. And they still need to have a normative conversation at the beginning of the relationship. Hi. I'm really forward to doing this activity, whatever it is. But here's how we're going to make it work for everyone. And I need you to do this, and if you can't do this, then you can't be here.
Skip to 64 minutes and 28 secondsBut I hope we don't get to that stage, because I want you here, and you know, blah blah blah, positives, positives, positives. So they still need to have that conversation. And if you're not prepared to have those types of conversations, then it will always be difficult.
Skip to 64 minutes and 38 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: OK. That's great. Thank you. I have got a few questions about practical lessons, which, I've touched a bit on practical lessons, but I've got one from Ashley, who is struggling when she's planning fun math lessons involved in games. I would call that active learning, myself. So overexcited students and movement around the room, if you're not used to it, like for example in a math lesson. Soroja has also talked about having some activities and students leaving a total mess. How do you control them? And Ayna, how do I make all students participate actively my physics class?
Skip to 65 minutes and 20 secondsAnd I think that it goes very much back to and I'd be interested in your thoughts is having those additional routines in terms of the practical activities. And so when I've been training teachers around how to set up and manage the practical space, as it were, you have to ensure that your resources are available and organised for the students, or the students have a routine for doing that. So you have a person who's assigned to get the Bunsen burners, [INAUDIBLE] person assigned to get the beakers, and have them positioned around the room so that there's not chaos in there.
Skip to 65 minutes and 57 secondsYou have to plan time to not only reflect on the learning and understand the purpose of the practical activity, because if it's not purposeful it's just following a recipe on a sheet, or there's no meaning behind it. Then they will find it really difficult. It's just a fun activity, rather than, actually, it's part of their learning. And these are the outcomes from their learning that they need. But also, you have to plan in tidy up time, either halfway through the session, or at the end of the session.
Skip to 66 minutes and 32 secondsIt's always very handy, if the session is going up to a break time or a lunch time, and so you are able to then say, well, the room isn't tidy to this level of degree that I want. Well, we'll just stay until it's tidy. But the planning in a certain level of time to do the tidying up and allocating people to that within there, or that a team. You're a table. You're a team. You've all got to be involved in this. And teaching those sorts of behaviours very early and managing those routines throughout. I think I learned how to do this when, very early on in my teaching career, when I’d done practical work at the end of the day.
Skip to 67 minutes and 20 secondsI hadn't set a routine, and I ended up tidying up the room myself for over an hour. And
Skip to 67 minutes and 25 secondsTOM BENNETT: Holy moly.
Skip to 67 minutes and 26 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: I thought, I'm not going to do this again. And so you actually have to make sure that in any practical activity, whether it's using equipment, cutting things out, et cetera, et cetera, or doing a full-scale practical with sixth form A-level chemists, that you're in that routine, that they have a routine to do that tidying up. And we don't want to rely on support staff or the teachers to do that. And sometimes it's really important, because somebody else might be coming into the room after you. So I think that-- I don't know if you've got any other thoughts on that?
Skip to 67 minutes and 59 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, no, I couldn't disagree with anything you said there. I think it all comes down to all Behaviour needs to be taught.
Skip to 68 minutes and 9 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Absolutely
Skip to 68 minutes and 10 secondsTOM BENNETT: And some people are better at it than others, and some people will get it quicker than others. But by large, I mean, knowing how to conduct a practical in science [? is ?] [? not a ?] natural thing. I mean, people aren't born knowing this. You might have done a bit of it in primary school. They might know or you might be told by your mum and dad, you know, make sure you clean up your mess after, whenever you make a mess. I mean, you know, some people will have these habits, but a lot of them won't. If you just say, we’ve a practical.
Skip to 68 minutes and 36 secondsAnd all of a sudden you've got molten gauze everywhere, endothermic chemicals over everyone's spaces, don't be surprised if you haven't taught them about safety and instructions and cleaning. The real boring stuff, you know.
Skip to 68 minutes and 52 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And I think it's also really important that teachers, or newly qualified teachers, are actually also taught how to do that as well. It's really important that that laboratory routine is managed in that way.
Skip to 69 minutes and 10 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, and behaviour is I mean, good behaviour is far too vague and broad a term. Good behaviour is a million different subroutines of behaviours, which then comprise good behaviour. And children need to be taught that. The individual little subroutines, like how to put a test tube away, how to clean a test tube, is dull. But that's what comprises it. It's like learning how to drive a car. I mean, there's no one part of driving a car which is exciting or cool. You know, how to use a clutch, how to use a gear stick. I mean, it's not exciting, but driving a car can be really pleasant and sometimes fun, you know? And I often-- I equate this.
Skip to 69 minutes and 47 secondsI think there's a big, big mistake we sometimes make when it comes to active learning and trying to engage children in learning and so on. As I've said before, I'm not against more fun activities. I think it's a very useful way to leaven the pace and so on, which actually maintains and maximises focus. But, but, but, but, I think that trying to engage children with a subject by making it pleasant isn't always the right way to go, and we can sometimes fall into a chasm of gimmicks and so on, which, the spoonful of sugar technique I mentioned before. I mean, if you talk about a game of football, what is the most fun part of the game of football?
Skip to 70 minutes and 27 secondsIt's normally scoring a goal or saving a goal, you know? One of those-- you know, that's probably the two big highs. The glory, the status, the achievement, the accolades, and so on. And what you could do, then, is you could try to teach football simply by having penalty shootouts, but you wouldn't be teaching people how to play football. And what you may be doing there is you would be over focusing on one thing to the detriment of everything else. So I think when it comes to lessons, is that you trying to make lessons satisfying. Yeah, you have to get something out of it, but it may not always be fun. So that's what I think.
Skip to 71 minutes and 1 secondBECCA KNOWLES: I was just going to ask you one more question before we finished.
Skip to 71 minutes and 4 secondsTOM BENNETT: Sure, OK.
Skip to 71 minutes and 6 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: One of the things on new OFSTTED framework is this separation of the Behaviour as a judgement. I was just wondering your thoughts on that.
Skip to 71 minutes and 15 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah, actually, I think it's pretty wise. And to be honest, I've kind of campaigned for them to do so, so I can't really go against my own preferences here. I think it's useful, because I think that behaviour needs to be looked at in isolation. I think that for too long, it was seen as largely a byproduct of good pedagogy. Which is well-meant, but just utterly wrong, the idea that if somehow you could just get just the right type of lesson, if you'd planning lessons just so, then people's behaviour would naturally emerge in response to a beautifully-planned lesson. I think it's based on a very outdated concept of human nature as being intrinsically good.
Skip to 72 minutes and 1 secondThis idea that children are naturally curious and naturally want to learn. My response to that is have you ever met any? I mean, they are sometimes, but if you ask them to do stuff they don't want to do, frequently they don’t want to learn stuff. So I think when we tend to we make it direct and amend in response to their behaviour. So I like the fact that’s been separated out, that it's been seen as something specific, something important. I think that by doing so, it magnifies the status of it, something the schools need to look at and be aware of, rather than just something that they try to suppress on the day of an OFSTED inspection.
Skip to 72 minutes and 35 secondsI like the fact that it mentions high expectations, which is a bit of an obvious thing to say, but it's something that needs to be seen. I mean, high expectations needs to be rarefied and made concrete. How does a school demonstrate high expectations? Are all children viewed as being capable of succeeding? Or are some written off? I remember in the bad old days when we had the C/D borderline student.
Skip to 72 minutes and 58 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Ugh.
Skip to 72 minutes and 59 secondsTOM BENNETT: Yeah. Do you remember those days?
Skip to 73 minutes and 0 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Oh, yeah.
Skip to 73 minutes and 1 secondTOM BENNETT: Because they were so important to a school's five A-star to C ratio. That these children were disproportionally important. And people at the top and the bottom were less so. We used to see schools avoid that. Do they view all children as being important? It also needs to talk about things like learners' attitudes. So do they care about learning? Do they think learning is important? Have they been taught how to behave? Have they been taught the values and norms of the school? And I also like the fact of respectful relationships. But if incidents do occur, and they will, how does the school respond to them?
Skip to 73 minutes and 37 secondsAnd I think that's a really important thing for OFSTED to look at, because you'll go to a school where you won't see any misbehaviour, so you might think, oh, behaviour is great here. Or you may go to school where you see one fight. You think, ah, well, the Behaviour here must be terrible. But no, not necessarily. I mean, things do happen. How does the school respond? Particularly if you're dealing with children who already display more challenging habits and behaviours. So in essence, I think it's a very positive thing for OFSTED to be doing.
Skip to 74 minutes and 4 secondsTime will tell if it has the consequences that we hope it does and the law of unintended consequences is something we also have to be aware of. But fingers crossed
Skip to 74 minutes and 14 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: Yeah. I think the thing that I would also say is this links very much back to your behaviour curriculum. And I think that I very much buy into that way, that not only young people need to be supported to have the right attitudes and behaviours, but teachers have to be supported and trained to help them to have the right attitudes, behaviours, within the classroom. And raising the profile of behaviour hopefully will raise the profile of the support and training that is available for teachers to do that. And on that note, I'd really like to thank you very much.
Skip to 74 minutes and 51 secondsTOM BENNETT: Great. [INAUDIBLE]
Skip to 74 minutes and 53 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: We hope that our online Behaviour Management for STEM teachers is really helping to fill that learning gap for teachers. We have been running it for a very long time now and many, many teachers come back and dip back in again. And so that's really useful to see. We always run the behaviour for learning at the end of September for teachers who might have gone back to school and thought, I really need some help to reboot behaviour in my classroom. Or particularly, for NQT teachers to be supported during their induction with something that is free and available online for them to access, either individually, or in groups, or as part of their ongoing training.
Skip to 75 minutes and 40 secondsSo we really, really value your input into this, Tom.
Skip to 75 minutes and 42 secondsTOM BENNETT: It's always an honour. It really is. Thank you.
Skip to 75 minutes and 45 secondsBECCA KNOWLES: And thank you very much. And I'm sure that you'll have a great time over the summer. And I'll be looking forward to working with you again in the future. Thank you.
Skip to 75 minutes and 54 secondsTOM BENNETT: [INAUDIBLE] Good luck with [INAUDIBLE] thank you. Thanks for having me on. Take care.
The Q&A sessions on courses from the National STEM Learning Centre provide you with the opportunity to ask more about the course content and issues from your own classroom practice.
Special guest Q&A expert
We are delighted that Tom Bennett, independent behaviour adviser to the UK Department for Education and co-founder of ResearchEd, will be contributing to our course Q&A again. Tom has previously kindly participated in our Q&A recordings and we made a new recording based upon a selection of question and topics from your comments below.
- 0:20 - Whole school approaches
- 16:04 - Punishments and sanctions
- 25:26 - Parents and students’ backgrounds
- 32:27 - Class approaches
- 48:43 - Behaviour of individual students
- 56:56 - Managing behaviour as a cover teacher or non-teaching staff
- 1:04:41 - Managing behaviour in practical lessons
This is an open step, so you can bookmark the URL to your favourites and return to it at any time. We will also upload the video to STEM Learning YouTube channel.
Please note: if you post a question here it may be featured in the video recording along with your first name. The recording will be publicly viewed via this step and may also be uploaded to the STEM Learning YouTube channel.
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