An ABCDE of behaviour issues.
- A = antecedents; what happened before the behaviour?
- B = behaviour; describe the behaviour in detail.
- C = consequences of the behaviour.
- D = discussions and decisions.
- E = Expectations of future behaviours
Most drivers have crept above speed limits at some stage.
Laws rely on a high degree of self-regulation to be maintained, by the vast majority of the population. Laws support the need to be able to manage behaviour when self-control, within the accepted rules and laws, breaks down.
We live in a world that is governed by laws, created by Governments, enacted by a wide range of people, including the police, with different levels of courts to deal with those whose misdemeanours are significant. All of the above are governed by statute, aka laws, that say what they should do. We have these laws so that civil society can run efficiently and effectively and allow all to participate to the best of their ability.
Essentially, as adults, we have a pretty good idea of what this means. There are rules and laws which govern driving and, if you speed and get caught, you can expect some form of sanction. Non-payment of a wide range of taxes can incur fines and punishments. Inflicting bodily harm on another person is likely to result in time in prison. However, in all these cases, it can be argued that the rules/laws may have been broken by people who know the rules, but choose to break them because they do not expect to be caught. Drink/drivers will be aware of their behaviour and the consequences, but they still go ahead. It is possible that they do not care, about the impact of their behaviour or the consequences, so are prepared to take the risk.
So is “breaking the law” a combination of behaviours, with an individual prepared to take the risk, not caring and not expecting to be caught, among others?
Sport is governed by rules and regulations, which ensure that competitions are fair to all participants, with umpires and referees whose job is to interpret the rules, to make snap judgements to ensure the free flow of the game/ activity.
In schools, there are rules which seek to ensure that the civil society that is the school is able to run and allow the participants to take advantage of the education on offer. The rules are made by the managing adults, to guide the actions of the other adults, to ensure that everyone is safe and able to go about their daily experiences. School rules need to be straight forward, easy to articulate and understand and be capable of interpretation into the many different aspects of school life where rules are needed.
Like all rules, they rely on all members agreeing and seeking to abide by them. This can be through home-school agreements, with the school setting out how behaviour issues are handled and parents and children signing to agree with them. It is the beginning of a behaviour contract. If the rules are interpreted through assemblies, classroom expectations, notices, the regular articulation ensures that they have the capacity to become embedded into the psyche of each child.
Positive reinforcement of good/acceptable behaviours can be supportive in ensuring that the rules are allowed to “live” in the school culture. Many schools run schemes that benefit those whose behaviour is good, if only by being noticed. If there are no evident benefits to behaving, then it is not a surprise that some will seek to take advantage.
The adult role, in a school, is slightly nebulous as an arbiter of the rules. It does rely on the adult fully understanding the expectations and rules and their particular place. Some adults in school assume a status, just by virtue of adulthood, which learners do not recognise, with the implication that all their judgements are reasonable. Where adults are the arbiters of the rules, often, as individuals acting as police, judge and deliverers of punishment, with certain individuals, this can become a point of personal conflict.
It is very easy to create rules and to write them in such a way that they can be easily broken. Lists of school rules which state “You will not…” are plentiful and easy to add to. For some they become a challenge in themselves.
But, everyone needs to know where they stand, otherwise rules can be made up as people go along. Insecurity adds to tension in the social group. Rule-making is always likely to be “top-down”; there are not many alternatives, although an interpretation of democracy might have originally suggested other ways.
There is a discussion to be had about how overt any sanction should be. Today, we do not have public flogging and hanging and most punishment of perpetrators is done away from direct public gaze, in courts and possibly in prisons.
Children are learning about their world, how to relate to others, how to become responsible people, They are learning about the “rules” that govern social interaction, such as turn taking, in games and speaking, sharing with others, taking an equal amount, when naturally they want to be first and have all of something.
For sixteen years, I ran my school with three principles
- Be responsible for yourself
- Be responsible for the way you treat others.
- Be responsible for the things around you.
Now, there is a difference in scale in schools and not all schools can work along those lines. Visiting IQM schools of all sizes, I see many good examples of organisations which enable the schools to manage the behaviour and for the CYP (Child or Young Person) to be re-assimilated into the school. In some cases there are several layers, including the equivalent of an internal Pupil Referral Unit, in an attempt to maintain the CYP in that school setting, knowing that exclusion can further deepen personal issues. In these settings, specialist staff are used to ensure that CYP receive counselling, coaching, mentoring as well as meeting their basic teaching needs.
People matter in behaviour situations. An interesting side to behaviour management can occur when BM is passed to someone else to be actioned; I sometimes called this “upward delegation”. Where this occurs the original adult, by passing the baton, can become devalued in the eyes of the CYP; the person with status is the person who deals out punishment. Passing the buck does not help overall. School society is everyone’s job, as everyone is a part of that society. Relationships matter hugely.
Behaviour in school should be a regular item of discussion, through whole school assembly focus, stories shared under PSHE topics, class talks or circle times and face to face with individuals as needed.
- Expectations need to be very clearly stated and overt in daily school life. Any rules should be easily memorable, to both CYP and adults.
- Adults should model calm behaviours, even in challenging circumstances.
- Choices and consequences should be a part of discussion; phrased as “your choices, my choices”.
- If punishment is appropriate, the fairness should be apparent to all.
- Follow through and follow up should be every staff member’s mantra.
If they break the rules: -
- Some will need only a look to conform.
- Some may need short term guidance.
- Some may need coaching and mentoring.
- Some will need to be made whole, to rediscover their humanity.
- Some may need time away from the situation, then face the consequences before reintegration.
As Vic Goddard, Headteacher of Passmores School says;
(Maintain) a positive regard for young people.