Assess your own pupils strategies to prepare yourself for improving behaviour next year. This Behaviour Matters reminds you to include your own self-review in your preparations for next year

Over the past months in this ezine we have put a lot of emphasis on the need to create an emotionally literate teaching and learning environment; to have a wide range of effective strategies and styles of approach; and to work hard on forming relationships with all pupils in your care. At some point, however, consideration must also be given to your own wellbeing. Just as the behaviour of the pupils is driven by thoughts and emotions, the environment and relationships, so these factors also affect your own behaviour.

There will inevitably have been occasions during the school year when you have felt, or perhaps said to yourself on the way home, after a particularly difficult day:

‘I should have handled that better!’

‘I don’t know what got into me today; I just seemed to overreact!’

This daily review of practice, often conducted in the most inappropriate of environments (in the car or over the evening meal), certainly makes you look back over the actions and events of the day, but unfortunately – because of the ‘informality’ of the review – many important factors will be forgotten. You may remember what was said and you may remember what actions took place, but what you will most certainly remember is how it made you feel.

These lingering feelings can have dramatic effects on your self-belief, confidence and motivation. If you are to continue providing a challenging, stimulating and well-managed learning environment for your pupils, it is vital that you not only review your feelings but also make an accurate and objective assessment of your strategies and interactions with all pupils.

Practical Tips
If you have been using a system of tracking or monitoring of pupils’ behaviour, take some time not only to review the types of incidents that have been taking place, but also to ‘drill down’ into the information and take a more strategic view of:

  • individual pupils involved
  • frequency of incidents
  • days of the week when incidents occur
  • time of day when incidents occur
  • your own actions
  • the actions of others, if the incident was reported to other staff
  • the outcome of the action
  • any follow-up which took place
  • what reparation (if any) took place between you and the pupil.

Having all of the above information to hand will give you a much clearer and more objective picture of individual pupils and incidents, and will also give you a strategic view of severity, frequency, strengths and weaknesses (which includes your own strengths and weaknesses).

When you are closely involved in the daily rigours of teaching, it is often difficult to see an accurate picture of progress and, most importantly, the effect of the pressure on yourself.

In contrast with simply remembering how an incident made you feel, or being left with a feeling of hopelessness after seemingly failing to manage a particularly difficult pupil, it is highly motivating to have clear evidence of your actions in response to challenging behaviour. Not only will you have evidence of the incident and your own actions, but over a period of time, in using this information you will be able to analyse your successes and the progress being made with the pupil.

This type of objective self-monitoring and assessment will enable you to examine your techniques and strategies, making note of the successful generic techniques and adding to the information regarding the management of individual pupils. Monitoring your interventions can prove invaluable when creating an individual support plan for a particularly challenging pupil or class.

Sometimes, in the staffroom, when you make a comment like ‘I’ve had a really hard time with John’, a colleague will reply, ‘Well, I never have any trouble with him!’

If all members of staff followed the approach outlined above, instead of leaving you to question your own abilities and professionalism, your colleague could then show you their self-review information to demonstrate exactly what it is that they do to prevent them having any trouble!

Self-monitoring and assessment will allow you to improve your own practice and contribute to skill sharing. Perhaps more importantly they can also can boost your self-esteem and help motivate you in your planning for the start of the next school year.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in June 2009

About the author: Dave Stott has nearly 30 years’ teaching experience including seven years as a headteacher. He has worked in mainstream and special schools and Local Authority Behaviour Support Services, and is now a writer, consultant and trainer.