Friday, 28 February 2014

Developing My Behavioural Expectations

At the moment, I am focussing on setting and maintaining high behavioural expectations by adhering to the techniques advocated by Doug Lemov in his 'Teach Like a Champion' manual for teachers.

For the last couple of weeks, I have focussed on '100%' and 'Sweat the Details' and the adjustments that I have made has already had an impact on my teaching and therefore hopefully my students' learning. Week one I was the looking at what I was starting to adjust and, in week two, I made further adjustments.

I am now moving on to two other techniques in 'Setting and Maintaining High Behavioural Expectations: 'What To Do' and 'Do It Again'.

What To Do

Give directions to students in a way that provides clear and useful guidance - enough of it to allow any student who wanted to do as asked to do so easily

I currently teach a range of students in academic ability, but also in their ability to follow instructions. This is for a range of reasons, however, it therefore means that I need to ensure that they are able to follow instructions easily. One of the things that I have done consistently in my teaching career so far is deliver instructions in a convoluted way. Now, in case you didn't know, this isn't something we are aiming for as a teacher. I tend to repeat the instructions again, if they don't understand first time, which results in the same misunderstanding. Therefore, I have decided to get a student to repeat what the instructions are; usually the most dopey so that I know that, if the dopiest student can understand, so should the rest of the class!

Sometimes my instructions have come across a bit negative. I don't see myself as a grumpy boots, but starting at a new school again this year meant that I had to establish my expectations from the outset and would assert my authority if these weren't met. Unfortunately, this was sometimes done in a negative way by proposing what students should avoid: "Don't talk"; "Stop looking over there"; and "Give up messing around". However, this is sometimes difficult for the students to understand and also creates a negative atmosphere at times. So instead, I have started to (try!) and frame all my instructions in a positive manner; what they should do rather than what they shouldn't. This makes it specific to the students, exactly what they should be doing with no excuses.

Do It Again

When students fail to successfully complete a basic task that you've shown them how to do, doing it again and doing it right, or better, or perfectly is the best consequence

The last adjustment to my teaching leads on nicely to what I've changed in regards to 'Do It Again'. As the students have clear instructions on what they should do, they have no excuses of doing it well. Before the lesson, the students are lined-up outside the classroom ready to start their 'Do Now' (Starter/Opener/Entrance Activity/Whatever Term You Feel Appropriate). They are told to enter in silent, get their pencil case, planner and reading book and to start the Do Now in silence after writing the title and date down. Previously, I would allow a bit of chatter as they entered the room as this was to be expected. Or was to be expected. Why shouldn't the students enter in absolute silence? I have changed my attitude to their entering the room and they now enter in silence, with their stuff out, completing the Do Now otherwise, they do it again. No matter how many times.

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