Saturday, 22 March 2014

Improving 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.

So far, I have focussed on '100%', 'Sweat the Details', 'What To Do' and 'Do It Again'. These adjustments can be seen in my previous blog posts which can be accessed in the blog archive.

I now moving onto another technique in 'Setting and Maintaining High Behavioural Expectations: 'Strong Voice'. This technique has a number of pages dedicated to helping the teacher in 'Teach Like a Champion' so have decided that it needs to have a sole focus for a number of weeks rather than water it down with combining it with another technique.

Strong Voice

Strong Voice teachers follow five principles in their interactions with students  - or at least interactions where they are trying to establish control: Economy of Language, Do Not Talk Over, Do Not Engage, Square Up/Stand Still, and Quiet Power.

These are the five principles I've tried to follow for the last two weeks. Unfortunately, they proved quite difficult to think about all at the same time! I broke the steps down further to a couple of basic ideas to remember:

  • Start my instructions, then stop if student is talking over me
This works an absolute treat. Previously, I had always stopped wherever I was in the sentence if students were talking over me. Now, I deliberately stop in the middle of a sentence, usually exaggerating the stop. This allows the offender to realise that they have interrupted me and to quickly stop. If it's silent in the room, the student will notice something is up and quickly stop. The key is to make sure that you are stopping in an awkward place in the sentence.

The following video illustrates this pretty well:

  • Do not engage with secondary behaviour  
I think that I first heard about this idea from a former colleague who was head of year, who adapted it from Bill Rogers. I initially remember wondering why on earth you would ever ignore following behaviour, but Lemov's advice of 'Do Not Engage' explains it further. As a teacher, focus on the primary behaviour of the student - not anything that follows. Repeat the instruction that you want them to follow - not engaging with any further discussion with them. 
  • Outside Discussions
I have always felt that I have had a fairly good manner with any student when left one to one with them offering the lines "I'll say what I have to say without any interruptions. After that, you can reply if it is relevant". I have been adapting my body language in these situations by 'squaring up' to the student. This phrase suggests I'm about to engage in a boxing match, but it actually means that I am standing up straight, facing the student with shoulders directed towards them whilst talking to them. This is only for when a student gets to the stage where they are sent outside the classroom (rare occasions!)

  • Statue Directions
The last time I videoed my teaching, to my horror, I noticed how often I wandered around the room whilst giving instructions. Now, whilst I have always thought this to be a good thing, I've adapted my thinking recently. It is great to move around the room when questioning or reading as a class (I could write a whole post about this!), but when specifically delivering instructions I have started to try and stand like a statue when delivering instructions. This demonstrates to the students that what I'm saying is now incredibly important. Before, when I moved around the classroom (handing out sheets to save time or trying to 'own the space of the room'), it suggested to the students that my instructions weren't that important as I wasn't delivering them with care. This is still something I'll be working on over the next two weeks as I'm quite a 'busy' teacher and have a huge tendency to move around a lot to keep the pace of the lesson up.

  • Quieter and Slower Delivery
As alluded to above, I have always tried to keep the pace of my instructions quite pacey. This is one of the things that I am aiming to change drastically over the coming year. I have seen three teachers in my time (one is a current colleague, one I observed as a trainee teacher and one was a teacher when I was a student and I still remember him doing this!) who have exuded calm confidence in the classroom purely because of their economy of language and slow delivery of their words. I speak far too much in the classroom and need to cut this down - not because I am opposed to didactic teaching, but because I am not talking about anything that will benefit the students. As well as this, I have been trying to lower the volume of my voice as much as possible; again, something that I saw those above three teachers do fantastically.

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