Sunday, 30 November 2008

Behaviour Management

A website that will support your behaviour management .


Mind Mapping with

This is a link to a YouTube video showing the use of a website called

It is agreat mind map creation piece of online software. I use it a lot.

Try it.

Ideas about teaching



   teachers make a difference, but they don’t make all the difference. Young people need the help of adults to learn, especially in the early years. Teachers can create conditions that can help students to learn a great deal – or to keep them from learning much at all. But we must stop pretending that schools and teachers can do everything. Most learning takes place outside school. Even in school there are limits to what teachers can achieve: they can influence learning but not determine it.


teaching is a complex activity. There are no simple prescriptions for success. It is not just a matter of technique. To do it well requires a greater level of reflection and awareness than many activities and a willingness to deal with uncertainty and paradox.



we teach who we are. Teaching comes from within. How we relate to what we are teaching and to our pupils depends on who we are as teachers and as people. Connecting with our pupils means giving a little of ourselves and being prepared to be vulnerable. Developing our practice depends heavily on self knowledge and self awareness.

4.good teachers have a sound understanding of what they are teaching. As well as a knowledge about how to communicate their understanding to others, they also care about what they are teaching and have an ability to bring it to life.

they try to see their pupils as they really are both as people and as learners - what motivates them, how they prefer to learn and what they already know and understand. 

6.good teachers are good improvisers. They tend to make what is learned the focus of attention, but they don’t deliver a set curriculum to a rigid plan. They are able to develop, refine and reinvent what is to be learned depending on what works for them and their pupils.
7.they create a learning community in the classroomwhere there is a high level and quality of action and interaction. They have the skills, the confidence and the energy to talk with children rather than at them, and to encourage debate and dialogue.

Ian Smith

From a really good website



   intelligence is not fixed. We all have much greater potential for learning than is commonly recognised. Given the right opportunities we can all develop our ability to learn: the early years are vital, but the human mind is capable of lifelong change and development.


effort is as important as ability. Our actions as learners and as teachers are underpinned by our beliefs. A belief that intelligence is fixed undermines pupils’ motivation and causes teachers to lower their expectations of their pupils.



learning is strongly influenced by emotion. Heart, mind and body - thinking feeling and action - are inseparable. This is why motivation is so important in learning.   If we want academic achievement we have to attend to young people’s physical well-being as well as to how they feel about themselves, about school and about each other

4.we all learn in different ways. We have different abilities interests and preferred ways to learn. Good schools recognise the right of everyone to be different. They value all kinds of achievement and recognise that there can be no one ‘right’ way to teach or ‘best’ way to learn.

deep learning is an active process.  We learn best when we can make sense of what we are learning. The deeper the level of processing, the more likely we are to retain and make use of our knowledge.  Processing involves relating new information to what we already know and changing what we know in the light of that new information.

6.learning is messy. It does not happen at set times, at set places or in subject compartments. We rarely learn anything by proceeding along a single path to predetermined outcomes.
7.we learn from the company we keep. Although learning is something that goes on inside an individual’s head, at its deepest reaches it is essentially a communal activity: we learn most of what we know from and with each other .

Ian Smith

From a really good website

Saturday, 29 November 2008

In the correct state of mind for learning?

It is impossible to begin to learn that which 
one thinks one already knows. 

Some links to websites suggesting strategies for motivating students/pupils:

Procrastination and ManYana

    Almost everyone occasionally procrastinates, but a worrisome 15 to 20 percent of adults routinely put off activities that would be better accomplished right away.

    A penchant for postponement carries a financial penalty, endangers health, harms relationships and ends careers. And yet perpetual foot-draggers sometimes benefit emotionally from their tactics, which support the human inclination to avoid the disagreeable.

Research into the reasons people put off projects has led to strategies for helping all of us get and stay on task.

Raymond, a high-powered attorney, habitually put off returning important business calls and penning legal briefs, behaviours that seriously threatened his career. Raymond (not his real name) sought help from clinical psychologist William Knaus, who practices in Longmeadow, Mass. As a first step, Knaus gave Raymond a two-page synopsis of procrastination and asked him to read it “and see if the description applied.” Raymond agreed to do so on a flight to Europe. Instead he watched a movie. He next vowed to read it the first night at his hotel, but he fell asleep early. After that, each day brought something more compelling to do. In the end, Knaus calculated that the lawyer had spent 40 hours delaying a task that would have taken about two minutes to complete.

Almost everyone occasionally procrastinates, which University of Calgary economist Piers Steel defines as voluntarily delaying an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay. But like Raymond, a worrisome 15 to 20 percent of adults, the “maƱana procrastinators,” routinely put off activities that would be better accomplished ASAP. And according to a 2007 meta-analysis by Steel, procrastination plagues a whopping 80 to 95 percent of college students, whose packed academic schedules and frat-party-style distractions put them at particular risk.

Thanks for reading this. I put it on the blog because I was interested in the idea – we all do this to some extent – don't we? But particularly because they use the “correct” spelling of my company, ManYana...

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Ten tips to improve pupils’ behaviour and attainment

1. Give pupils a language to describe their emotions; get them used to talking about their feelings. Encourage them to write a diary (see above).
2. Pay attention to pupils who are behaving well. Try and ignore misbehaviour. Make sure you reward good behaviour, not bad.
3. Be specific with your praise. Say precisely what you like about a pupil’s work or attitude. People always feel better when they know precisely what it is that they have done well. That way they can repeat that behaviour more easily.
4. Get your pupils to think very carefully about where they are sitting before the lesson. Ask them to choose to sit next to someone they don’t normally sit next to, and to decide in advance who this will be.
5. If a class is too noisy and not listening to you, split them up into smaller groups, ‘handpicked’ by you, and give everyone in the group a position of responsibility. A central tenet of emotional intelligence is that people should have feelings of power and control.
6. Give your instructions in a calm fashion. Try to avoid shouting and appearing angry. Show that you have control over your own emotions.
7. Pre-empt trouble by taking a long-term view. Emotional intelligence is about seeing the long-term perspective rather than the short term. By planning your lessons well in advance, providing a variety of different exercises that pupils can engage with, you are implicitly showing your pupils that the long-term view is the one that is best. The Elton Report found that poor behaviour in 80% of lessons was due to poor planning on behalf of the teacher. 
8. Walk away from confrontations. The emotionally intelligent teacher always buys him- or herself time to think about how best to deal with a situation.
9. Question poor behaviour, but don’t make blanket judgements about pupils. Make pupils think about their behaviour, not be defensive about it. Ask them how they are feeling about the lesson and why they are feeling that way.
10. Institute an emotional literacy programme during your tutor times. Encourage the whole school to participate.

Pivotal Education - worth logging on and signing up

Ellie, Angus, Sandra and the rest of the Pivotal Team
Pivotal Education Ltd
0207 0001735

To visit the NEW Behaviour Management Online Shop click here

To order your copy of Taking Care of Behaviour and for £15.99 click here

To enquire aboutINSET click here

For information about Behaviour Management Courses click here

Pivotal Education Ltd, 16 Penn House, Jennery Lane, Burnham, Bucks SL1 8BN, UNITED KINGDOM

Side by Side

We know that dropping down to below eye level when intervening in the classroom can calm the situation and engage the student in the conversation. But what about situations where students are not sitting down? In the corridors, at the school gates and in lessons held in open spaces try standing at the side of the student that you wish to talk to rather than standing face to face. The student is less likely to back away or see it as an opportunity for confrontation and your conversation can be quiet, personal and non-threatening.                                               
 © Paul Dix 2006

Nurturing Support from Parents

As your structure for managing behaviour develops, keep parents updated.  Write a letter home explaining the rules, rewards and sanctions and detailing some of the new strategies that are having an impact.  The conversations that you have with individual parents will start to have a shared context. 

  • Parents will understand your interventions are fair and be more inclined to support your decisions.
  • Some parents, who are searching for ideas themselves will begin adapting strategies for the home.
  • Your first communication with parents will be a positive one, leaving the door open to discuss concerns about their child in the future.

© Paul Dix 2006

Chantelle's Hell

Chantelle throws the classroom door open at the end of break, dramatically collapses, head on her desk, coat on and hood over her head. Before you are tempted to open 'Pandora's box' it is worth reminding yourself that:   
  • The rules are a long way down on her list of priorities  
  • Chantelle is unlikely to be thinking rationally  
  • You are unlikely to be able to solve the situation in an instant  
  • A calm and caring enquiry. 'Are you ok?' is your best chance of opening a dialogue  
  • You may need to leave her and return periodically, breaking down your requests, providing clear choices and easing her into the lesson.  
  • The ability to control emotions is a skill that develops with age; teenagers' brains are not fully developed.  
  • Children's emotions are fragile. Problems can seem insurmountable, all consuming, life and death and switch in an instant - remember being a teenager?  
  • You are an adult helping a child to manage their own behaviour 
  • If Chantelle blows, what comes out is raw emotion, not necessarily directed at you even if you take most of the initial blast. 
© Paul Dix 2006


I tend to spend a great deal of time talking to teachers about the issue of 'respect'. 'Students have no respect', 'We have a right to be respected', 'There is no respect in society anymore'. I smile politely, feign interest and try to work out what is beneath their protestations.
Demanding and expecting respect is not a starting point I would encourage in anyone working with young people. There may have been a time when respect was automatically bestowed on teachers. If there ever was it has passed and will not be retrieved by passive appeals or rose tinted nostalgia. Victorian child street gangs didn't have ASBOs or tags, but were terrifyingly brutal and had no respect for those on the outside. 'Scuse me guvna, I gone an' nicked your wallet and no mistake'!
Before you can have respect you must have earned the trust of individuals, built your reputation for consistency and demonstrated your empathy with other human beings. If your starting point is 'How do I earn your respect?' you are immediately engaged in building relationships, gaining understanding about the students you are working with and building on the authority that you position affords. By expecting your students to give you respect you are placing the responsibility for building relationships on them. You are the adult, in control of your emotions, with skills and experience in developing appropriate relationships and a clear view of where you are leading your class. You are best placed lead the development of trust.
 By being proactive you can earn the respect that seems so elusive. By sustaining your perspective as the adult you can take control and marshal your relationships appropriately. Or you could wallow in self pity. As they say in Behaviour Management, 'It's your choice!'
© Paul Dix 2006

These behaviour helpful hints come from 

Pivotal Education

'Right you are in Thursday'


Delayed sanctions have less impact


The longer a sanction is delayed the more disconnected it becomes from the original behaviour. Children who find themselves in detention regularly often forget why they are there, even who put them in.  For your higher order sanctions to have the best chance of being effective they need to be:


v      Executed as soon as possible (immediately or on the same day)

v      Not deferred for another teacher to impose

v      Used to reset and reaffirm expectations with the child

v      Proportionate


If detention (be it after school, at break or lunch) is ever effective the time is used for the teacher and child to reflect on the inappropriate behaviour, renegotiate what will happen in the next lesson and build understanding in the relationship. Although it may relieve your frustration temporarily to give a lengthy detention, it is not the length of detention or severity of punishment that will change future behaviour. It is how the time is used that it crucial.


A planned, private five minute conversation can have a more positive impact on the child than more punitive measures. If sanctions are really just retribution then the effect on the child is likely to be negative. How many children spend their time in detention thinking about how they are going to change their behaviour? How many spend their time planning the weekend or planning revenge on their teacher?


I realise that supervising all of your own sanctions is time consuming and, at first, difficult to manage. The investment of time is worthwhile as you are working to change behaviour not simply to punish it.  Try structuring your hierarchy so that you leave the sanctions that are most time consuming for the children who need your time most while executing lower level sanctions immediately.


v      Verbal warning

v      One minute after class (to speak to the teacher about the behaviour and agree what will happen next time)

v      Moved in the room (away from peers or to sit with the teacher)

v      Helping the teacher organise the classroom at break

v      Lunch with the teacher

v      Impositions (extra work to be completed at home, counter signed by the parents and brought to you before school the next day)

v      Reducing after school detentions to 10 minutes so that you can supervise them personally

v      Early to school detention - child reports 10 minutes early to prepare the class alongside the teacher



If your sanctions are efficient, designed to promote understanding of appropriate behaviour and connect the child with the original behaviour they will be effective. If they are delegated, punitive and disconnected a destructive culture of 'them and us' is allowed to grow.


© Paul Dix 2007

Keep Some Mystery

 Initiating and sustaining appropriate professional relationships with young people takes some skill.  In order to build mutual trust you need to be able to drop your guard, whilst holding firm to your rules, use a balance of formal and informal conversations and be open to questions while keeping some mystery. It is easy to believe that you are making progress with challenging young people by befriending them and being completely open about your own interests/life outside the classroom. For a short while this approach appears to work. The student is polite, helpful even. Your openness is welcome and the child almost sets you apart from the other staff.  Yet when the time comes to work, when learning becomes challenging, when the child begins to doubt their own ability you may find it difficult to provide appropriate support. The relationship that is based on friendship will not necessarily meet the educational needs of the child.

By building foundations for your relationships on friendship you lose your right to draw the lines when managing behaviour  When older colleagues tell new teachers not to smile until Christmas, perhaps they too are aware of this (although some clearly are keen to reinforce a 'them' and 'us' culture). Children are fascinated by the intricacies of their personal lives.  As you build trust by being open take care not to give away too much too soonBy revealing too much too soon you risk losing some of the mystery that makes you interesting to know.

 "I saw you in town on Saturday night sir"

"Yes, I was in the Nags Head with my girlfriend.  We went there for a meal. I had a a praw cocktail followed by steak and chips and a glass of wine. The service was excellent. My girlfriend didn't drink as she was driving and we had to be in bed early as we were travelling to see her parents the following.... ."


 'I saw you in town on Saturday night sir"

"Did you?  Are you sure it was me? I must take more care to disguise myself! Don't tell the headteacher or she won't let me out again"

 © Paul Dix 2007

Advanced Assertive Skills

 Assertiveness is not just about how you react to inappropriate behaviour. Assertive teachers use proactive strategies for managing behaviour, their expectations are implicit in their language, tone, attitude and actions. They expect appropriate behaviour, they expect to acknowledge and reward it:

 'Hold on a minute, where are my stickers/merits/positive notes/stamps? I am going to need them today, I can feel this is going to be an excellent lesson'

'I have been looking forward to this lesson all week, I can see you are going to enjoy it, there is so much to fit in...'

Assertive teachers have their rewards and sanctions clearly on display, not simply on the wall of the classroom or hidden in the drawer but on their desk and in their hand - positive note home pads, incident report forms, stickers, a class list for recording interventions. They use them to remind the children of the benefits of following the rules and to divert others from the sanctions path. The teacher who, seeing a problem at the back of the room, casually picks up an incident report form, thumbing it while walking around the class sends a clear yet subtle message to children who are choosing to break the rules.

Assertive adults set precise time limits within their instructions, 'In five minutes you will have....', 'When I come back in two minutes I will see....', 'You have ten minutes to successfully....' The assertive attitude is disappointment not anger,. When children break the rules the assertive adult feigns surprise/shock. With their physical language they say 'I can't believe you are talking while I am giving instructions' rather than 'I am angry with you'. The assertive teacher separates their emotional and rational response. They attack the behaviour and not the child, avoiding labeling, 'I am so disappointed that you have chosen to break the rule again, you are making some poor choices today, think very carefully about your next move'.

The assertive teacher recognises that managing behaviour in private is more effective and they plan for private moments in the classroom:

©      taking children to the side of the room away from their peers

©      using 'warning tickets' to subtly but clearly deliver sanctions

©      slipping merit tickets/stickers under the book of a child who is working hard

©      using gentle touch to reinforce appropriate behaviour

©      employing non verbal signs and signals to adjust and prevent behaviour

©      using classroom charts to indicate rule breaks

©      getting down lower than eye level to speak to children who are sat at desks

 Assertive adults do not hold grudges but neither do they pretend that yesterday did not happen. They are able to be cold (for a day) rather than confrontational, allowing the child to know that their behaviour can have a negative effect on others while encouraging the child to work to recover damaged trust. The assertive adult has the ability to switch from an informal tone to a formal one, to control the atmosphere in the room and move between relaxed and businesslike.

 © Paul Dix 2007

Signs, Symbols, Flashcards and Visual Learner


Teachers who work with children who have Asperger's Syndrome or ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) often use behaviour flashcards to manage low level disruption. The cards have a symbol and word, for example, 'Good Sitting' with an image of a child sitting at the desk or two symbols, for instance a 'thumbs up' with a picture of an open book (good reading).  

The cards are used successfully with the whole class and not only for the children who need them most. They are shown subtly as a warning to the child to correct behaviour as the teacher continues speaking to the whole class. For older children the cards are also a useful although the symbols and signs may need to be age appropriate; a mobile phone inside a red stop sign or a yellow warning sign with the picture of an ear.

The cards reinforce the rules and routines of the classroom, focus the child's attention on the behaviour that needs correcting and encourage non verbal even subtle communication between the teacher and the child.  They might be used before you would give a verbal warning to allow the child to check their behaviour, to reinforce appropriate behaviour or as part of your structure for sanctions.

With 15 to 20 different flash cards on a metal ring you can soon become skilled at turning to the right card, showing the child and adjusting the behaviour without stopping your demonstration of the science experiment or taking your eyes from the class reading book. 

Pivotal is currently working with SEBD schools, MLD schools, PRUs, Secure Units and Specialist ASD/Asperger's schools

© Paul Dix 2007

One for the Teaching Assistants

Managing an individual student in a class of 30 is a complicated business. If the class teacher does not have strong skills in managing behaviour you can find yourself swimming against the tide. Define your boundaries each time you sit down to work with an individual, set clear expectations and regardless of what is happening elsewhere you can have a successful lesson.

Stick a length of velcro on an A4 laminated sheet. Now on slips of card write a selection of rules that you will use with different students. You might get some ideas from the selection of the rules below:

- Follow instructions first time given
- When one person is speaking, listen
- Concentrate on your work
- Speak politely 
- Ignore others when they interfere
- Leave you mobile phone in your bag

You can now establish routines for individuals and establish your boundaries and expectations. If the student chooses to break any of the rules give them a clear warning the first time. If they repeat the behaviour remove the appropriate rule from the chart. Agree with the class teacher the point at which you will inform them of the student's poor choices; perhaps three slips removed would trigger a negative referral. With a few smiley faces or ticks or stars placed alongside the rules you can also reward students for following the routine. A strong argument for this system is that you can enforce your rules while the teacher is talking to the whole class without disturbing anyone. The visual cue of removing the rule or placing a star next to it allows you to refocus the student subtlety.

When students understand that you have rules, boundaries and expectations the relationship is given some structure and limits.

Pivotal Education Behaviour Management Course for Teaching Assistants is running in Birmingham on 8th November 2007.  Click here for more details or reply to this email.

© Paul Dix 2007

Passing over control of your emotions

As you start the new term check how many times you say:


'You are getting on my nerves' 

'You are making me angry' 

'If you do that again I am going to shout/get cross/scream' 

'I find that word particularly offensive'

 'I am thoroughly irritated by your behaviour'  


When you connect inappropriate behaviour with your personal emotional response some children will empathise. Many will take note of the power and impact certain behaviours have on your emotional state. Some may use the information to prokove a reaction, to divert you away from work or as 'handgrenades' to bring the lesson to an abrupt halt. The behaviours that provoke an emotional reaction within you ought to be ones that you remain outwardly impassive towards.


Connecting behaviour and emotion passes over control of your response to the students. I catch myself doing it when I am most tired, most frustrated, most exasperated. Before passing over your emotional control to a 6 year old adjust your language and focus on rational responses to inappropriate behaviour. State the behaviour that you observe, what the consequences of it continuing will be while giving the pupil a model of their previous good behaviour. Cooly, calmy but with absolute certainty.


'Trevor, you are chewing the curtains. (I am not going to get angry, irritated, scream, sigh, twitch etc) This is a warning, think carefully about your next move Trevor, try to make better choices like you did last Thursday when you helped me tidy up after painting'.


© Paul Dix 2007

10 Questions that tempt inappropriate responses

'How many times do I have to tell you?'

'Why am I waiting for you?'

'Would you do that at home?'

'Why are you wasting my time?'

'What did you say!?' (in response to being sworn at)

'What am I going to do with you?'

'Why am I repeating myself?'

'Is it me...?'

'Why are you wasting your time?'

'Could you tell everyone what is so funny Trevor?'


© Paul Dix 2007

Intelligent Use of Praise

These behaviour helpful hints come from 

Pivotal Education


'Wallpapering' your classroom with praise and positive reinforcement is important. Being passionate about your teaching, motivated and energetic is certainly infectious but teachers who succeed with the hard to reach know that there is more to praise than simply saying lovely things.

In your next lesson make a mental note of how you are using praise and see if you can get a balance between the five definitions below.
  • Wallpaper praise - praise that makes the classroom feel good, 'Great, lovely, marvellous, splendid..'
  • Personal praise - praise that is aimed at the student's personality 'You are brilliant, you are intelligent, you are really doing well.'
  • Directed praise - praise that reinforces good choices in behaviour 'Well done for following the rule, thank you for respecting the 'one voice' routine.'
  • Reflective praise - praise that encourages positive self reflection 'You must feel good about the accuracy of this work'
  • Contextual praise - praise that places the achievement in a wider context 'That work is a GCSE grade C and you are in year 8, can I use it for the display?'

    For students who have low self esteem and a negative view of their own potential it is reflective and contextual praise that attacks this most effectively. Take a few moments to include some reflective and contextual praise for your trickiest students when you are marking their work or giving personal feedback.


    © Paul Dix 2007 

  • Saturday, 15 November 2008

    Cycles of Negative Behaviour

    Behaviour management strategies that allow you to win the fire fight of day to day teaching are essential for survival. However order to thrive in challenging classroom a more strategic approach is also needed.

    Make a point of observing one your student whose behaviour causes you concern in sharp focus. Can you identify and map his negative behaviour patterns. How do they begin? Lateness, frustration with the work, lack of equipment, tiredness, wanting to move around etc. Can you identify how the cycle progresses and how it repeats or ebbs or crescendos? With your map think strategically about how and when you are going to intervene during the cycle. Consider the following example:

    Student does not listen to the instructions - does not understand the work - looks for a distraction - fumbles in bag - finds mobile phone - send covert text messages - puts coat on - stands up - asks to leave the room.

    When we examine the behaviours in a pattern the interventions become obvious; when we are in the middle of a busy lesson it is all too easy to be distracted by the immediate behaviours. Having a plan to divert or halt the cycle before walking in gives you more chance of achieving real changes over time.

    © Paul Dix 2007

    Behaviour issues

    This tip is brought to you (purloined!) from a teacher at Chalvedon School in Essex..

    When you are speaking to a child, particularly at a stressful moment, imagine that the child's parent is on your shoulder listening to the conversation. Reminding yourself of the 'Parent on the shoulder' allows you to check your verbal, physical and tonal language in an instant.


    © Paul Dix 2007

    Outstanding Lessons

    What makes outstanding?

    EngagementLessons where there is evident engagement from all students for most of the time in the learning activities presented. They will be self directed and while the teacher's presence is critical the students complete the work at pace and with care. They want to do well and to produce quality work.
    ChallengeThe work will present a learning challenge to the students either in the level of the cognitive demands of the content or in the skill set required for effective completion. Work will have been planned to challenge students as the teacher has secure knowledge of the current levels and capabilities of the students in the class.

    There will be secure and robust assessments of the students which will have allowed the teacher to design the learning so that students can progress from where they are currently at a rate which matches or exceeds their prior learning rate. This rate will be better than one might expect taking into account the nature of the students and the nature of the work being undertaken.


    The lesson will be structured to make best use of the time available and will support learning very well.


    Will be appropriate to the learning expected. Fast or slow does not define outstanding but appropriate, no time wasted, a focus on moving on, does equate with higher quality lessons.


    Questioning relates to two aspects of learning. The first is to provide assessment information to allow both teacher and students to recognise what they have learned and how far they have progressed. The second use is to encourage students to think. Without an engagement in thinking about the work little learning can actually take place. Questions that move students through lower levels, knowledge and recall, comprehension and application, to higher order analysis, synthesis and evaluation thinking skills are a feature of outstanding lessons. Questioning needs to be evidenced in the lesson planning. Teachers will also take opportunities that are offered during lessons and will build on students' knowledge and skills.


    The plenary, and lessons can certainly have more than one plenary, secures learning and allows for some assessment. The main learning will have been defined by the lesson's learning objectives which detail what learning, not just activity, students will engage in.

    Sunday, 9 November 2008

    Ok, I think I get it. I write stuff, post pictures, which no one looks at and I...???&*!!"

    Ok, no problem

    Visit my website for ManYana Ltd at



    I wish I understood how to do this blog stuff.

    Let's see what happens here...