25 Sep '14

News Is low-level disruption really such a problem in classrooms? teacher views

Headteachers are not doing enough to stop minor misdemeanours, such as humming or fidgeting, in lessons, according to Ofsted. Do you agree with the inspectorates findings?10 ways to deal with low-level disruption in the classroomHeadteachers are not doing enough to tackle unruly behaviour in class, such as humming or fidgeting, according to Ofsted chief Michael Wilshaw. His comments come after a report from the inspectorate found that students are losing up to an hour of learning each day, which is equivalent to 38 days of teaching per year, in English schools because of low-level disruption in the classroom.Should I stop a student tapping his pen while he thinks?The average class size has risen by two pupils on average since 2008, and some classes have more than 30 students in them. How on earth are students supposed to get the attention they need to learn in these conditions? And why are people surprised when their behaviour escalates to get attention? Teachers rarely just casually accept bad behaviour. Choosing to ignore it can be much more powerful than turning it into a major show of authority. Class issues can often be addressed quietly after class, or with a phone call home.Teachers ignore bad behavior for fear of losing their jobsMy wife gave a detention to a student today who refused to put her phone away. The senior management and headteacher cancelled the detention, blaming the incident on my wife because she had not offered the correct option. If you give students behaviour points, senior managers put you on competency because they think you cant control your class. Teachers ignore low-level behaviour because if you try to tackle it you are not supported if the kids refuse to do the punishment. You are in danger of losing your job if you report bad behaviour, as it is blamed on the teacher.Its fatal to lower expectations around behaviour In essence Wilshaws is right. Once you lower your expectations, its fatal. I started work in a school that was sleepwalking into special measures and the most-heard phrase in the staffroom was, thats just the way our kids are. It was awful and as a newly-qualified teacher I used to come home thinking that there was something wrong with my behaviour management. There were teachers in other subjects boasting how they had no problems in their classes but in essence they were making the pupils copy off the board or out of books in silence. When the school went into measures, behaviour finally got addressed as a whole school issue and it was like getting my life back.Students live in a world of noise, from TV to TwitterStudents live in a world of noise. They watch TV, tweet and rarely do they engage in one task fully. As such, chatting while working is normal. Sometimes they work better with the radio on. Thats something that is increasingly happening and perhaps it manifests in low-level disruption.The problem is too big for senior leadership to deal withThis behaviour is called low level because pupils are not attacking each other with swords, but its actually high-level disruption. If you dont listen, you cant hear, you wont learn, and neither will those around you. The systems for reporting misdemeanors are onerousIt is the quiet ones who want to learn and dont complain that I lose sleep about. I worry that Im letting them down by allowing poor behaviour. I make no apologies for having high expectations as long as it means that the majority learn. Without the support mechanisms and systems in place those quiet kids get lost in the mix.A silent classroom is not always a good classroomIts not always the case that a silent classroom, or even a quiet classroom, is a good classroom. Narrating and articulating thoughts and actions is a valuable part of the learning process for some children and for many adult learners. And of course, whats disruptive by some peoples definition isnt disruptive for others. Janet Lord is an educational researcher Continue reading...

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