The debate about developing a child’s good behaviour has long been discussed.

Teachers are under increasing pressure to ‘control’ their student’s actions, and parents are consistently blamed for not being good role models.

Many policies are based on outdated research claiming frankly half-baked ideas about emotional intelligence and reptile brains. Maybe, just maybe, it might be time to focus on developing a better relationship with pupils, in the hope of engaging and inspiring them!

Of course, we’re not telling you how to do your job – many teachers may already have techniques for behaviour management that work well for them – we just have a few very handy tips from other brilliant teachers on how to better a child’s behaviour in class. Oh, and these tips are from real teachers too, based on a fantastic #TeachMeet we attended at Great Sankey High School.

But before we get to these, the teachers were first asked this question:

“What reasons do you think students gave to explain why their behaviour is better in some subjects and/or with some teachers?”

Here are the answers that were given:

Humour: “They make me laugh and then they get back on track.”

Enthusiasm: “The teacher likes the subject.”

The teacher praises and/or motivates the students: “The teacher motivates us to do well. He/she praises us when we do well, and we always do.”

Mutual respect: “The teacher respects us, so we respect them. I give respect and get it back.”

Concern for students: “They ask if I need help. I don’t have to ask them and that shows they want to get to know their class.”

Positive relationships: “Because I like the teacher. If you like the teacher, you give them respect.”

Engagement: “Because there are lots of hands-on activities. The teacher makes the lesson really fun.”

There is a negative consequence for poor behaviour: “I behave well because the teacher is strict. They only give one chance. People know the consequences so they behave.”

But the below video was one of the most inspiring talks we’ve seen in a while…
“Every child deserves a champion”
– Rita Pierson

Yes, a role model, and someone to guide them. The late, great Rita Pierson delivered a speech on TEDTalks not very long ago, suggesting that “no significant learning can take place without a significant relationship”. Rita highlighted the importance of teachers building relationships with their students, regardless of how challenging it is, and being a positive force in their lives, especially when other aspects may not be perfect. Want to hear more? Lucky you, we’ve included the video below:

– Good body language is key

By making yourself appear approachable and friendly, you’re inviting your student to ask questions. You’re inviting them to engage with you, therefore holding their attention. Our standards are their standards, and if we’re not giving off the right signal, this is easily reciprocated with a stand-offish approach. Smile, ask a question and let me them know you’re there to help.

– Use marking and feedback to develop your relationship

This is a great way to establish a relationship with your pupil through constructive reinforcement. Get their attention by showing them what went well for the activity they completed, mention something that didn’t go too well, and then reinforce another positive message to show them they are getting things right. Show that they’re not ‘rubbish’ – don’t look for the negatives, hone in on the positives.

– Don’t expect results to change if you’re still trying the same thing over and over again

Purposeful practice develops behaviour for learning, so set yourself a method to work through and measure the results you get. Remember that poor actions are not a personal attack on you – students have their own issues, which could be contributing to their actions. Understand yourself and avoid getting frustrated:

Identify the teaching skill you’re looking to develop
Research it, discuss it and then plan a new strategy
Try this new strategy out in the classroom
Review, reflect, refine and develop your strategy

–  Find creative ways to engage your students

Don’t expect your students to use their creativity if you can’t use yours. Keep them engaged by asking intriguing questions, creating and developing activities and emphasising the rewards. The longer you have their attention (because they’re interested), the better the relationship and the opportunity to develop their performance in the classroom. And of course, they’ll want to learn.