What are your feelings on behaviour management award systems and seating plans? (Cheryl, ECT Primary Year 4)
In terms of behaviour, we would opt for the term behaviour recognition systems
rather than behaviour management award systems.
It is unlikely children come to school to receive money, pencil cases and points from teachers, but they do need to be recognised when they do the right thing.
It is about how you are going to make a child feel valued and important perhaps by stickers, positive notes or rounds of applause.
It isn’t about the size of the reward and the idea of seeing better behaviour by paying children off, isn’t true, they need recognition.
Whether you’re using marbles in the jar, stickers on the chart, a tally system, or a token economy, it is the moment of that transaction where you recognise the child’s good behaviour.
Focus on recognition
This is the most important part – the recognition.
How you recognise them and with what is secondary to that. Keep it simple and for ECTs in a new post just use positive notes and you can build on this if you wish, by using a token economy to identify good behaviour and recognise the children either publicly or privately.
In terms of the seating plan, one of the critical things is to keep hold of it, keep control of the seating plan initially. Many ECTs coming into a new class or teachers transferring to a new school experience a honeymoon period where everything seems perfect.
You almost prepare yourself too much for terrible behaviour and you walk into the class for the first week and its perfect. So many teachers ‘just relax’ and ‘give up on the seating plan’, they say ‘I didn’t bother teaching them the routines as they were perfectly behaved’. Then a week later the cracks begin to show.
The fascination of a new teacher starts to wear off a little and teachers who haven’t done the groundwork of setting routines and seating plans start to struggle. You then find yourself in a difficult position so keep hold of control of the seating plan but be prepared to adjust it.
You can also ask the children ‘who do you work best with?’. Try not to be interested in friendship groups for learning unless they really are highly productive and adjust the seating plan in terms of who works best with who.
Many teachers will dangle working with your friends as a reward, ‘if you behave well you can go and sit with your friends for the next week’.
However, what this encourages is a seating plan that doesn’t work, and it starts to be very disruptive so do not use sitting with your friend as a reward. Make sure you adjust the seating plan very finely, and if you don’t want to touch the seating plan until the end of the team, or the start of the winter holidays then that is fine, you can review it in January.
Finally, having the children know exactly where they’re sitting before they walk into the classroom, or even into the school cuts all of the nonsense out where arguments can arise.
For more information on the Classroom Culture train the trainer programme, our Hearts & Minds INSET, or how your school can get a Behaviour Health Check, go to our Classroom Culture programme page and fill in the consultation form. For more answers to your questions see our Q&A introduction page.