Archive for the ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ Category

Positive Behaviour Management Sessions 5 – Reflection and Critical Thinking

Friday, August 1st, 2014

During the programme it struck me how difficult it was for the teachers to reflect on their own practice and how difficult it was for them to engage in critical thinking.

Knowing what I know about the Indian education system does mean that I shouldn’t be surprised by this.

The Indian education system teaches you not to think.

The teacher tells you the answer, you memorise it, the teacher asks the question, you give her the correct answer or you get laughed at, shouted at, or slapped.

These teachers are the product of this system.

So, on the whole, they found it very, very difficult to engage in reflection or critical thinking. These are just not skills they’ve had to use before.

The next time we run this programme we’ll have to do something about this. And I don’t mean removing the activities that require these skills. I think we may need some time at the beginning of the sessions to explain and practice these skills and we’ll then need to ensure we can provide additional support for participants when we are asking them to think and to reflect.

I have no doubt that these teachers are capable of reflection and critical thinking, it’s just that they’ve not done them much before so have not had enough practice.

Positive Behaviour Management Sessions 4 – Why Positive Behaviour Management Is Better

Friday, August 1st, 2014

I was particularly struck by the reactions of the teachers when we did the section on why positive behaviour management is better.

We asked the teachers to think up their own ideas first, then share with their small group, then we asked someone from each group to give us some of the ideas they had (think/pair/share). While they were sharing we drew a mind map on the board with several different categories: educational, psychological, historical, legal, constitutional, moral, international and gender. As they gave us ideas we put them up in one of these sections. Everything they gave us was either psychological (damages the child’s self-esteem, etc.) or educational (students can’t learn well with fear, etc.).

After they’d given us all of their thoughts, we asked them if they could think of anything fitting into the other categories. We gave them some prompting and some help. They told us about the Right to Education Act when we prompted them about the legal side of things. (Physical punishment is illegal in Indian schools and has been since 2009.) We filled in lots of the other gaps. International: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Historical: India gained independence through non-violence. Constitutional: the Fundamental Duties of Citizens as laid out in the Constitution (and printed inside every textbook) says that all Indians should abjure violence. Moral: all the religions say we should cherish and protect our children.

The biggest point was gender. I asked them why they thought physical punishment in schools could be a gender issue. They said that they didn’t discriminate in school against girls. I said that was very good, but wasn’t quite what I was after. I then wrote on the board in big capital letters “PHYSICAL PUNISHMENT PROMOTES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE”. I asked whether more boys or girls were caned, they said boys (a lot more boys). I said that what we are teaching our boys from the first day of first standard (year 1) through to 10th standard (Year 10) then Plus 1 and Plus 2 (A Level) is that if someone says or does something you don’t like then you hit them. And what happens when these boys get married and their wife (or child) says or does something that they don’t like? They hit them. Physical punishment in schools promotes domestic violence. And domestic violence is predominantly a crime against women. That makes this a gender issue.

Some of the teachers looked like they’d been kicked in the guts. Some looked like they were thinking “Oh no, I’m creating my husband!”. They had simply never made the link before between violence in school and violence in the wider community. Well, they have now!

Note: I do not for a second believe that physical punishment in school is the only cause of domestic violence, but it is certainly a contributing factor.

Positive Behaviour Management Sessions 3 – The Teacher Sessions

Friday, August 1st, 2014

We tried to use lots of different teaching techniques during the sessions with the teachers (individual reflection, pair work, group work, role play, gap fills, peer teaching, think/pair/share, carousel, loop cards, ball games, discussion, lecture-style explanations, etc.).

We tried to use the techniques that we were talking about. So each group of participants made a sticker chart and we gave stickers to the groups that were quietest first, or who came back from tea break on time, or who did well academically, etc. and we used 3-2-1 silence with them as well to show them how to do it with the kids, etc.

The topics we covered were: advantages of good classroom behaviour, types of disruptive behaviour, causes of disruptive behaviour, existing behaviour management strategies, why positive behaviour management is better, teaching strategies/techniques that help with behaviour, behaviour management strategies/techniques.

The teachers, on the whole, responded really well. They were engaged. They enjoyed the activities we did. They participated in the discussions. They mostly seemed genuinely interested in reducing physical punishment. Some, of course, were not very engaged and seemed resentful that anyone would have the audacity to suggest to them that there might be an alternative to shouting, scolding, striking. But, nothing that we can do is likely to change them. So I don’t see them as an indication of the failure of the programme.

I am hoping to get into the schools to do some team-teaching with more of the teachers and to see what changes, if any, they have taken into the classroom.

Positive Behaviour Management Sessions 2 – The Programme and Logistics

Friday, August 1st, 2014

This programme is being jointly run by VESL (in the UK) and VESS (in India). The overall programme has several elements and we got some funding from The Canning Trust to help us with this.

We started by painting the inside of every classroom in the three schools. As a consequence of this the school management managed to find money to pay to paint the outside of each building!

We ran a set of workshops for teachers to teach them alternatives to physical punishment.

Each teacher is to run a half hour session with their students each week for the entire term. We are providing the lesson plans for these sessions. They cover team work, communication, respect and expected behaviour in a classroom.

We have bought reed mats for each school so that the teachers can rearrange the classrooms and have the students work in groups on the floor. At the moment the furniture consists of wooden benches and wooden desks that seat about 5 students at each. So the rooms are either in a horseshoe (which is ok) or just rows of desks (lecture style) which is not so good. The floor is bare concrete.

We will be liaising with the schools to arrange cleaning and painting of the toilets. And we’re also going to be funding a PE teacher.

Teacher Sessions

The initial sessions were two hours each and happened between 2 and 4pm during the week. This plan had been suggested by one of the school managers. So half the teachers would come to our session on Tuesday (while the remaining half taught all the classes) and then we would get the other half on Wednesday.

So we would teach the same session twice with the two different groups.

We did two different sessions in the first week and one session in the second week. (We had planned to do two sessions in that week too but one of the schools had a PTA meeting one afternoon so those teachers were unable to attend.)

After the second week, the teachers decided that they would prefer to have the sessions on the weekend so we did two sessions (four hours in total) on the following two Saturdays (for all the teachers together). We then finished up with a final two hour session that was meant to be 1 hour to conclude the academic programme and 1 hour for giving out certificates/prizes and listening to speeches, etc.. Though that ended up being mixed together since one of the priests (a prize giver) was half an hour early and 9 teachers (half of the attendees that day) were an hour late.

So we did 16 hours in total.

We also decided to use one of the classes in one of the schools as a case study. So I go in there twice a week and I team-teach the student sessions with the class teacher. These sessions have gone well. We chose this class because it was one of the most difficult to manage. However, during these sessions the students have been exceptionally well behaved. I think this is due to three things. The first is that the class teacher is in the room and is team-teaching the lesson, so the students know that this is something important and a part of their learning routine (for some very, very broad definition of ‘learning routine’). The second is that I’m doing interesting games and activities with them. And the third is that we are actually teaching them how they should behave in class and why. So I think they are better behaved with both of us there than they would be with only one of us. Whatever it is, they are a fantastic bunch of kids who have come a very long way in only a few weeks (e.g. they now put their hand up silently to answer a question).

Positive Behaviour Management Sessions 1 – Overall

Friday, August 1st, 2014

We are running a programme here with 24 teachers from three primary schools about positive behaviour management.

And this is, without doubt, the best work I have ever done. And I mean ‘best’ in two senses. I mean it in a moral sense and in a quality sense.

Morally, this is good work. I am working to stop teachers from using physical punishment in schools. And that has far-reaching consequences.

From a quality point of view, this is also the best work I have ever done. My lesson plans have been comprehensive. The activities have been well-thought out and useful. Of course, it hasn’t been perfect and there are changes I would make for next time, but overall, I am really very proud of this work.

I’m not sure yet of how much, if any, change will be seen in classrooms. I do think we have changed the way that most of these teachers look at their teaching and their interaction with students. We have given them some techniques that they will use (e.g. 3-2-1 Silence instead of shouting or banging a cane on the desk to get the attention of the students). We have made links between physical punishment in schools and domestic violence in the wider community.

We have sown some seeds. And perhaps what we’ve done has stopped one or two teachers from using the cane once or twice. Perhaps it has strengthened the teacher/student relationship for some of these teachers (and their students). Perhaps it has laid some groundwork that will make it easier for the next person who comes along with a similar aim.