17 questions to get beyond the behaviour policy with the Whack-A-Mole class.

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Your Behaviour Policy is rock solid & you are vigilant with its application. Your seating plan is in place; there are differentiated ‘Do Now!’ starters; & students have been ‘meeted & greeted’. So how do you stop students get out of their seat; calling out; interrupting you to ask to go to the toilet; arguing with each other across the class…how do you win with the Whack-A-Mole Class!

17 questions that take you Beyond The Behaviour Policy…

  1. Does your authority look CALM & COMPASSIONATE?

Wait for them to listen before you speak…however long it takes. Expect the students to do what you ask – with plenty of ‘Thank You’s!’. There are always some easy ‘no’ answers. Use rhetorical questions when the answer is obvious.

2. Can you stay out of an emotional reaction?

DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY & DONT TURN IT INTO A ‘BATTLE’ Your rules and expectations are clear, some classes need longer than others – don’t stop reminding them until Xmas! Every lesson if necessary.

3. Can you meet them where they are, come alongside them and help them down the path of ‘Better’?

We are working in an ONGOING global pandemic – it is stressful & we are all at different stages of recovery; first, take care of yourself then you can be the teacher the kids need.

4. ASK YOURSELF ‘WHAT IS THEIR BEHAVIOUR REALLY COMMUNICATING…?

Even better ask one of the kids! In my experience it is usually something like, ‘I cant do it…’ or ‘I don’t get it..’ so help them, don’t hammer them! What can I do as the teacher to motivate, enthuse or build confidence of kids in this class

5. Can you SHOW YOU CARE way more than they do?

Of course, they haven’t got a pen! Give them one, call it a magic pen and watch them fly. Look after their work book. Tell them they are your fave class & you look forward to teaching them all week. Don’t give them a reason to live down to their reputation.

6. How often do you look ‘up river’?

Look at your lesson plan from the point of view of the least interested student. What tweak can you make to make it a more accessible? Plan your activities so every student can start the task. You know what disruption might come so plan your response….no behaviour ambushes

7. Can you make a lesson ‘WHY?’ SO STRONG IT BECOMES A ‘WHY WOULDN’T YOU…?’

Go even farther here and connect lesson with the lives of the kids in your class. Create a ‘curiosity bridge’ to the content.

8. Have you SET YOUR STALL OUT & BEEN YOUR OWN MARKETEER ?

 Is this the best lesson the kids are going to have all week? Maybe/Maybe not…but you think & say it is! ‘This lesson is the most interesting because…The most useful because…The most important because…

9. When was the last time you planned differentiated questions?

An easy, closed one for the distracted and an interesting, open question for the enthusiast. Have them scripted so the supplementary questions flow and momentum is built around the answers.

10. Can you let go of rigour & routine for 5mins?

 Introduce some CURIOSITY, CREATIVTY & Imagination – solve a problem; guess an object or image; ask a ‘what if?’ question or a Thunk; generate an appetite for learning.

11. Have you got the confidence to balance on the support/challenge axis and allow NO LEARNED HELPLESSNESS?

Tell the class it is ‘3 before ME’ (Book, Brain or Buddy) – they really shouldn’t be interrupting the lesson with some of these questions!

12. THAT KID?

 Look him in the eye at the start of the lesson – have you got everything you need to complete work in this lesson? Is there anything I can help you with? Right, I am looking forward to seeing some AMAZING work from you today…of you go…and thank you!

13. Can you stop THEIR REPUTATION from getting fixed?

They are clearly taking their time to accept your sky high expectations. Catch them being good and remind them of their potential. There will be kids who are golden – phone their parents and tell them they are superstars…news will soon spread!

14. Can you try some COACHING QUESTIONS?

What if the work wasn’t boring? What might be possible if you did understand the topic? How much work can you get done in 15mins? Do you really want to lose your lunch?!?

15. Have you prepared SOME SCRIPTS?

Mistakes; success; yet; this subject is important…We are Class 9X5 and WE CAN DO HARD THINGS!!

16. How many de-escalation strategies are in your teacher toolbox?

 The disappointed look? Time Out? Instruct on the action you WANT? Broken Record? Choices? Deflection? Last, last chance? Blank Page/Clean start?

17. Are you looking after yourself?

You have done all the things you need to do to stay emotionally agile so try this one thing to prepare you for this class – Pause. Take three deep breaths and count back wards from five. Remind your self you are doing the best you can and you’ve got this. Less than 20 seconds and you have Zen-like calm to start the lesson.

I am not looking to add to any teacher’s workload, least of all a teacher who has THAT class occupying a disproportionate amount of headspace. I am offering these questions in the spirit of professional collaboration and from a common experience of currently working with a class just like this. Just ask two of the questions this week and start to move the class in a more positive learning and behaviour direction.