In the event that behaviour does disrupt the learning environment, it is essential that this is handled as this will encourage future good behaviour, particularly if it is possible to nip the poor behaviour in the bud before it becomes an issue. When addressing poor behaviour, I use a stepped approach; this allows my response to progress and change for the event the behaviour doesn’t improve. The first step after I have noticed the poor behaviour is a non-verbal cue, it is common for me to acknowledge a minor behaviour infringement with a disapproving look in the students’ direction. “Non-verbal cues form an extremely important aspect of the communication process” (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014, p. 139) 55 percent of meaning conveyed is achieved through the use of body language, according to (Mehrabian, 1972). While this can be a very effective technique for generally well behaved students, other students may completely ignore this step and some students, particularly those with Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism, may not understand what this non-verbal cue means.
If the non-verbal cue doesn’t provide the response I require, I will escalate to another communication method, such as verbal. In the vast majority of cases this will be sufficient for the poor behaviour to stop, however if the poor behaviour continues I will issue a verbal warning, this will normally be in the form of explaining that they will need to move seats if the behaviour doesn’t improve. This will normally result in secondary poor behaviour such as sighing, tapping or other low level disruption, it is important that I keep an eye on this behaviour but not react unless it is becoming a serious issue and forming a primary poor behaviour of its own, this is known as take up time. In the event a student’s primary behaviour still doesn’t improve, I must follow through with my warning by selecting a suitable seat in which the student will not distract others and insist the student moves seat. If the student’s behaviour still does not improve I will give another verbal warning, this time the warning will be that they will be removed from the class if their behaviour doesn’t improve. Obviously if the student’s behaviour doesn’t improve they will need to be removed from the class. Removing the student from the class will ensure the student no longer disturbs the lesson; however the process of removing a student from the class is highly likely to distract the rest of the class from their work. If the behaviour has warranted that they must be removed from the class a ‘cause for concern’ or following the disciplinary procedure will be required.
There are some examples of poor behaviour in which I will skip many of the first steps of my response to ensure it is appropriate for the poor behaviour being displayed. For example, giving a non-verbal cue to a student that has just become violent would be totally unsuitable and skipping to removing the student from the room immediately is far more suitable.
This stepped approach involves handling poor behaviour by making use of punishment method, “the aim of a punishment is to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of the behaviour”. (Machin, Hindmarch, Murray, & Richardson, 2016, p. 123) Positive and negative reinforcement when encouraging good behaviour is good practice; however a punishment is “the opposite of reinforcement, as it is an unpleasant consequence”. (Gould & Roffey-Barentsen, 2014, p. 184) Punishments come in two forms, positive and negative, a positive punishment involves adding additional unwanted tasks for the student to complete, this could be in the form of additional homework. A negative punishment is when an activity the student wishes to participate in is removed for the specific student, for example, removing them from a school trip. It is important to know the student well for this form of punishment to work correctly, as it could be that the student is attempting to be removed from the trip as they don’t wish to go, and will utilise poor behaviour.
After the student has been punished it is important that reparations are made to ensure the positive relationship between the student and lecturer is maintained, this links closely with encouraging behaviours that contribute to a purposeful learning environment, as if the relationship has been destroyed it is likely the student’s behaviour will worsen. This reparation may be in the form of demonstrating that you have been fair throughout the process.
Gould, J., & Roffey-Barentsen, J. (2014). Achieving your diploma in education and training (1st ed.). London: Sage Publications Ltd.
Machin, L., Hindmarch, D., Murray, S., & Richardson, T. (2016). A Complete Guide to the Level 5 Diploma in Education & Training (Second Edition ed.). St Albans: Critical Publishing.
Mehrabian, A. (1972). Silent Messages: Implicit Communication of Emotions and Attitudes. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.