You need to…. use thank you

October 5, 2009 § Leave a comment

You need to…. say thank you, Kristian (voice rising not falling).

Wednesday was set aside for staff CPD. With a David Stott presenting on ‘Dealing with Challenging Behaviour,’ I was looking forward to the event, for me personally and our teaching team. As expected from a lead practitioner, Dave Stotts keynote was informative and from a behaviour specialist perspective, he had excellent barometer for gauging his audiences interest. From his presentation, he covered vocal approach, proximity, visual contact (or not) and the classic, side on, hands facing down, sideways posture but in addition, I took away these very simple teaching points;

The first point was that instructions need to instruct and to be reinforced with YOU NEED to….

Teacher: ‘Kristian, you need to stop talking and focus on the task, thank you.’

There is no need to get into a discussion with the student at this point and Dave recommended that you can even reinforce that statement a number of times using the broken record approach, but do set a limit (3-4), before moving onto strategy 2. (I don’t intend to cover strategy 2 but you can find more information at teaching expertise.

The second point was to thank students in anticipation that your instruction will be fulfilled, rather than using please and therefore converting the instruction to a request.

Teacher: ‘Will you please sit down where you were told to.’
Student: ‘No, cant you see I am talking to Bill at the moment.’
Teacher: ‘How many times do I have to tell you to please sit down?’
Student: ’44.’ (Dave’s gag not mine.)

Dave Stott would recommend,

Teacher: ‘Kristian, you need to sit down and turn to page 5, thank you.’

Afterall you are not requesting the student(s) behave in a certain way, but instructing them to behave in a certain way and expecting their compliance.

The finaltip (although there was a list of 20) was to practice how you use a students’ name, attracting a students attention by addressing them with a subtle Australian accent. Kristian (rising up) rather than ‘Oh, Kristian.’ This simple change elicits a more enquiring response from the student rather than pre-empting a hostile one your original address probably deserved.

Do these three tips seem over simplistic? Well I was perhaps a little skeptical, but on Thursday experimented with Dave’s tips with pleasing outcomes. Read more about Dave’s work through his contributions to teaching expertise.

My final thought on the matter, as a NQT at Westbridgford School, I work with a PE HOD that was an outstanding teacher with a tool box brimming with behaviour management tools. My favourite tool he introduced me to was the ‘compliment a neighbour for doing something you want to see the miscreant fulfil.’ Take the issue of school uniform, rather than addressing the poor dress code of a student leaving the changing room he would first applaud his class mate.

Teacher: Jimmy (rising tone) – are you wearing your tie?

Jimmy: Yes Sir. (slightly puzzled).

Teacher: ‘What about you Bill?’ He would ask the child clearly not wearing a tie. 

More often than not Bill would be putting on his tie before he had even started to answer.

Now I am off to create some  Antiseptic bounce letters (no. 11)

 This is a classic strategy. Send the target pupil to a colleague with a note or message. The note says, ‘Tell (pupil’s name) “Well done” and send him or her back!’ The pupil has been removed from the problem situation, received praise and has returned in a fresh state of mind.


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