Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Behaviour management - the making or the breaking of a class.

Behaviour management - it makes or breaks a class environment and affects relationships and learning progress if you do not get it right.  Every class is different.  Every class has a different key that the teacher needs to find with the students to create the effective classroom environment to foster relationships and learning.

Over the years I have used a variety of systems. 

One school I was at I used the tried and true points system.  I had my class divided up into 4-6 groups (depending on numbers) to earn the points.  It had the advantage of ready made teams for fitness and sports as well.  I dished out points for having all their chairs down before the morning bell, being in class before I was after any bell, bringing completed homework back, winning students in maths games, being ready to listen, participation.... you name it, it had the potential to earn points.

Other schools had students in houses, so I used that to give out points.

Then there is the classic smiley face/sad face name on the board for positives and negatives.

I had CBGs (Caught Being Good cards) that I dished out to one class in order to keep a positive vibe going and so I didn't develop permanent frown lines.

Some classes I did not need to bribe students/give out points.  The evil eye and the phrase "I'm very disappointed..." was enough to do the damage.  In another class I had, students would hold my hand while I was on duty to pay back their time to me.


Over the years I have been to a number of behaviour management and class climate courses.  I believe this should be a must do for every teacher ever 2-3 years because we can get stale and 'forget' strategies if we haven't used them in a while.  I've particularly enjoyed the courses I went to by Bill Rogers (assertive discipline) and Lynley Russek (more classroom management techniques) and have used their techniques over a number of years. 

But there is always new tricks an established teacher can learn, and I am currently in the middle of a steep learning curve.

I took over an established class a few weeks ago.  There has been a lot of firsts for me in the last few weeks, and at times it has been overwhelming.  Firstly, I am teaching for the first time at a big town school - a huge adjustment after mostly teaching at small country schools with less than 120 students.  I'm working in a syndicate, which I am still working out how this works.  The planning is different.  The way staff meetings are run is different.  The daily timetable is different.  The methods of communication is different.  The behaviour management system is different.

This school follows the virtues model.  It is actually something that I am excited to learn about.  I was first introduced to the concept at an introductory workshop many years ago that my principal sent me to in order to find out about it and report back.  Zoom forward many years and I wanted to go through many of these virtues with my with a Year 5-8 class using a fabulous book by Peter Millet, The Anzac Biscuit Man.  So the actual virtues themselves are not unfamiliar, but the implementation of using them in a behaviour management system is.  It is like learning a whole new language.

And that is the part I have struggled with the most, the discourse of how to speak the language of the virtues.  For the senior leadership team (principal down to team leaders) this language flows freely from their tongue as they support me as a beginner to this way of speaking.  They use the virtues as the basis for restorative conversations between students and between individual teachers and students.

I have struggled with establishing the classroom environment with this group of students.  The majority of students are keen and ready to learn, but there is a group who struggle to manage their own behaviour and have not been responding to the positive measures I have been implementing.  And because I am still learning the discourse of the virtues, because these children are testing my boundaries for reactions, I am not connecting well with these students; I have not found the key.

So here I will describe what I am attempting to implement:

I have inherited a class metaphor.  This was new to me.  Each class at the school has their own metaphor which links in with targeted virtues, and there are some really creative ones to inspire the students to develop class unity.  My class metaphor was established two teachers ago, and I thought it was best to stick with it and not reinvent the wheel.

The metaphor is: We are shining our virtues to become award winning stars.  

It uses Hollywood/movies as the theme.  My class leaders are called Assistant Directors (I guess that makes me the director) and they sit on camp chairs (reminiscent of director's chairs).  Oscar (as in the highest award for films) is like the class mascot with the following virtues attributed like an acrostic poem:


I've divided the class into four groups, the Grammys, the Oscars, the Baftas and the Golden Globes.  I have Tuis (named after the NZ Music Awards, and instead of CBGs) to hand out as positive reinforcements.  At the end of the day the students hand these back in with their names written on the back.  Each Tui earns the student 10 points for their group and is another chance to have their name drawn out on Thursday afternoon for a treat (highlighters, mini pads, coloured pencils, pens and pencils...).  Groups can also earn points for actions like being the first ready with books and equipment, showing they are listening, great group work, having their chairs down.

All of the group points added together will go towards the class goal, currently set at 10,000 points, and then a higher total like 20,000 once we reach that to move forward.  The whole class gets a reward.  This time round it is likely to be a sport of their choice.  In the past I have also used a movie afternoon, trip to the pools, Easter eggs, board games afternoon....

That was the easy part to implement.  The majority of the students are receptive and are working hard to earn Tuis and points for their groups.

The school also has Virtue Cards.  Teachers (and class leaders I think) give these cards out as reinforcements and rewards for the virtues they see demonstrated by students or are promoting.  The student then takes it home for the parents to acknowledge and sign before bringing it back to school and posting in the Virtues Box at the office in the hopes of being drawn out at Assembly for a special prize.

It's taken me a couple of weeks to get my head around the Virtue Cards, but I have now made it part of the daily expectations to reinforce the behaviours I want to see in my class.

But what happens with the negative behaviours?  This is where I have really struggled because the feel of the school is for those positive restorative conversations, but how to you convey the gravity of the impacts of continued negative behaviours to the students who frequently fail to demonstrate their self-discipline and respect without stepping over the mark, in a way that is effective?  I was not happy, my students were not happy. 

I sat down with my team leader and the AP early last week and nutted out what this part would look like.  What was helpful was knowing that the team leader also had to put in the hard yards at the beginning of the year when she was new to the school.  I've since had the opportunity to observe in her classroom and her hard work at the beginning of the year has certainly paid off. 

I took the expectations back to the class and explained it.  Essentially it boils down to me explaining the virtues I expect to see as we learn during the day.  If I see a student who is disruptive or off task or loud I give them a verbal reminder of the virtue they need to exhibit, e.g. Bob, please demonstrate the virtue of peacefulness (translated: Bob, stop being so loud).  I check back to see that Bob is now quietly working.  If Bob is not quietly working, I write Bob's name on the board along with the virtue they need to practice.  If Bob continues to not use his virtues, he owes the teacher, me, time in his next break.  During this time I get Bob to write out the Kawa of the school as many times as his name ended up beside a virtue on the board.  For repeated behaviour through the day, Bob can be referred to the Virtues Help Room where he has the chance to discuss his behaviour and how he can make better choices and a restorative conversation and/or to the team leader or AP for a restorative conversation, and this could result in home being contacted. 

So I began doing this.  But I had students who continually demonstrated that they were unable to manage their own behaviour.  It was becoming somewhat overwhelming and on Monday I was so disturbed by my inability to do any teaching and the frustration of the other students I removed a repeat offender from the class to the team leader's room - where another AP was releasing her for the block!  Mortifying!

But he was just as supportive as the other AP, modelling restorative conversations, some advice on how to utilise the Virtues Cards and discussing how the SLT (principal included) can support me as the teacher and these students to achieve a sustainable outcome.  This is still a work in progress, but the next day was a better day.  The students know the consequences and I am no longer getting howls of despair when I follow through.

In writing this post, I came across this meme below, which pretty much sums up the learning curve I am going through in learning the language of the virtues.

Learning the language of the virtues and establishing the climate of my class with me as the teacher is still a work in progress.  After watching the team leader with her class I was in awe.  But I have had classes like that too, and I know I'm going to have to work hard to get this current class to the standard I've had previously in behaviour and self-management.

So bring it on and let the learning continue.... and may I always remember these wise words below:

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Educamp BOP 8 August 2015

The Bay of Plenty hosted their first Educamp for a couple of years at the weekend.  It was hosted by Tahatai Coast School in Papamoa, a school built in the mid 90s which was a showcase school for using ICT has teaching tools.  Sadly, it also became synonymous with being a leaky building school, and has had to have all its teaching spaces rebuilt in the last few years.

We were lucky enough to be taken on a tour by the principal, Ian Leckie, through all the teaching spaces.  Ian discussed the differences between the two blocks and the learning achieved through teaching in these spaces - not only pedagogical, but the practicalities of what materials achieve the best sound control on the walls and the floors and the ceilings, where walls should and shouldn't be and furniture.

Before that though we had the Smackdown, which you can view slide by slide here:

@shonapoppe is passionate about the use of Kahoot in her class.  It is all about quizzes which can be child made or teacher made.  She uses it as part of her assessment tool kit.  There is no social media so all good for students under 16.  It can be curriculum based (because you choose the quiz topic) and is very versatile.  https://getkahoot.com/

Connected Learning Advisory (Te Ara Whitiki)
Dave Merton explained that this is a free advisory service for all schools and “geek based” – it really about helping teachers with the learning side of connectivity.  Phone based  -  0800 700 400 – goes to Wellington and then re-directed to more local people.  Mostly dealing with Google apps, Microsoft 365 and Snup issues currently.  Also deployment of i-Pads.  Behind these people are others with even more knowledge.  They don’t tell you “how” to do it, but give you advice and options for you to choose from.  Could be over phone, Skype, f2f, Google Doc…. 

Google Cardboard
The lovely @mrs_hyde has spent her leave playing with her new toy, Google Cardboard.  It is a low cost virtual reality platform designed to be used with your mobile phone to explore other places and worlds.  Annemarie saw this as an opportunity for students to create their own virtual worlds as part of their learning.
Google Classroom
@kirbyme explained why she is using Google Classroom and the benefits her class has gotten using this for learning and organisation.  It goes across platforms, so you can use it with I-pads and chrome books, etc.  She explained it is similar to Harpara.  Google logins are needed for each kid, but you can block the email part of it so you don't have to worry about them creating Facebook accounts and the like.  The children are leading it and demanding more tasks.  They are asking lots of questions and children are answering the questions in return, so that the teacher doesn't have to do all the work.
Explain Everything
@bekwhyte explained how she uses Explain Everything in her class.  She says it is great for assessment as a teacher and it is up to the children how they present with it.  You can use it as a teaching tool to help model a particular skill.  You can attach videos, pictures, draw...  This teacher uses it to teach one problem solving question a week.  http://explaineverything.com/ 
Google Slides
@marykjam demonstrated how you can use Google Slides to make posters because it is way easier there than in Google Docs apparently.  Good tip.
@TopKat76 shared Powtoon with us.  She said that it has high engagement and is great for presentations. Powtoon is a Google App with a free Edu version.  You can connect to it through your Google Drive (go to new, connect to apps and search it so you can access it).
Mystery Skype
@TopKat76 also talked about making your class a truly global class by using #MysterySkype.  She said it was fine for time zones in the US Canada when it is daylight savings time, not so when it is not.  Can access authors (but mostly US based).  The "Mystery" part is not to say where you are from, but to get people to guess.
Google Educator Group NZ
@FionaGrant talked to us about another forum for NZ teachers.  In other countries it is being done by city, but here in NZ it was decided to go nationwide (it was considered that it would be a bit snobby if they established it city by city here).  Members communicate using Google Hangouts, Google+.... and they are looking to do local events for teachers f2f driven by local teachers.
Google Drawing
@FionaGrant also discussed how using Google Drawing is a great way to get kids (and teachers) to start in Google Apps.
Janette Murphy discussed how the teachers applying for ACET have had little to go on and their need for support.  Through VLN there has been a group set up for those who are applying for ACET and those who have been through it already to support each other.
@TopKat76 has been set up by Barb Reid with three other classrooms (Bombay, Christchurch, other SI school) to do Quadblogging.  Each child in @TopKat76's class has their own blog.  They have developed relationships with other classes who comment on each other's blog.  You do not have to be Blogger based either.
@jaminlietze shared about someone who inspires him: LeadershipFreak is a good guy to follow on leadership and change and a person who inspires others.  I have to agree.  I have read some of his stuff.  He is 'real'.
Jo Brown shared about Padlet.  She uses it to get children thinking and for assessment.  It is great for brainstorming with a class or collecting ideas.
Later on in the day @FionaGrant also introduced a small group of us to Periscope, an app attached to Twitter, which allows you to do a mini video podcast of something.  Apparently it does not stick around forever, so is for short term viewing.  Well I hope that is right because I looked down right scary in our little video we created!!  We also concluded this was more a tool for teacher communication than for students to use. https://www.periscope.tv/
Anne Robertson, a new Core Connected Advisor, came to her first Educamp and this blog post, Educamp BOP - a challenge to secondary school teachers!, is her reflection on the day and a challenge to her secondary colleagues.  Anne also compiled the Storify below, which saved me from doing one, so cheers Anne!!

Sadly, Storify has deleted itself from the Social Media scene, so all my Storify stories have gone.  😭😭😭😭😭