It’s a big part of every teacher’s practice, there are so many books around on the topic, some spouting on the theories underpinning behaviour management, and some, more useful, giving practical tips. For assignment purposes, and for my own interest, I’ve been reading Bill Rogers, Sue Cowley and Herbert Grossman. I also plan to read Lee Canter. The general consensus is based on having clear rules, a hierarchy of sanctions and less sanctions than rewards. There are a variety of techniques, such as using proximity, learning the power of names and using tactical praising. Use of praise is a very common idea – ‘catch them being good’ and praise them for it, praise the students behaving well, especially if they are sitting near students not on task, and give plenty of specific praise for desired behaviours.
I’m a bit cynical, however. I think I generally agree with Canter (even though I haven’t read it yet) – who argues that the rewards culture (a reward or praise for all positive behaviour) is damaging for children and that they should learn to be self reliant. Of course I agree with praise, everyone likes praise, but you have to be sparing with it. It seems to me that by rewarding pupils with praise for demonstrating expected behaviour it devalues the reward for when it is genuinely deserved and makes them overly reliant on external reinforcement, when they should be learning to regulate their own behaviour.
I’ve got more reading to do, and I need to test out my ideas in school – I’ll keep you updated.