Low-level disruption can be damaging in the classroom – and yet there’s little support available in education policy for teachers when it comes to tackling it.
However, the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Course may be a viable solution.
The Supporting Teachers and Children in Schools (STARS) study led by Tamsin Ford, a professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, found that there’s one programme, in particular, with a strong evidence base in primary schools: the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Course.
The study found evidence of “reduced disruptive behaviour across all 30 months of follow-up” and also that there was “evidence that [the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management Course] reduces the percentage of children who are classified as struggling…and reduces the inattention/overactivity scores across the full 30-month follow-up”.
Teachers said it made a big difference in behaviour and reported that relationships with their pupils were much more positive. Researchers also found that pupils who were taught in the first year by a teacher who went through the programme were rated as less disruptive by their next teacher.
Tamsin explains that one of the main tenets of the approach is that classroom disruption should be ignored while teachers praise those pupils behaving in the desired way.
“Comment on those who are behaving well. Saying, ‘Look at Angela, isn’t she sitting nicely’ or ‘Look at Susan, she’s working very hard’ generates peer pressure – students want to get that same attention and praise,” she says.
It’s a tough ask of teachers to ignore disruptive behaviour, she admits. But the key principle is about consciously redirecting your attention to those who are listening and working.
To measure how good you are at this, Tamsin suggests going into each class with a pack of marbles in one pocket. Each time you praise someone for behaving positively, move a marble to the other pocket. You’ll be surprised, she says, at how few marbles you’ve moved across: often we think positive things about people but don’t express them.
This article is taken from the feature “How to tackle low-level disruption” by Kate Parker in TES Magazine.