Working Together in 2019-20

As now is the time when schools are thinking about their CPD offer for next year, we wanted to let you know about the training we are offering for 2019-20 as a Research School.  We have focused on topics that we believe will be high  priority  for  school improvement work.   We will be offering a range of different training opportunities:

  • 3 Day training programme
  • 1 Day workshops
  • Twilights
  • 1 Day subject specific workshops
  • Support packages for NQTs and RQTs.

 

You can find out more about these at our ‘Training Offer Launch Event’ on 12th September 2019, 5.00pm-6.30pm at Durrington High School.  During this evening you will be able to hear about all of our training opportunities as well as being able to discuss more training and support to suit your school improvement priorities.  You can reserve your free place/s for this here.

In the meantime though, here is a summary of what we have on offer.

3 Day Training Programmes

  • We are delighted that author and pupil premium expert Marc Rowland will be leading our ‘Effective use of the Pupil Premium fund’ training.  Marc was Director of the Rosendale Research School in south London and wrote the really popular book ‘An Updated Practical Guide to the Pupil Premium’.  He now works full time supporting schools with improving their Pupil Premium provision.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Curriculum is now a key focus for the new OFSTED inspection framework and so is also at the forefront of school leaders’ thinking.  To support schools with this we are leading an ‘Evidence Informed Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment’ training programme.  This will explore how these three key areas should be aligned and what the research evidence says about them in terms of effective practice.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Improving Behaviour & Attendance’ is key to school improvement.  This training programme will explore what the research evidence says about this, including the new EEF behaviour guidance report on this topic.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • As we learn more and more from the field of cognitive science about how we learn, we need to ensure that the key messages from this are threading through our teaching.  Our ‘Improving Memory & Metacognition’ training programmes will explore these two key areas of learning and how they can be mobilised in the classroom.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Literacy development is incredibly important to our young people, especially those from a disadvantaged background.  Unfortunately most strategies employed by schools to address this are not based on research evidence and have limited impact.  Our ‘Evidence Informed Approaches to Improving Literacy’ training programme, aimed at secondary teachers, will provide you with a range of strategies to address this.  Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • For primary colleagues, we are offering ‘Improving Literacy in Primary Schools’.  Details  and booking information are available here

1 Day Workshops

We are also offering a variety of one day workshops next year:

  • If you enjoyed ‘Making every lesson count’ by Shaun Allison & Andy Tharby then this day is for you! During the day we will explore the research evidence behind the six pedagogical principles from the book, and how this can be mobilised in the classroom.  Details and booking information are available here.
  • The EEF Implementation Guidance Report has become a ‘must-read’ document for school leaders.  This ‘Leading Effective Implementation’ one day workshop will explore the main stages of effective implementation.  Leaders will then be given the opportunity to produce an implementation plan for an aspect of their school improvement plan.  Details and booking information are available here.
  • A growing number of schools are realising the importance of appointing a ‘Research Lead’.  In ‘Becoming a Research Lead’ we will explore the difference a Research Lead can make to a school; what a Research Lead does; how you can know if you are making a difference.  Details and booking information are available here.
  • Join us for a ‘Leadership Open Day’ at Durrington High School to hear about, discuss and see how we have focused on improving teaching and learning and CPD by adopting a more evidence informed approach to school improvement.  Details and booking information are available here.

We also have a range of one-day workshops focusing on effective and evidence-informed teaching in particular subjects:

Support for NQTs and RQTs

Getting early career teachers off to a flying start is key to the success of our schools.  To support you with this, we are offering the following:

  • NQT Support & Development Programme’ – 3 twilight sessions spread throughout the year, focusing on the key lessons from research evidence that NQTs need to refine and develop their teaching.  Details and booking here.
  • For primary NQTs, we are leading a more intense programme – ‘Evidence Informed Support for Primary NQTs: Ks1 and 2’.  This consists of 5 half-day sessions throughout the year, focusing on key aspects of planning and teaching. Details and booking here.
  • For RQTs (Recently Qualified Teachers – in their 2nd-5th year of teaching, we are offering an ‘RQT Support & Development Programme’ consisting of 3 twilights. Deails and booking here.

Twilights

And finally, for those who prefer their CPD in bite-size chunks, we are offering a range of twilight sessions throughout the year, running from 4pm-5.30pm.  The topics are listed below:

Twilights give schools a flexible approach to CPD.  Schools can buy individual places on the twilights that suit their improvement priorities.  Alternatively, you can buy our twilight package for £250. This allows you to send one member of staff to each twilight session on offer.

Alongside this, if you would like to discuss a more bespoke training programme/event to meet your specific improvement priorities (as a school, MAT or TSA), then please do not hesitate to get in touch – research@durring.com .  

As always, you can also contact us if you have any questions about our training offer or any other ways in which we can work together to support your school improvement work.

Thanks to everybody we have worked with this year – have a great summer!

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Improving Secondary Literacy – ideas from the EEF Guidance Report

The EEF’s most recent Guidance Report on Improving Literacy in Secondary School examines the research on how to best support students who struggle to read, write and communicate to the required demands at secondary school. The report provides 7 detailed and evidence informed recommendations to support literacy provision in schools:

  1. Prioritise disciplinary literacy across the curriculum
  2. Provide targeted vocabulary instruction in every subject
  3. Develop student’s ability to read complex academic texts
  4. Break down complex writing tasks
  5. Combine writing instruction with reading
  6. Provide opportunities for structured talk
  7. Provide high quality literacy interventions for struggling students

For a more detailed consideration of these please refer to Fran Haynes latest Research School blog which can be found here. The success of these guidance reports is of course dependent on the quality of the implementation of any/all of the recommendations, as such this blog will aim to demonstrate how the humanities departments at Durrington have developed practical classroom strategies to support the implantation of recommendations 2 and 3.

A. Providing Targeted Vocabulary Instruction in every subject

Explicit vocabulary instruction is integral in developing disciplinary literacy, and departments must have a secure understanding of the key tier 2 and 3 vocabulary required to be successful within their subject and explicitly teach this vocabulary as part of their curriculum. As part of their curriculum review at the end of last year, the Geography department identified that student’s use of tier 3 vocabulary was strong, but their limited tier 2 vocabulary was restricting their attainment, particularly at KS4 where long-worded questions with complex vocabulary were preventing students from accessing the correct knowledge. In addition some vocabulary was causing confusion due to its very different meanings from subject to subject – for example the meaning of “factor” in maths was very different to its meaning in Geography. As a result, Sam Atkins (Deputy Lead of Geography) set about identifying a set of core tier 2 vocabulary for each unit of kS3 taught that students would be expected by the end of the unit to know, understand and apply in their own work. These words were derived from Averil Coxhead’s list of academic words, which can be found here, with 10 academic/tier 2 words, being linked to each SoW. Once this vocabulary had been identified, the challenging of ensuring it was taught was next. Simply using this vocabulary in lessons is not sufficient, nor is giving the students the list and asking them to learn their spellings/definitions. As a result, Sam developed a homework based on the school wide literacy policy in which not only did students need to learn the spelling and definition of the work but they also had to show their understanding of the word through test and stem sentences. The test sentence activity involves the students having to choose between two sentences; one in which the tier 2 word has been used correctly and one where it has not, while the stem sentences ask the students to complete a sentence starter by using the word. This system prioritises understanding over just knowledge of the vocabulary. Below is part of a year 9 homework for Geography looking at tier 2 vocabulary associated with a scheme of work on “The Development of China”.

china ts

B. Developing Students Ability to Read Complex Academic Texts

Academic reading is naturally challenging, and subsequently students avoid reading such texts and teachers may be fearful of providing students with them. However the EEF recommends that students should actively engage with complex subject specific texts. Effective readers of informational texts continually draw upon a wealth of prior knowledge, language skills and ability to infer to develop their understanding of the text. Some of the strategies recommended by the EEF to support students in reading academic texts, include activating prior knowledge, predicting what might happen next as the text is read, questioning and summarising the text. As part of their KS3 homework provision both the Geography and SME team at DHS have been attempting to embed academic reading into their curriculum. Each KS3 SoW has one homework which expects students to read part of or a whole academic text, selected from a reliable source such as broadsheet newspaper, academic journal and subject association article. This text will be linked to the unit of study. Students will be asked to read the extract for their homework, and generate 5 of their own questions about the texts to check their comprehension. They will then be asked to summarise the meaning of the text to consolidate and elaborate upon their understanding. An example of the a KS3 SME reading article can be seen below.

ar

 

Of course, such strategies only scratch the surface of literacy instruction in secondary schools, and the EEF recommend a vast variety of ideas that can be utilised in the classroom. If you would like to explore the EEF Guidance report and its recommendation then why not join us at Durrington High for our three-day literacy training programme in 2019-2020. This will be an opportunity to explore the guidance and further research evidence on literacy at secondary level, as well as hear suggestions for practical ways to coordinate and implement literacy approaches at your school. Details can be found here

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Implementation

The Education Endowment Foundation offers a very insightful guide into how schools can put evidence into practice. This can be found here.

The EEF state that schools are learning organisations. They continuously strive to do better for the children and young people in their charge. In doing so, they try new things, seek to learn from those experiences, and work to adopt and embed the practices.

Implementation is a key aspect of what schools do to improve, and yet it is a domain of school practice that rarely receives sufficient attention. In our collective haste to do better for pupils, new ideas are often introduced with too little consideration for how the changes will be managed and what steps are needed to maximise the chances of success. Too often the who, why, where, when, and how are overlooked, meaning implementation risks becoming an ‘add on’ task expected to be tackled on top of the day-to-day work. As a result, projects initiated with the best of intentions can fade away as schools struggle to manage these competing priorities.

This blog will aim to suggest, in line with the EEF’s guidance report, steps to follow in order to ‘implement’ change coherently within a school setting. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great an educational idea or intervention is in principle; what really matters is how it manifests itself in the day-to-day work of people in schools.

Step Number Recommendation Detail
1 Treat implementation as a process, not an event; plan and execute it in stages. Allow enough time for effective implementation, particularly in the preparation stage; prioritise appropriately.
2 Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.
  • Set the stage for implementation through school policies, routines, and practices.
  • Identify and cultivate leaders of implementation throughout the school.
  • Build leadership capacity through implementation teams.
3 Define the problem you want to solve and identify appropriate programmes or practices to implement.
  • Specify a tight area of focus for improvement that is amenable to change.
  • Determine a programme of activity based on existing evidence of what has – and hasn’t – worked before.
  • Examine the fit and feasibility of possible interventions to the school context.
  • Make an adoption decision.
4 Create a clear implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources. Develop a clear, logical, and well-specified implementation plan:

  • Specify the active ingredients of the intervention clearly: know where to be ‘tight’ and where to be ‘loose’.
  • Develop a targeted, yet multi-stranded, package of implementation strategies.
  • Define clear implementation outcomes and monitor them using robust and pragmatic measures.
  • Thoroughly assess the degree to which the school is ready to implement the innovation.

 

Once ready to implement an intervention, practically prepare for its use:

  • Create a shared understanding of the implementation process and provide appropriate support and incentives.
  • Introduce new skills, knowledge, and strategies with explicit up-front training.
  • Prepare the implementation infrastructure.
5 Support staff, monitor progress, solve problems, and adapt strategies as the approach is used for the first time ·         Adopt a flexible and motivating leadership approach during the initial attempts at implementation.

  • Reinforce initial training with follow-on coaching within the school.
  • Use highly skilled coaches.
  • Complement expert coaching and mentoring with structured peer-to-peer collaboration.
  • Use implementation data to actively tailor and improve the approach.
  • Make thoughtful adaptations only when the active ingredients are securely understood and implemented.
6 Plan for sustaining and scaling an intervention from the outset and continually acknowledge and nurture its use.
  • Plan for sustaining and scaling an innovation from the outset.
  • Treat scale-up as a new implementation process.
  • Ensure the implementation data remains fit for purpose.
  • Continually acknowledge, support, and reward good implementation practices.

The diagram below summarizes the 6 steps:

The two fundamental elements when using these recommendations above are:

  1. To treat implementation as a process, not an event. Plan and execute in stages.
  2. Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.

James Crane

 

 

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Evolving homework

I often tell our staff at Durrington: “homework isn’t going anywhere.”

I’m starting to realise this phrase is open to misinterpretation.

What I mean is: homework is important at secondary school (according to research evidence) so get used to it, because it will remain a priority until that changes.  However, upon reflection it may sound like I’m bemoaning the fact it isn’t moving forward.  Which is not what I mean at all.  Perhaps I need to work on my whole-staff communication.

This year has been a year of evolution for homework at Durrington.  I explained the changes we were making in a blog I wrote back in October that you can read here.  It wasn’t so much that homework was bad, it was more that some systems needed tightening and we needed to add some extra layers of detail to what we felt constituted effective homework.  As Dylan Wiliam so eloquently put it at a ResearchEd in 2014: “Most homework that teachers set is crap.”  And if the homework isn’t any good then all the positive effects the research-evidence points to will be lost.

We have kept with the four Durrington principles that all homework must either embed, improve, extend or apply learning, and together with some additions from the world of educational research, have created the following active ingredients for our homework:

HW AI

What we haven’t said to staff is that all homework must involve every single one of these elements as this would create confusion and a tick box approach.  What we have said, however, is that a homework that doesn’t take account of these principles must not be set.

What this is leading to is more homework that is deeply integrated into the curriculum, teaching and assessment.  It is feeling less like a bolt-on and more an extension of what happens in the classroom.

An example is this history homework:

HW hist

Here’s how this homework would connect to our active ingredients:

  • It embeds knowledge on the early Cold War.
  • It applies this knowledge through a practice question.
  • It involves retrieval practice as the quiz questions are answered from memory.
  • It exploits the benefits of spaced practice as this homework was set while students were learning about crime and punishment in lessons.
  • Feedback for the quiz questions is through teachers revealing the answers at the start of the lesson and students marking their own.  The exam answers are marked summatively with formative feedback provided through whole-class feedback on common misconceptions.
  • The quiz questions involve tier 3 vocab.

Not all homeworks need a list this long, but they must demonstrate clear connections to our active ingredients.  How this looks has been left to subject areas, with our refurbished homework policy documents created with active ingredient tick lists to ensure this has been considered for all homework we plan to set.  It is then up to curriculum leaders to monitor in the first instance with line managers and myself providing the overview.

As always, the evolution continues, but, just to be clear, homework isn’t going anywhere.

Posted by Chris Runeckles

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Durrington Research School 2019-20 Training Offer

Regular readers of ClassTeaching will know that we also lead the Durrington Research School.  As now is the time when schools are thinking about their CPD offer for next year, we wanted to let you know about the training programmes the Research School will be offering for 2019-20. We have focused on topics that we believe will be high on your priority list for your own school improvement work. Details follow.

  • We are delighted that author and pupil premium expert Marc Rowland will be leading our ‘Effective use of the Pupil Premium fund’ training. Marc was Director of the Rosendale Research School in south London and wrote the really popular book ‘An Updated Practical Guide to the Pupil Premium’. He now works full time supporting schools with improving their Pupil Premium provision. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Curriculum is now a key focus for the new OFSTED inspection framework and so is also at the forefront of school leaders’ thinking. To support schools with this we are leading an ‘Evidence Informed Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment’ training programme. This will explore how these three key areas should be aligned and what the research evidence says about them in terms of effective practice. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Improving Behaviour & Attendance’ is key to school improvement. This training programme will explore what the research evidence says about this, including the new EEF behaviour guidance report on this topic. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • As we learn more and more from the field of cognitive science about how we learn, we need to ensure that the key messages from this are threading through our teaching. Our ‘Improving Memory & Metacognition’ training programmes will explore these two key areas of learning and how they can be mobilised in the classroom. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.
  • Literacy development is incredibly important to our young people, especially those from a disadvantaged background. Unfortunately most strategies employed by schools to address this are not based on research evidence and have limited impact. Our ‘Evidence Informed Approaches to Improving Literacy’ training programme, will provide you with a range of strategies to address this. Details and booking information for this programme are available here.

We are also offering a variety of one day workshops next year. Details follow.

  • If you enjoyed Making every lesson count’ by Shaun Allison & Andy Tharby then this day is for you! During the day we will explore the research evidence behind the six pedagogical principles from the book, and how this can be mobilised in the classroom. Details and booking information are available here.
  • The EEF Implementation Guidance Report has become a ‘must-read’ document for school leaders. This ‘Leading Effective Implementation’ one day workshop will explore the main stages of effective implementation. Leaders will then be given the opportunity to produce an implementation plan for an aspect of their school improvement plan. Details and booking information are available here.
  • A growing number of schools are realising the importance of appointing a ‘Research Lead’. In ‘Becoming a Research Lead’ we will explore the difference a Research Lead can make to a school; what a Research Lead does; how you can know if you are making a difference. Details and booking information are available here.
  • Join us for a ‘Leadership Open Day’ at Durrington High School to hear about, discuss and see how we have focused on improving teaching and learning and CPD by adopting a more evidence informed approach to school improvement. Details and booking information are available here.

Alongside this, if you would like to discuss a more bespoke training programme/event to meet your specific improvement priorities (for schools or MATs), then please do not hesitate to get in touch – research@durring.com . We will also be offering our popular ‘NQT Support & Development Programme’ again next year.

We look forward to working with you in 2019-20.

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Structuring Classroom Talk

The phrase ‘classroom talk’ can induce a vast array of reactions in teachers. For some, it represents chaotic lessons in which the talk is plentiful but the learning less easy to discern. Conversely, some teachers view classroom talk as the pulsing beat behind the thinking in any educational setting.

It is true that there is a risk of allowing the focus on talk to be to the detriment of durable learning. However, this does not mean that talk does not have a place in effective lessons. In fact, if used in a structured and organised manner, classroom talk can benefit all students, and in particular those from more disadvantaged backgrounds.

Key questions to consider for ensuring that talk is a meaningful part of the learning in the classroom are:

  1. What types of talk are likely to be most beneficial for learning? This might include thinking individually about teacher talk and student talk, and then how the two work together.
  2. How can we structure talk so that it supports learning rather than being a disparate activity?
  3. How can we ensure that all students benefit from the talk (teacher’s or students’) used in the classroom?

Since the early 2000s, Robin Alexander has developed the concept of dialogic teaching which ‘harnesses the power of talk to stimulate and extend students’ thinking and advance their learning and understanding’.

Fundamental principles of dialogic teaching include:

  • The idea that speaking develops thinking, especially in the early years
  • The quality of teacher talk (modelling) and student talk is equally important
  • Dialogic teaching does not advocate one way of using talk in the classroom, for example small group discussion is not favoured over whole-class discussion
  • A major goal is to increase students’ repertoires of talk.

In his work, Alexander lists the following elements as constituting a student’s ideal repertoire:

  1. Interactions
  2. Questions
  3. Answers
  4. Feedback
  5. Contributions
  6. Exchanges
  7. Discussion and argument
  8. Scaffolding
  9. Professional mastery of subject matter
  10. Time, space, organisation and relationships.

It is the latter three elements in the repertoire that can often be missing in situations where classroom talk ‘goes wrong’. Consequently, it is axiomatic that teachers need to command and model these components of talk as well as the other elements which may feel more in line with some understandings of classroom talk. In other words, incorporating classroom talk into your pedagogy is not synonymous with relinquishing ‘traditional’ teacher talk. Indeed, the dialogic approach seems to suggest that there is an absolute need for this ‘traditional’ teacher talk, as Alexander himself explains:

‘There is a danger…that we consign all but […discussion and dialogue] to the despised archive of ‘traditional methods’. In fact, exposition and recitation have an important role in teaching, for facts need to be imparted, information needs to be memorised, and explanations need to be provided, and even the deeply unfashionable rote has a place (memorising tables, rules, spellings and so on). However, the joint solving of problems through discussion, and the achievement of common understanding through dialogue, are undeniably more demanding of teacher skill than imparting information or testing through rote or recitation.’

It is thus important to note that teachers themselves need mastery of the different elements of talk in order for successful implementation in the classroom, and that teachers tend to be less practised in discussion and dialogue in particular.

Practical Strategies for the Classroom

Alexander’s ‘Ground Rules for Exploratory Talk’ make for a relatively simple way of implementing effective talk in classrooms. The ground rules are as follows:

  1. All relevant information is shared.
  2. The group seeks to reach agreement.
  3. The group takes responsibility for decisions.
  4. Reasons are expected.
  5. Challenges are accepted.
  6. Alternatives are discussed before a decision is made.
  7. All in the group are encouraged to speak by other group members.

These ground rules require explicit modelling from teachers, continual practice from students as well as feedback on how well students are using the rules to develop their cognitive thinking through talk. Crucially, the ground rules do not replace subject knowledge, which would have to be provided as the foundation for dialogic interaction.

Other practical strategies for effective classroom talk include:

  1. Using tasks that are open-ended and challenging, i.e. they require talk. A good example is a pyramid activity where students have to rank statements according to set criteria. Open-ended activities such as this can be more effective as they require students to reason and justify rather than just state.
  2. Provide sentence stems for talk as you would for writing. For example, “I disagree with the claim ______ and my evidence for this is…” This can work with connectives, too.
  3. Assigning roles if students are working in groups can be beneficial, for example devil’s advocate. These become normalised if made routine.
  4. Students can practise creating coherent structures in their talk using the ABCQ strategy: Agree, build, challenge or question using evidence
  5. Model the way talk (and writing) works in the subject. For example, using relevant tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary, or in science beginning with empirical facts and then positing a hypothesis.

Through careful and considerate planning, classroom talk need not be the Marmite of teaching but instead an option that all teachers are confident in using when the moment is right.

Fran Haynes

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Improving behaviour – strategies for teachers

I have a suspicion that the latest EEF guidance report ‘Improving Behaviour in Schools’ will before long reach the top of the EEF’s download charts (if such a thing exists).

The reason is the demand.  All teachers have at some point in their careers had to struggle with behaviour.  Etched indelibly in our memories are the names of our greatest challenges, some successfully surmounted, others not.  As a result whenever advice is offered on how to tackle behaviour, our ears prick up.

Now the best advice I can give in terms of interpreting the report in your classroom would be to read all 52 pages of it.  However, the pragmatist in me realises that most of us, while interested, may simply not find the time to complete this undertaking.

Therefore this blog is designed to work in partnership with the blog written by my colleague Shaun Allison on the Durrington Research School website.  Shaun’s blog, that you can find here, summarises the six recommendations from the guidance report.  As a result this blog focuses on how classroom teachers can use six specific recommendations from the report to support their daily practice.

1: Get to know your pupils

As a teacher, regularly and intentionally focusing small amounts of time working on relationships with individual pupils can have a big impact. This could be as simple as asking about their weekend or how their football team is performing.  The importance of knowing your pupils is exemplified by this scenario from the guidance report:

BehaviourGR1

2: Establish-Maintain-Restore

A good way to build positive relationships with pupils is the Establish-Maintain-Restore (EMR) method, which has promising results from a small study.  Summarised below, it involves focusing intentionally on the pupils who it is most difficult to connect with, who may be most in need of a consistent, positive relationship.  It is recommended that this technique should take no longer than 30 minutes per week and can be completed during periods the adult already spends with pupils, representing an efficient use of time.

BehaviourGR3

3: Teach learning behaviours

While it is impossible to eradicate all misbehaviour, it can certainly be minimised and the general climate for learning can be improved through the explicit teaching of learning behaviours, reducing the need for teachers to constantly ‘manage’ behaviour.

A model developed by Ellis and Tod suggests that each of three pupil relationships – with themselves, with others and with the curriculum – impacts on the other, and positive change can be achieved by recognising which of these relationships needs to be developed or strengthened with specific teaching.  This could be for the whole class, for a small group, or on an individual basis.  The model is shown below:

BehaviourGR5

4: The Incredible Years Teaching Pyramid

BehaviourGR6

5: Greet students at the door

This is a simple one, but recent research conducted with 11-14 year-olds suggests that greeting students positively at the classroom door is not only very low cost but has a high yield in terms of improving pupil behaviour in the classroom.

6: Use the 5:1 ratio

This theory is that for every criticism or complaint the teacher issues, they should aim to give five specific compliments, approval statements and positive comments or non-verbal gestures.  Several interventions focusing on positive approaches to behaviour in classrooms promote this idea but a recent study has provided promising evidence of its effectiveness.

Posted by Chris Runeckles

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