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:


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.


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:


4: The Incredible Years Teaching Pyramid


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

This entry was posted in General Teaching, Teaching Forums. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Improving behaviour – strategies for teachers

  1. Pingback: Better Behaviour: Teaching is a relational activity & the power of belief. – David Rogers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s