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Coaching colleagues about behaviour management

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by secretsiren, May 25, 2016.

  1. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I'm quite an experienced HoD but am out of ideas and need some help. In my department I have one colleague who is really struggling with behaviour management. The children at our school are a bit rambunctious but there's no swearing, aggression, violence or anything that would define it as 'challenging' - they're just normal teenagers who can be a pain but who are extremely unlikely to square up to a teacher and shout at them. My colleague has always had behaviour management issues (and has identified this consistently as an area for development - they are fully aware of it) and I've been trying to coach them as well as show students that misbehaviour for any member of staff is inappropriate: observations of the same classes with different teachers, removing students from lessons, department detentions, speaking to the students with the teacher present, courses, mentoring sessions, step-by-step guidance, emotional support - all the usual things etc. I'm now out of ideas and the situation is getting worse. The students now know that my colleague is easy to wind up and the behaviour is getting worse; my colleague is obviously emotional and upset, and their teaching is suffering a lot as a result.
    My priority is to both support my colleague to get better at this, and provide emotional support too, while making sure the students get the best deal in terms of learning. I've done all the usual things to support but now need something far more robust - it's getting to the point where my colleague expects bad behaviour and is very nervous in front of the students (which then makes them over-react to the slightest thing) and the students are starting to complain. I have a great deal of respect for my colleague but there is no doubt that their teaching is far below a decent standard and that they are finding it very hard at the moment. I fully intend to continue mentoring and coaching sessions but I'm obviously doing something wrong (or else we're past the point of no return)...
    Ideas? Suggestions? All gratefully received.
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    This is where I think lesson observation can be really helpful. Invite your colleague to watch you teach; discuss afterwards. See if you can pair them up with someone else in a different department who is also struggling a bit, get them to do mutual observation and then discuss afterwards.
    Can you - and your colleague - talk with some of the opinion-formers among the pupils and invite them to be supportive? In other words, be proactive rather than reactive?
  3. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Good ideas. We've done some observations but my colleague keeps arguing that what works for me wouldn't work for them because we've got different personalities. I think there's now a level of defensiveness (i.e. covering their backs) because they know it's not improving. I'll try setting them up with a colleague - perhaps it's the fact it's me that makes it tricky? They might respond better to someone in a different department.
    I think we'd have to be in a different mindset for pupils to make suggestions. My colleague thinks they're all out to be as difficult as possible...hmm.
    Thank-you. That's helped!
  4. Snorkers

    Snorkers New commenter

    There might be some practical suggestions in the Doug Lemov book (Teach Like A Champion) or maybe from Bill Rogers (You Know The Fair Rule is the book I've got; there may be more recent titles) - sometimes an outside perspective helps, and it might just be a small change will help. For instance, one of the things I do is to offer choices ("Are you going to sit down now or would you prefer to go to Mr Xs room?).

    It sounds a tricky situation, so I hope it resolves soon.
  5. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    When my colleague offers a choice of going to my room or behaving, the kids always choose coming to me - they might get a massive b0llocking but they know they'll get something done in a calm environment where they're not being screamed at. It's really awkward. But I also don't want my colleague to think that them being pushed to scream is OK - I absolutely want my colleague to feel supported and helped.
    I've bought the Lemov book - will check it out.
  6. biolgirl

    biolgirl New commenter

    I am following this in hope of inspiration too. A member of my department has student behaviour issues (and believe me the kids in our school are so easy to work with), he has had lots of observations and constructive feed back to no avail.

    I have sat down with him after a particularly bad lesson and opened with - How do you think your lesson went? - to which the reply was - OK I think.

    My problem differs in that this teacher actually thinks he is good (or at least gives that impression).

    SMT have observed and give the same feedback as me, so its not just me being picky.

    I have let him observe me and he says he doesnt get anything useful from that. I have suggested ideas to try, but he has a half hearted go for a lesson or 2 and decides it doesn´t work.

    He has observed othe colleages, but I had to stop doing this as instead of looking for what they do in order to use this himself, he feeds back to them any problems with their lesson. He has watched some outstanding teachers and yet he says they are no better than him.

    On the rare occasions he will admit a lesson was not as good as it could be, then it is the students, not him I hear phrases like - its just the way that class is, despite having seen them in another class behaving impecably.

    I feel like banging my head against the wall.
  7. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    So if he isn't reaching the required standards, you follow the school procedure. Some teachers can't teach just like I am hopeless at playing the guitar, and have been for a decade despite lessons and practise.
  8. biolgirl

    biolgirl New commenter

    Unfortunately for me despite all the gathered evidence SMT want me to keep trying.
  9. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    It's really tricky when advice seems to fall on deaf ears when the barriers come up. I keep reminding myself that it is very difficult to be in that position when you know things aren't going well and when you're being asked to do things differently - it's so easy to become defensive and to feel like you're being picked on, which might be why our colleagues aren't responding well.
    I've come up with a plan of action for next half term. I'm going to do my planned observations (we're all due one in the next six weeks) and identify a specific focus of progress for the team. I can look at the progress made in the lesson but also at the books (another area of weakness so I suspect I know what I will find, but I might be wrong!) and have a discussion about where the next few lessons would go, as I know it's difficult to show progress in a single lesson sometimes.
    Once I have up-to-date observation info and info from the books, I'll have a better picture of whether my help has actually been on any help. If not, I'm going to ask my line manager to team up my colleague with someone outside the department to coach them so that it's documented by our line manager and also so that my colleague can get impartial advice and be mentored by someone other than me.
    I don't think the observations of other teachers is helping so I might limit those for the time being as I think it's adding to my colleague's stress and not affecting their teaching practice so is a bit pointless!
  10. Lupinamy

    Lupinamy New commenter

    Is it practical/possible to give this colleague younger, smaller, 'easier' classes for next year, so that she can build confidence back up, whilst giving her a vigorous programme of coaching? Maybe someone from outside your faculty? Is there a local SLE who could help?
  11. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Firstly, ensure the teacher follows the behaviour policy.

    Presumably you have one? And presumably it works?

    Then take it from there...
  12. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Therein lies another issue. My colleague has been given the easier classes and is still struggling; other members of the department are becoming slightly resentful that they're picking up the slack in terms of having harder-to-deal-with students or more students in their classes, and the easy classes are becoming difficult because the children are resentful that they don't feel they're getting a good deal. Unfortunately, the data is absolutely reflecting the children's perspective: they're not getting as good a deal as other children who are in other classes, including the really motivated, engaged children who should be doing well. I myself have removed a number of 'naughty' children (who really aren't that naughty but whose relationship with the teacher has broken down irretrievably) so my own classes are bulging.
    I'm definitely up for the coaching programme - I need to really talk carefully and openly with my colleague about how best to provide a relevant coaching experience as it hasn't worked so far. How regularly do you think a coaching session should take place? We were aiming for once a month as my colleague is right up to the wire in terms of number of teaching lessons but can't stay after school for various reasons (completely valid reasons) so I didn't like to demand they lose a free every week. There will be even less free time next year as my department is short a teacher and I don't want to cause additional pressure...it's really tricky to know whether the coaching will be of more benefit than anything else, but obviously I can't just take a PPA away!

    The school behaviour policy is...well, non-existent. I have a department policy that has stages with removal to my room, followed by a lunchtime detention, as a final resort. For an after school detention, SLT has to be involved and they won't authorise them in the majority of cases which means if a child doesn't show to my lunchtime detention, I have nowhere to go in terms of escalation. The school policy doesn't work very well because children use 'I'm bored' as an excuse for misbehaviour and then the teacher gets it in the neck...It isn't helpful.
  13. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    [QUOTE="secretsiren, post: 11708713, member: 2190053"
    The school behaviour policy is...well, non-existent. I have a department policy that has stages with removal to my room, followed by a lunchtime detention, as a final resort. For an after school detention, SLT has to be involved and they won't authorise them in the majority of cases which means if a child doesn't show to my lunchtime detention, I have nowhere to go in terms of escalation. The school policy doesn't work very well because children use 'I'm bored' as an excuse for misbehaviour and then the teacher gets it in the neck...It isn't helpful.[/QUOTE]

    Oh dear. Your school is dysfunctional. Sounds shambolic.

    The policy needs sorting out first. As a matter of urgency.
  14. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I agree. I raised the matter several times and was told 'we don't have any poor behaviour at this school' and 'poor behaviour is caused by poor teaching'. In SLT we have one person who thinks it's OK to jolly along the naughty kids and give them a lolly, one who's very firm, fair and gets what they want by being firm and fair, one who would be quite strict if they were allowed, and the top dog who thinks that the children's word is law and it's always the teacher's fault. Fortunately, there seems to be a slight change in the wind after a local authority visit recently - it didn't go down too well when one of the advisers walked into the secret room where the naughty children had been put for the afternoon instead of being in their normal lessons.
    I know it's a serious case of schadenfreude but I smiled all afternoon when that happened!
  15. chrisoakey

    chrisoakey Occasional commenter

    IMO the teacher is being blamed for the poor behaviour of pupils.
    I have been teaching for over 30 years and I am well aware that some teachers struggle with behaviour management and that many strategies can be applied to help. However, the bottom line seems to be that there is no real behaviour policy in the school and the kids know it so if they... Like you, your subject, think you're a good teacher etc etc they will behave ... But if they don't, they won't ... And they get away with it. As a subject leader I would make it known to every class this teacher has that if they are sent to me I will make their life a misery until they behave. I will detain each lunchtime, ring parents, set essays to write for homework etc until they desist.
    I know this will be an unfashionable view but I think these pupils are to blame not the teacher.
  16. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I agree that the pupils are to blame for their poor behaviour, but the poor behaviour management of the teacher is exacerbating the situation massively. I do support with detentions, phone calls home, speaking to the class (if it's more than a few of the kids), behaviour reports etc. but my problem is that this is an ongoing issue that is getting worse, that it is now directly affecting progress and learning (the data backs this up), that SLT are starting to pay attention because of parental and student complaints, that my colleague is unhappy and the rest of the department is starting to get restless about having to pick up the slack, and that this has happened over two consecutive years and is getting worse despite all of the support I've offered. It's simply not practical for me to go into every single class every single day and threaten the life out of them - it works in the short term but ultimately my colleague needs to feel confident enough in their own classroom to resolve the smaller issues.
  17. sophiecymru

    sophiecymru New commenter

    Do you have any way for the person to film themselves teaching some of their classes? We use iris and if a member of staff is struggling with a certain class, one of the first things we do is get them to film themselves teaching that class and watch it back. It's surprising the things you notice and it can be more beneficial than a lesson observation where someone else tells you what went wrong. They could even identify an area they think they could improve then share that clip with yourself and ask for strategies to improve if unsure themselves. They could then re-film once they feel they've worked on one area and choose another focus for the next week or so. This doesn't have to be iris - they could ask someone to film on an ipad etc (although the good thing about iris is that no-one else is in the room and nobody else sees the video unless you choose to share it with them!)
  18. englishteach101

    englishteach101 Occasional commenter

    This sounds like a tricky one. Firstly, you sound like a very supportive head of department who's trying everything they can think of, your colleague (hopefully!) considers themselves lucky. It might be an idea to buddy your colleague up with another member of the department as possibly by now, they are seeing you as the boss, rather than supporting them. It sounds a bit silly to set everyone the same target if they're not struggling with it just to support this one member of staff, but I understand why it's suggested. Performance management and support should be personalised, we're expected to do it for the kids we teach, so it should happen for staff too.

    You've mentioned OP that this member of staff has screamed at their classes, this isn't acceptable as a form of behaviour management and the member of staff has to be made aware of this. It's very easy to say when I've most definitely wanted to do the same to some of my more challenging classes, but never to scream, the students who are inciting poor behaviour have won then. But you know this, this is about supporting your colleague.

    Some things that I've done previously to support colleagues:
    1) If I've been free I've just hovered in the room glaring (this doesn't work long term as it would require you to be free all the lessons that your colleague teaches and can make them think you're helicopter-HODing.
    2) Phone calls/Letters home for poor behaviour
    3) Positive praise for good behaviour- your colleague has to lead this, postcards have to come from them/they make the phone calls/put up the 'student of the week' displays so it's clear to the kids that it's them rather than you doing this
    4) Can you offer a trip for well-behaved students? Would need to be offered whole department but again could your colleague be the face of this?
    5) Do you have or could you bring in a sticker/stamp type reward system (I'm thinking that it appears that you have to put together a departmental behaviour system so why not for rewards)
    6) You may have to have a conversation with your colleague along the lines of 'look, much of this is now coming from you so you have to man up and deal with it'- not ideal, but it sounds like they're not taking any responsibility for this. Make it clear that this is not a form of disciplinary action, but also make it clear that this is where it could end up if not tackled as it's leading to poor data and parental complaints. Obviously, this could lead to you having to write a whole lot of cover if the member of staff takes some time off.....

    You can't be bullied into giving them the easy classes, you've already tried this and you've got a department to run and other teachers to consider. If SLT have noticed that data is dipping in this colleagues classes then you have to get it sorted asap, particularly if this has been going on for a couple of years now.

    Best of luck and wishes as it doesn't sound an easy journey. Keep posting here for support and PM me if you wish.


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