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In debate over behaviour - opinions appreciated

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by leahung, Jul 27, 2011.

  1. Hi, this is the first time I've posted and I'd love some input. I apologise for it being lengthy!
    I work for an alternative learning provision for pupils at risk of permanent exclusion, so as you can imagine we deal with behavioural issues daily. Both myself and my line manager are from youth work backgrounds, although we've both since undertaken teacher training. I'm currently running the project on a day-to-day basis, however my line manager has the final word on decisions.
    We're currently reviewing our rewards and discipline systems for next year. For the rewards we have come up with an idea for awarding points per session to individual learners based on work achievement, punctuality, behaviour, attitude and overall progress. These points would then accumulate over a term and result in a trip at the end. the higher the group's combined points value, the better the trip. There would also be a minimum individual points value for pupils to participate in the activity. So far my boss and myself are in agreement that this is a good thing, though some details may get tweaked along the way.
    What we're currently in stalemate over is the question of what would happen to these points if a relatively serious behavioural issue broke out. Say if a learner threw a chair, obviously they would be formally disciplined. My boss also feels this must also mean they lose all their points for all the categories earned in that session (ie they get nothing for punctuality and work achievement even if they've arrived early and made a real effort up until the incident occurred)
    I, however, feel that this is taking too much of a black and white, all or nothing approach that puts all the emphasis on behaviour and leaves other achievements on the backburner. I strongly feel that if a pupil has earned points for something they legitimately achieved, this shouldn't be taken away from them. Of course they should be formally disciplined, but I see it as being demotivating to have all of your smaller achievements taken away from you because of one overriding incident.
    My boss thinks I'm being 'wet' (his words), whereas I feel he's being short-sighted. Ultimately he will get the final say, and this worries me because there's no research or background knowledge informing his view, just gut instinct. I've come to my position by doing some research around motivation and self-esteem. He points out if this were a job, the pupil would be sacked for the behavioural incident, and we're not preparing them for the real world by still allowing them to earn points towards a reward trip for relatively serious issues.
    I see his point, but I think they're still too young (14) to be treated as though they have all the skills and capabilities to take the same approach with as you would an adult. They need motivating to progress towards this point. For me, recognising the smallest of achievements wherever possible, even in the face of adversity, is such a crucial way of doing this.
    My boss also made a point that in mainstream schools, the pupil would be excluded for the incident, whereas we're already making adjustments for their behaviour by allowing them back to sessions at all after such occurrence. This I accept, but again it's all about behaviour. How does this adjustment relate to recognising educational acievement? I think behaviour should be rewarded/disciplined independently of this. I don't think the concessions we make compared to schools justify wiping away points for non-behavioural achievements.
    At the moment I've got such mixed emotions and I'd love to hear different people's views on this.
    Thanks
     
  2. Hi, this is the first time I've posted and I'd love some input. I apologise for it being lengthy!
    I work for an alternative learning provision for pupils at risk of permanent exclusion, so as you can imagine we deal with behavioural issues daily. Both myself and my line manager are from youth work backgrounds, although we've both since undertaken teacher training. I'm currently running the project on a day-to-day basis, however my line manager has the final word on decisions.
    We're currently reviewing our rewards and discipline systems for next year. For the rewards we have come up with an idea for awarding points per session to individual learners based on work achievement, punctuality, behaviour, attitude and overall progress. These points would then accumulate over a term and result in a trip at the end. the higher the group's combined points value, the better the trip. There would also be a minimum individual points value for pupils to participate in the activity. So far my boss and myself are in agreement that this is a good thing, though some details may get tweaked along the way.
    What we're currently in stalemate over is the question of what would happen to these points if a relatively serious behavioural issue broke out. Say if a learner threw a chair, obviously they would be formally disciplined. My boss also feels this must also mean they lose all their points for all the categories earned in that session (ie they get nothing for punctuality and work achievement even if they've arrived early and made a real effort up until the incident occurred)
    I, however, feel that this is taking too much of a black and white, all or nothing approach that puts all the emphasis on behaviour and leaves other achievements on the backburner. I strongly feel that if a pupil has earned points for something they legitimately achieved, this shouldn't be taken away from them. Of course they should be formally disciplined, but I see it as being demotivating to have all of your smaller achievements taken away from you because of one overriding incident.
    My boss thinks I'm being 'wet' (his words), whereas I feel he's being short-sighted. Ultimately he will get the final say, and this worries me because there's no research or background knowledge informing his view, just gut instinct. I've come to my position by doing some research around motivation and self-esteem. He points out if this were a job, the pupil would be sacked for the behavioural incident, and we're not preparing them for the real world by still allowing them to earn points towards a reward trip for relatively serious issues.
    I see his point, but I think they're still too young (14) to be treated as though they have all the skills and capabilities to take the same approach with as you would an adult. They need motivating to progress towards this point. For me, recognising the smallest of achievements wherever possible, even in the face of adversity, is such a crucial way of doing this.
    My boss also made a point that in mainstream schools, the pupil would be excluded for the incident, whereas we're already making adjustments for their behaviour by allowing them back to sessions at all after such occurrence. This I accept, but again it's all about behaviour. How does this adjustment relate to recognising educational acievement? I think behaviour should be rewarded/disciplined independently of this. I don't think the concessions we make compared to schools justify wiping away points for non-behavioural achievements.
    At the moment I've got such mixed emotions and I'd love to hear different people's views on this.
    Thanks
     
  3. Hello welcome to the forum. I think you are trying to answer what is the million dollar question for most teachers - How can we get the hard core of badly behaved children to behave themselves and engage with the educational process?
    My input to the debate is as follows (although I don't claim to be an expert on these matters);
    A good idea.
    I've also been doing some moderate research into these matters and have found out that a rewards based system only works for simple 'mechanical' tasks - punctuality, behaviour and possibly attitude would fit into this category. Apparently a material rewards system simpy doesn't work for anything for complex than that - people do better at complex tasks if they have things like autonomy and the chance to develop expertise.
    So I'd reward your students for behaving in a civil manner and arriving on time etc. For the rest you'd have to offer a very personalised curriculum I suppose but I'm not sure where that leaves students in terms of feeding them back to mainstream classrooms.
    Well punishment should involve penalties and your boss does have a point about the real world. I think whatever punishments you use should remove the student from the lesson but be short and immediate - I'm sure you know better than I do what works with these children.
    I don't think their age has anything to do with it - they behave like toddlers so we ought to deal with them like we would a toddler. I agree with you about recognising progress but I think you should focus on the behaviour above all else as this is the biggest barrier to their academic success.
     
  4. afterdark

    afterdark Occasional commenter

    Welcome.
    no need.
    Split the difference. The student loses half their points?
    You could try this and see if it works.
    Your boss may well have a point, in terms of the students needing more extreme measures.
    You may want to estimate the max number of points that a student could possibly get and add 20 to that get total X and then say that X points are deducted for violet outbursts or whatever.
    Let them do a little working out for themselves. You can point out the self defeating nature of it later if needed.
    I imagine that you have some provision for violent behaviour in your establishment.
    It would usually involve them being removed from the classroom or the lesson removed from them. Either way you can point out the loss of points.
    Having worked with extremes of behaviour, I know a point system can work.
    The problem is the 'lack of immediacy'.
    I also know of a few students who will walk across tables and say I don't care no matter what you do.
    It isn't much different to housepoints but more incentivised.
    Another couple of questions are what will you do if a student gains enough points to go on the trip and the;
    stops cooperating?
    or takes malicious delight in setting all the others in the class up to fail?
    I have seen these types of thing happen.

    Good luck.
     
  5. I think they blow their points for the whole lesson if this happens.
    They can start afresh next lesson, surely?
     
  6. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    If you are going to use a points system, I would suggest you
    have to be consistent with it. So if a pupil earns a point for
    X, you shouldn’t take it away because of Y.

    Points are a behaviourist system, with all the advantages and
    disadvantages of that. We try to encourage the behaviours we
    want and discourage the behaviours we don’t. Therefore, if we
    take away the reward given for X because of Y, then the association
    built up between X and the reward can be broken.

    The same goes for sanctions. Pupils used to ask me, "If
    I'm good for the rest of the period, will you take the punishment
    exercise away?" My answer was always "No, BUT if you
    behave and work well for the rest of the period, I will also give you
    a praise slip telling your parents that you learned your lesson and
    did well." The pupil would therefore go home with a
    punishment AND a praise, one for the behaviour I wanted to discourage
    and one for the behaviour I wanted to encourage.

    But points systems, as I'm sure you are aware, can be very useful
    but are a bit of a blunt tool.

    Good luck.

     
  7. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I've worked with a system similar to this in the past but it was a little more simplistic: a score out of 5 for behaviour and a score out of 5 for work. Within that if someone swore they might get a 3 if they followed a prompt to stop, but if they swore at someone or didn't respond to a prompt they would get a 1 or 2 depending on circumstances (eg didn't follow the language with a chair!). The bottom line would be that if a student gets sent out of a lesson and is unable to return during that lesson they would get no points for behaviour, however they might still get points for their work if they had worked well while in the room.
    I understand your dilemma and I agree that if a student has been awarded points for arriving on time with the correct equipment or something like that, their organisational skills shouldn't be penalized because they lost their temper. They still need praise for what they have achieved or else they will give up too quickly.
    What you need to be careful of is the very vocal student who is most likely to lose all their points in that way, he or she will very quickly devalue the system, 'Who wants to go on your poxy trip anyhow!' This catches like wildfire as other kids realise that if they win points they will be sneered at by the loud mouth. You need to create a culture where all the kids are able to gain some points in most lessons, they will enjoy seeing them grow and then start to alter other behaviour in the effort to add to them. In other words I think you're right!
     
  8. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    This is the problem.
     
  9. I have worked in a provision like yours and to be honest all you end up doing is containment.
    The students will escalate their behaviour and there's nothing you can do about it. Do you restrain? have a time out room, send a bill home to parents/carers? Are you playing school with a bunch of kids who don't want to be there? Isn't it better having a system that is interesting and relevant to their lives? If the education system provided this in the first place you wouldn't have this problem. What is education? Is it about learning or sitting behind a desk?You seem to be fighting someones idealogical battles for them. I have used points in the past and it works with some, but some just get too old. Taking them away has worked as well sometimes, but its a very wearing system. You need to get rid of all the unfinished relationship stuff if you want to make a difference.

     
  10. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    If they only lose the points for behaviour in the lesson and still pick up credits for arriving on time, uniform etc, they may well keep deciding that it's not so bad losing a few points now na dthen when they feel like kicking off as they still retain enough to be in the running for the big trip. They will, I'm sure, scrupulosly curtail their impulses in the lead up to the trip!
    The sanction needs to be more punitive if you want it to act as a deterrent. They should lose all points from that session or use up a 'life' , with a certain number of 'lives lost' in the term/year resulting in automatic exclusion from the treat at the end, even if they've contributed a decent tally of points to the group 'bank'.
    When I enetered teaching I quickly cottoned on to the fact that the 'challenging' pupils suddenly satrted to behave in the fortnight before reports/parents evening. Once the report was written and was in the system, they reverted to type. I told one father that I felt duped by his son as I gave him the benefit of the doubt and allowed his 2 weeks of good behaviour to colour my comments on his report. The father replied, "Me too, luv! He's had £20 of phone vouchers off me for his improved report from various subjects."
     
  11. jmntsp

    jmntsp New commenter

    I'm with you on this one, Raymond. I always tell pupils that I am like the ref in football - it is no use saying to me at the end, 'yeah, but I didn't kick anyone else - can you take the yellow card away?' If I have given a penalty for poor behaviour it stays. However, like you, if they then get down to working properly I may give a merit for work.
     
  12. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Mr Bronson I'm guessing that you think that there is a problem with rewarding a student for doing what you think should be done automatically. If we were talking about a nice mainstream school then I might agree with you, however the young people who end up in PRUs and the like are not leaving the kind of home where it's easy to get out of the house on time and they don't have the kind of parents who take them to WH Smiths the week before term starts to make sure they have all the equipment they need for the term and help them with their homework. Many of their parents see no value in education and would rather their kids were staying home looking after their younger kids while they sleep/go to the pub/ get high, so getting out of the door on time is an achievement. The majority have learned work avoidance and self defense strategies to hide the fact that their home lives have deprived them of huge chunks of their education and are therefore way behind their peer group. I don't believe you should ever judge these kids until you've walked a mile in their shoes. As teachers we only see the end product in the classroom, which can be frustrating and difficult to deal with but having worked in an environment where I had to read their files, containing their life story, before I could teach them I have a very different attitude towards these kids. I suspect that if we asked the teaching staff to swap places with those kids for just a week, to live their lives, they would all have a very different perspective. I don't know if you're still teaching Mr Bronson or what kind of school you work in but try to look beyond the class in front of you and see the individual child, and if they don't behave well ask yourself why before you condemn them.
     
  13. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Absolutely - so find something else that works with older pupils. No-one is - or should - ever claim that one reward or sanction will work in all contexts with all classes. Just as we differentiate the curriculum, we have to differentiate our behaviour management strategies.
     
  14. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    If that's your impression of the typical experience of children in mainstream schools then you're misguided.
    I didn't.
    Could you point out where I've "condemned" any children on this thread? You appear to be having a conversation with yourself.

    My avatar is not me btw.
    http://www.grangehillfans.co.uk/schoolreport/mrbronson.php
     
  15. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Agree with Mr Bronson. Do not award points for anything too trivial. I also agree with his comments on mainstream children. We teach these children before they get to you and many who never get that far - because we deal with them! I work in a mainstream school where PRUs send children back because they can't cope.
    Keep expectations high and don't fall into the 'feel sorry for them trap'. They will exploit it. That is not a judgemental comment simply expressing what I think is the best way to treat children with no boundaries and appalling home lives.
     
  16. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    So you have no sympathy for children who are not given sufficient parental guidance and who have appalling home lives? And you're a teacher? [​IMG]

     
  17. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    Feeling sorry for them and then making allowances for their worst excesses by letting them off consequences, or downgrading penalties, does not help them to address their issues.
    The lack of boundaries at home and the paucity of good behaviour models should be counteracted at school by firm, consistently applied boundaries. The children should get praise and attention for doing things right, not bleeding hearts allowing them to blag their way out of 'doing time ' for their 'crime'.
    If they see teachers as a pushover,proper respect will not be established.
     
  18. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I have always been sympathetic and empathetic towards the children I have taught. I have never, ever been a "pushover" and have always enjoyed the respect of my pupils. I resent the simplistic implication that caring for the children we teach is a sign of weakness.

     
  19. Not my area but:

    My natural reaction is not to take points away. If you are in the world of work and you did a bussiness deal earning a bonus of cash and on the way home from work broke the speed limit then your boss wouldn't take away your bonus but you might have to pay a fine. Even if the fine and bonus were the same amount you would feel having the bonus removed was unfair.
    I think taking away points also means you could have a child with a negative balance or no chance of the trip.
    Maybe red points for bad behaviour and green points for good with a method of trading points or converting bad points to good with extra tasks.
    So if a student has 10 green points and 2 red they can swap 4 green points for 2 red (I think 2:1 ratio rather than 1:1), maybe red points disapear mafter a certain time - a week or a month, or maybe for every 10 green points they get after a red point then they loose a red point
     
  20. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    That's not a valid analogy as they are two different environments.
    Consider if the worker had earned a bonus at work and was then caught stealing from the employer or causing criminal damage. Should the employer still give them the bonus?
     

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