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School Policy vs Own Class Style

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by MathsMA, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. MathsMA

    MathsMA New commenter

    <font size="2">Wonder if anyone can help me????</font>

  2. MathsMA

    MathsMA New commenter

    <font size="2">Wonder if anyone can help me????</font>

  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Only in the Wacky-Races world of education would we even have to consider such a farcical situation; you have great relations with your students; you have great behaviour in a school where that isn't the absolute norm (which means you're beating the curve), you love your job, you're delighted to help out and you're keen to work with the team. And you're being encouraged to upset this fantastic balance.
    It reminds me of the Simon Pegg character (Nick Angel, I believe) in Hot Fuzz; he's a pioneer, ace cop who gets sidelined to the sticks because his track record is too good; he makes everyone else lok bad. It also reminds me of a time in a previous school where one of the best behaviour managers I ever knew (fierce, almost terrifying; but his kids loved him and they worked hard for five years straight to do well) was given a satisfactory for his behaviour during an observation. When he queried this inexplicable grade, he was told that he 'wasn't using the whole school system enough'. I facepalmed myself so hard I spent a weekend in Holby City when I heard that.
    What you have to do now is a delicate balancing act: on one hand you need to change your actual teaching style as little as possible, because the primary recipients of education (I shudder at the term 'consumer') are the students; they benefit from your expertise, your relationships, your ardour and your vigour. Your responsibility is to them; NOT the middle leaders; NOT the SLT; NOT the 'team'; secondly, your responsibility is to your integrity, your dignity. Do you want to go home and sleep soundly, knowing that you've executed your duty to the best of your ability? Or do you want to try to please everyone? That's a rhetorical question (I asked an English teacher).
    Also, teachers have been so increasingly neutered in the last three decades by a succession of well-meaning but essentially clerical administrations who confuse uniformity, regularity, and quantitative scrutiny with rigour and professionalism. As I've mentioned elsewhere, if surgeons were subject to the same level of pedantry and direction as classroom teachers, they'd all be stitching people with their elbows. Using liquorice shoelaces. That's why teachers are the best judges of teaching practise, and people in offices are better at counting paperclips, or whatever the Hell it is they do. Jenga, perhaps.
    And yet, and yet...their arguments aren't entirely made of water; there is something to be said for an element of whole-school predictability. If pupils expect to, eg line up outside every lesson, then they become habituated to it. If the school standard is to salute the Head as he passes, or whatever, then at least they learn to follow a standard until it becomes routine. In industry, I heard it called 'Flagpoling' (or some other piece of alien jibber-jabber). But you know what? I'm not getting the impression that you're a crazy extremist who teaches while hanging from the lightbulb; I bet you already have loads of structures in place in your classroom that are perfectly in line with whole school policy. Perhaps if you took a step back and looked at the proposals then you might be able to adopt a few of them relatively painlessly, without disrupting your existing routine. That way you can't be accused of trying to buck the school, and your conscience might be salved slightly.
    But if there's anything they've proposed that you feel will actively spoil the good relationships and good teaching that you enjoy, then I would simply say can them. Seriously. Who cares? If other teachers are having problems in their classrooms, then they need to be more like YOU, not the other way around. Or perhaps I can be more precise and say that they need to be more like themselves, or the best versions of themsleves they can be. The greatest mistake an educational administrator can make is to assume that there is one ideal way of teaching; there isn't. We all have our own styles, which we learn over time. While there are undoubtedly many things in common with most good teachers (like high expectations, tough, fair, etc) there isn't a universal cookie-cutter for teachers yet. That's because we're professionals. And helping to create people, not bake scones. Everyone's oven works differently.
    If the SLT are approachable, you might want to take your concerns to them; they may after all be open to suggestions. If they are not, then keep your marvellous classes to yourself. And for God's sake, when you get observed, make sure you're doing everything they love. Then go back to being good again.
    Good luck to you. You should be doing INSET for everyone else!
    PS If anyone tries to flannel you with the 'but if you don't make them do it, they won't do it in other classes' flim-flam, then scoff at them. Pupils tend to behave for teachers they respect, who usually have rigour, clear boundaries, reliable sanctions and an adult demeanour. If the pupils don't behave in other's classes, it's not because of anything YOU'RE doing, or not. It's primarily because of their own indiscipline. My God, it's bad enough to claim that kids misbehave because of the teacher; it's worse to claim it's because of a teacher in another room...
  4. MathsMA

    MathsMA New commenter

    Thanks so much for the comprehensive reply.
    As you can see, this has been troubling me so much I haven't been able to sleep (not the best way to start a new term!).
    Much of what you say really resonates with me and I really don't want to make waves, so will have a think over the coming week about what my respone will be. I'm sure there are bits of the new "policy" that I can adopt to claim I am playing ball without hopefully upsetting the delicate balance that exists in my classes.
    Additonally, SMT (and the head in particular the Head) are decent people who I hope will understand my concerns and predicament. I wanted to sound off here before doing anything rash, so thank you so much for the support and advice. I certainly don't want to undermine them or go public with my concerns.
    Hopefully a quiet, professional chat with regards my concerns, some leeway from the SMT and me adopting some of the strategies will make this all blow over in a few weeks.
    Once again, thank you ever so much.
  5. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

  6. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I hope this has some resonance for you.
    Whenever I do behaviour management in-service in schools, I always get someone who says, "see all these routines and signals and procedures and rewards - they're fine, but it means I can't do what I've always done with the kids. You know, have a bit of banter, a relaxed laugh...".
    While I sympathise - I used to be a banterer when it came to behaviour management - I realised quite quickly that bantering when the pupils are misbehaving is actually counter productive. The message I gave to the pupils - and one of them told me this - was, "Mr Soltysek's a great laugh, he's dead easy going if you're naughty, unless you do something really bad." I was kind of horrified when I realised that the pupils were seeing the best of me when they misbehaved.
    So my answer would be - try out all the new stuff, get the kinds doing exactly what you want - and THEN let them see the best of you. When the kids are behaving just the way you want to, then give them the "let's all go on a fun adventure" message!
  7. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    I don't see how any of what you outlined could interfere with your own classroom style unless you are a PE teacher without any chairs that the children can stand behind. Standing behind chairs and I therefore assume leaving the classroom in an orderly fashion and with the classroom tidy helps with corridor behaviour for example. Leadership and your pastoral leaders are aware of many issues in the school and they have come up with some routines and 'rituals' which they believe will help support order and calm. Personally I think consistency in schools should be written with a capital C! I am sure that some things will be expected and and some things encouraged. Maybe you could find out what the three line whip issues are and the nice if you could do it!!

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