I'm finding the above matrix to be very useful when thinking about a range of scenarios as we continue to establish our school. I used it to kick off this morning's 'Mondays with Maurie' Kitchen Table with staff which focused on managing student behaviour. I chose to focus on this as I was picking up messages from staff that some were finding their way with the management of student behaviour in a way that fitted with our kaupapa of restorative practices. Some conversations I had had with staff made me believe we weren't always getting the warm and demanding balance right.
I started off by reminding that while our kaupapa was one of shared responsibility for developing and operating our school there are times when we as teachers take a lead in that shared responsibility. Managing student behaviour is definitely one of the times when teachers need to lead while sharing the responsibility.
Being Warm and Demanding means that you not only care for the students as learners and young people but, just as importantly, you have high expectations of them and their behaviour (in this particular context). Being Warm and Demanding also means that you are firm, fair and consistent about insisting that your high expectations are being met.
Because we have some understanding of the teenager and their brain we apply the Warm and Demanding approach in full knowledge that teenagers will push against the boundaries and that most of them will need several reminders of the high expectations and some will need assertive correction.
I then reminded staff of the Pyramid of Restorative Practices which we had been exposed to before. The Pyramid sits firmly within the Warm and Demanding quadrant. While specific training and on-going practice is needed for the Mini Chat and above layers, the base of the pyramid is the age-old strategies effective teachers have used in classrooms around the world.
Relaxed Vigilance is a term, I think, I borrowed from Bill Rogers and lightly Less relaxed Vigilance is a term I introduced during my time at Opotiki College.
Relaxed Vigilance are strategies that are delivered low key and go virtually unnoticed by other students. They are brief, subtle reminders of expectations and many of the most effective are non-verbal. They include making eye contact, moving near, appropriate facial expressions, hand gestures and naming the student. When these strategies, rather than overt calling out of a student, are used most low-level behaviours are dealt with without interrupting the flow of learning and without a low-level behaviour escalating to a higher level and then definitely interrupting the flow of learning.
Slightly Less Relaxed Vigilance strategies are used when the above are unsuccessful. They are delivered in a calm, matter-of-fact tone, delivered as privately as possible and keep the focus on the primary behaviour without being drawn into side arguments. Strategies include beginning with an I statement (I want you to.....), language and tone of expectation ('thanks' which implies compliance, rather than 'please' which indicates a request), broken record (restating expectation in face of attempts to side track or not comply - use a maximum of 3 times), tune in (show you have heard the side issue response but restate the expectation), rule reminder (remind of our rule about ... put as a statement not as a question), limited choice (phone in your bag or on my desk), direct question (you are ......, what should you be doing), chosen consequences (if you choose to continue..... you will be [facing this consequence]).
In the brief time we had left we brainstormed what the common classroom behavioural issues were and began exploring successful strategies.
This is quite hard to read because it is my hand writing but was great to receive the bottom right response: clearly outline expectations from the start and accept need to go over again [and again].
We'll continue to do work on how we can lead with this shared responsibility.
Straight after this session I had a start-of-term Kitchen Table with our students (others may call it an Assembly) and the focus with them was the shared responsibility we all had to make sure our school evolved into the school we want it to be. I have asked them to ponder that question and then once they had decided to work actively on achieving that type of school. Because it's all very well that we as the staff have a view of what sort of school we want to have the reality is that we will have a school that our students want.