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Behaviour Management With Moral Values

19/03/15

You can model moral values as a supply teacher - particularly in relation to behaviour. Lyn can show you the way! 

Classroom management is the biggest challenge for us casual supply teachers. It always has been.

We encounter a myriad of behaviours and have to react intuitively the moment we walk through a classroom door.  It helps enormously, of course, if there is an existing framework of expectations which doesn't just mean good behaviour but also respect for teaching and learning on the part of both students and staff. My heart always sinks when the head of department bustles into the room and asks the class what they have been doing lately and then tells them to 'do' pages x to y whilst sharing a textbook between three. The students know, and I know, that the work will probably never be looked at, yet I have to keep encouraging them by endeavouring to find some intrinsic value in it. ( I am an MFL teacher and if I am covering a language I try to teach anything that comes up. However, it is curious how often students are resistant to this even though they can see that I know my stuff. Supply teachers are not REAL teachers.) So let us hope that a meaningful activity has been set by the classroom teacher and that the head of department or a colleague has offered support should there be any miscreants. The rest is up to us and, when thinking about what sort of classroom we wish to be in charge of, we might like to consider some research conducted recently by the University of Birmingham.

A survey of 10,000 (yes!) pupils and 255 teachers found that today's children are "failing to develop moral values such as honesty, fairness and gratitude." (The Times 27.02.15). We supply teachers must do what we can to halt this decline by insisting on politeness in classes we cover. I find a typical interaction goes like this:

"Miss, have you got a pen?"

"Yes, several," waving pencil case in the air. (I have written before about the wisdom of carrying some cheap biros).

Bemused look from pupil who is nudged by neighbour.

"Oh....can I borrow one?"

I adopt a waiting and listening posture.

"Please".

"Of course".

Pupils sits expectantly. I suggest she/he actually stands up and gets it instead of assuming there is waitress service.

It may sound like a pantomime but it establishes that I require respect and it always works.

With regard to those other declining moral values I do get angry - in a controlled manner - if I am certain I have been lied to and explain to the class how dishonesty can undermine everything we do. Fairness is an easier concept to tackle since children have a highly developed sense of justice. They understandably resent unfair treatment, for instance the whole class being punished for the misdemeanours of the few. Fairness is a prerequisite of effective classroom management at every level.

So, although we may be at the bottom of the heap as far as some colleagues and students are concerned, there is no reason for supply teachers not to model those moral values. It not only makes for better lessons it is also good for one's self-respect.

How do you model behaviour to the classes you work with? Would you like to share you ideas with our online community? Email Megan for more information. 

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