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Managing Behaviour with Jillian McCalla


Maddie, Protocol's new Aussie Supply Teacher, attended one of our Behaviour Management Workshops and decided to share her experience.

Last week we were invited by Protocol Education to attend a free workshop about behaviour management in UK schools at their head office in London. Former primary school head teacher, Jillian McCalla, delivered the workshop.

The core message that Jillian conveyed throughout her presentation was that, as teachers, we always need to remember that the students are human beings. They are someone’s child, sibling, grandchild and therefore they should always be treated as such.

We began the workshop by discussing the context of teaching in the 21st century and how it has or hasn’t changed from past decades. It was interesting to hear about the experiences of different attendees- teachers from a variety of overseas countries and teaching backgrounds. Many agreed that there is increasing pressure on teachers today to be more than just an individual who imparts knowledge onto students. There is an unspoken expectation from parents, policy makers and society that teachers are not only experts in their field but also play the role of parent, psychologist, doctor, social worker and the list goes on.

There’s a myth that a ‘good’ teacher is one whose class has no behavioural problems, and this just isn’t true. Every class is made up of a unique group of children, each with their own set of circumstances, behavioural issues and abilities. Therefore, a good teacher shouldn’t be judged by how well behaved the class is but rather how effectively they manage the class, using strategies which are appropriate to pupils’ needs in order to involve and motivate them (UK Department of Education Teachers’ Standards).

Jillian took time to remind us of the work of Carol Dweck and her theory of growth vs fixed mindset and that, as educators, we should be aware of the influence we can have on the learning of our students. We should always go into the classroom believing that each student is capable of learning and achieving to the best of their ability.

“An educator with a growth mindset believes that with effort and hard work from the learner, all students can demonstrate significant growth."

– Carol Dweck


In reference to the UK Teaching Standards, we had an extensive discussion on the rights of the student and the rights of the teacher in the classroom and then began exploring strategies to ensure that these rights were upheld in the classroom.


The main strategy we discussed was that the teacher must set clear expectations of the class at the beginning of the lesson. Jillian suggested that every relief teacher should go into the classroom prepared with a set of 3-4 rules to introduce to the class and enforce using a variety of rewards and sanctions during the lesson. It was interesting that although we were teachers of pupils from primary, secondary and SEND schools we all came up with similar lists when it came to behaviour. We agreed that these rules could be categorised into one of the following groups:

1. Safety
2. Academics/work habits
3. Respect

Here is a selection of some of the rules we eventually came up with:

• When the teacher talks, you listen.
• If you have a question raise your hand.
• Do your best and work hard.
• Complete all tasks given to the best of your ability.
• Keep your hands and feet to yourself.

If time constraints allow, you could also involve the students in generating these rules to make them more meaningful and specific to that class.

We were encouraged to deconstruct and discuss what each of these rules meant, what we expect to see when the rule is followed and how we can help students in keeping this rule including the use of rewards and sanctions. By establishing these rules and stating the consequences if these are broken, students understand the difference between right and wrong behaviour and that actions lead to consequences. Therefore, they are aware that consequences are a result of their own choices.

I think we have to remember that supply work is significantly different to full time teaching in that we may be with a particular class for only one lesson. This means that it is even more important to be consistent in the way we respond to student behaviour. Jillian spoke about different ‘response styles’ including non-assertive, hostile and assertive. Teachers should always endeavour to use an assertive response style whereby they consistently state expectations to students and is prepared to back up their words with appropriate action.

Assertive teacher:


“One who clearly and firmly communicates her wants and needs to her students, and is prepared to reinforce her words with appropriate actions. She responds in a manner which maximises her potential to get her needs met, but in no way violates the best interests of the students."

– Lee and Marlene Canter

In addition to this we discussed the best ways to respond to bad behaviour as a supply teacher. Jillian reinforced the need to be consistent with the rules established at the start of the class and respond appropriately with relevant and fair consequences. Simple non-verbal cues such as ‘the look’ can be effective for minor bad behaviour such as having conversations whilst the teacher is talking. Other strategies include stopping instructions and standing in silence until the pupil/s stop the bad behaviour, giving a verbal warning or keeping the class in for time at lunch or recess (students may earn this time back during the lesson). I think it is also important to remember that the way you respond to students can have a profound impact on their self esteem- you should never aim to embarrass or publicly shame an individual student.

It is also a good idea to ask about the behaviour management plan of the specific school at the start of the day so you have a clear strategy in an emergency situation. I liked Jillian’s idea of keeping an ‘emergency card’ on hand for rare extreme circumstances where student or teacher safety may come into question. This card can be easily and quickly filled out with class details and location and then given to a trusted student to take to the office to notify them that you need assistance.

I think it is equally as important to also recognise and reward positive behaviour as it motivates pupils to choose appropriate behaviour in the future. It also fosters positive rapport between student and teacher thus creating a positive classroom climate for all pupils. This can be as simple as meaningful verbal praise or a positive note in the student diary. Jillian suggested that it might be a good idea to have a ‘rewards bag’ on hand as a tangible reward for students who demonstrate exceptionally good behaviour or high quality work. I liked her idea of having a target for how many times you praise students during a lesson- because it is easy to forget sometimes, particularly with a difficult class.

Overall, the workshop reinforced our understanding of behaviour management and introduced some UK specific details and strategies. It was well worth the opportunity to discuss different approaches and strategies with fellow educators and I also met some lovely new friends. It’s clear that the key to effective behaviour management is to communicate frequently and meaningfully with students and be consistent with your expectations of the class from the outset.


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