Good coaching in classroom control can help teachers “read” their class and avoid disciplinary measures, says John Quessy, General Secretary of the NSW/ACT Independent Education Union (AEU).
Most teachers would know that discipline is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Different children respond to discipline in different ways, which is why the practice of discipline has evolved so much over time.
Following the banning of corporal punishment from most schools, teachers now predominantly use the stepped system to moderate students’ behaviour. Stepped systems involve a series of warnings that increase in severity and which can ultimately lead to a student’s expulsion from school.
However, this practice has been shown to make it difficult for the offending students to pick up from where they left off and re-engage with the learning process.
Quessy believes that stepped systems are just one piece of a creative puzzle that can help moderate student behaviour.
“Reward is much more than gold stars,” Quessy told The Educator.
“Stepped sanction can involve many creative interventions before formal warnings and time-outs.”
The Teacher Education Ministerial Advisory Group report recently showed that 85% of teachers indicated that they had used the stepped system during the past week of teaching, yet only 33.3% reported that it was effective.
Quessy said the stepped system itself is not enough and that teachers can benefit from coaches like Glen Pearsall - who ran sessions for the IEU’s early career teacher members in 2014 - to help “read” their classrooms more effectively.
“Students, especially adolescents, are excellent readers of voice, tone and body language, and a good coach can quickly assist teachers to "read" a class and a situation by building skills in these areas of classroom control.
“Initial teacher education would do well to incorporate properly facilitated workshops on classroom dynamics, appropriate intervention and student management,” Quessy said.