Return to Enquiry Learning home
Return to Education Issues menu
Return to Talking and Listening Project Archives list
This policy document was constructed by teachers of the school involved in the Talking and Listening Project, 1989. It was based upon research evidence that they generated.
School based Working Policy:
Personal and Social Development
BASIC ETHOS AND GENERAL AIMS
To encourage and develop children's responsibility for their own actions and behaviour.
To encourage and develop the values of caring and sharing through co-operation and negotiation.
To encourage and develop children's respect for each other and for each other's work.
To encourage and develop children's respect for and independent use of the equipment and materials of the school.
To encourage and develop trust between children, trust of children by teachers, and trust of teachers by children.
To continue to try to develop shared and consistent approaches to the ways in which we respond to children's behaviour, both in so far as we are concerned as individual teachers, and in agreement with each other.
In the case of undesirable behaviour the primary aim is to identify the problem as far as possible and work towards a solution to it.
STRATEGIES TO BE USED IN PROMOTING THE POLICY
1. At every stage create opportunities for children and teachers to be explicit about problems and possible solutions.
2. At every stage encourage the children to contribute to the solution of problems. <At a whole school level the tape of the football assembly is a good example of both of these. The children were given the opportunity both to lay out the problem, and to discuss possible solutions>
3. Encourage the children to say what they are thinking. The teachers and other staff too need to say what they are thinking. <There are plenty of examples on the tapes of the children having the opportunity to say what they are thinking. The whole talking out procedure is designed to do precisely this too. As far as staff are concerned the democratic mode of discussion and decision making is designed to that end, but the principle also applies between staff and children.>
4. Make time in the school day, in and out of the classroom for discussion with the children. <Look for opportunities for ordinary friendly social interrelationships and chat between staff and children. It is important that our focus is positive not negative, and problems will then be reduced to their proper perspective.>
5. Make sure that the solution of problems is one of our priorities. The rationale is that personal and social development is of crucial importance to the development of any learner, child or adult. <This very much needs to be read in conjunction with 4. The evidence of the fourth year children on the interview tape reinforces the importance of this. Learning in groups is clearly tied in with their social learning.>
6. Find ways of making children feel positive about good behaviour, of enhancing the self esteem of children. Find ways of making children feel valued. Look for ways of creating structures whereby children will be encouraged to choose for themselves the sorts of behaviour we are hoping to promote. <Example belowp.5.>
7. Develop strategies for using the expertise of children whose personal and social development is already competent, for example in discussion of good ways of doing things. <The interviews with the children are good examples of this. Children were chosen for interview on the basis that they would be good at explaining how to work well together, and how to talk out problems. More generally, discussion with the children over everything from the action to be taken over spilt sand to the action to be taken to help a new child settle in will bringthisoul This particular clause is put this way to avoid the praising of children in 'goody goody' ways.>
8. Help children develop strategies for dealing with behaviour they find unacceptable. <A recent example is a girl who didn't like the name she was called. The boy who has been doing it talks with her and then helps to get it stopped.>
9. Devise curricular activities that give children the opportunity to share, to co-operate, to negotiate, to work together. <The tapes are full of this - it represents the whole curricular side of the policy.>
10. Encourage children to give other children time to say what they want, i.e. encourage children to listen to each other. <Again there are lots of examples of this. The tape of the two first year children counting together provides a good example. You can actually see one of them watching and listening and giving the other one time to do her counting.>
11. Wherever possible give children choice. With younger children there may be a danger of giving them too much choice - so don't give them more than they can cope with, but on the other hand look for ways of extending their choice wherever possible. <For example children have a choice of staying in or going out at break.>
12. Give children responsibility for doing things, for looking after equipment wherever possible. Don't give children more responsibility than they can handle, but don't underestimate them. <For example the children have real money in the reception (R) class. The teacher has devised a matching procedure to make sure it all goes back. Initially she has to reinforce it but now doesn't give it a second's thought. Itis truly the children's responsibility and 'nothing to do with her'. Another example is giving each table its own rubber ruler, pencil etc. which they have to make sure is there at the end of the day.>
13. Ensure that the children understand and face the consequences of their choices, or of taking responsibility for their action. <If the children elect to go out then they have to stay out And the money and equipment examples from 9 & 10 fit here.>
14. Examine equipment and resources. Do these limit children's choice of activity? Do they limit the opportunities for children to take responsibility for their own behaviour and actions? Do they limit the opportunities for children's independent use of materials and equipment? Find solutions where possible. <For example in a third year (Y2) class the pencil sharpener is a menace, if the children are allowed to use it on their own it falls to pieces and the teacher has to spend all her dme mending it. So she always shatpens the pencils herself. Solution: get a reliable pencil sharpener the children can use.>
15. When any strategy fails to work the first time try again, or try another. This is an an ongoing process rather than something with instant solutions to all our problems.
2 Final Examples. The children have been weeing on the loo floor. So...
A. try to stop it rather than try to find the culprit (see general aims)
B. Present the problem to the children (Strategies 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5)
C. They come up with a solution - go in pairs to the loo - and the problem stops. (General aims - trust the children, and the children take collective responsibility for their own behaviour)
D. It starts again so we try again (Strategy 15).
A second example: A second year (Y1) boy, who has been giving rise to a lot of concern because he gets into fights, comes up to a teacher on playground duty to tell her he has a problem. All the children involved are called together, the problem is talked out, the fight averted, and the boy widely praised for his positive action. (Strategies 6 & 8) As well as being an example of the application of specific strategies it seems to me that this is an example of the success of the policy as a whole. The boy is beginning to use the strategies that,the staff have been promoting to start to solve his own problems.
This section is intended as a set of examples about what to do in practical terms, a set of procedures that we might use both in and out of the classroom.
A. Praising the children.
For older children private praise for behaviour generally works better than public praise, but public praise for original or innovative work can be very effective.
Children tend to praise each other's work: so pick up on this when you hear this and encourage it.
Help children to feel pleased with and take a pride in their own work, or to welcome the praise of other children.
Sometimes praise for a group can be effective, both as a way for bolstering their self esteem, but also as a way of drawing other children's attention to desirable behaviour.
If you are pleased or in any other way delighted with the children it can be very positive to tell them your feelings.
B . Unacceptable behaviour.
Children and staff are both clearly agreed that personal violence is unacceptable and the established procedures of talking and sorting out are most often brought into use here.
There are lots of other behaviours that we wish to discourage, all the way from minor physical violence to running down the corridors, all the way from interrupting the lesson by shouting out rude words to rattling rulers. These can be dealt with by a number of strategies.
Explain to them the reason for the rule.
Divert them by providing more positive activities - asking them something, or getting them to do something.
Suggest that such behaviour is not sensible. Ask them why they are doing it.
Private reprimand for behaviour generally works better than public reprimand, particularly with the older children.
If you are upset, disappointed, angry or annoyed with the children, it can be very useful to tell them your feelings.
If a child is really getting to you then send them to another teacher / the head, but make sure they have something to do.
If work is not up to the standard that you might expect then ask the children if they can see ways to improve it.
2. Specific Instances: Playground
A. Children spoiling other children's games. Ask the children if they have told the other children that they don't want them to spoil their games - try to get them together to in a quiet spot to sort it out. If they can't then the teacher can listen to the story and try to help.
B. Children being excluded from groups. Gather the group together to investigate the problem. Try to get them to make up or, in the last resort, offer them an escape route.
C. Minor Incidents. Gather children together. Ask how it happened. Make sure every one has a voice. Exclude irrelevant other people. Get them to discuss it between them without the teacher to reach agreement. If they don't, send them in to talk it out.
D. Major incidents - unacceptable behaviour. Express horror, disappointment, emotion, say you feel cross, make a big thing of it. Remove them from the scene. Send in to talk out, by themselves, or with the headteacher or the deputy head or the teacher on duty later.
3. Specific Instances: Classroom.
A. Getting children's attention. Try to avoid: direct orders, negative orders, raising your voice unnecessarily, talking too much, giving them too many instructions at once. Use please, and thank you. Use body rhythm signals. Pick an example of good behaviour.
B. Good classroom manners. Say 'Please don't call out, put your hand up', identify someone who is doing it right, explain that you can't hear more than one at a time, explain the fairness of turn taking. Get children to think about how they would feel if the same actions were directed at them.
C. Tale telling. Try to discourage minor tale telling, but respond to important information. Try to explain to them the difference between important and unimportant information.
This policy document is an attempt to describe an ongoing activity. This has, of course, always been the case with any policy concerned with 'discipline' or pastoral care. There will be difficulties, obstacles to overcome since: 1. Children will come in from other schools where they do things differently. 2. Things will go drastically wrong for some children outside school.
This document is intended to be a working policy. It will be subject to review and amendment as time goes by.
There are areas that are not fully covered in the document as it stands, which will need to be developed over the fairly immediate future. These include, in particular the further involvement of the non teaching staff and the parents in the policy. Also, the very few individual children who present particular problems are still a cause for concern and more effort needs to be directed towards helping them.