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“To support positive behaviour for learning in classrooms - the most efficient thing is to get the preparation right and there are two elements of preparation that I’d like to talk about.

One is the practical, the analytical, the rational element if you like and the other is the emotional - the thing that tends to kick off badly in terms of behaviour management.

Why Are We Here?

The emotional is made upon the intuitive and the spiritual. So, those two elements of the rational and what's known as a trans-rational.

So, how to prepare for your rational is to keep it very explicit and use a state of learning and change that you can repeat again and again.

You can return to just to check in if people are having some difficulties to diffuse any frustrations or to remind people of a time when you were working well with each other. 

So, the process is called the ‘PUPIL process’ and it's an acronym meaning what is our Purpose today?

Why are we doing math? Why are we here? Why are we learning?

Clarify the purpose of it, not just in terms of the learning outcomes but it can be other aspects of it such as it’s going to be enjoyable, it's going to be a challenge and again, depending upon the ability and the age of the group then it's up to you as the educator to find the hook for them to see the purpose.

For some of them it will be very straightforward such as it's going to help them get an exam and that's good enough for some students, but for others they want to know, well, what more?

So, understand that your purpose motivator is absolutely in line with the needs of those students, whoever they are.

A Way Out of Conflict

Get your purpose right and that leads onto Understand – so, okay based upon this purpose, let's understand who we are, how we're going to work together and what are our our roles now to fulfil that purpose, what are our responsibilities and what are our rewards?

You can clarify this by even having them written out or you can have a display to return to because when conflict begins to happen, you go ‘Hang on guys, we said we were going to act like this. These are our roles, responsibilities, and rewards’.

So, it's giving them a way out of a conflict, and you can't do that unless you've got an agreement in advance.

What's The Plan?

Once you've got the roles, responsibilities, and rewards then you can come up with a Plan.

So, let's agree the plan. We're going to study in this way. We're going to learn like this. This is the timeline for it and decide how we're going to work and in these the groups.

And then, act upon the actual engagement of the learning process which is usually where the conflict manifests itself, because people are feeling disengaged or confused and this is a way of observing that behaviour, whether it's face to face or online because, then, the same process will help manage that behaviour and that level of engagement.

Proceed to Check In

Finally, the evaluation, which is an ongoing element of this, but it means checking in and finding out what's working, what you need to keep, what you need to develop, what you need to let go of and embed it.

Then we evaluate and then we embed it by going through the process again.

So, if you can bring that language of learning as part of the structure for every lesson that will help your behaviour.

Be the Change

The second element of this is the transrational, or the development of character, because what you'll need through the process of this is to be open, to be kind, to ‘be the change’ by being actively engaged in the change or learning process, to believe the evidence and be able to change your behaviours and change your mind if need be and, to be consistent.

So, you can use that language to say “OK, we need to be open here, how open are you to this, how kind are you?”.

So, you can use that language if someone's behaviour is beginning to kick off by asking the “Was that kind? Were you open? What closed you down? Were you a little inconsistent there?”

So, you can use these as a way of returning to that contract in terms of behaviour management that you've set up either explicitly or implicitly.

The Five Aspects of Character

And finally, one interesting thing from a system's point of view are these five aspects of character or the trans-rational fit in very well with the rational process because when you're clarifying your purpose you need to be open.

Also, when you are understanding roles, responsibilities and rewards you also need to be kind.

When you're developing the plan, you need to be the change.

When you are acting upon the plan and doing the learning you need to believe the emerging evidence and be critical about that and have some reflective process.

And, when you want to evaluate this, you need to be consistent.

Those rational and transrational skills, if they are introduced at the beginning of any learning experience and repeated throughout it, will always give you a framework for not only managing the conflict, but using it to your advantage and using it as a means of developing the competencies, both the academic and the practical, as well as the emotional and the spiritual of your children.”

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About the author

Roy Leighton

Roy Leighton

Roy and Independent Thinking go back a long way. He is an inspirational speaker, a recent graduate of Cambridge MA programme and the author of many books around the processes of change, growth, creativity and making schools more humane places.

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