CPD workshop: Positive behaviour strategies

Written by: Steve Burnage | Published:
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In a new regular series, Steve Burnage talks us through CPD ideas that can be adapted for your school. He will offer a template for a 45-minute workshop, with free handouts and slides available on our website. This installment looks at CPD offering positive behaviour strategies to make life easier in the classroom

Positive behaviour strategies to make life easier in the classroom: To deliver this 45-minute CPD training in your school, follow the advice and structure in the article below and download the free supporting handouts and PowerPoint presentation by clicking on both of the "Download Supplement" links above.

Positive behaviour strategies

This purpose of this article is to provide a 45-minute interactive training outline that could be suitable for a staff meeting, staff development group, small group CPD session or for individual study.

The training outline is included here while the PowerPoint slides and an accompanying participants’ handout is available to download via the buttons above.

Slide 1: Welcome

In order to facilitate the training, you will need:

  • Copies of the PowerPoint slides printed three to a page with space for notes for each participant.
  • Copies of the accompanying handout for each participant.
  • Flip chart paper and marker pens.
  • All resources for this training are available to download from the SecEd website or by email from bitesizedtraining@gmx.com

Slide 2: Introduction

This CPD will focus on positive behaviour strategies to make life easier in the classroom. By the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  • Identify 12 key positive behaviour techniques.
  • Plan and implement positive behaviour strategies as part of your own classroom management strategy.
  • Identify your own personal strengths and potential weaknesses in terms of positive behaviour management.

Slide 3: Behaviour activity

As you explore each of the positive behaviour management strategies think about the following and record your ideas on your handout:

  • What issue does this highlight in your own classroom practice?
  • What do you need to change to improve your learners’ behaviour?
  • How will this strategy help you do it?

Slide 4: Deliberately ignore

Imagine the scenario: You are explaining a key idea to your class when two students walk in five minutes late. What do you do? Do you stop everything, lose the focus of the rest of the class and deal with the late arrivals? No – deliberately ignore. You are not going to ignore it forever, just until the time is right. Settle the latecomers down to their learning and then, later, go across and quietly find out why they are late and deal with it accordingly.

Don’t ignore difficult behaviour but do ignore things you can deal with later, better.

Slide 5: Give advice before warnings

Giving advice is a non-confrontational way of drawing a learner’s attention to the positive behaviour you want and expect. For example: “Stephen, if you shout other people down, they won’t want to listen to you.”

This tells Stephen the consequences of his action and, in a non-confrontational way, encourages him to stop shouting people down so that they will listen to him.

Slide 6: Focus on the key issue

What is the key issue for each and every one of your lessons? The learning and progress of your students.

Sometimes we get too focused on behaviour and punishment. Sanctions tend not to change behaviour but rewards do. When you are managing learners’ behaviour, make your approach reward-focused and get back to the key issue – students’ learning and progress – as quickly as possible.

Slide 7: Use positive language

Use “do” rather than “don’t” instructions with young people. Telling young people what you want them to do is always more effective than telling them what you want them to stop doing. This is because the human brain finds it easier to respond to positives rather than negatives.

For example, “I need you to be quiet and listen” is always better than “there’s too much talking in here”, since the first statement tells the student what the expected behaviour is; they know what you need them to do.

“Why are you out of your seat?” can’t be an effective instruction. Try: “I need you to sit down now and get back to your learning.”

Slide 8: Make statements not questions

Never ask a question unless you want the answer: “What are you talking for?” – You don’t want to know and you don’t care. What you mean is: “I need you to stop talking and listen, thanks.”

“Why haven’t you finished your work?” Do you really want a load of pointless excuses? Of course not. Try: “Let’s work together to get this exercise completed.”

“What are you doing under the table?” Believe me, you just don’t want to know so don’t ask!

Slide 9: Use either/or choices

Positive learner behaviour is all about choices. It is a sobering thought that you can’t make your students do anything they don’t want to do.

All you can do is encourage them to make, hopefully, the right choices. Be clear about the choices that your young people have in your space. Give a clear choice of either complying or receiving the agreed consequence.

For example: “Kerry, I have already asked you to put your hand up when you want to ask me something. Please make the right choice in future or I will just not respond to you.”

Slide 10: Use ‘I’

Using “I” takes the focus of the student’s behaviour away from them and focuses on the impact of that behaviour on you. This, again, is a non-confrontational way of suggesting a positive change in behaviour. So, how do we do it?

  1. A brief description of the behaviour: “You keep talking when I am.”
  2. The effect of this behaviour: “This means that you can’t hear me.”
  3. Your feelings: “I want you to do well.”
  4. The new desire behaviour: “Please be quiet and listen when I need to talk to you.”

For example:

  1. You arrived 15 minutes late for class.
  2. This means you have missed 15 minutes of your learning.
  3. I am disappointed that you’re choosing not to learn.
  4. Be on time in future, thanks.

Slide 11: K.I.S.S. (Keep it short & simple)

No-one wants to be on the receiving end of a behaviour lecture and, remember, the focus of what we do in any classroom is learning and progress, so:

  • Focus on the key issue.
  • Identify the problem.
  • Resolve the problem.

For example: “John, you haven’t done your homework. Without your homework, you can’t complete this week’s work. You need to do your homework first and then arrange a time with me to catch up on today’s work.”

Slide 12: Use only one formal warning

Many school behaviour policies require teachers to give three warnings. You could call this a “three strikes and you’re out” policy. If this is your school policy, then, of course, you must follow it.

However, here’s the reason it is a bad idea – young people are programmed to push boundaries of behaviour. This is a good thing.

However, if students know they will get three warnings before anything serious happens, they quickly learn that they can disrupt behaviour for three times as long before you do anything. How can three times as much disruption be good practice? Do not use repeated formal warnings as it encourages young people to push the boundaries three times as far.

Slide 13: Allow for compliance time

Unless there is a risk of young people harming themselves or others, do not insist on instant compliance. Allowing a little time reduces confrontation and allows them to “save face” in front of their peers.

Slide 14: Be consistent

It can be argued that this is the most important behaviour management strategy. Whatever you do, do it consistently so that the young people you teach know what is expected, know the rewards for doing what is asked, understand the sanctions if they choose not to comply with your clear instructions, and are able to accurately predict the positive behaviour you expect from them each and every time you see them.

Slide 15: Making it work

Activity: What will you do as a result of this training? Working in groups, look at the action sheet you have produced during this training.

  • What are the three key learning points for you?
  • What will you change tomorrow to improve your positive behaviour management?
  • How will you know when your change has been successful?

Steve Burnage has experience leading challenging inner city and urban secondary schools. He now works as a freelance trainer, consultant and author for staff development, strategic development, performance management and coaching and mentoring. Visit www.simplyinset.co.uk and read his previous articles for SecEd, including his previous CPD workshop overviews, at http://bit.ly/2u1KW9e

Further information

This article is the second in a series of Bite Sized Training CPD. Bite Sized Training offers a range of 45-minute CPD sessions designed to be used as focused yet active school-based training. The materials are produced by Steve Burnage through www.simplyinset.co.uk. Steve will offer us another free CPD session – focused on developing middle leadership skills – in SecEd on November 23.


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