Best Friends

Low Level Behaviour

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ECF Strands: 1.5, 7.5, 7a, 7e and 7f

What constitutes low level behaviour?

No matter how carefully planned and well-resourced a lesson is, you will find on occassion that some pupils will struggle to remain focused and engaged throughout. They may require prompts to keep them focused on their learning. Sometimes, a pupil’s attention may drift unintentionally, and they may begin to exhibit low-level disruption. On other occasions, pupils may deliberately exhibit such behaviours to avoid engaging with work.

Whatever the reason is for a disruption, it’s important to address it as early as possible to prevent it from escalating and impacting further on pupils’ learning. Low-level disruption can be anything that disrupts the flow of your lesson. Some examples include pen tapping, chatting, calling out, entering late, chewing gum, playing with resources and swinging on chairs. In isolation, low-level disruption can seem harmless. But when it occurs frequently, it can become increasingly difficult to manage and this inevitably impacts on pupils’ learning.

Why is low level disruptive a problem?

No matter how carefully planned and well-resourced a lesson is, you will find on occassion that some pupils will struggle to remain focused and engaged throughout. They may require prompts to keep them focused on their learning. Sometimes, a pupil’s attention may drift unintentionally, and they may begin to exhibit low-level disruption. On other occasions, pupils may deliberately exhibit such behaviours to avoid engaging with work.

Whatever the reason is for a disruption, it’s important to address it as early as possible to prevent it from escalating and impacting further on pupils’ learning. Low-level disruption can be anything that disrupts the flow of your lesson. Some examples include pen tapping, chatting, calling out, entering late, chewing gum, playing with resources and swinging on chairs. In isolation, low-level disruption can seem harmless. But when it occurs frequently, it can become increasingly difficult to manage and this inevitably impacts on pupils’ learning.

How can you tackle low level disruption?

In response to low-level disruption, one approach we can take is to use the Least Invasive Intervention (Lemov, 2015). Lemov argues that by minimising the ‘drama’ you can correct off-task pupils without interrupting the learning. In contrast, if you confront pupils too publicly, you may escalate a situation unnecessarily, and make a pupil feel embarrassed or shamed. This makes the situation worse for both you and the pupil – and is more likely to derail the learning of this pupil and others.

Lemov identifies six subtle techniques that a teacher can use to quickly address low-level disruption, which you will explore throughout this session. These techniques are listed below in order, with the least intrusive method at the top:

  1. Non-verbal Intervention

  2. Positive Group Correction

  3. Anonymous Individual Correction

  4. Private Individual Correction

  5. Lightning-quick Public Correction

  6. Private Individual Praise

‘Non-verbal Intervention’ is when you use gestures or your proximity to a pupil to mitigate low-level disruption in a non-invasive way. The advantage of this technique is that the teaching does not stop while the disruption is being addressed, so the flow of the lesson is not interrupted in any way. It is also a respectful way to refocus pupils because it gives them an opportunity to self-regulate their behaviour without being shamed or embarrassed in front of their peers. If the pupil still hasn’t refocused after you have used a non-verbal intervention, then you may need to employ the next technique: positive group correction

‘Positive Group Correction’ is a quick verbal reminder addressed to the whole class.

There are two reasons to address the whole group rather than the individual. Firstly, saying the names of pupils who are not complying with your instructions may cause embarrassment or escalate the behaviour to a confrontation that further disrupts the lesson. In addressing the whole class, you may prompt others to check their behaviour who may also be off task – but you hadn’t noticed.

This intervention is best framed in a positive way – by describing the solution rather than the problem.

Anonymous Individual Correction’ is similar to the positive group correction in that it is anonymous and solution focused. However, it additionally informs the class that there are some pupils who are non-compliant. For example, “Eyes on me. I am still waiting for two more pupils”.

Anonymity reduces the level of disruption caused, as it prevents pupils from being tempted to turn and face the individual being addressed. It addresses the behaviour in a respectful way, helping to maintain an environment of mutual trust and respect. This technique also gives pupils more ownership over their behaviour as they identify for themselves that they are one of the pupils who isn’t ready. This has the added benefit of encouraging independence and self-regulation.

‘Private Individual Correction’ is when you address a pupil’s behaviour discreetly whilst the rest of the class are working independently or with peers. If you notice a pupil is off task whilst you are addressing the whole class, you might give the class a quick task to complete. Whilst they are doing this, you can approach the pupil, crouch down next to them, and quietly address the behaviour.

You should aim to describes the solution and emphasise the purpose to the learner. 

Sometimes it will not be possible to correct a pupil’s behaviour privately. In such instances, it is important that the pupil under scrutiny is in the spotlight for as short amount of time as possible. This avoids overly embarrassing the pupil or disrupting the focus and attention of other pupils.

This type of public correction should be made as quickly as possible: preferably lightning-quick!

Name the pupil and the behaviour you want to see then bring the class focus back to the positive behaviour that’s happening in the classroom. Once back on task reinforce the positive behaviour.​

Activities

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Reflection

Think of a time when you have intervened with an off-task pupil to correct their behaviour.

 

  • Did you use the least invasive intervention possible?

  • How did this impact the pupil?

  • How did it impact the class and their learning?

  • What could you do differently next time?

Further Reading

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