Behaviour- not the students, the adults.
On Monday in the professional learning briefing at Bilton the challenge was laid down to look at the behaviours that we see in what we would qualify as the most effective practitioners within each of the professional learning groups. The initial rationale for this was that it would enable a modelling process for new colleagues to support them in their induction to Bilton School. Taking feedback from staff within the session it was interesting within the responses that what effective practitioners do could be fairly easily cited, what was more challenging was when we think about why they behave in those ways- and also when reflecting more deeply on thinking about what those behaviours will reveal about them, and ourselves if we exhibit them to others.
Although the question was one that was about practitioners, this isn’t necessarily limited to solely classroom practice, though I would argue that the values that we hold as practitioners will also govern the behaviours that we exhibit in other areas of school. It’s possible that we exhibit some behaviour through compliance, and an acceptance that for a school to run efficiently then systems and processes just have to be followed. However as professionals we need to take more personal responsibilities than to simply comply, we need to be able to justify to ourselves and to others what it is we do and be self-aware of our practices so as to understand its impact.
To exemplify this I want to take something that is an accepted piece of classroom practice- the ‘meet and greet’ on the door of a class room. This is an example of a practice which works across a number of levels throughout a school structure but at all levels can show an alignment of values across the organisation.
What the figure shows is that a core value, theoretically shared across the school can manifest itself in behaviours that are similar but that have slightly different but positive effects on the school community. The reflective process and question asked last week therefore shows itself to be flawed, and should be framed as if driven through the value that sits at the top of the structure that is demonstrated above.
Rather than ‘what are the behaviours of an effective teacher and what do they reveal about their values’? focus on ‘what are your values and how do they manifest themselves in your behaviours?’ Upon going through this process it can reveal area of your own practice that you might wish to change. In my personal instance I thought about my own behaviours when I’m on duty in the canteen at dinner time. If a value that I hold is one of fairness and equality of opportunity and I articulate that verbally, I have to ask if I am behaving in a manner contradictory to my values if I push in front of students at dinnertime to get my dinner before they get theirs. To what extent here would I be behaving as though I am not treating students with the similar respect that I demand in my classroom practice. To the students how would they perceive that behaviour? How would they interpret it? What am I modelling in this behaviour? What does it show that I represent?
What is also a point to reflect upon is the extent to which the school’s mission is reflected in the behaviours that we exhibit every day. Rutter (1979) states that ‘pupils are likely to be influenced both by the norms and values that they are exposed to at school and also by the degrees to which these appear to be consistent throughout the school’, it’s an accepted truth that consistency of process and systems supports school areas such as behaviours, but it is worth reflecting beyond that and thinking what any inconsistency in the presentation of the school’s values can have on the students; particularly as they look to us to embody these.
Across the school, at the bottom of this document and on power points used within assemblies is the school’s statement ‘Proud of Our School, Positive about our Future, Confident in our Potential, Believe in Bilton’. Working at Bilton School means these words resonate with you and your personal beliefs. At this and any point of the year it is always worth reflecting to what extent this is the case and taking time to articulate to yourself within a personal statement what these personal beliefs are – and then, whether your behaviours consistently evidence this.
What I hope I stand for, what I hope people see…
‘I believe that every young person deserves the opportunity to succeed, that none should be limited in their ambition and that all should be treated with respect so that they value themselves and others as people and that they are able to celebrate their potential.