Engagement changes student behaviour – not policies

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Policies are important in schools. When implemented correctly the provide a standpoint from which we can work work with students. The problem comes when there are too many policies and too many rules. Both teachers and students cannot keep up, resulting in policies being poorly and inconsistently implemented. The best classrooms are run on essential agreements reached between students and their teachers. Students have a pretty good grasp as to what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t, they just need a supporting hand from their teacher along the way to keep them on-track. Furthermore, schools that are values driven and support their teachers in explicitly teaching these values through their everyday classes, will begin to positively shape student behaviour.

The best control for student behaviour is engagement and that is largely driven by the teacher. Though we do need to recongnise that engagement must be accompanied by challenge ensuring that learning takes place, as opposed to busy work. If schools placed more emphasis on improving teacher practice rather than trying to control student behaviour with policy, schools would most definitely be better places to learn.

photo credit: jonmott via photopin cc

Published by Richard Bruford

Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology. With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools. Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin. In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)

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