Behaviour – Teachers Vs Pupils.

After listening to various people over the years talk about behaviour, two main narratives appear across the the divide.

1. Behaviour is the responsibility of the the teacher, any failing falls solely on the classroom teacher.

2. Behaviour is the responsibility of the pupils, pupils always have a choice, if they choose to behave in a certain way. This is solely their fault.

Like everything in our amazing profession nothing is this simple. It is part of our role as teachers to manage behaviour as per standard 7.


However there also 7 other standards which need to be fulfilled and continuous bad behaviour is physically, mentally and emotionally draining.

I’ve heard individual teachers say ‘If a pupil decides to disrupt the learning of the majority. It’s my duty to exclude them from the learning to let those who comply learn’. Thankfully this utilitarian thought process is also not a simple solution and destination.

Consequently, We are left with this dichotic territory of batting blame across the classroom. All of these narratives serve no one well.

Ultimately a classroom is a team effort (excuse the sports reference) with the teacher as the captain, the expert, and navigator; Pupils make up the majority, the team.

Compliant team members do not always make the best team members, willing acceptance of the team strategy, blind allegiance, etc. may make life easier for team captain. However the role of the team is never about making the captain’s life easier.

What should captains want from their team members? Autonomy, Challenge and dissonance and the ability to make the team better for it.

This week’s test match featured the above interaction. Players may not like their captains, however successful professional relationship are never based on just like.

The best captains having a clear strategy and vision, build trust, know their team, show that they are in it together for something greater, accepting that they their team, allowing them the autonomy to run their own game, by fostering a safe environment which accepts and appreciates dissonance.

Captains have power over their teams, they have the power to drop them, exclude them and belittle them. In many cases team members will still play hard if you pay them enough(or berate them enough), but sports captaincy is about leadership, it about winning hearts and minds through the joint vision of the team.

The analogy extend to why better planned lessons, building rapport, allow pupils to feel safe enough to fail and relationships with pupils will aid with this.

Could we just get on with playing the game and stop passing blame around the table.

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