Children’s behaviour, concentration, and mental health are improved when teachers are trained to concentrate on encouraging good behaviour and refrain from reacting quickly to minor disruptions.
The Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management Programme was the subject of a study conducted by the University of Exeter Medical School and published in Psychological Medicine. Its fundamental tenets include fostering positive social interactions between educators and students and avoiding the low-level misbehaviour that frequently disturbs classrooms.
Instead, teachers are urged to place an emphasis on fostering relationships, providing motivation that is age-appropriate, actively managing disruptive behaviour, and praising appropriate behaviour.
Training one teacher potentially benefits every child that they subsequently teach
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care Southwest Peninsula funded the Supporting Teachers and Children in Schools (STARS) study, which sought to advance social and emotional wellbeing considering government statistics indicating that 10% of children suffer from a mental health condition.
Severe behavioural issues are the most prevalent and chronic mental health illness, and children with “conduct disorder” are at risk for all adult mental health issues as well as poor scholastic and social results. Professor Tamsin Ford, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Our findings suggest that this training potentially improves all children’s mental health but it’s particularly exciting to see the larger benefit on the children who were initially struggling.
These effects might be larger were this training offered to all teachers and teaching assistants. Let’s remember that training one teacher potentially benefits every child that they subsequently teach. Our study offers evidence that we should explore this training further as a whole school approach.”
‘Proximity praise’ is an effective tool in teaching practice
The project’s outcomes were assessed using a combination of questionnaires that were completed by teachers, parents, and children. Researchers also took into account social service and NHS utilisation, as well as academic achievement. In one-fourth of the participating schools, unbiased observers watched lessons without knowing whether the teachers had received the training.
Teachers loved the training and found it was helpful, in addition to the improvements in their students’ mental health, behaviour, and attentiveness. According to observations, it altered their behaviour and increased student compliance in the classroom. Teacher Sam Scudder, at Withycombe Raleigh School in Exmouth, East Devon, undertook the training as part of the trial. He said: “I’ve found the training has made a real difference
and it’s definitely improved my teaching practice. Praise is an essential aspect of the training and ‘proximity praise’ has been an effective tool. By finding and describing the sort of behaviour you desire, you can bring a change in those who are off task while simultaneously ignoring them. Of course, there are some behaviours you can’t ignore, but the focus is around really celebrating the kids who exhibit the behaviour you want: those who are quietly listening yet are often overlooked in classrooms. It has a ripple effect as more children copy that conduct.”
Techniques to raise the profile of positive behaviour and diminish the emphasis on low-level disruptive behaviour
Teacher Kate Holden, at Ipplepen Primary School, also took part in the study and said: “This training helped us to use techniques to raise the profile of positive behaviour and diminish the emphasis placed on low-level disruptive behaviour. Consistent clear rewards and sanctions highlighted expectations in a manageable and positive framework and preserved the high-quality relationships which underpin the whole ethos. This is far from woolly or accepting of poor behaviour. it is actually proactive and highly effective when used correctly in conjunction with a model to support behaviour across the whole school.”
Materials provided by the University of Exeter. Note: Content may be edited for style and
Tamsin Ford, Rachel Hayes, Sarah Byford, Vanessa Edwards, Malcolm Fletcher, Stuart Logan, Brahm Norwich, Will Pritchard, Kate Allen, Matthew Allwood, Poushali Ganguli, Katie Grimes, Lorraine Hansford, Bryony Longdon, Shelley Norman, Anna Price, Obioha C. Ukoumunne. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management programme in primary school children: results of the STARS cluster randomised controlled trial. Psychological Medicine, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1017/S0033291718001484
The University of Exeter. “Celebrating positives improves classroom behaviour and mental health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2018 <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180717194555.htm>.
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