When children are free to make small mistakes and are appreciated for their positives, their self-esteem and confidence take new heights. It fosters a mindset that encourages them to try new things and tackle problems in future. According to a study, training teachers to focus on positive conduct and avoid jumping to correct minor disruptions improves child behaviour, concentration, and mental health.
An analysis of the effectiveness of the Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management Programme, a training programme, was 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 putting a stop to minor misbehaviour that frequently disturbs classes.
Teachers are urged to place more of emphasis on developing relationships, motivating students in an age-appropriate manner, actively managing disruptive behaviour, and praising positive behaviour.
Training improves the mental health of all children, also of the ones who were initially struggling
Considering government statistics indicating that 10% of children suffer from a mental health illness, the Supporting Teachers and Children in Schools (STARS) study sought to enhance social and emotional well-being. It was supported by 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. Severe behavioural issues are the most prevalent and long-lasting mental health illness. Children diagnosed with “conduct disorder” are at risk for poor scholastic and social results as well as all adult mental health conditions.
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.”
Training improved child compliance in the classroom
The results of the experiment were assessed using a combination of self-completed questionnaires from students and parents of teachers. Researchers also considered social service and NHS utilisation, as well as academic achievement. In 25% of the participating schools, impartial observers observed classes without being aware of whether the teachers had received the training.
In addition to the gains in behaviour, mental health, and focus, teachers found the training to be enjoyable and beneficial. Based on observations, it appears to have altered their behaviour and enhanced student compliance in the classroom.
Celebrating positives has a ripple effect on the class
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.”
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 length.
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
University of Exeter. “Celebrating positives improves classroom behavior and mental health.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/07/180717194555.htm>.
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