Fostering positive behaviour, relationships and learning environments

Introduction

This themed collection is designed for teaching assistants on the theme of fostering positive behaviour, relationships and learning environments. A themed collection brings together a range of useful resources on a specific topic to support practitioners deepen their knowledge in this area and shape their own professional learning. These collections can also be used to inform colleagues’ professional development as well as school policy and practice in a particular area.

This collection is part of a series to support teaching assistants (TAs) with their professional learning. They are designed to develop knowledge around a range of topics relevant to TAs.

These topics include:

  • Supporting students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)
  • Supporting students with English as an Additional Language (EAL)
  • Supporting students to develop literacy skills
  • Fostering positive behaviour, relationships and learning environments
  • Working effectively with teachers, parents and the wider community 
  • Developing effective learners
  • Developing curriculum knowledge 

 

These collections incorporate a range of content types to support professional learning and reflective practice, including:

  • Research summaries and reviews that summarise the latest evidence base
  • Case studies from practising TAs, teachers and school leaders
  • Webinars and video content delivered by leading experts in the field  
  • Reflective questions to support the learning
  • Reading lists signposting further sources and support

 

Whilst much of the content is from the perspective of researchers, school leaders and teachers, it is both useful and relevant to TAs. Moving forward, we would like to expand our knowledge base by including voices and expertise of TAs. We invite you to use this padlet to begin sharing your reflections, experiences and expertise to support other teaching assistants with their professional learning.

Fostering positive behaviour, relationships and learning environments

TAs play an important role in managing student behaviour in the classroom. The role of a TA requires interactions with a wide range of students on a daily basis, supplementing teacher input and providing one-to-one support and small group intervention. Consequently, TAs play a crucial role in upholding whole-school policy and promoting positive behaviour and relationships in a range of settings. Equally, TAs can play an active role in supporting the classroom teacher to manage behaviour of students in the classroom. This often reduces pressures on classroom teachers and allows for more time to focus on teaching and learning (DfE, 2019; EEF, 2021).

Over the last two decades, TAs have been increasingly tasked with providing specialist support for students with behavioural, social and emotional needs (EEF, 2021). This is partially driven by a greater push for inclusion of students with additional needs into mainstream settings (EEF, 2021). As well as delivering academic interventions, TAs are regularly tasked with developing so-called ‘soft skills’, including improving students’ motivation, engagement, self-esteem, resilience and ability to communicate effectively with others (DfE, 2019). In recent years, the level of need has arguably increased and so have the demands on TAs (DfE, 2019). Due to a lack of funding and resources in state education, TAs are regularly tasked with providing more specialist support for students with complex and challenging behavioural needs (DfE, 2019). This situation has been further exacerbated by the recent pandemic. Many TAs are now providing continued support for the growing number of students (and their families) with pastoral needs, both in and outside the classroom (Hall & Webster, 2022). In light of this situation, it is imperative that TAs are provided with appropriate guidance, resources and training to address the complex behaviourial needs of the students in their care. This unit aims to support TAs to develop their knowledge of a range of evidence-informed strategies to improve student behaviour and foster positive relationships and learning environments. It also provides TAs with the tools to consider how they might implement these strategies effectively in their unique contexts.

Moving forward, we hope to build on this knowledge base by drawing on the experience and expertise of TAs. We invite you to use the attached padlet to begin sharing your reflections, experiences and expertise to support other TAs with their professional learning journey.

 

References

Department of Education (2019) ‘Deployment of teaching assistants in schools’ (online) ‘https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812507/Deployment_of_teaching_assistants_report.pdf (accessed on 15.02.22)

Education Endowment Fund (EEF) (2021) ‘Making Best Use of Teaching Assistants: Guidance Report’ (online) https://d2tic4wvo1iusb.cloudfront.net/eef-guidance-reports/teaching-assistants/TA_Guidance_Report_MakingBestUseOfTeachingAssistants-Printable_2021-11-02-162019_wsqd.pdf?v=1666086797 (accessed on 15.02.22)

Hall, S. & Webster, R. (2022) ‘From Covid to the Cost of Living: The Crises Remaking the Role of the Teaching Assistants’ (online) https://pure.port.ac.uk/ws/portalfiles/portal/57436644/From_Covid_to_the_Cost_of_Living._The_crises_remaking_the_role_of_teaching_assistants_FINAL_.pdf (accessed on 15.02.22)

 

Case studies and articles

Hear about approaches to managing behaviour across a range of different contexts and phases. More specifically, we invite you to read the perspective article written by Bethan Coles – ‘High aspirations, clear expectations and positive behaviour management are key ingredients for creating an effective learning environment’. This article provides an overview of the so-called ‘key ingredients’ to curate an environment where all students can thrive. Alternatively, if you are short of time, we invite you to read Alex Quigley’s article, ‘Behaviour Management: Practical Tips’. This provides ten evidence-informed strategies to trial in your context. 

We acknowledge the majority of case studies are written from the perspective of school leaders and teachers; however, they remain both useful and relevant to TAs. Moving forward, we would like to expand our knowledge base by including voices and expertise from other practising TAs. 

We invite you to make notes on each journey and the approaches taken in these case studies to inform your own next steps and consider how you might apply some of these insights in your setting. 

 You could also consider the following questions:

  • What are the current challenges when managing behaviour in your classroom and wider school? 
  • Are there any strategies from the learning that could contribute to overcoming these challenges?

 

High aspirations, clear expectations and positive behaviour management are key ingredients for creating an effective learning environment
Behaviour management: Practical tips
The learning environment: Building routines, habits and familiarity
‘What do you need from me?’ An overview of effective behaviour management in the primary classroom from a teacher’s perspective
Developing the right mindset for learning: Teaching self-regulation, focus and calm in the classroom
Marshmallows and traffic cops: Beyond behaviourism – motivation and self-regulation in the classroom
Establishing positive social norms for a productive classroom environment
Behaviour Management: Using the five step appeal
Bons points and gute Punkte [good points]: increasing motivation in the MFL classroom
Photo by Gianluca Gerardi on Unsplash
How can a ‘Cookie Jar’ help to generate positive behaviour?
Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash
All you need is love: Leading with love in challenging times
Photo by Tanzim on Unsplash
Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing in primary schools
Banning mobile phones in schools: Reflecting on the debate
Challenging the myths of mindset: Theory and practice
Mindfulness in schools: Is it just another trend?
Why consistency is key
Research-based activities to promote student flourishing
Establishing behaviour systems and routines
Acknowledging kindness
A look at the link between classroom arrangement and cooperative learning
Verbal teacher praise and feedback: influencing students’ self-concept and self-efficacy beliefs in mathematics classrooms
Supporting good sleep hygiene for pupils: A case study
Developing a pastoral curriculum
A case study detailing the role of art, sport and culture in mental and physical development, and behaviour management
A whole-school approach to managing anxiety in children and young people
What wasted years? How we focus on academic continuity, alongside pastoral support, at transition
Creating inclusive, supportive learning environments
Changing our use of feedback and becoming a trauma-informed school: A case study
Beyond labels: Creative approaches to learning
The impact of racism on children’s mental health
Supporting students with Emotionally-Based School Avoidance
Staff experiences of pupils’ self-harming behaviour in an independent girls’ boarding school
Learnings from lockdown
Trauma-informed schools: A case study
Supporting pupils to adopt good sleep hygiene using the HEAL principles: A case study
Common causes of anxiety for pupils with autism and how to address them
Whole-school approach to pre-emptively reduce anxiety by prioritising wellbeing
Impacts of excessive screen time on children and young people
Leading girls: Creating a supportive environment where girls embrace leadership opportunities
Learner motivation and engagement in the post-14 sector during distance learning
Grounding for Mindfulness Technique (GfMT): A missing link between learner wellbeing and education
Creating a motivating learning culture utilising pupil voice and agency
Teaching for challenge: establishing a growth mindset ethos in a Norfolk secondary school
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash|Figure 1: Average time taken for class to ‘settle’ after lunch
What is the impact of mindfulness activities bridging the lunchtime period, on classroom behaviour?
Photo by Zoey Tian on Unsplash
A whole-school approach to supporting students with LGBTQ+ identities
Photo by Macu ic on Unsplash
Supporting wellbeing through the arts
Improving engagement and raising attainment through mixed ability grouping and cooperative learning
Photo by Sven Mieke on Unsplash
How can drama be used to improve achievement and engagement across a range of subjects?

Research summaries and reviews

Read the research and evidence that informs best practice in managing behaviour. Research summaries are short articles that summarise findings from a single research article. Research reviews are longer articles that critically evaluate the evidence on a larger research theme. 

Some articles examine the effectiveness of specific strategies that promote positive behaviour in the classroom including greetings at the door and the use of rewards and sanctions. Other articles explore whole-school approaches to wider pervasive issues such as bullying, transition and educational recovery. Other articles explore approaches that work towards improving student wellbeing and fostering positive learning environments beyond the classroom.

You may find the first four resources to be a good starting point. These videos were originally created for ‘new teachers’; however, these videos provide a range of useful advice for those who may be at the early stages of their learning journey.

We invite you to read the research and consider the following questions:

  • In what ways has this learning resonated with your existing knowledge about managing behaviour or perhaps shifted your thinking? 
  • How might you begin to apply this learning in your context? 

 

Behaviour advice for new teachers Part 1
Behaviour advice for new teachers Part 2
Behaviour advice for new teachers Part 3
Behaviour advice for new teachers Part 4
The pastoral purpose of schooling
Positive greetings at the door
New Zealand view flight plane
Transition: an overview of interesting research and what it means in practice for teachers
Supporting student wellbeing by encouraging them to use the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ (while staying at home!)
Effective strategies to reduce bullying in schools
Sleep and screen time: Selected reading
Great teaching techniques: Collaborative learning
Decorative image of hand holding a flower
Supporting pupils with anxiety: Selected reading
Anxiety: Supporting pupil mental health in practice
Supporting the home learning environment
The Dark Side of rewards and punishments in the classroom part I
The Dark Side of rewards and punishments in the classroom part II
Challenging sexism and gender stereotypes in education
What are schools for? Life-skills, careers, character and love-of-learning
“Catch-up” and recovery approaches: Selected reading
Advancing racial equality and tackling racism in education: Selected reading
Motivation for learning
High expectations and challenge for all: Selected reading
The Terror of Error
How teachers can create a culture of high expectations in their classroom
Outdoor learning and wellbeing
Lessons in nature: What is the impact on children’s engagement during subsequent indoor lessons?

Reflective questions 

Having engaged with the resources above, reflect on the questions below to refine your thinking and inform your approach to managing behaviour effectively in your context. 

  • In what ways has this learning resonated with your existing knowledge about managing behaviour or perhaps shifted your thinking? 
  • What are the current behavioural challenges in your context? What might be the underlying causes for this challenging behaviour?
  • How are you currently managing behaviour in your context? Are there any strategies from the learning that might improve your current approach?
  • What is the whole-school behaviour policy in your context? How is this communicated to 1) staff 2) students?
  • How effective is your current whole-school behaviour policy? How do you currently enact this policy when supporting students?
  • How could you work with your classroom teacher/SENDCo to improve your current approach to managing behaviour in your classroom?
  • What areas would you like to prioritise learning more about? 

Further content

Hear from leading experts in the field on a range of topics related to fostering positive behaviour, relationships and learning environments. In particular, we invite you to watch the first webinar – ‘Managing Behaviour in the Classroom with Amy Forrester’. Amy is an experienced pastoral and behaviour leader in a secondary school in the North West of England. She writes for a number of publications on behaviour and pastoral care, as well as supporting teacher development of behaviour management. This webinar provides practical, evidence-informed strategies regarding managing behaviour in the classroom.

There are also a selection of classroom practice videos to see behaviour strategies in action. In addition, there  are a number of video interviews with practicing teachers and school leaders to gain further insight into strategies employed to foster positive behaviour, relationships and learning environments.

Early Career Series Logo
#ECSeries: Managing Behaviour in the Classroom with Amy Forrester
Behaviour: What are you permitting? with Sam Strickland
ECFest: How to implement an effective classroom culture
‘Teach Like a Champion’ with Doug Lemov
Webinar: Behaviour management Q&A – Tom Bennett and Amy Forrester
|
A recipe for success: Creating unimagined futures
Webinar: Why not giving up on a child is the most rewarding thing you can do…
Anxiety – Pedagogy in practice
|
Disseminating the Ofsted report into sexual abuse in schools and colleges
Sleep and Screen Time – Pedagogy in practice
Bullying and Loneliness – Pedagogy in practice
Trauma – Pedagogy in practice
Routines in a music classroom
A video camera close up
Routines in a secondary English classroom
Rewards in a primary classroom
Creating a culture of high expectations in a secondary classroom
Supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing through everyday interactions in school settings
No opt out in a secondary classroom
A video camera close up
Routines in a primary classroom
Rewards and sanctions in a secondary Spanish classroom
Motivation in a Secondary Classroom
Motivation in a Primary Classroom
Routines in a secondary classroom
Rewards and sanctions in a secondary English classroom