Research School Network: Behave! What do we mean by learning behaviours? Dr Niki Kaiser, Director, Norwich Research School

Behave! What do we mean by learning behaviours?

Dr Niki Kaiser, Director, Norwich Research School

by Norwich Research School
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"When we use the word ​‘behaviour’ we can quickly assume that it relates solely to strategies to manage misbehaviour in the classroom. Crucial as these are, there is another dimension: how teachers can also explicitly support pupils’ ​‘learning behaviours’. As we teach these, developing and strengthening learning behaviours in our pupils, they become more motivated and determined to succeed."

Think about a class that you taught today. Maybe you teach the same class every day, or maybe it was one of many you are teaching this year. By now, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how the children in this class respond and learn. Five months into the year, you’ll have started to develop those all-important relationships with the pupils in your class, and have an idea of what makes them tick’.

What is good behaviour’?

If I asked you to pick a couple of pupils who behave well’, who would you pick? And what would you understand by that? Would you think of pupils who sit quietly, follow instructions and never speak unless spoken to? Or would you pick a chatty child, full of ideas, who just can’t keep them to themselves, and can’t wait to learn more?

The joy of teaching is that we have around 30 individual humans, with all their complexity and stories, in every class we teach. Our job, as teachers, is to help each child develop the skills and strategies that will help them succeed (‘learning behaviours’), whichever classroom they’re in, whatever day of the week it is, and however hard something might feel at first.

Learning behaviours

But what are these learning behaviours, which of them are most important, and how can we explicitly teach them? This is what our new course is all about. It is based around the Learning Behaviour pentagon, developed by the EEF.

LB blog

We introduced our course in a twilight session recently, and the group of teachers discussed which behaviours are most crucial for effective learning and why they thought this. There was a range of responses, as demonstrated by these diamond nines’.

Diamond nines

Developing a shared language

Sometimes, people were very clear about what each word meant, and why it might be more (or less) important. But there was also debate around certain words, about what they actually meant, and how the behaviours might impact on learners.

What is clear is that, before we start to think about this, we need to develop a shared language around learning behaviours, and then think about how we can embed them within our school culture.

This is what we will be doing together, over the next few months, with schools from around Norfolk and Suffolk. You can find out more about it here (and there is still time to sign up and join us).

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