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Best Practice Behaviour Management

Best Practice Behaviour Management

Executive Summary

At the PPTA Conference in 2006, delegates expressed concern over the increasing incidence of challenging behaviour in New Zealand secondary school classrooms. As a consequence, a resolution was passed at the conference: ‘That PPTA conduct a literature search on best practice behaviour management systems in schools and publish the material on the PPTA website and as a hard copy to branches’. This review is a response to that resolution. The resulting literature search accessed information from a wide variety of sources, from research databases to book chapters and websites. While this review is a small study by one researcher over six weeks, it found general agreement across all of the literature that teachers need an enhanced skill set to manage the challenging behaviour prevalent in New Zealand schools. The review suggests that managing challenging student behaviour is not about personal competence; it is a school climate and professional development issue.

The key findings are that:

1. School climate is essential in determining how well behaviour is managed. The factors that affect a school’s climate include: the degree of BOT and administration support; overall school planning for good behaviour; involvement of parents and community; willingness to discuss and resolve issues such as teacher stress and efficacy; and attitudes to discipline and fairness.
3. Quality professional development can improve classroom effectiveness in managing behaviour. Schools should have a coherent approach to professional development that is embedded in the school’s culture. Schools should be discerning about the quality of professional learning offered.
5. A teacher’s capacity to manage the classroom learning environment is the single most important factor in determining the quality of learning. Giving teachers the power to do a good job should be central to school governance and management. The Ministry of Education, boards of trustees and school management have the responsibility to resource schools adequately so that quality learning can occur.
7. Teachers’ time and energy should not be wasted on programmes and initiatives that are not adequately resourced and have not been evaluated.
The report is set out in five chapters focusing on:

1. Changing patterns of challenging behaviour and the effect on teaching
3. A critique of current provision

5. The features of effective behaviour management.
7. How quality professional learning can help teachers
9. Programmes available

Chapter 1: From Elton to Rogers: not much change in 20 years

The PPTA Conference (NZPPTA, 2006) raised concern about the increasing incidence of challenging behaviour in New Zealand schools and the lack of information and resources available to address the issue. The advice of experts and the research accessed for this review agree that teaching is a stressful and difficult job, and that teachers are under resourced to address challenging student behaviour effectively. The perception that challenging behaviour is on the rise has been around for many years and the advice as to how to manage it is not new either, yet schools continually revisit it. No one seems to be shy about placing the responsibility for socialising young people firmly in teachers’ hands, yet the power to realise this responsibility constantly eludes schools. Society pays a heavy price every time a young person does not make it through school, yet the reasons behind the constant rise in suspension and exclusion figures continually evade solution. This chapter examines the issues around challenging student behaviour.

This chapter investigates three issues:

• Is challenging student behaviour increasing?

• Who are the challenging students?

• How important is teacher self efficacy in managing student behaviour?

Is challenging student behaviour increasing?

The Roper report (Committee of Inquiry into Violence, 1987), arising out of concerns at levels of violence in the wider New Zealand society, asserted that education was “one of the most important areas where long term measures to reduce violence can be implemented” (p.69). It suggested that areas requiring action included:

… the relevance of the curriculum, assessment procedures, racism, the quality and effectiveness of teachers, schools’ contact with their communities, and the need for young people to develop self esteem, confidence, self respect and a sense of responsibility (Committee of Inquiry into Violence, 1987, p.69).

Teachers were held responsible as “the most important people in a child’s life” apart from parents for developing students’ ability to live successful lives (Committee of Inquiry into Violence, 1987, p.70). The report did not provide any information about the levels of violence in schools, although it did discuss the fact that potentially violent children could be recognised from a very young age by teachers (Committee of Inquiry into Violence, 1987, pp.76-77). It also took a stance against the use of corporal punishment in schools (Committee of Inquiry into Violence, 1987, pp.80-81).

By 1995, the New Zealand Government was acknowledging that schools had a problem with disruptive students (Taylor-Smith, 1998). The Revell Report on the Inquiry into Children at Risk through Truancy and Behaviour (Education and Science Committee, 1995) recommended a number of initiatives in schools to address the problem of a growing number of disruptive students in New Zealand schools. Recently New Zealand secondary teachers have expressed concern over a perceived increase in poor behaviour in schools. In 2004, PPTA surveyed all secondary schools to assess the degree, type and level of bullying of staff in schools. A report on the survey (Benefield, 2004) indicated that assaults on teachers were on the rise and that nearly a third of all teachers experienced minor forms of bullying on a daily or weekly basis. New Zealand Ministry of Education data used for the PPTA report (Benefield, 2004) revealed that between 2002 and 2003 the number of assaults on teachers by students had increased from 537 in 2002 to 637 in 2003 (Benefield, 2004). This data was of concern because it showed an increase of almost 20% in just one year, which was well outside anything that could be explained away by roll growth. Serious physical attacks on teachers led to 4% of all suspensions in 2006 (Ministry of Education, 2006). Half of these involved the use of weapons. Given the figures quoted for total suspensions in 2006, this would suggest that there were about 200 incidents of assault on teachers, 100 of which involved using a weapon of some kind.

Ministry of Education data (2006), recorded patterns of stand down and suspension over the six years from 2000 to 2005. While the rate of stand downs was increasing steadily, the rate of suspension was fairly stable. The figures given actually showed a decrease in the number of suspensions per 1000 enrolled students (Ministry of Education, 2006). Verbal abuse of teachers was given as the major reason for suspension. The Ministry of Education report on stand down, suspension and exclusion (2006) revealed also that the majority of both stand downs and suspensions were of students aged 13-15, with that age group accounting for. 62% of stand downs and 69% of suspensions in 2006. For both stand downs and suspensions, the peak age was 14 years old with 9.62% of 14 year olds being stood down and 2.49% of 14 year olds being suspended in 2006. The report also showed that “continual disobedience” accounted for 25% of both stand downs and suspensions. This data is important to secondary teachers because students between the ages of 13-15 are generally in secondary schools in years 9 and 10 - the year groups where classroom management of students is felt by teachers to be at its most challenging. In addition, the category “continual disobedience” suggests ongoing patterns of challenging behaviour have culminated in the stand down or suspension.

Teacher concern over a growing difficulty to manage students’ behaviour is not new and not confined to New Zealand. In 1989, in Great Britain, Lord Elton was commissioned to enquire into discipline in schools. The enquiry arose as a consequence of a survey on teachers’ perceptions of student behaviour by the Professional Association of Teachers, one of the British teacher unions. The survey indicated that the majority of teachers felt indiscipline was on the increase (Elton, 1989). Publication of details of the survey in Great Britain resulted in a vehement outcry in the press about the nature and safety of schools. The resulting Elton Report (1989) was a landmark document for understanding and managing challenging student behaviour in Great Britain. The Elton Inquiry commissioned a survey of 3500 teachers in 470 schools and found that 10% of secondary teachers had experienced verbal abuse from students and that 0.2% of teachers had been physically attacked. Because this was nowhere near the extent that had been suggested by the original survey and the reports in the press, the Elton Report (1989) could not substantiate the perception that indiscipline was on the rise, citing too little base data from which to draw conclusions. The report, however, stated that: “A substantial number of Heads and teachers believe the amount of bad behaviour has increased” (Elton: 1989 p. 60).

Lord Elton felt, also, that suspension and exclusion statistics could be used as a crude indicator as to whether bad behaviour had increased (Elton, 1989). This review uses stand down and suspension data in that way also.

A more recent report in the UK by a practitioner group (Steer, 2005) noted that while schools today face some new challenges, the Elton Inquiry findings are still of importance and relevant to schools today (p.14).

Challenging behaviour from students, however, occurs on a daily basis both in the classroom and around the school. The behaviours range from talking out of turn, hindering other students, minor disruption, and lateness to class (Elton, 1989; Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 2006; Balson, 1992) to verbal abuse, verbal intimidation and challenges to authority (Benefield, 2005). As early as the Elton Report (1989), these minor ongoing irritations and disruptions to classroom flow were described as “wearing”. The PPTA report (Benefield, 2004) described the targeted aggressive behaviour experienced by teachers in schools as “bullying” (p.1) While teachers differentiated between minor incidents that were repeated and single significant acts that had the effect of significantly endangering or undermining their wellbeing, they still described all these behaviours as bullying.

The New Zealand Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, however, defines bullying in this way:

Bullying may be characterised as offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, an abuse or misuse of power through means intended to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient. Bullying is often seen as a form of harassment ( .

This definition of bullying does not include the requirement that the behaviour has to be repeated. As early as 1978 Carl E. Pickhardt wrote an article in Educational Leadership called ‘Fear in Schools: How Students Make Teachers Afraid’. He argues that challenging classroom behaviour does indeed place teachers in a position where they feel threatened or intimidated. The contribution that managing challenging classroom behaviour makes to teacher stress and burnout is also well established (Balson, 1992; Chaplain, 2003; Kokkinos, 2007; Jepson and Forrest, 2006). Kokkinos states that: “Stress arises when a teacher appraises the environment as one that taxes or exceeds her resources and therefore is consequently perceived as threatening” (p.239). Jepson and Forrest (2006) argue that: “Stress occurs where there is a perceived excess of environmental demands that cannot be controlled by an individual’s coping strategies” (p. 183). Teachers who are required to manage, on a daily basis, situations where they feel at a disadvantage may well feel that the suggested definition of bullying is a reasonable one.

Every generation, it seems, despairs at the morals and behaviour of the next. Is it reasonable, then, to suggest that classroom discipline challenges have changed and that teachers are more at risk of stress and burnout now than 20 years ago? Despite the Ministry of Education data that shows a decrease in suspensions over 6 years, physical attacks on teachers appear to have increased in both frequency and severity. It would be reasonable to suggest, therefore, that teachers are working in a more threatening environment than in the past. In addition, by far the majority of stand downs and suspensions in New Zealand schools occur in years 9 to 11. These data would suggest that secondary school teachers are more at risk of encountering the types of behaviour that end in stand down or suspension than their colleagues in primary schools. Because nearly half of the behaviours that culminate in stand down or suspension come from assault on staff or students and from continual disobedience, it is possible to conclude that secondary teachers, especially those teaching years 9 to 11, frequently face situations where they may need extra training, resources and support.

Who are the challenging students?

There are many ways in which the behaviour of some students might challenge the teacher’s capacity to manage a positive learning environment. In some cases these behaviours have been linked to a specific condition; in most cases, however, the student’s behaviour is just difficult and hard to manage. Identified conditions such as ADHD, ODD, Autism and Brain Injury can present difficulties in the classroom for the teacher, the identified student and for other students. In a limited number of instances the student may receive some extra support. In the general classroom situation, however, teachers are often expected to manage the learning of these troubled students with very little training and support (Chaplain, 2003). This is in addition to coping with the effect their behaviour has on the learning progress of the class as a whole. In by far the majority of cases, however, the behaviour is challenging but undefined and there is little hope of extra support. This review uses the term “antisocial (Church, 2003) as a catch-all phrase to describe students whose behaviour causes concern in the school context. The term “antisocial” has been used because of its use in the Church Report (2003) (which was funded by the Ministry of Education). Antisocial, used in this review, is equivalent to the British term: children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Working with students with emotional and behavioural difficulties is part of the job of being a teacher (Chaplain, 2003; Balson, 1992; Elton, 1989). Different studies suggest reasons why a significant part of the school population appears troubled and mismatched in terms of what schools have to offer. Balson (1992) and Elton (1989) argue that, since World War Two, changing patterns of child-rearing and family relationships have altered the relationships between teachers and students and the expectations one has of the other. The nature and causes of these changes have been attributed to a move from an autocratic style of governing and managing society to one that is more democratic. This change is also reflected in the ways in which society expects to be managed in government institutions such as education and health (Balson, 1992). Balson attributes the difficulties teachers have in schools to trying to apply old, traditional methods of classroom and school management in a changed climate. On the other hand, Church (2003) describes antisocial behaviour as a consequence of failed early experiences in behaviour, specifically more as a consequence of family relationships. Concerns over drug use and alcohol access have also been indicated as contributing to student indiscipline (Smith, 2004; Reid, 1999). Other contributory factors to perceived poor student behaviour are increases in class sizes (Chaplain, 2003) and student obesity (Kennedy, 2006) and noisy classrooms (Anderson, 2001). While most writers agree, therefore, that student behaviour is a concern, the issues that contribute towards its cause appear to be complex.

The Church Report (2003) explains the nature and development of antisocial children from a New Zealand perspective. His report is clear and reader friendly while at the same time being scholarly and wide ranging. It gives a precise description of the causes and development of early onset antisocial behaviour in children in New Zealand. While a few children may develop antisocial behaviour in adolescence, Church maintains that children who: “ not engage in antisocial behaviour in childhood do not engage in antisocial behaviour in adolescence and adulthood” (p.3). According to Church (2003), children begin to experience the environments that put them at risk of later antisocial behaviour at a very young age. He states that:

The earliest sign that the young child may be heading towards an antisocial developmental pathway is the child's failure to acquire age-appropriate levels of compliance with parental instructions. In most families, compliance training begins early - around about the child's first birthday (p.19)

This failure eventually results in the child using coercive rather than pro-social means to negotiate relationships (Church, 2003).

By the time these young people reach secondary school the patterns of antisocial behaviour are well established. During the primary school years, normally-developing children learn how to cooperate with peers and receive and manage negative feedback. Antisocial children miss out on some of these essential experiences . The resulting rejection by normal peers during adolescence causes antisocial adolescents to seek the company of those more like themselves (Church, 2003, p. 25). Without access to peers whose ability to form relationships developed normally, groups of antisocial adolescents engage in risky and antisocial behaviour (p. 26). In addition, Church (2003) suggests that antisocial adolescents display characteristics of “... lack of self control, retarded social development, low academic achievement, poor self esteem, a lack of concern for others, and a lack of respect for authority” (p. 26). Church estimates that around 7% of boys fit into this category. Secondary school teachers might recognise these characteristics in some of their students, and especially in those in years 9 to 11.

By adolescence, other issues may cause the numbers of young people with behavioural and emotional difficulties to increase. Sutton (2000) states that research in Great Britain shows that the incidence of 14 year olds with emotional and behavioural difficulties amounts to10% to 15% of all 14 year olds. Sutton also suggests that, if those adolescents suffering “marked distress” are included, the figure rises to 22% (p. 203). In an average class in an average school, therefore, teachers might expect 6-8 students who fit into this category. According to Sutton (2000), 40% of adolescents also suffer depression to a greater or lesser degree. Potentially, then, a significant number of adolescents in a school may be focused on meeting needs other than learning. Balson (1992) describes adolescents who are regarded as exhibiting behaviour problems by their teachers as those who have been humiliated often. As a consequence, he argues, they see themselves as failures; they are pessimistic about their future and lack the courage to take chances (p. 198). Sutton (2000) describes the operating styles of adolescents with emotional and behavioural difficulties as being overly sensitive and as attributing hostile intentions to others. These young people have few non-aggressive solutions, while at the same time they underestimate their own level of aggression (p. 213). Both Balson (1992) and Sutton (2000) advise professional development for teachers in managing and working with students with behavioural difficulties. Balson (1992) goes as far as to say:

While teacher training courses have equipped teachers to cope with students who want to learn they have been generally less than adequate with students who do not want to learn, who create problems and who are regarded as difficult or poor (p.19).

Many students with challenging behaviour in the classroom also have learning difficulties (Balson, 1992; Rogers, 1998; Chaplain, 2003). These students often enter high school with language ability and study skills well below those necessary for smooth curriculum delivery. It is important that the curriculum can be accessed by all students and equally important that teachers have adequate and appropriate skills to enable students to learn appropriately. Differentiating the curriculum can present a serious dilemma for classroom teachers of high-content subjects. Classroom teachers may also have to work with teacher aides in the classroom. In-service professional development in working with students with diverse needs may increase teachers’ knowledge and skills in meeting these students’ needs. A consequence of this sort of professional development may be an improvement in a teacher’s capacity to manage classroom behaviour.

The patterns of behaviour and learning that lead to difficulties in the classroom have been established long before children reach high school age. Secondary teachers cannot be held responsible for what has gone before. The arrival of students in a new school or even for a new year, however, gives teachers the opportunity to begin again with them (Rogers, 2006). This review found overwhelming evidence that what schools do with students can make a difference (Chaplain, 2003; Balson, 1992; Elton, 1989; Rogers, 2007; Durlak, 1998). Chapter three of this review discusses the features of schools and classrooms that manage challenging behaviour well, while chapter four suggests options for ongoing professional development, and chapter five examines a number of programmes available to assist schools and teachers in developing effective behaviour management.

How important is teacher self efficacy in managing student behaviour?

Teaching is a stressful occupation (Jepson and Forrest, 2006; Margolis and Nagel, 2006); managing challenging student behaviour is hard work (Chaplain, 2003).There is a clear link between student behaviour and teacher stress. In all of the documents reviewed that address teacher stress, student behaviour is listed as a strong contributing factor. These sources raise concern, too, about the outcomes of stress and burnout on teaching. These outcomes are listed as: mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation, and decreased work performance. Stress and burnout have been associated with poor health outcomes, high levels of staff leave and poor staff retention (Jepson and Forrest, 2006; Margolis and Nagel, 2006). Workplace stress is a complex condition where the factors that trigger pressure in one’s occupation exceed the individual’s capacity to meet them (Jepson and Forrest, 2006). Stress is complex because both personality and environmental characteristics interact to trigger and moderate or to mediate stress reactions (Jepson and Forrest, 2006; Santavirta et al, 2007). Not all teachers experience workplace stress to the same degree and in the same way (Kokkinos, 2007; Chaplain, 2003; Santavirta et al, 2007; Jepson and Forrest, 2006). Research by Jepson and Forrest (2006) suggests a type A personality and high achievement “strivings” are significant predictors of teacher stress. Type A individuals are those high achieving workaholics who multi-task, drive themselves with deadlines, and are unhappy about the smallest of delays. Given the unrelenting, high demands of working in a school, having a type A personality would appear to be a useful prerequisite for teaching. School boards of trustees and principals, therefore, should acknowledge and plan for the effects of workplace stress in school staffs.

While factors other than student behaviour also contribute to teacher stress and burnout, stress and burnout directly affect a teacher’s ability to perform (Margolis and Nagel, 2006) and one of the most important aspects of a teacher’s job is managing student behaviour (Kokkinos, 2007). Consideration should also be given, therefore, to the extent that teacher stress and burnout contribute to student behaviour. Santavirta, Solovieva and Theorell (2007) suggest that teacher stress leads to “dysfunctional teacher behaviour with obvious implications for teacher well-being and student learning” (p. 214). Chaplain (2003) and Rogers (1998) also raise concern about the effect that challenging behaviours in the classroom have on other students. Chaplain (2003) points out that those students who observe teachers failing to resolve behavioural difficulties feel unsafe and that this insecurity can have an effect on their behaviour also. The complex relational nature of the classroom could mean that teachers who struggle to manage student behaviour, as well as being prone to stress and burnout, may be reducing both their ability to handle challenging behaviour and to maintain appropriate behaviour of other students in the class. Alleviating the part student behaviour contributes to teacher stress and then moderating the outcomes teacher stress has for student management should be a serious consideration for school management.

While we cannot do much about our individual personality types, environmental factors that trigger stress have the potential to be addressed and alleviated (Santavirta et al, 2007). The Workload survey report (Ingvarson, Kleinhenz, Beavis, Barwick, Carthy, and Wilkinson, 2005) identifies the degree to which middle managers and teachers in New Zealand secondary schools find their workload unmanageable. 57% of managers and 48% of teachers felt that their workload was unmanageable. The pressures that affected workload manageability were identified as time pressure, resourcing, relationships and, in the case of teachers, performance appraisal. Other countries, too, identify similar negative environmental factors that contribute to teacher stress. These are: role conflict, relationships with colleagues, attitudes, the behaviour of pupils and apprehension about evaluation (Jepson and Forrest, 2007). Several studies also identified school organisational factors as contributing to teacher stress (Margolis and Nagel, 2006; Chaplain, 2003; Balson, 1992). Schools that discuss issues openly could address the causes of workload pressure to assess how much administration is essential to their core operation of learning and teaching and how much could be streamlined, reassigned or abandoned altogether.

Smyth (2003) attributes a more sinister agenda to the amount of “busy work” teachers have become involved in since the introduction of market-driven schools in the past ten to fifteen years. He suggests that teachers are “being treated in an increasingly disrespectful, distrustful and suspicious way under the guise of accountability” (p.16). He maintains that there is an unhealthy “fostering” of competition both between and within schools which “diminishes cooperation” (p.22) and allows the management “to float free” establishing a “them and us” culture (p.25). Finally, he suggests that the “recentralization of control over teachers” (p. 16) and the increase of accountability measures as schools pursue their “market share” (p.16) have removed the space to make “democratic decisions” while increasing the responsibility for outcomes through such competitive measures as “league tables” (p.16). The interplay between either high demand and low control or high responsibility and low power is a recurrent theme in the literature. Schools could consider how far the market-driven approach has decreased the power they have to control decisions about classrooms, the traditional willingness to share resources and problems with colleagues and the time to work positively and comfortably with students. Conversely schools could also consider how much accountability has improved their ability to adhere to those values they wrote into their mission statements and school charters.

The language of the business sector has infiltrated schools (Smyth, 2003). Deans and Heads of Department have become middle managers; teachers have become classroom managers. These name changes reinstitute hierarchies (Smyth, 2003) and have the appearance of investing power. Effectively, however, they change the nature of the relationships that exist between classroom teachers and those who have traditionally supported them. An increasingly hierarchical structure also creates a sort of tension with the collaborative model teachers are being required to pursue (Margolis and Nagel, 2006). Becoming middle managers has increased the tasks and task difficulty of the role without a corresponding investment of time and training (Ingersoll, 2004). The perception of middle managers in New Zealand that their workload is unmanageable (ACER, 2004) is significant because role conflict and an inability to meet task demands are cited as factors contributing to stress (Kokkinos, 2007; Santavirta et al, 2007). It is of particular concern that deans and heads of department in New Zealand schools are the ones that classroom teachers have traditionally relied on to assist them with behavioural problems once they perceive them as unmanageable in the classroom context. There could be role conflict between that of the supporter and that of the manager. When middle managers are under stress, school support networks also come under stress. Role conflict and high task demand, with their associated potential for stress and reduction in performance, could affect the quality of support middle managers can give to classroom teachers.

A further subtle name change has occurred in the shift from “classroom discipline” to “managing classroom behaviour”. Ingersoll (2004) questions how much actual power classroom teachers have to make decisions about managing classroom behaviour. The hierarchical nature of discipline systems in schools may draw power away from classroom teachers. The teacher retains the responsibility to “manage” the class, especially in the eyes of the students, but may have little control over the process. That “power” to manage extreme behaviour in students appears to be invested in the Deans or “middle management”. Concern has also been raised over whether sufficient time has been attached to middle management positions. In addition, there appears to have been little professional development for middle managers to enable them to manage and control the requests for assistance from classroom teachers.

The degree of control teachers have in coping with a high demand job has been linked to teacher stress, in that the degree of control a teacher has was found to be a moderating factor to occupational stress (Santavirta et al, 2007). This review found strong links between teacher self efficacy and student management. Effectively, a teacher who feels supported and in control of their environment is more likely to be able to manage challenging behaviour (Margolis and Nagel, 2006; Reid, 1999). If schools attach responsibility to a position without investing power it is not surprising teachers feel inadequate when they feel they cannot manage.

This review has suggested already that student behaviour towards classroom teachers may be defined as workplace bullying. The prevalence of workplace bullying within the staff of schools is also important and relevant to secondary teachers in New Zealand now. The PPTA report on teacher bullying (Benefield, 2004) identifies bullying by managers as being the second most prevalent source of teacher bullying for New Zealand teachers after bullying by students. The bullying behaviours exhibited by staff towards other staff noted in the PPTA report consisted of publicly disparaging remarks about work or personal life, deliberate denial of information or resources and exclusion from meetings. From management, bullying behaviours included teachers being made the subject of blame, the “silent treatment”, of unrealistic workload and public reprimand and deliberate denial of requested support (Benefield, 2004). Depersonalisation of relationships in the workplace has been identified as a consequence of workplace stress (Jepson and Forrest, 2006). The phenomena of reduced collegiality and workplace bullying, therefore, could be viewed, to significant degree, as a consequence of unmanageable workload, increased workplace stress and unresolved role conflict.

Chaplain (2004) also raises concern about staff climate and collegial relationships in the context of managing classroom behaviour. He describes an incident where a teacher leaves a school because she has been unable to gain sufficient support to manage a challenging class. Once the teacher leaves, however, the class is allocated to a senior member of staff but not before most of the challenging students are removed. Chaplain voices concern that, in these situations, teachers are made to feel incompetent by other members of staff but that the real issue is the inadequate and ineffective support provided by those middle and senior managers charged with the responsibility to manage school behaviour. Santavirta et al (2007) identify that employee well-being and personal levels of control are significant buffers against stress and burnout, so workplace bullying and staff culture may be issues well worth investigating.


Concern over the behaviour of disruptive students has been a New Zealand and world wide issue for at least 20 years. To this point, however, not much has happened to address the needs of teachers required to manage, both inside and outside the classroom, those students with challenging behaviours. While the intensity and severity of the behaviours appear to have increased, teachers and school managers are given little useful training and very limited resources to meet this demanding and essential part of their job. Workload issues and lack of control over a potentially threatening environment lead to stress and its associated problems. Stress and burnout reduce performance and affect the ongoing resources teachers have to manage behaviour.

Effective teacher professional development, support and self efficacy, however, have been shown to work as buffers to and moderators of teacher stress. Nearly 20 years ago, Elton (1989) deplored the “deep end” approach together with the traditional reluctance to talk about discipline problems or let other teachers into classrooms. He voiced concern about the low morale of teachers and expressed the need to enhance their public image. Recently, Jepson and Forrest (2006) state that: “There is a clear need to make the working environment and the profession as stress free as possible” (p.195). They recommend a “healthy working environment” (p. 195) for teachers and programmes to train teachers who are vulnerable to stress to develop effective coping strategies.

Chapter two of this report presents and critiques those services already available to New Zealand schools to assist teachers in managing challenging student behaviour.

Chapter 2: The adequacy of current provision

The Ministry of Education has responded over a number of years to concerns expressed about the behaviour of some students in New Zealand schools. A number of initiatives have been put in place to improve the capacity of schools to address the behaviour needs of students. These initiatives include: The Special Education Grant (SEG), Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB); the Specialist Classroom Teacher (SCT); and the Interim Response Fund. In addition, following concern over high suspension rates for Māori students, the Ministry instigated the Suspension Reduction Initiative (SRI), which has since been integrated into the Student Engagement Initiative (SEI). Te Kotahitanga is another initiative supported and funded by the Ministry of Education and currently available to New Zealand schools. The first part of this chapter summarises these initiatives and lists, where publicly available, the protocols under which they operate. It also critiques the initiatives. In the second part of the chapter, service provision in New Zealand is compared with that provided in Great Britain and New South Wales (as an Australian example).

This chapter investigates 3 issues:

• Services funded by the Ministry of Education to assist teachers to manage behaviour

• Special initiatives to improve education outcomes for Maori students

• How New Zealand provisions compare with those in Great Britain and New South Wales

Services provided by the Ministry of Education to assist teachers to manage challenging student behaviour

The Special Education Grant (SEG)

According to Ministry guidelines, when students demonstrate they are beyond the capacity of the classroom teacher, the school should first use its SEG (Ministry of Education, 2007b). SEG is allocated to each school each year as part of the Operations Grant and is roll- and decile-related. SEG is designated for working with students with moderate special education needs, and the allocation of SEG is at the discretion of the principal and board of trustees. By definition, therefore, SEG will be allocated differently in different schools. All classroom teachers need to be aware of how SEG has been allocated in their school.

Resource Teachers of Learning and Behaviour (RTLB)

The RTLB service is one of a series of school-based resources designed to assist schools in meeting the needs of students with moderate learning and behavioural needs (Ministry of Education, 2007b). It has been in operation for about eight years. The RTLB service is additional to that provided through the school’s Special Education Grant (SEG) and is the service provision most relevant to the classroom teacher. The service was set up in 1999 to “ensure that those students who have a learning or behaviour need receive appropriate support” (Ministry of Education, 2007b). The RTLB is a full time, permanent, itinerant teacher with a specific post-graduate qualification and who meets the requirements of the “experienced teacher” professional standards criteria. The regulations state that an RTLB position cannot be split into a series of part time positions. RTLB are based in clusters; the number of RTLBs per cluster depends on the accumulated school roll of the cluster schools and the decile rating of the schools. RTLBs work with students in years 0-10 in both state and state-integrated schools (Ministry of Education, 2007b).

The RTLBs in a cluster are employed, generally, by the board of trustees of the fundholder school though this may vary (Ministry of Education, 2007b). The board of trustees carries employer responsibility for the positions, though the salaries are paid nationally. The Fundholder School for the cluster receives funds from the Ministry. This money supports the position and also funds various projects that the RTLB cluster runs (Ministry of Education, 2007b). The RTLB service works with the principals of cluster schools. RTLB are appraised each year by the principal of a school within the cluster and this responsibility is designated by the cluster committee. A set of professional standards are used to appraise RTLBs. These are similar to, but not the same as, those used with teachers.

Where a classroom teacher is having difficulty with a student, groups of students or a full class, the assistance of the school’s RTLB should be available. The layered and hierarchical nature of school behaviour systems, however, means the working relationships between the RTLB and parties within the school need to be clearly and carefully defined. The RTLB Toolkit (Minstry of Education, 2007b) implies that RTLB work with identified students and with the classroom teacher and suggests, therefore, that RTLBs work with students that have been referred by the classroom teacher. By the time those systems set up by the school through SEG have been activated, however, a behaviour concern may have moved outside that defined by a relationship between the RTLB and the classroom teacher. How well the working relationship between the RTLB and the classroom teacher is defined by the school, given the roles of other participants, could be a key factor in the effectiveness of classroom support accessed through the RTLB service.

All schools will have protocols for the working relationship between RTLB and the school. RTLBs provide a range of services set out in the RTLB Policy and Toolkit document (Ministry of Education, 2007b) and the job description ( ). The goals of the RTLB service, in general, are to:

• Increase the participation of identified students in classroom activities;

• Improve social and behavioural relationships for the identified students in the classroom;

• Improve learning and achievement;

• Increase the capacity of teachers and the school to manage students with moderate diverse needs effectively (Ministry of Education, 2007b).

The aim of the service provision is inclusive education, so the work of RTLB is classroom focused (Ministry of Education, 2007b). While the actual tasks are not set out, it appears from the documents that the RTLB are to provide:

• Appropriate support and programmes for students with diverse needs and learning goals;

• Adapted curricula;

• An assurance that students with learning and behavioural needs are taught by class and subject teachers skilled in working with students with diverse needs (Ministry of Education, 2007b).

RTLBs have been specifically trained in the delivery of the RTLB service (Ministry of Education, 2007b). Their work is outcomes-based and they use a collaborative, problem solving approach. The performance indicators in the professional standards document suggest that RTLBs provide:

• Advice;

• Adapted programmes and material;

• Liaison with parents;

• Facilitation of professional development.

The RTLB is the key funded service that has been put in place to support students and teachers (Ministry of Education, 2007b). Although it has been in schools for eight years there has been little significant movement in stand down and suspension rates.

The RTLB service has been reviewed by ERO on a number of occasions (see, the latest being in 2004 when an effectiveness review was completed. According to the review there was a:“…wide distribution of performance and effectiveness across all areas evaluated, from highly effective to ineffective” (ERO, 2004)

The review found that: “The RTLB service is not consistently improving student achievement, especially for Māori students” (ERO, 2004).

In the 2004 review, considerable concern was raised by ERO as to the quality and quantity of the evidence RTLB clusters were collecting about the influence RTLBs were having on student achievement both for Maori and non-Maori. The report asserted that substantial evidence of improvement was available in only 20% of RTLB clusters. It also claimed that 12.5% of clusters showed no evidence of improvement in achievement for non-Maori and 47% of clusters showed no evidence of improvement for Maori (ERO, 2004).

The report raised concern, too, over the “model of practice” of RTLB clusters. ERO described the model of practice as one that consults with all parties, develops appropriate expectations and links theory to practice. ERO found only 25% of clusters to consistently demonstrate an effective model of practice while 35% were found to be “adequate”. 40%, however, were either “not always effective” or “ineffective” (ERO, 2004). It is uncertain what is meant by a category as ambiguous as “not always effective”, and the report does not clarify how the judgment was made as to where “not always effective” became “ineffective”. The report also does not report specifically on that part of the RTLB position that relates to improvement in the behaviour of students referred. Given that there was no specific comment on behaviour outcomes, the ERO report should give rise to considerable concern among teachers who are managing challenging behaviour in the classroom. ERO is obviously concerned:

This lack of reflective practice and self review has had negative consequences on the quality of RTLB practice, the quality of performance appraisals of RTLB and the overall effectiveness of the RTLB clusters (ERO, 2004).

It is certain that if a school had received an ERO report as critical as this report on the RTLB service, a supplementary review would have been carried out within the next year. In response to the concerns raised in the ERO review (2004) a major RTLB project, including production of the RTLB Toolkit (Ministry of Education, 2007b) has been initiated.

It seemed anomalous to this reviewer that the RTLB service is specifically targeted to work at the classroom level with classroom teachers, yet the RTLB toolkit (Ministry of Education, 2007b) was designed for principals and boards. A major theme of this review is that classroom teachers need control over the resources that support managing challenging behaviour. The layered nature of secondary schools may mean that classroom teachers do not have the access to this service that they need. The overlap between SEG and the RTLB service and the lack of precision in the designation of roles and protocols is a concern. It seems strange, too, that RTLBs are appraised annually by the principals of their employing schools, using a set of professional standards designed for the position, yet ERO found little evidence that the RTLB service was effective. One should be able to assume that these appraisals deemed significant numbers of RTLBs to be practicing satisfactorily. This suggests that, if ERO is to be believed, either the professional standards or the appraisals were faulty. Drake (2004) calls into question the precision and validity of the ERO report, stating that the evidence collected and stated by ERO for the report had “no statistical significance” (p.10). Nevertheless, the RTLB service has been in schools for eight years and there has been no significant downward trend in suspension and stand down statistics. It seems sad that this service either may not be being used to its potential or that it may be a flawed concept.

The Specialist Classroom Teacher (SCT)

Another position in the school that has the potential to support teachers in the classroom is that of the Specialist Classroom teacher. Established as a result of the 2004 STCA negotiations to begin in 2006, the position was set up with the structures of secondary schools in mind. The SCT is a member of the school staff with a minimum programme of 12 hours teaching per week (Ministry of Education, 2007c). Unlike the external, itinerant nature of the RTLB, the SCT is already a member of the staff and thus part of the school’s culture. The importance of school culture and climate to the effectiveness of any programme is another key theme in the literature accessed for this review.

The aim of the SCT role in schools is defined as: “…enhancement of such quality practices in all schools by providing support for the professional growth of other teachers in the school” (Ministry of Education, 2007c, p.3). The protocols for the SCT position are clearly aimed at work with individual teachers, especially with beginning teachers. In addition, the position is designed to provide “mentoring of experienced teachers who seek assistance” (p.3). The position works in relationships of “high trust and confidentiality” (p.3) as well as being “kept separate from any appraisal, performance management or competency judgment” (p.3). Mentoring and the construction of professional learning relationships are key features of high-quality professional development (Wilson, Bell, Galosy and Shouse, 2004) (see chap 4). The SCT role, therefore, appears to be an important resource for teachers who want to access further training and support to manage challenging behaviour in the classroom. The support of the SCT can be accessed directly by teachers, is confidential and is provided by a colleague who is aware of the capabilities and limits of the school.

A review of the Specialist Classroom Teacher pilot was carried out in 2006 and published recently. The review (Ministry of Education, 2007e) raised a number of concerns about the Specialist Classroom Teacher model as currently applied in many New Zealand schools. It found that: “The emphasis on confidentiality and self referral led to the implementation of a model that could be seen as self limiting and reactive” (p.9). The review also criticised a lack of hard data being collected about the effects on student results and shifts in teacher practice. Self referral, according to the review, reinforced the notion that asking for help should be kept secret. According to the review there was too much emphasis on classroom management in the early stages of teaching and that this was not necessarily appropriate. The review suggested that:

There appears to be an assumption that focusing on classroom management is the only solution for struggling teachers. This is a negative model and raises the question as to whether focusing on shifts in pedagogy might make classroom management issues redundant (p.148).

The review of the pilot suggests, therefore, that teaching approaches contribute to classroom behaviour. Few teachers would disagree with that. This literature review has found, however, that pedagogy is only one factor in managing challenging student behaviour and that high quality professional development in student management will assist teachers to manage behaviour more confidently. With the RTLB and SCT, schools have the potential to deliver quality professional development to teachers in the classroom management of challenging student behaviour.

The Interim Response Fund

The Interim Response Fund is one of the few funding options for schools that are specifically tagged to behaviour. It is a recent innovation, described as a “godsend” by a Group Special Education (GSE) worker. The Interim Response Fund can only be accessed by the principal once all other options have been tried. The fund is a short term measure to enable principals to manage a crisis (Ministry of Education, 2007d). One of the most interesting features of the booklet that accompanies the funding application is the comprehensive list of options principals have at their disposal to address crisis behaviour situations. The only options, however, that provide access to extra funding about that which the school may have already been allocated, are the RTLB service and GSE. As explained above, RTLB clusters have some discretionary funding that can be used according to the operational plan of the cluster. Some other suggested options are that the principal seek advice from another principal or use SEG or other discretionary funding. Before accessing the fund the principal will also need to show that teacher aides, family members, community organisations and the school counsellor have been tried (Ministry of Education , 2007d).

The Interim Response Fund is a crisis initiative (Ministry of Education, 2007d). There is an understanding that considerable school and community resources have been tried before the fund can be activated. This suggests that planning for student behaviour is essential and that detailed recording of challenging behaviour is very important. The Interim Response Fund does not appear to be designed for students who have extreme behaviour problems who enrol without funding support after planning and funding allocations have occurred for the year. The sudden arrival of troubled students, however, is not uncommon. Students with severe behaviour problems tend to be truant and to shift schools frequently (Reid, 1999). With the exception of discretionary funding from GSE, none of the options are hard cash designated for managing challenging behaviour. SEG and other discretionary funding could be allocated for student behaviour but the decision to do this depends on the importance the principal and board of trustees place on spending for behaviour issues and where this sits in the list of limitless priorities for the use of a school’s limited funds. At present, perhaps, challenging behaviour is outside the resources of most schools, and stand down and suspension are low-cost alternatives to addressing issues in school.

Special initiatives to improve academic outcomes for Maori students

The high rates of stand down and suspension among Māori students must be faced and addressed by New Zealand schools (Kiro, 2007; Drewery, 2004). In 2006 only 22% of the New Zealand school population was Māori yet over half of the suspensions from New Zealand schools were for Māori students particularly boys (Ministry of Education, 2007a). This is an unhealthy statistic. The SRI and SEI and now Te Kotahitanga (Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh and Teddy, 2007) (see below) are initiatives specifically targeted to addressing the educational needs of Māori students. The SRI has had creditable success in reducing suspensions in targeted schools. Te Kotahitanga (Bishop et al, 2007) has been credited with improved rates of attendance and achievement in schools involved in the project. All of these initiatives rely on professional development for teachers to address the learning needs of Maori students. Hood’s (2004) review of the SRI in the Central North Region shows, clearly, that schools are prepared to make systemic change that has the potential to make a difference long term.

Research about achievement for minority groups of students in New Zealand and overseas should be considered. An OFSTED review in 1996 (cited by Reid, 1999) investigated the high level of suspension in Great Britain of young people of non European “ethnic origin” and especially those from African Caribbean backgrounds. The review found high levels of tension between these students and their teachers. Teachers found these students troublesome and expressed an expectation of low achievement and disruptive behaviour (Reid, 1999). Research that compares teacher attitudes to “indigenous” students in New Zealand and Canada revealed that New Zealand teachers may also regard their Māori students as “low achievers” (Lam and Meaney, 2006). Hood (2004), however, suggests that the experience of the SRI caused schools to rethink students who are considered “at risk”. He states that the changes that occurred as a consequence of the SRI model were “deep seated” and that the schools in the project accepted that schools can make a difference (p.8). This willingness shows that schools in New Zealand are prepared and able to make a significant difference to these alarming statistics, given a good model to follow. The professional development model used for the Central North Region SRI and Te Kotahitanga correspond closely to what is regarded as good practice (see chapter 4). The SRI and Te Kotahitanga, however, have specifically designated funding. Given the professional attitude and good nature of New Zealand secondary school teachers, well planned, pedagogically sound, well funded initiatives have the potential to make a significant difference to academic outcomes for Maori students.

The Suspension Reduction Initiative (SRI) and the Student Engagement Initiative (SEI)

While not directly accessible to the classroom teacher, both the Suspension Reduction Initiative (SRI) and the Student Engagement Initiative (SEI) have the stated intention of reducing the incidence of suspension in New Zealand schools. A genuine reduction in suspension has the potential to reduce challenging behaviour in the classroom, although Reid (1999) suggests that low truancy in schools is a better indicator of low violence than low exclusion. The SRI was established in 2001 to counter the “disproportionately high number of Māori suspensions” (Ministry of Education, 2007a). It started, initially, with 86 schools that had a history of high suspension rates among Māori students. The strategy involved sharing best-practice in managing student behaviour and assisting schools and communities to work together for at risk youth. It had an annual budget of $2.1m.

The SEI was established in 2003 with a budget of $8.6m over five years. This amounted to only $1.75m annually. It was unclear from the documents if the $2.1m for SRI was also “integrated” into the SEI. The SEI had a wider portfolio, its programme being designed to reduce early exemptions and truancy as well as suspension of Māori. Initially the SRI/SEI project appears to have been highly successful. In the period 2001 – 2005 the suspension rate of Māori students in the SEI schools reduced by 26% (Ministry of Education, 2005) while the overall rate of suspension for Māori students stayed much the same. Hood (2004) described the involvement of schools in the SRI in the Central North region as “overwhelmingly positive” (p.14). Since then, however, the gains made by the SRI/SEI project have “tailed off” (Ministry of Education, 2007), and while the suspension rates for the school population have declined slightly, the rate of stand down for Māori has increased, as have the stand down rates for the total school population. This should be a concern because the main causes that lead to stand down, in the same way as suspension, have an impact on the daily ability of teachers to manage behaviour. A further concern is that the spectacular reductions in suspension rates 2001 – 2005 do not appear to have been analysed and generalised with reference to the school population as a whole. Commenting on the reduction of suspension as a consequence of SRI, Jim Matheson is quoted in the Education Gazette (2004):

Matheson says the challenge now is to generalise the impact of the suspension reduction initiatives, through learning from the schools that are making big gains and assisting schools to learn from each other about managing student behaviour effectively (Education Gazette, 2004).

This “generalisation” does not appear to have occurred. Understanding why the reductions happened and which factors in schools led to the decrease could have been helpful to schools. In the same way, the reasons for the levelling out of the reduction do not appear to have been explained. One of the problems with tracing the effects of the SRI/SEI is that terminology appears to have changed in the course of the projects (Drewery & Winslad, 2003) and there is little consistency of approaches between schools that access the funding. Until an adequate evaluation of the SRI/SEI is done, we cannot be sure that the reductions were not, at least partly, the result of teachers being pressured to tolerate worse behaviour from students in order to show improvements in the school’s data.

Te Kotahitanga

Te Kotahitanga is a professional development programme, designed to enable teachers to raise the achievement of Māori in years 9 and 10 in the general classroom. The programme arose as a consequence of a research project considered highly successful by the Ministry of Education. Te Kotahitanga seeks to eliminate the “deficit theory” around Māori students’ achievement. The programme teaches interactive learning skills to teachers with the view that this is a method that enhances Māori students’ learning (Bishop et al, 2007). Teachers from schools involved in the programme have ongoing professional development in a number of forms over a significant period of time. The first is a hui. This is similar in form to the traditional approach of the workshop. It operates as a consciousness-raising activity. In-school facilitators and teachers then work both in mentoring and in peer tutoring relationships.

Te Kotahitanga is resourced by the Ministry of Education. Schools that become involved with the project can expect to work with the research team and with trained in-school facilitators. Research team costs are covered by Ministry of Education funding as is the training of in-school facilitators. Schools which are accepted for the programme have additional staffing for in-school facilitators at a rate of 1 facilitator to 30 teachers. The school board of trustees is expected to match the Ministry staffing allocation. No extra staffing allowance is available to teachers involved in the programme. Any resource and travel costs are met by the school.

The programme is quite new, so, as might be expected, its effectiveness has not yet been proven. There are some concerns about the effectiveness of some in-school facilitators and the lack of attendance of some target teachers at meetings (Bishop et al, 2007). These are all matters that could be addressed and resolved. Of more concern is the lack of time available to teachers to do the programme properly. It appears the target teachers are expected to do the training and all the meetings in addition to their other work. This has the potential to lead to stress and burnout and to reduce the effectiveness both of the teachers in the programme and the programme itself. Some concern has also been raised (Nash, 2004) as to the validity of the original research results.

An independent review of Te Kotahitanga, commissioned by PPTA, will be published later in 2007.

How do New Zealand provisions compare with those in Great Britain and New South Wales?

In both Great Britain and New South Wales, there appears to be greater power invested in schools to protect the school community from violent and abusive students than there is in New Zealand. In Great Britain new legislation enables schools to place students on detention and to confiscate items such as cell phones ( It was intended to clarify the in loco parentis concept that is often difficult to define in practice. Schools can detain students even on Saturdays, if they wish, and if a confiscated item is lost, it is not the school’s responsibility to replace it. The Professional Association of Teachers website ( backs up the new legislation with clear instructions for schools. These instructions agree with the protocols for using the legislation set out by the Department for Education and Skills (, the equivalent of our Ministry of Education. New South Wales OSH requirements to protect teachers and students from violent students require students to provide a “transfer note” before they can enrol at a new school. The purpose of this is to track students with behaviour difficulties and enable schools to prepare adequately and in such a way as to ensure teacher and student safety. The New South Wales Federation of Teachers (NSWFT) advises schools about procedures to follow when faced with a student with a history of violence (NSWFT, 2004). While there is not the agreement between the New South Wales Department for Education and Technology (NSWDET) and the union that is apparent in the British situation, there is still a declared intention to keep schools safe.

In New Zealand schools the situation is not so clear. The National Administration Guidelines require boards of trustees to:“Provide a safe physical and emotional environment for students” (NAG 5), and to:“Comply in full with any legislation currently in force or that may be developed to ensure the safety of students and employees” (NAG 5).

This requirement for compliance could be interpreted as a requirement to keep teachers safe from harm through the Health and Safety in Employment Act which:“…requires people who are responsible for work and those who do the work to take steps to ensure their own health and safety and that of others“ (OSH, 2002).

The OSH requirements place the responsibility both to define risk and to provide protection from harm in the hands of boards of trustees. Any intention to keep schools safe is not as clear as it is in Great Britain and New South Wales.

Other education systems appear to provide more information and support to teachers about how to manage challenging student behaviour. Education departments in New South Wales and Great Britain provide help and advice directly to teachers about behaviour management. The New South Wales Department for Education and Technology has a specific link to web material on behaviour management, where teachers can gain practical advice. Doctor Mac’s Amazing Behaviour Management Site ( is linked directly to NSWDET and, although a commercial site, provides useful and entertaining information for teachers. The Great Britain education website (Department for Education and Skills) has a link to another website: This website “Improving Behaviour in Schools” (IBIS) has been set up by the DEFS specifically for the purpose of advising teachers. Similar resources are not available to teachers in New Zealand, an omission PPTA is addressing with this review.


The literature reviewed in this chapter has examined and critiqued what is currently available in New Zealand to assist classroom teachers to manage classroom behaviour. The review has found that New Zealand is not well set up to provide support and assistance to teachers in this area. Unlike Great Britain, service provision to students with emotional and behavioural difficulties has not been recognised as an issue on its own. This has meant that where funding is required to work with students with behavioural needs, that money tends to have to be directed from elsewhere. While crisis funding for a student with extreme behaviour can be made available to schools, the school must first have demonstrated that all other avenues have been tried and have failed. No provision appears to have been made for the transfer between schools of students with a history of violence.

A number of initiatives to improve student behaviour have been set up by the Ministry of Education, though their effect on improving outcomes for students is unproven. evidence of the effectiveness of the RTLB service, set up to assist teachers with students with moderate learning and behavioural needs, appears inconclusive. Most important, however, is the degree to which programmes receive additional funding. Adequate and ongoing resourcing appears to be the key factor in the success of any initiative. When a programme is well planned and resourced, New Zealand teachers have shown a willingness to participate and make significant improvements to the educational outcomes of their students.

The next chapter draws together the features of best-practice behaviour management systems from New Zealand, and overseas models and research.

Chapter 3: Best practice behaviour management

The most important activities that go on in schools are those that involve learning relationships between teachers and students (Kiro, 2007). Schools are busy places, so promoting positive, peaceful relationships should be central to the school’s culture and ethos. Schools that manage behaviour well have deep seated values about the safety and well being of all members of the school community. These values dominate the school charter, are expressed in school policy and underwritten by school procedures. Three issues stand out in the literature on best practice behaviour management. One is that high quality schools promote good behaviour. The second is that a positive school climate can provide a respectful, peaceful environment for learning. Finally, requiring teachers to work in conditions where they cannot manage is detrimental to the teacher, to the students who is disruptive and to the other students in the class.

This chapter addresses three issues:

• School quality and student outcomes

• Specific strategies for schools

• Specific strategies for teachers

School quality and student outcomes

Among the risk factors that contribute to poor outcomes for students are “poor quality schools” (Durlak, 1998, p. 514). School failure is one of a number of poor outcomes for students that may arise as a consequence of a complex interaction of risk factors (Durlak, 1998). Durlak defines school failure as “poor academic achievement and dropping out” (p.513). High-quality schools, however, are identified as a protective factor in mediating against the risk of poor outcomes for students (Durlak, 1998). In other words, high quality schools promote good behaviour, and in turn this promotes good outcomes for students.

Schools appear to exist on a continuum between being a risk factor and a protective factor, exacerbating or mediating against poor outcomes for students.

While risk and protective factors operate in complex relationships, understanding those factors that contribute towards “quality” in schools may enhance the school’s capacity to contribute towards reducing poor outcomes for students. Improving school quality, in itself, may enable school based behaviour to be better managed.

The literature examined in the course of this review contains a number of views on what constitute quality schools and quality teaching in terms of managing challenging student behaviour. The New Zealand view is expressed, to some degree, in the Best Evidence Synthesis: Quality Teaching for Diverse Students in Schooling (Alton-Lee, 2003). According to Alton-lee (2003), “The central professional challenge for teachers is to manage, simultaneously, the complexity of learning needs of diverse students” (p.i). Ten characteristics of quality teaching are identified. Included in Alton-Lee’s characteristics of quality teaching are such features as “focusing on student outcomes including social outcomes” and enabling classes and other groupings to “work as caring, inclusive and cohesive learning communities” (p. ii). These suggest a positive, proactive behaviour focus. Hood (2004) identifies a series of more specific success factors that, he maintains, reduced suspension rates in Māori students in the Central North Region of the SRI, and, as such, improved educational outcomes for students. Initiatives such as concentrating on “progressively improving student engagement” (p.11), ongoing self review and building “trust, collegiality and common interest between schools” (p.11), may, by reducing suspensions, develop a school climate which fosters improved behaviour.

In countries other than New Zealand the link between school quality and behaviour management is also well established. Elton (1989), Balson (1992), Reid (1999), Chaplain (2003) and Rogers (2006) advocate challenging, relevant curricula (including homework), differentiated material, collegiality and targeted group management skills as features of quality schools and, as such, means to improve school and classroom relationships. Several studies considered in the course of this review expressed concern about the lack of training teachers have to enable them to do many essential parts of the job. Traditionally it has been assumed that teachers pick up people-management skills on the job without needing much support. This assumption is not supported by the literature. Being able to manage groups of adolescents is one of the knowledge areas of a teacher’s job along with subject content knowledge and subject delivery knowledge. Significantly, however, group management of students with diverse behavioural and learning needs is an area for which little assistance is provided either in pre-service or in-service teacher professional learning (Rogers, 2006; Chaplain, 2003; Balson, 1992; Knight, 2007; Elton, 1989). As well as identifying effective ways to support teachers in the classroom, schools need to provide high-quality, targeted professional development that addresses key gaps in teachers’ knowledge.

Quality schools consider school climate an important factor in successful behaviour management. Peaceful, quiet, respectful schools, where the primary focus is learning, promote good behaviour (Rogers, 2006). Schools that espouse values like respect and fairness are more likely to be peaceful and positive. The style of a school’s management is important; schools that manage behaviour well are neither autocratic nor laissez faire but democratic (Balson, 1992; Chaplain, 2003). Positive staff relationships, strong collegiality and open learning cultures have been identified already as features of quality schools that manage behaviour well. Conversely staff and student bullying, isolation and secrecy promote negative school climate. School climate is a holistic concept. It is easier and more sustainable to promote a positive classroom culture within a school that espouses shared values (Chaplain, 2003). Schools, therefore, need to link behaviour management to school policies that arise from the school charter.

Quality schools acknowledge that managing student behaviour is ongoing. When classroom relationships break down, teachers need adequate and appropriate support to enable teaching and learning to occur (Chaplain, 2003; Cowley, 2001; Balson, 1992). Students learn from classroom encounters regardless of how they are resolved. Nobody benefits from poorly resolved behaviour difficulties: the teacher’s sense of self efficacy is damaged (Kokkinos, 2007); the disruptive student has his behaviour affirmed (Balson, 1992; Chaplain, 2003); and students observing the encounter feel unsafe (Chaplain, 2003). Schools that realise the importance of staff and student safety recognise the toll classroom disruption exacts on both teachers and students. Teacher self-efficacy is recognised as an important moderating factor in managing stress and improving stamina. Nir and Kranot (2006) state that:

Self efficacy beliefs influence thought patterns, emotions and actions in which people expend substantial effort in pursuit of goals, persist in the face of adversity, and exercise some control over events that affect their lives (p.205).

Procedures that enhance rather than damage teacher self efficacy may enable better management of student behaviour. In addition schools should consider and constantly evaluate the quality of support they provide to teachers (Chaplain, 2003).

Small class size is one factor considered in the research around engagement of at-risk students (for example Finn, 1998). The American Educational Research Association (Zurawsky, 2003) reports:

Teachers in small classes pay greater attention to each pupil. Students in these classes experience continuing pressure to participate in learning activities and become better, more involved students. Attention to learning goes up, and disruptive and off task behaviour goes down (p. 2).

The PPTA Class Size Taskforce (NZPPTA, 2005) noted that reduced class size is likely to reduce teacher stress as behaviour management issues are reduced, and as relationships with student and their academic results improve. This is likely to alter teacher perceptions of workload manageability and their level of job satisfaction. This will in turn improve teacher recruitment and retention. Other benefits of smaller class size include lower levels of noise, fewer opportunities for distraction, and less time spent on classroom management and classroom discipline (American Federation of Teachers, 2003).

Because disruptive students are well practised by the time they reach high school, their reactions to classroom encounters are governed by expectations from past experiences (Balson, 1992). When teachers react in an ineffective way to disruptive behaviour, the child’s inappropriate behaviours are affirmed and strengthened for future encounters (Balson, 1992). Effectively, teachers need to learn to react in a way opposite to how people might normally react (Chaplain, 2003), and not get caught up in the emotion of the moment (Cowley, 2001). By learning to focus on the primary behaviour and ignoring, if possible, the secondary behaviours (Rogers, 1998, 2006), teachers can de-escalate and defuse conflict. Some teachers may have these skills already. This, according to Chaplain (2003), is to be applauded, but most teachers need further opportunities to learn to manage classroom conflict.

Specific strategies for schools

Tomorrow’s Schools requires schools to have a charter with a mission statement. School mission statements generally espouse such rights as those to safety, dignity, respect, and the right to learn and teach. They also aim to foster diversity and to support students to achieve their potential. How far these rights and values are embedded in school culture, policy and practice are considered important factors in how well a school community manages behaviour on a day to day basis and copes with the “horror” class and the “significant incident” (Chaplain, 2003; Balson, 1992; Rogers, 2006). Embedding the school’s core values in the culture of the school requires a high level of skill and commitment.

Certain structures within a school can help link school values to behaviour management. When it comes to managing challenging classroom behaviour a school behaviour plan is widely recommended (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 2006; Balson, 1992; Cowley, 2001). The use of restorative practices is gathering momentum in New Zealand secondary schools. These have the potential to repair the damage caused by poor behaviour and to create a learning focus for behaviour management. Both school behaviour plans and restorative practices are described in this section of the report.

Another behaviour management strategy that largely targets out-of-class behaviour is the peer mediation service that many schools have established. This is discussed in PPTA’s 2006 conference paper, Managing Challenging Student Behaviour (NZPPTA, 2006).

School behaviour plans

A school behaviour plan links school values of dignity, respect and safety, expressed in the charter, to policy and procedures for behaviour management. The components of a school behaviour plan are set out fully in Chaplain’s Teaching Without Disruption in the Secondary School (2003). The school behaviour plan expresses how the school’s core values work in practice to support a learning culture. It determines exactly what the school considers acceptable and unacceptable behaviour (Cowley, 2001) and contains the principles for managing individual classrooms, supporting teachers and dealing with extreme behaviour. It is a formal representation of “how behaviour will be managed” (Chaplain, 2003, p. 83). A school behaviour plan enables anticipatory strategies, deflection strategies and reactive strategies to permeate the routines of the school. Anticipatory strategies may include classroom rules, seating plans, routines for entry to classrooms and ways to deal with cell phones. Deflection strategies could include tactical ignoring (Rogers, 1998) and avoiding the invasion of personal space. Reactive strategies are the types of sanctions and warnings that the school is able to support. Having these strategies enables students to feel safe and teachers to act automatically and feel supported; it creates a sense of “This is what we do around here” (Knight, 2007). The plan should not be too prescriptive: it should acknowledge the distinctiveness teachers enjoy when managing their classrooms (Chaplain, 2003). Essentially by constructing and publishing a school behaviour plan the school is expressing its intention to support teachers, to act fairly and to deal with all students evenly.

Fairness is a difficult issue to address but it is seen as significant across the literature. Fairness can be an issue when the timetable is set up, classes organised and students allocated to classes (Chaplain, 2003). The allocation of teachers and students to classes can say a lot about fair practice in a school. Chaplain (2003) includes a list of how school systems can enhance or diminish students’ sense of fairness and thus affect classroom behaviour (p. 241). Fairness is very important to students (Reid, 1999; Rogers, 1998, 2006; Balson 1992, Chaplain, 2003), to teachers and to parents. Students expect something to happen when they do something wrong; students frequently choose for whom they will behave or misbehave (Balson, 1992; Chaplain, 2003), but they expect the consequences to be fair. Students have unshakable standards as to what fairness is. Schools must be scrupulously fair and deal with students evenly. In addition, parents acquire most of their information about school from their children and do not necessarily hear what the school has to say. School behaviour plans should involve parents before difficulties arise so that parents can see their child’s behaviour in the context of commonly-held information about how the school manages behaviour.

The school behaviour plan should also be well resourced and linked to ongoing staff development and training. This review has identified the need for boards of trustees and principals to recognise managing student behaviour as a separate funding and resourcing issue. A question has arisen, also, as to how well trained middle managers are to assist teachers to meet the needs of students with extreme behaviours. In addition to this, improving the capacity of classroom teachers to work with groups of adolescents in challenging situations should be an essential consequence of undertaking school-wide planning for positive behaviour. The need for adequate and appropriate resourcing, therefore, suggests that planning for behaviour should be a high profile activity that involves the whole school community (Chaplain, 2003).

Restorative practices

Restorative practices have been trialed in a number of schools in New Zealand. The concept is a development of the Family Group Conference (FGC) model which was born out of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1974 (Bowen, 2002). In the same way that the FGC works to keep young people out of the justice system and make young people accountable (Bowen, 2002), restorative practices in schools work to retain students in school and to repair relationships and seek reparation (Davison, 2004). Restorative practices explore ways to re-admit a person to the community after an offence that may, effectively, exclude them. As with FGCs, restorative justice in schools is not used for minor infringements and damage. Restorative justice might be used by the board of trustees to deal with a situation that would normally have resulted in school suspension (Buckley and Maxwell, 2007). In this way some schools have been able to reduce suspension, retain students in school and teach them about how to behave well (Drewery, 2004).

Like restorative justice, restorative conferencing is based on the concept that peaceful dialogue repairs relationships damaged by an offence (Drewery, 2004). Schools are close-knit communities; restorative conferences seek ways to reinstate relationships. Restorative conferencing operates at the school level. A meeting can take place between the offender and the victim, with a trained facilitator and other affected persons present. Similar to its use in a board of trustees situation, all those involved in the conference must agree to be a participant and all information to be presented must be available prior to the conference. There are no surprises in a restorative conference (Hay, 2007, in conversation).

In addition to the restorative conference, a teacher trained in restorative conferencing could use the model for resolving conflict at any level of class activity. Restorative practices effectively dovetail into the models for managing classroom behaviour accessed for this review. If facilitated by trained people, the restorative conference could be a powerful means to address the impact students with extreme behaviour can have on a classroom environment. In the court situation, restorative practices are said to have the potential of a 70% non-reoffending rate (Davison, 2004).

Buckley and Maxwell (2007) carried out research into the effect of using restorative practices in a number of schools in New Zealand. Five schools were chosen for the research. The participants in the study were drawn from across a range of school types and decile level. In each school, the staff was involved with the setting up process, which meant that teachers could have input to any workload or safety issues. It appears that funding from the Ministry was available to run the pilot (Buckley and Maxwell, 2007). The research found that the teachers interviewed endorsed the process, despite some difficulty in the setting up. The success of some of the initiatives, however, was “varied” (p.18). A particular problem identified by the study was that not all teachers adopted the new strategies (Buckley and Maxwell, 2007). It was felt that the strategies should be introduced across the whole school if the process was going to make any lasting changes to students’ “involvement and commitment to schooling” (p.25). Essentially, the research was inconclusive, mostly because of lack of hard data.

In order for a school to implement restorative practices successfully, the whole school community needs to be committed and involved. Funding also seems to be an issue as all of the schools involved in the pilot expressed concern as to how the strategies would work without the extra funding. Restorative practices, however, have the potential to reduce suspension and exclusion from our schools (NZPPTA, 2006). Given the relatively high correlation between school exclusion and youth offending (Reid, 1999), any promising strategy for reducing suspension could have a lasting and significant effect on the lives of young people.

Specific strategies for teachers

In a quality school with well established behaviour management practices, an individual teacher will be clear about what resources and support are available to enable planning for and maintaining good behaviour. Teacher understanding of the factors that contribute to good behaviour and that de-escalate situations has the potential to eliminate most bad behaviour, minimise and manage disruption and stop a significant incident from becoming a melt-down.

Planning for good behaviour

Teachers know their subject content inside out, and plan their lessons to deliver it in a sequential and interesting way. Poor classroom discipline gets in the way of that delivery, so it is good sense to plan for good behaviour also (Rogers, 1998; Chaplain, 2003). This section of the chapter discusses how classroom teachers can maximise the possibilities for good behaviour in the classroom. What teachers do before taking the class for the first time and how that affects ongoing planning is an anticipatory strategy (Chaplain, 2003). The first lessons with a class are crucial in determining how the class will settle for the year. Having an ongoing comprehensive discipline plan for the class with supplementary adjustments for individual sessions creates a structure within which to operate.

Before taking the class for the first time

Planning for good behaviour means researching the class before taking it for the first time. Realistically, many students with emotional or behavioural difficulties may also have learning needs (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers 2006, 1998; Cowley, 2001; Balson, 1992). Incoming standardised data, information from past teachers and the school’s special needs team will help to build up a profile of the class (Cowley, 2001). The researched knowledge of the class will inform content delivery and discipline planning. There may be teacher aides with particular students: this can affect classroom space and student placement (Cowley, 2001). There may be other students without support but with particular difficulties. Preplanning for these students can help to create a safe structure in which to operate. If a class is known to be hard to manage or has a number of those factors that experience indicates contribute to behaviour difficulty, then the more prepared the teacher is the more likely it is that the class will go well (Chaplain, 2003).

Lesson preparation should include discipline planning. Good planning involves anticipating possible difficulties and setting up solutions before the problem arises (Rogers, 1998; Cowley, 2001). Having spare pens, paper, text books, all properly identified (Rogers, 1998), reduces the potential for conflict and disruption. Assessing what might happen and planning strategies reduces the potential for escalation. Preplanning also includes checking out support structures. There are informal ways of arranging for on the spot help when problems arise. Other teachers near the classroom or the Head of Department/Faculty may take students into their classroom to defuse a situation (Rogers, 2006, 1998; Cowley, 2001). The teacher should have the details sorted out before the support is needed and should work out a means of making contact and providing some work for the student to do while out of class (Rogers, 2006). Rogers (2006, 1998) also emphasises the importance of follow up. The classroom teacher should organise a procedure for follow up that gives enough time for discussion and does not cause the problem to escalate further (Rogers, 2006). Rogers’ videos give examples as to how to follow up with students in a low-key but effective way (see the Resources section). Many schools have a formal timeout procedure, but the classroom teacher still needs to follow up every difficulty with students. This ensures the teacher retains ownership and stays in control of the process. It is important, if sanctions are threatened, that they are followed through, even if the best-behaved student in the class transgresses. It is also important that sanctions are reasonable and possible (Cowley, 2001; Rogers, 1998; Chaplain, 2003).

Beginning the year: the first six weeks

At the beginning of the year, students expect the teacher to set rules and establish routines (Rogers, 2006). Ideally, class rules should be negotiated with the class and should be kept brief and general (Chaplain, 2003). Those first lessons need to be fun (Cowley, 2001), but should be used to emphasise the rules and routines for the class and within the class. Those first six weeks are crucial (Rogers, 2006): use them to ensure the students are engaged, the noise levels are okay, the equipment is looked after and the classroom is clean before the students are dismissed. If swearing and farting are not dealt with early they will haunt you for the rest of the year (Rogers, 1998). Seek help early if there are difficulties as the rest of the class must feel confidence in the teacher’s ability to manage behaviour (Chaplain, 2003). If necessary remove students in the first period of the class then follow up before the next one. Most classes have a “honeymoon” period when they sort out the rules of engagement (Chaplain, 2003). Students who are not quiet and attentive that first period are unlikely to settle in the next. Both Sue Cowley (2001) and Bill Rogers (1998) provide useful guides as to how to set up that first class of the year.

Respectful classrooms promote good behaviour. The need for good manners, respectful relationships, quiet voices and careful movement permeates the literature. Students may not have the social competence to work in a situation where there are a number of other students. Teachers, therefore, need to model for students the behaviour that they want to see in the class (Rogers’ 1998; Cowley, 2001; Buckley and Maxwell, 2007). Peaceful classrooms show that the quality of relationships is valued. Chaplain (2003) recommends that, where teachers need to address issues with students, planned strategies should be used that cause the least damage to relationships. If difficulties arise, Rogers (2006) suggests that every encounter must have an understanding of inevitable follow up and he advises restitution rather than retribution. Schools should give priority to enabling teachers and students to repair relationships (Rogers, 2006; Chaplain, 2003). The use of restorative practices (already discussed in this chapter) may help to repair damaged relationships.

Maintaining good behaviour

Once the class has been well set up for the year ongoing good behaviour comes as a result of constant, monitoring and adjustment (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 1998, 2006; Cowley, 2001). Six areas of classroom management are identified as being important to promoting continuing good behaviour: student engagement; using rules and routines; ongoing monitoring; managing the significant incident; the difficult student; and the challenging class.

Student engagement

One of the most important aspects of ensuring student engagement is ensuring that all students can access the curriculum (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 1998; Cowley, 2001, Balson, 1992; Jacques and Ellis, 2002). Not being able to manage the material causes behaviour problems in itself (Reid, 1999). Even so, “dumbing down” the curriculum to meet students’ needs is not recommended, nor is directing students to basic skills classes (Hood, 2004). Essentially, a challenging, relevant curriculum is most likely to engage students. Many teachers find delivering the high content, secondary school curriculum to students with reading or other learning difficulties very challenging. Effective professional development on working with students with diverse needs could be helpful.

Noise levels and student engagement are important aspects of ongoing maintenance of good behaviour. Kevin Knight (2007), who works in the area of teacher improvement in New Zealand, coaches teachers on how to achieve acceptable levels of noise in the classroom. He also advises teachers on how to maintain student engagement and how to move through transitions such as from discussion to group work then to seat work. This sort of “nuts and bolts stuff” is designed to provide a skill set rather than make all teachers the same (Knight, 2007). Reducing the classroom noise level has the advantage of reducing stress for students and reducing the noise of disruptive students. This is particularly critical because many New Zealand classrooms are not well designed and are subject to high levels of acoustic reverberation (Stapp, 2006). Managing transitions well assists in good time management and this, in turn, makes the pace less frenzied and reduces student stress (Cowley, 2001). Kevin Knight’s professional development programme is reviewed in Chapter five.

Using rules and routines

Establishing rules and routines with classes enables teachers to work within a framework where the everyday decisions have been made and the students have an expectation of continuity and consequence. Chaplain (2003) describes this as using the EMPLOYEE strategy. According to Chaplain (2003), most decision making involves either using a BOSS strategy or an EMPLOYEE strategy. When using the BOSS strategy, teachers are constantly making new decisions, which can be very stressful. An EMPLOYEE strategy, however, allows us to operate within a structure that is already in place. Rules and routines for inside and outside the classroom behaviour management provide a structure to refer to, so that teachers do not have to be making “on the hoof” decisions all the time. The EMPLOYEE/BOSS concept put forward by Chaplain (2003) is interesting and is described more fully in his book

Routines are structures that enable the teacher to use the EMPLOYEE strategy (Chaplain, 2003) Routines can as simple as:

• How will the students enter the room?

• What will they do when they are inside the room?

• How will I start the lesson?

• How will the lesson finish? (Cowley, 2001, pp. 3-6)

Or as complex as:

• How do I deal with transitions between individual and group work?

• How do I deal with students who want to hog my time?

• How do I deal with rudeness?

• How do I deal with homework?

Routines will be different depending on how well-behaved or how unruly the class is. Planning for compliance is widely recommended (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 2006, 1998). There are a number of options available for delivery for any teaching situation. When planning for compliance the option chosen is the one least likely to cause behaviour difficulties. Sue Cowley (2001) and Bill Rogers (1998) set out clearly how to establish and maintain routines that will make the students feel secure. Consequently a significant part of the decision making that contributes to teacher and student stress could be reduced or disappear entirely.

Rules should be brief and general and should apply to standards of behaviour in the classroom. Rules could be as simple as statements about following directions, keeping hands to one’s self, teasing and swearing. Ideally these rules should be negotiated at the start of the year with the students and if the teacher does not feel confident enough to do this a colleague could be invited in for support (Rogers, 2006). The negotiated rules should be displayed (Rogers, 2006). Having rules for classes means that, in any discipline situation, the rules can be referred to. Rogers’ (1998) book about classroom management titled You Know the Fair Rule and much more can be construed as a direct reference to this technique. Where rules can be agreed to across a series of teachers, especially where they all teach the same hard-to-manage class, setting rules can provide a comfortable and familiar structure for both teachers and students.

Ongoing monitoring

Dr Mac’s Amazing Behaviour Management Advice website is entertaining and helpful ( In the behaviour management primer section, it lists the different reasons why students misbehave. In the end, the only conclusion tobe drawn from the list is that students misbehave because they just do! In any class, minor difficulties arise such as chatting, borrowing equipment, leaning back and annoying another student. The list is familiar. These problems do not need to escalate, therefore the teacher needs to be constantly monitoring behaviour. Bill Rogers (1998) provides sensible structured advice for managing minor difficulties:

• Expect compliance;

• Deal with the situation from where you are;

• Keep focused on the primary behaviour rather than the sniffs and sulks;

• Give reminders about the rule for the behaviour;

• Keep your voice down;

• Don’t buy into the emotion of the situation

• Give “take up” time

These techniques are all carefully explained in Rogers (1998). Good manners permeate his books and videos which exemplify the general recommendation for respectful relationships that is common across the literature.

Managing the significant incident

Major incidents may arise suddenly or as a consequence of escalation. They may occur in connection to class teaching or duty or just moving around the school. Schools with a behaviour management plan should set out what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour (Cowley, 2001), but generally teachers know when they have to act. Acting safely, with support and with the lowest level of intervention (Chaplain, 2003) will help keep the incident under control, reduce escalation and retain relationships.

The advice in the literature is clear. Significant incidents need to be dealt with in a way that is:

• Non confrontational;

• Low key/calm;

• Focused on outcomes;

• Expects compliance;

• Seeks restitution not retribution;

• Situated in a set of school expectations and support.

It is hard to stay focused and non-confrontational when the heart is racing and the adrenalin is pumping. It goes against what we would naturally do. The advice from the literature is that, when faced with a difficult confrontation with a student, fight or flight is not going to be effective. Most people who are in occupations that involve conflict require focused, effective training. The increase in assault and abuse of teachers is making this training more urgent. Training in non violent crisis intervention will help in situations that are dangerous and highly stressful (see Chapter five).

The difficult student

For some students there is no “honeymoon period” at the start of the year. Difficult-to-manage students tend to congregate in years 9 and 10 and, because of the association between behaviour and learning difficulties, in classes that have been streamed for ability. By the time the students arrive at high school they usually have a highly-developed set of skills to mask and deflect attention from their lack of learning skills and to gain recognition through attention seeking, power struggle or even revenge (Balson, 1992; Rogers, 1998). It is not the teacher’s fault that the students are like this, but it is the teacher’s problem. Students choose their behaviour, too, except in very extreme cases (Balson, 1992; Rogers, 1998; Cowley, 2001). Most students could behave if their lives depend on it (Balson, 1992). The literature agrees that a planned approach is most likely to achieve a good outcome for the student, the class and the teacher.

Getting to know the class before the start of the year is a key aspect of the planned approach. Students with behavioural difficulties sometimes have teacher aides, attached funding and behaviour plans (Rogers, 1998). The Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO) or the RTLB should know if there is anyone in the class with attached support or if there is any student with known behavioural difficulties and no additional support. The RTLB job description ( includes the expectations to assist with differentiating and adjusting material, professional development and working with parents (Ministry of Education 2007b). It is likely that all of the student’s teachers will need advice as usually more than one teacher will be having difficulty (Cowley, 2001). A planned approach across all the student’s classes gives a structure that can give welcome security to a student. Working together also provides support for the teachers of the student.

Rogers (1998, 2006) provides planned sequences of how to work with difficult students and his videos provide examples of how this would work in practice. He recommends that, if the student cannot be removed from the class, the class should be removed from the student. Deescalating a situation in this dramatic way provides added emphasis to the need to preplan and organize support.

In the end, some teachers in some situations may not be able to manage some students. In these situations, a school behaviour plan should give a planned approach to working with students with extreme behaviours that does not continually return the student to the class without adequate support.

The challenging class

It is a concern that there is little information on working with extreme behaviours in a general classroom setting. Many behaviour management experts whose advice was accessed for this review tended to have the teacher dealing with only one challenging student at a time. Experience will tell teachers that this is not always, or even, often, the case. In difficult classes, the teacher may be trying to deal with a number of incidents, all disruptive, at the same time. Bill Rogers (2004), however, provides a model for managing difficult classes with extensive notes and coaching DVDs. A review of this model is provided in Chapter five.


Best practice behaviour management involves a school wide approach and good planning. All parts of the school community, including the board of trustees and school management, have to be involved in planning for and maintaining good behaviour. The resulting school behaviour plan should be embedded in the school culture and adequately resourced.

Teachers expected to work in situations where students are disruptive or violent should be adequately trained and appropriately supported to do so. Placing teachers in environments where they may not be able to manage has the potential to damage all participants: the teacher, the disruptive student and the students who observe the disruption. Identifying gaps in teacher knowledge, especially as they relate to student management, and then providing quality professional development will improve teacher confidence to manage challenging student behaviour. Constant evaluation and review of teacher support is essential to ensure that student behaviour management strategies remain focused on current teacher and student needs.

Chapter 4: Professional learning: a way forward?

The nature, importance and quality of teacher professional learning is the subject of this part of the review. The view from the literature is that both pre-service and in-service training are key factors in enabling teachers to manage classrooms more effectively (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 2006). Professional learning, however, is found to be poorly planned, generally. It is discrete, disconnected and lacks synergy with any overriding aims of the organization that funds it and the profession that it serves (Smylie, Miretsky and Konkol, 2004). While there is a view that change can occur through persistent, practical effort (Rogers, 2004), many schools are not organised to provide ongoing, interactive, cumulative learning for their staff (Moffett, 2000). Building a culture of ongoing professional learning in a school ensures that teachers can continue to acquire skills to address the changing nature of student behaviour.

This chapter addresses 2 issues:

• The constantly changing teaching environment

• Effective professional learning

The constantly changing teaching environment

In New Zealand and world-wide, the last twenty years in education have been characterised by unrelenting change. Tomorrow’s Schools, The Curriculum Framework and NCEA have meant that the classroom environment has changed. At one time, the teacher’s role was to disseminate important cultural information; now, teaching responsibilities extend well beyond delivering classroom content. The classroom has become a fishbowl experience. The community appears to regard the teaching profession as both the reason and the solution for all of society’s problems (Smylie et al, 2004). Politicians demand accountability, but rarely find adequate funding and resources to provide the necessary professional development to enable change (Moffett, 2000). The accountability model has attempted to standardise teachers and teaching (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). It has also increased the “busy work” that school managers and classroom teachers are required to do, leaving less time for mentoring and collegiality (Smyth, 2003). Traditional relationships within and around schools, therefore, have been altered, without commensurate levels of resourcing to enable redefinition of those relationships.

The environment in which change takes place is critical to teacher self efficacy (Moffett, 2000) and self efficacy has been found to be crucial in a teacher’s ability to manage stress and burnout and, consequently, student behaviour (see chapter one). Teachers are central to facilitating and sustaining school change (Randi and Zeichner, 2004) and the teacher is the single most important factor in determining the efficiency of the education system (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). There can be dangerous fall out where there is policy change overload and poorly implemented innovation. If educators feel overwhelmed and fragmented, reform will falter because pressure without support can lead to alienation and resistance (Moffett, 2000; Margolis and Nagel, 2006). It is important, therefore, to examine those issues around teacher learning and support that enhance efficacy and reduce pressure. Effective professional development to enable teachers to manage challenging student behaviour better has the potential to ameliorate stress and burnout. Reform approaches to professional development rather than traditional approaches have the potential to build communities of learners and enhance collegiality (Birman, Desimone, Porter and Garet, 2000).

Student behaviour problems and lack of authority have been given as barriers to entering teaching for young people in New Zealand (Hall and Langton, 2006). For those who do enter teaching, poor initial teacher education and induction, a negative school environment and low input into decision making have been given as reasons why teachers leave the profession (Wilson, et al, 2004; Margolis and Nagel, 2006). In New Zealand, the teacher supply statistics (Galvin, 2006) show 11% of the secondary teacher workforce (excluding management and principals) left teaching in the year May 2004 to May 2005. These statistics show that the main reason secondary teachers gave for leaving teaching was to go overseas to travel or work, another 24% went on leave without pay and an additional 15% left to another occupation. The average age of a secondary teacher in New Zealand is 50 years old, however more than half of the teachers who left teaching were under the age of 35. Beginning secondary teachers are more likely to be teaching students in year 9 and 10 (Renwick, 2001) and Renwick identified that teachers would like more support and development in the area of classroom management. Later Ministry of Education research (Dewar, Kennedy, Staig and Cox, 2003) confirmed that dealing with difficult students was an area of difficulty for beginning teachers. Teachers commented that: "classroom management issues and unmotivated students - "students who do not want to learn" - were factors that might make them think seriously about moving out of teaching" (p. 23).

The New Zealand Career Services (2005) estimates that up to 25% of beginning secondary teachers leave at the end of their second year in teaching, although Murray (2006) reports that the loss rates for all permanent beginning teachers (including primary teachers) is highest after three years of teaching (close to a 20% loss rate). A recent press report (McKenzie-Minifie, 2007) on "Learning to teach" observed that 20% secondary teachers do not expect to remain in teaching in five years’ time.

Teacher retention in our schools is a serious issue, because teacher turnover and loss are key factors in school effectiveness (Randi and Zeichner, 2004; Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). The teaching profession is like a pool that is constantly leaking water yet no-one seems to care about the cause of the leak (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). One of the outcomes of effective professional development for teachers has been found to be improved teacher retention (Mills et al, 2001).

Historically, teaching has been an occupation where training ends when teaching begins, and where, after a brief arbitrary induction, come periods of unconnected “professional development” (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). There is no simple quick-fix formula for teacher professional development. Teaching is not a single workforce; it is multi-nested and complex (Smylie et al, 2004). Teachers have different needs at different times in their career (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004).

Concerns about the quality and effectiveness of pre-service, induction and in-service education were raised consistently across the literature. It was found that pre-service teacher education did not prepare teachers adequately to manage groups of students. There was concern raised about the arbitrary, haphazard nature of induction programmes. In addition, historically, in-service teacher education has not had a high profile for teachers since it generally takes the form of a conference or seminar of short duration with little active input by teachers and, as a consequence, results in little effective change (Birman et al, 2000). Reform approaches to professional development, however, have been shown to make significant differences to teaching practice and the way teachers manage classrooms.

Effective professional development

High-quality professional development would appear to be a key component in enabling teachers to get past the behaviour and get on with the job of teaching and learning. Traditional approaches to professional development - the course, the conference and the seminar - have been shown to be ineffective except as consciousness raisers (Knight, 2007). ‘Reform’ approaches to professional development, however, have been shown to be effective (Birman et al, 2000; Moffett, 2000). In these approaches, teachers are actively engaged in the process of constructing classroom management practices that the teacher identifies as significant. These kinds of professional development, however, are resource hungry, time consuming, have extensive lead-in time and are expensive (Birman et al, 2000). Schools find it easier to provide a little professional development to all staff rather than concentrate limited funds on in-depth training for a few, so traditional approaches tend to dominate. Given that traditional approaches appear to be a waste of time and money, both boards of trustees and school leaders need to be more discerning when allocating resources to teacher development.

Best-practice professional development views school staffs more as communities and less as hierarchies of senior and junior teachers (Boreen and Niday, 2000). In this way, it has the potential to make an impact on the culture of the school (Moffett, 2000). Effective professional development concentrates on collegiality and establishing relationships within supportive learning communities (Randi and Zeichner, 2004; Moffett, 2000). Planning should begin with shared vision and goals (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). The professional development plan should work to a long term agenda on identified school needs (Smylie, 2004) rather than just addressing a series of “retooling exercises” to meet the requirements of accountability measures (Moffett, 2000). Instead of sending someone off on a series of off-site courses, schools should concentrate resources on reform activities that are sustained, coherent and learner to learner related (Richardson and Roosevelt, 2004). Professional development activities, therefore, that are coherent with school policies and that involve active learning practices are more likely to increase teacher learning and change classroom practice (Birman et al, 2000).

Coherent models of professional development delivery have been shown to have positive outcomes (Smylie et al, 2004). A review of 1000 teachers in the United States (Birman et al, 2000) revealed that certain characteristics were common to high-quality, professional development programmes. Three structural features; form, duration and participation characterised effective programmes. The form the professional development takes is essential; reform approaches such as mentoring, teacher networking and establishing task forces have been shown to change teacher practice (Birman et al, 2000). A professional development activity that has a longer duration gives more opportunities for practice and learning than the traditional one day course. Teacher participation is also important as courses that have teachers from the same school, class level and subject are more likely to be in keeping with the teachers’ other experiences than those with heterogeneous groupings. Using homogeneous groups of teachers provides more opportunities to discuss concepts and problems; it also helps to develop a shared professional learning culture (Birman et al, 2000). Planning for and accessing professional development activities that include the characteristics of good practice may be, in the end, a more economical and successful way for schools to provide effective in-service professional development.

Because a positive school learning culture is the key to making change (Moffett, 2000), leadership support is essential to effective in-service professional development. Positive leadership support helps create an environment that is conducive to learning (Smylie et al, 2004; Pate and Thompson, 2003; Margolis and Bagel, 2006; Marable and Raimondi, 2007). Teachers need a supportive context for learning with adequate time for active learning as well as for reflection and study, just as their students do (Pate and Thompson, 2003; Moffett, 2000). Social and technical support is also necessary especially as activities progress and develop (Moffett, 2000). Some schools, for example, structure teacher networking time as part of the school timetable (Marable and Raimondi, 2007). Schools need to establish clear understandings and expectations of the outcomes of professional development (Marable and Raimondi, 2007). The school behaviour plan (see chapter three) could be used to set these expectations of practice and provide a measure against which to evaluate the effectiveness of programme delivery. School leaderships have the power to prioritise the limited resources of time, funding and the use of physical spaces. Planned professional development could be an efficient use of those resources.

Planned, effective professional development has the potential to increase teacher capacity in order to manage challenging behaviour. Coherent planning also has the potential to make efficient use of limited resources. In addition, peer and collegial support, which are features of reform approaches to professional development, are also factors that can increase teacher self efficacy and reduce stress. Reform, rather than traditional approaches to professional development include such practices as mentoring, peer tutoring and taskforces.


Different styles and types of mentoring were the most commonly recommended effective professional development models across the literature. The mentoring models studied for this report involved both teacher and “expert” mentors. Specialist Classroom Teachers use mentoring approaches. Kevin Knight and Bill Rogers, both private providers of professional learning who operate in New Zealand, use mentoring models. Te Kotahitanga (Bishop et al, 2007) also utilises mentoring.

Mentoring can be used in many ways. It can occur one on one, one on many, face to face, and across the internet. A mentoring relationship usually involves a mentor who is more experienced than the mentee and has a coaching and sharing role. Mentoring fits into the social cultural model proposed by Vygotsky, as it involves conversations within a zone of proximal development where one person scaffolds another towards understanding (Crook, 1994). Knight (2007) uses mentoring in his professional development delivery by using tandem teaching. In tandem teaching the expert works alongside the teacher in the classroom. In Knight’s model, the mentor may also use a wire which connects the mentor to the teacher by an auditory device so that specific coaching can occur as the class progresses. The Te Kotahitanga professional development model uses mentoring for its “shadow coaching” as trained facilitators “work with individual teachers to meet their personal and group goals, by coaching them in the classroom or in any other environment where their goal is likely to occur” (Bishop et al, 2007, p.42). The group discussions in Bill Rogers’ video coaching sessions (2004) use mentoring, as teachers ask questions of Rogers and he replies using selected video role-plays.

Mentoring is widely used overseas, especially in the United States, and is considered very effective as a pre-service and induction tool for young teachers. Boreen and Niday (2000) describe a project where student teachers were paired with experienced teachers in a mentoring relationship during the final part of the pre-service course. The mentors were veteran teachers. As the project progressed, the student teachers began to concentrate on matters that directly related to what went on it the classroom. Managing classroom behaviour was a significant topic. In the Oakland County project (Mills et al, 2001), the issue of beginning-teacher retention was addressed through appointing ‘master’ teachers and assigning beginning teachers to a mentoring programme. ‘Master’ teachers were carefully selected and trained. Mentors were not directly involved in classroom observations unless invited by the protégé and were never used for evaluation. The outcomes for the programme were not noted, but it appeared successful enough for it to be replicated in other counties. In a larger study of beginning teachers that addressed the issue of retention of young teachers (Marable and Raimondi, 2007), teachers with a few years’ experience were asked about the most important kind of support they received in their first year of teaching. Teachers who had been involved in a mentoring programme identified it as the most significant support they received.

Mentoring fits the profile for effective professional development identified in the literature. It is a reform method, it has ongoing duration and the participants have a specific relationship. Mentoring, however, is time and personnel hungry and it needs the support of the school leadership to be effective (Rogers, 2004; Boreen and Niday, 2000; Mills et al, 2001; Bishop et al, 2007). A mentoring relationship must also be elective and purposeful (Rogers, 2004), and built on confidentiality and trust (Mills et al, 2001). It needs to be separate from teacher evaluation and used for effective as well as struggling teachers (Rogers, 2004). Mentoring has great potential for New Zealand schools. The Specialist Classroom Teacher role and the RTLB role sit well with a mentoring model. Mentoring, well set up and well resourced, has the capacity to improve performance, retain promising teachers and promote personal and professional well being (Mills et al, 2001).

Peer tutoring and networks

What distinguishes peer tutoring and networks from mentoring is the collegial nature of the relationships. Peer networks create peer interaction and provide opportunities for collegial problem solving and decision making (Pate and Thompson, 2003). The form peer tutoring takes depends on the level of organisation and formality. Arranging support from teachers in the near vicinity is an informal peer relationship. More formal relationships include the co-construction meetings which constitute part of the Te Kotahitanga professional development programme (Bishop et al, 2007). As well as Te Kotahitanga, the peer mentoring programme described by Boreen and Niday (2000) and the critical friends group (Pate and Thompson, 2003) both constitute examples of formal peer tutoring in action. Peer tutoring fits the pattern for effective professional development delivery, in that it is a reform approach, it has duration and the participants, by definition, are linked in some way. Similar to mentoring, peer tutoring promotes reflective practice which is an essential feature of reflective, democratic, learning communities (Bishop et al, 2007; Kane and Maw, 2005).

Like mentoring programmes, formal peer relationships need to be resourced, structured, confidential and purposeful (Chaplain, 2003; Rogers, 2004). Peer relationships do not need to be school-based; the peer tutoring relationships described by Boreen and Niday (2000) involved student teachers in peer relationships discussing professional practice across the United States. The internet has made establishing peer tutoring relationships much easier. Most distance education courses through New Zealand universities make peer tutoring through the course website a requirement of study. Many subject associations have a list-serve facility. These and other subject association initiatives need resourcing because they can have significant benefits for teachers (McGee, Miller and Patel, 2006). The facility for establishing a higher profile for peer tutoring already exists for teachers in New Zealand and could have benefits for teachers at all stages of their career. Beginning teachers could benefit from peer networking to help them develop a professional identity that is unconnected to registration (Smylie et al, 2004). In the same way, more experienced teachers could gain support separate from their school hierarchy for managing student behaviour. Peer group relationships sited outside the school have the potential to mitigate, to some degree, against the unwillingness to seek help to manage behaviour for fear that teachers may be considered, or consider themselves, incompetent. Some sort of list-serve facility for teachers seeking conversations about managing student behaviour may be worth investigating.


The taskforce is a reform approach that enables teachers to become active learners in order to gain and share information (Moffett, 2000). The critical friends structure (Pate and Thompson, 2003) recommends an in-school group where teachers meet to discuss and solve problems. Chaplain (2003), also, describes a means by which a deputy principal, who used to be sent all the students who misbehaved, set up a problem solving group for any teachers who wanted to improve strategies for working with students with challenging behaviour. The group was a peer relationship model in that the DP was just a member of the group. In the same way the problem solving aspect of the group worked as a task force activity in that teachers actively sought solutions to difficulties. Chaplain stated that the group process saved time as well as promoting teacher learning. Creating taskforce groups within schools is a structure that could be looked at to assist middle managers with time pressures (see chapter one). It could also have the effect of improving the power of the classroom teacher by increasing knowledge and establishing positive support.


This review has identified a number of areas where effective professional development could improve a teacher’s ability to manage challenging behaviour in the classroom and around the school. Effective professional development can increase teachers’ knowledge and skills around managing classrooms. Improving knowledge and skills through high-quality professional development could give classroom teachers more power to cope through their own resources. Increasing power in a high demand job has been shown to improve self efficacy, reduce stress and burnout and, as a consequence, improve a teacher’s ability to work in adverse situations (see chapter one).

Schools already have the potential to plan and resource professional development more effectively. The board of trustees receives, through the school’s Operations Grant, money to fund professional development each year. The positions of the RTLB and the SCT have a professional development focus. Schools should plan professional development that addresses long-term agendas, one of which might be more effective management of classroom behaviour. Schools should also be discerning in how they select professional development. Reform approaches have been shown to be more effective than traditional methods. More planning and precision in delivery could also save time and money. A number of programmes that involve reform approaches are reviewed in chapter five.

Chapter 5: Programmes

In this chapter, a number of programmes to manage challenging behaviour are described and evaluated. Where possible, the cost of the programme is provided. The programmes reviewed operate across New Zealand. The programmes are categorised under the headings:

• Improving school climate;

• Classroom behaviour management;

• Working with students with diverse needs.

In addition, the features of the programmes are compared with best-practice characteristics discussed in earlier chapters in this study, in particular whether they use reform approaches rather than more traditional methods of delivery (see Chapter 4). This chapter also includes some recommended reading and resources found during the course of the study, together with a description of their usefulness, their cost and their availability.

There are a number of public and private providers of professional development in managing challenging behaviour working in New Zealand at present, both local and from overseas. Some of these programmes are quite expensive, both in time and money, especially when teacher relief time is also taken into account. High-quality, professional development delivery is, therefore, very important to make good use of limited school funds.

Improving school climate

Schools with open climates are more successful in reducing teacher stress and thus improving student behaviour (see chapter one). These schools are more prepared to discuss issues like teacher stress and the reasons behind student behaviour. Three programmes may assist schools to move towards an open culture: Health Promoting Schools, Restorative Practices and Kia Kaha.

Health Promoting Schools

Contact: The HPS team or person at your local Community Public Health.

Cost: The resource team will work with the school. They are funded so the facilitation service is free. Some resource teams have a grant that can be accessed. The resource team will also point schools towards sources of funding.


Health Promoting Schools is a world-wide project. It began in Ottawa in 1986. In 1991 the European network was established and by 1997, 37 countries were involved in HPS initiatives. In 1995 Healthy schools: Kura Waiora: Health Promotion Guidelines for Schools was launched by the Ministry of Health, and in 1997 the Health Funding Authority funded a three year HPS pilot in Auckland and Northland. Health Promoting Schools New Zealand is based on the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and on the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion. The programme offers “practical ways for children and young people, teachers managers, parents and community members to contribute to schools being healthy settings.” (HPS support manual, 2003, p.3)

A school could consider becoming a Health Promoting School because the programme addresses:

• Issues of staff relationships and stress;

• School organisation and practices;

• Policies and codes of behaviour;

• The physical, social and emotional environment;

• Health as an integral part of whole school management and planning. (p.4)

Becoming a health promoting school would enable a school to work on preparing a school-wide behaviour plan, addressing bullying, reducing teacher stress and any other health-related issue pertinent to the school community. As a consequence, the exercise could also help to develop the school’s professional development plan.

Being part of the Health Promoting Schools project involves a lot of work. The whole school community has to become part of the process. It is a detailed, long-term project. The process is set out carefully in the resource and has the benefit of the experience of New Zealand and overseas schools. Your local HPS team will give names of other schools in the region that have undertaken the project. While the programme is not completely funded, the facilitators are free and extra funding is available.

In terms of the recommendations made under best-practice behaviour management, HPS is a school wide process. It is democratic and promotes an open culture for communication. The process is ongoing and is taskforce based. It uses reform approaches and combines both mentoring and peer relationship structures. In these ways, it fits the best-practice model well. Schools should also be aware, however, that being part of the project should not be yet more “busy work” (Smyth, 2003) for teachers to do that draws them away from the key business of teaching and learning. HPS is a foundation activity, much like school charter and strategic planning, and should be treated as such.

Restorative Practices

Contact: The Restorative Practices Development Team, School of Education, University of Waikato, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton.

Private provider: Margaret Thorsborne:

Cost: Variable


Restorative Practices in schools have become popular recently. Some schools have attended one day and three day workshops run by Margaret Thorsborne. She is a private provider from Australia. These workshops are a cost to schools, though sometimes RTLB have funded them. There is very little ongoing support in New Zealand for schools once these workshops are complete, so schools have to do the setting up and ongoing management themselves.

Schools can also investigate the use of restorative practices by contacting the Restorative Practices in Schools Team at the University of Waikato. There is a resource available for a small charge. It describes some of the issues around restorative practices and sets out the sorts of school environments where restorative practices flourish. It also describes restorative conferencing. The resource is not backed by facilitation and training though; the school has to devise its own implementation.

Some schools around New Zealand use restorative practices: e.g. Kaiapoi High School, Massey High School, Lynfield College and Bream Bay High School. A review of the effectiveness of these practices in schools should be undertaken to provide guidelines and to identify problems and solutions.

Unlike HPS, the movement for restorative practices in schools is very new and relatively untried. There appears to be no free facilitation or ongoing support and monitoring. The workshops do not fit into the reform methods model for professional development delivery, and there appears to be no ongoing mentoring and peer tutoring as part of the initial training. This means that schools may be committing an initial large cost for something that then has to be embedded into the school culture. Restorative practices are also time and resource heavy and have the potential to increase teacher workload and stress.

This programme could not be compared to best-practice professional development delivery because, apart from the workshops, it relies on school-based implementation. Restorative practices appear to have the potential to resolve issues with how discipline is delivered in schools and how schools deal with challenging behaviour. The recommendation of this review, however, is that more work needs to be done on the logistics of implementation and on adequate resourcing before schools proceed.

Kia Kaha

Contact: Most schools have the programme package in school, but can also be accessed through the website

Cost: Free


The Kia Kaha Curriculum for secondary schools comprises a series of books, videos, teaching guides and an activity bank. The book: Kia Kaha in Your School - a working booklet for secondary schools, provides suggestions for a “yearly plan of events and activities designed to keep the anti-bullying message prominent throughout the whole year” (programme information). The booklet takes the form of an activity bank with 22 short activities. The activities are short enough to take place in form meeting time. There is also a Teaching Guide for Health Educators with modules for both years 9-10 and years 11-13. The year 11-13 module supports a level 2 Health Education Achievement Standard (2.3) worth 5 credits.

The Kia Kaha programme is well known in New Zealand schools. It is specifically designed for New Zealand students, to address the well-documented concern about bullying in schools. As well as its use in the Health programme, Kia Kaha is designed to be used as a daily reminder about safe relationships. The programme is well resourced though schools need to establish the programme and provide necessary in-service professional development before the programme will run well. This means the need to introduce the programme using reform methods and to ensure there is ongoing support for teachers who are delivering the programme. Used in conjunction with a school behaviour plan, Health Promoting Schools and Non-violent Crisis Intervention (see later), the Kia Kaha programme has potential to make a significant difference to the safety of students and teachers in school.

Classroom behaviour management

This section evaluates four privately provided programmes: Bill Rogers; Kevin Knight; Teacher Effectiveness Training: and Non Violent Crisis Intervention.

Bill Rogers

Contact: Schools can purchase the books and the DVD set and download the notes. See the resources section which follows the bibliography.

Bill Rogers regularly does seminars in New Zealand.

Cost: Variable


Bill Rogers works in New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain running seminars and mentoring programmes to assist teachers to manage classroom behaviour effectively. He has written a number of books, made videos and DVDs (with written notes) and runs seminars and training programmes. All of his material provides detailed, useful information to teachers. It is entertaining to read and practical to apply.

Seminars are not recommended by the literature as an effective way to deliver professional development. On the other hand, the Bill Rogers DVD programmes could be used as part of a mentoring programme. The DVDs use taped sessions with teachers asking questions of Bill Rogers. He uses a variety of taped classroom examples of challenging behaviour for illustration. The examples range from year 1 to year 10, so they are relevant to high school. Schools could use the DVDs as the basis for a critical friends group or peer tutoring, which are both reform methods of delivery. Used this way, the programme could also have duration and be site based. Bill Rogers’ professional development materials, therefore, might fit the recommended professional development model for best-practice but only if the school is prepared to set up adequate implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Bill Rogers’ programme was the only system found in the course of this review that specifically dealt with challenging classes. His book, Cracking the Hard Class goes with the DVD set Cracking the Challenging Class. There are also downloadable notes to go with the DVDs To find these notes search

Kevin Knight

Contact: Kevin Knight, New Zealand Graduate School of Education: 03 377 8390.

Cost: Not Supplied


Kevin Knight heads the School Improvement section of the New Zealand Graduate School of Education, a private teacher education facility in Christchurch. He runs seminars around New Zealand, and works with a team in schools to provide mentoring for individual teachers in the classroom. He has a number of layers to his professional development delivery in order to assist teachers to achieve a skill set to manage classroom behaviour.

The seminars involve full-day or half-day sessions. In these sessions he emphasises the need to decrease classroom noise and increase student engagement. His entertaining PowerPoint presentation provides practical advice on how to do this. If schools decide to proceed further, he will bring a team into the school to work in classrooms with teachers. His work in schools is needs-based. After watching teachers and giving feedback, he may team teach, tandem teach or, in certain cases, use a wire to give advice as the teacher works with the class. He will also train in-school mentors to continue the training.

Kevin Knight’s professional development programme fits well with the model suggested by the literature. It uses reform approaches to professional development; it has duration, and is site based. The literature would suggest that the seminar is not going to be much use on its own as it is largely a consciousness raising activity. If a school commits to the programme, it needs to commit to the mentoring as well.

Teacher Effectiveness Training

Contact: Bryan Royds:

Cost: $3000.00 plus GST per staff for a two day course.


Teacher Effectiveness Training has been running in New Zealand for a number of years. The two day workshop covers:

• The keys to cooperation and positive influence

• Mentoring and coaching skill (for when people are unhappy about something)

• Resolving problems and conflicts (teacher-student, student-student, staff)

• Skills for values collisions (when people do not see why they should change)

(copied from course outline flier)

The flier describes the workshops as: “leading edge professional development for educators”. There is nothing to back up this assertion, though “references can be supplied”. The workshops have compulsory attendance for two days. Following the seminars there are ongoing newsletters that include tips and answer questions.

The workshops are a traditional approach to professional development delivery, though the newsletters provide ongoing mentoring of a kind. The programme does not have duration though the training of the whole staff means there is site-based participation. The programme appears similar to that provided through the Bill Rogers programme but has a New Zealand provider.

As with most of the programmes reviewed for this chapter, the success of the programme depends on how it is managed in the school once the workshops are over. The school could set up peer relationship groups where the members are linked in some way, for example as members of the same faculty or the same block. The groups could contain beginning and experienced teachers to provide some mentoring support. The newsletters could be used to provide support for the groups. The programme has potential, but without an ongoing commitment to implementation, monitoring and evaluation, it could prove ineffective.

Teacher Effectiveness Training has been used as a way to train New Zealand teachers in behaviour management for a number of years. There was no evidence of research about the effectiveness of this training and whether it has improved teachers’ ability to manage classroom behaviour. A review of this programme and how it is running in New Zealand schools could be a useful indication to schools that are deciding to access further training in managing challenging student behaviour.

Nonviolent Crisis Intervention

Contact: Crisis Prevention Institute, inc.

International Headquarters

3315 North 124th Street

Brookfield, WI 53005 USA

Cost: 4 Day Instructor Certification Course: NZ$1499.00


Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NVCI) is a course delivered by instructors from the United States of America. Courses are run, annually, in Auckland and Christchurch. Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), the provider, will tailor training workshops to the needs of workplaces. Nonviolent Crisis Intervention teaches de-escalation skills. These skills were widely recommended as skills teachers need but may not acquire naturally (see chapter three). The CPI flyer states that:

Nonviolent Crisis Intervention training will help you prevent violent situations and safely intervene when necessary. Most importantly, it won’t damage the professional bond you’ve worked so hard to establish between you and the individuals you support (p.3).

The instructor training would enable schools to have an on-site instructor. In order to be accredited, there is a requirement for instructors to use the training on an ongoing basis. The training programme delivered by the on-site instructor comes with manuals, visual presentations and teaching notes. CPI provides ongoing training and support for instructors in the form of workshops and magazines. CPI training also gives schools access to other courses such as Enhanced Verbal Intervention Skills. These courses are delivered by the site based instructor.

The on-site training uses a workshop approach, but there are assignments and tests to complete that involve active learning strategies. The training is ongoing, in that there are refresher courses for staff trained by the instructor, and it is site based. The instructor provides the school with a mentor. NVCI, therefore, fulfils most of the requirements for best-practice professional development delivery. Common to all programmes, however, it depends on the level of support given to it by the school administration and the degree to which the methods taught are embedded in school practice.

Working with students with diverse needs

Resource Teacher of Learning and Behaviour

Contact: Your RTLB cluster committee through the school- based RTLB

Cost: Programmes provided by RTLB are usually funded by the cluster committee though schools may need to pay for teacher release time.


An RTLB can be a useful resource for a school because RTLBs are trained to present professional development targeted to the needs of the school and the situation (see chapter 2). A need for professional development in working with students with diverse education needs could be identified as part of a school behaviour plan. The request for service should be discussed with the school based RTLB who will lodge the request with the cluster committee. Schools accessing this service should be aware that professional development needs to employ reform methods of delivery, should have duration and participation. Recognition that the delivery should use reform methods will need to be identified at the time of the request for service.

School Support Services

Contact: Your local school support service, run by the universities of Auckland, Waikato, Massey, Victoria, Canterbury and Otago

Cost: Variable


Descriptions of the courses available to schools through School Support Services are available in schools or can be obtained by making contact with the service. From time to time, professional learning opportunities on working with students with challenging behaviour will be offered. Schools Support Services will also make contact with and arrange for presenters like Bill Rogers to visit schools.

Advanced learning by distance education

Contact: University Education Departments

Cost: Variable, depending on whether the course is undergraduate or post-graduate


Most universities provide advanced learning for teachers by distance modes. Semester-long distance learning courses use reform approaches through website contribution and on campus courses. The courses have duration and enable teachers to participate in learning with other teachers with similar interests across New Zealand and, in some courses, across the world. The outcome of most courses is improved qualifications.

Encouraging teachers to participate in distance learning and internal courses offered by Universities has the potential to provide in-school expertise and site- based facilitators for ongoing professional learning for the whole staff. Enabling teachers to undertake distance learning courses as part of the school’s professional development plan could increase the capacity for schools to deliver low cost professional learning.


This review has limited its attention to best-practice behaviour management systems available in New Zealand schools. To this end, Assertive Discipline has been excluded. Although this programme is in common use across New Zealand, one of the themes of this review has been promoting good behaviour. Assertive Discipline works on the basis of recording students’ bad behaviour, rather than establishing environments that encourage good behaviour. There are also a number of other programmes across the world which could also have been included. The effectiveness of programmes already available in New Zealand should be considered first before looking overseas.

Recommended reading

This review looked at a selection of books and resources that are available to assist schools and teachers in managing challenging classroom behaviour. Here is a selection of the most useful ones. The cost supplied is the best price found.

Chaplain, R. (2003) Teaching Without Disruption in the Secondary School: A model for Managing Student Behaviour, Routledge, London.

Cost: $US 44.95 plus p &p (Amazon Books)

This is a good book for secondary school managers and teachers. This book describes school behaviour plans and how school culture is an essential aspect of behaviour management. It describes the BOSS/EMPLOYEE model for decision making.

Rogers, B. (1998) You Know the Fair Rule and Much More, ACER.

Cost: $NZ 48.95 University Bookshop, Dunedin

This is one of the least expensive of Bill Roger’s books. It is not as detailed as “Classroom Behaviour” (2006), but has most of the relevant information for classroom teachers and is set out in an entertaining and straightforward fashion.

Cowley, S. (2001) Getting the Buggers to Behave, Continuum, London.

Cost: $US 29.52 plus p & p (Amazon Books)

This is a very helpful book for classroom teachers. Written in an entertaining and practical way, it is a description of how a young teacher managed those first five years. It is pragmatic and is set out in a way that makes it a manual for classroom behaviour. It is very useful in showing how to deal with everyday behavioural problems in a classroom setting at high school level.

Fifty Hints for the Classroom

This handout was given to many teachers as they began teaching in the 1970s. The original source may have been a PPTA magazine. It is still very relevant, though it contains some old-fashioned terms. A copy is available from Jane Benefield at PPTA. Cost: Free

Wellington Community Law Centre (2002) Schools and the Right to Discipline: a guide for parents,

This and a range of other useful resources can be accessed from Although prepared for parents, Schools and the Right to Discipline could provide a straightforward guide for teachers to the legal situation in all matters of school discipline. Cost: Free

Buckley, S. and Maxwell, G. (2007) Respectful Schools: Restorative Practices in Education, The Office of the Children’s Commissioner and Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington

This is a very useful guide to how Restorative Practices have been introduced and are currently in use in New Zealand schools. The resource describes a study of a number of case studies of restorative practices in New Zealand schools.


The PPTA website provides many resources for teachers concerned about managing challenging student behaviour. Search the Issues section, especially under the categories ‘Safe schools’ and ‘Violence in schools’.


This review has identified a number of key issues around best-practice behaviour management. These issues include:

1. Concern over the behaviour of disruptive students has been a New Zealand and world wide issue for at least 20 years. In that time not much has happened to address the needs of teachers required to manage these students. The intensity and severity of the behaviours appear to have increased and teachers and school managers are given little useful training and very limited resources to meet this demanding but essential part of their job. Challenging student behaviour is seen as a major contributor to stress that reduces performance and affects the ongoing capacity of teachers to manage behaviour. Effective support enables teachers to manage behaviour more efficiently.
3. New Zealand is not well set up to provide support and assistance to teachers struggling to manage challenging student behaviour. A number of initiatives to improve student behaviour have been set up by the Ministry of Education, though their effect on improving outcomes for students is unproven.. Adequate and ongoing resourcing appears to be the key factor in the success of any initiative. When a programme is well planned and resourced New Zealand teachers have shown a willingness to participate and make significant improvements to the educational outcomes of their students.
5. Service provision to students with emotional and behavioural difficulties needs to be viewed as an issue on its own. That way, where funding is required to work with students with behavioural needs, that money does not have to be directed from elsewhere. Provision needs to be made for specific funding for students with a history of violence who move between schools. Most important, however, is the degree to which programmes are funded in addition to basic school funding
7. Best practice behaviour management involves a school wide approach and good planning. All parts of the school community, including the board of trustees and school leadership, have to be involved in planning for and maintaining good behaviour. Teachers expected to work in situations where students are disruptive or violent should be adequately trained and appropriately supported. Identifying gaps in teacher knowledge, especially as they relate to student management, and then providing quality professional development will improve teacher confidence to manage challenging student behaviour. Constant evaluation and review of teacher support is essential to ensure that student behaviour management strategies remain focused on current teacher and student needs.

9. Effective professional learning can increase the knowledge and skills around managing classrooms. Improving knowledge and skills through high-quality, well delivered professional learning programmes could give classroom teachers more power to cope through their own resources. Schools already have the potential to plan and resource professional development through the Operations Grant, the RTLB service and the Specialist Classroom Teacher. Schools should also be discerning in how they resource professional development. Reform approaches have been shown to be more effective than traditional methods. More planning and precision in delivery could also save time and money.

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Randi, J. and Zeichner, K.M. (2004) New visions of teacher professional development, in Smylie, M.A. and Miretsky, D. (eds), Developing the Teacher WorkForce, pp. 180-227, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Reid, K. (1999), Truancy and Schools, Routledge, London.

Renwick, M. (2001) Support for beginning teachers. Ministry of Education, Wellington.

Restorative Practices Development Team (2003) Restorative Practices for Schools: a Resource, University of Waikato, Hamilton.

Richardson, V. and Roosevelt, D. (2004) Teacher preparation and the improvement of teacher education, in Smylie, M.A. and Miretsky, D. (eds), Developing the Teacher WorkForce, pp. 105-144, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Rogers, B. (1998) You Know the Fair Rule and Much More, ACER, Melbourne.

Rogers, B. (2004) Cracking the Challenging Class: Support Materials for the Video/DVD Series, available online, .

Rogers, B. (2006) Classroom Behaviour: A Practical Guide to Effective Teaching, Behaviour Management and Colleague Support, Sage Publications, London.

Santavirta, N., Solovieva, S. and Theorell, T. (2007) The association between job strain and emotional exhaustion in a cohort of 1028 Finnish teachers, British Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 77, pp. 213-228.

Smith, P. (2004, July) In the grip of moral panic. PPTA News, 25(6), p.4.

Smylie, M.A., Miretsky, D. and Konkol, P. (2004) Rethinking teacher workforce development: a strategic human resource management perspective, in Smylie, M.A. and Miretsky, D. (eds), Developing the Teacher WorkForce, pp. 34-69 University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Smyth, J. (2005) Undamaging Damaged Teachers: An Antidote to the “Self Managing School”, DELTA, vol. 55, no. 1, pp. 15-42.

Stapp, J. (2006, Sept/Oct). Can you hear me, teacher? Safeguard 99, 32-33.

Steer (2005) Learning Behaviour: The Report of the Practitioners’ Group on School Behaviour and Discipline, DFES, United Kingdom, available online,

Sutton C. (2000) Child and Adolescent Behaviour Problems, BPS Books, Leicester.

Taylor-Smith, J. (1998) Discipline: have we lost the plot? New Zealand Principal, vol. 13, no. 3, p. 22.

Wilson, S.M., Bell, C., Galosy, J.A. and Shouse, A.W. (2004) “Them that’s got shall get”: understanding teacher recruitment, induction and retention, in Smylie, M.A. and Miretsky, D., (eds) Developing the Teacher WorkForce, pp. 145-179, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Zurawsky, C. (2003, Fall) Class size: counting students can count. Research Points, American Educational Research Association. Retrieved from:

Useful websites Dr Mac’s Amazing Behaviour Management Site Equal Employment Opportunities Trust Education Review Office Department for Education and Skills (Great Britain) Source for New Zealand education data Source for Health-Promoting Schools project Ministry of Education (New Zealand) Department for Education and Technology (Australia) New South Wales Teachers Federation (Australia) Professional Association of Teachers (Great Britain) Post Primary Teachers’ Association (New Zealand) Te Kite Ipurangi


Health-Promoting Schools Manual Source:

Teacher Effectiveness Training: Topic Source:

Outline for 2 day seminar.

Crisis Prevention Institute information Source

Bill Rogers resources:


Managing the Hard Class Amazon: $US33.87

Managing Teacher Stress Book Education: ₤ GB 17.99

You Know the Fair Rule UBS $NZ48.95


Behaviour Management, 4 DVD set Silvereye $A398.80

Cracking the Hard Class, 2 DVD set Rogers Education Consultancy Pty Ltd ph/fax 0061 393140779

Price not supplied.


Kevin Knight (2007) Associate Principal, NZ Graduate School of Education.

Debs Hay (2007) Restorative Practices Facilitator, Ashburton College.


This research has been completed by Patty Towl, a teacher with 35 years experience in New Zealand secondary schools working with students with diverse education needs in the general classroom. Patty is currently doing research for a PhD through the University of Otago. The research topic relates to how ordinary classroom teachers can access support to enable them to manage challenging student behaviour. If your school is interested in finding out more about her project she can be contacted at

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