The term ‘low level disruption’ is something of a misnomer.
It suggests that it’s not particularly significant, or merely something of low importance.
Of course, it is far from that.
In fact, low level disruption can be extremely destructive.
It doesn’t mean chairs flying through the air in a classroom, fighting or violence – but, make no mistake, low level disruption can destroy lessons.
What’s more, the frustration that it causes teachers eats and chips away at you.
Ultimately, it can destroy a teacher’s confidence.
Indeed, ‘low level disruption’ is one of the biggest causes of stress that forces teachers out of the profession.
So, tackling low level disruption is one of the most important issues that schools face today.
Whole-school behaviour policies are a crucial part of the solution.
Systems and processes need to be in place that support teachers in the classroom.
But, what can teachers do themselves in the classroom to tackle low level disruption?
The following tips won’t work all the time with every class.
They don’t constitute a fool-proof plan to end low level disruption.
However, these tips are a simple set of strategies that can be added to a teacher’s repertoire.
Avoid raising your voice
Faced with a noisy class, it’s perhaps a natural reaction for a teacher to raise their voice accordingly.
The thing is, this only increases the noise.
In fact, lowering your voice can actually be much more effective.
If your voice volume is always high, it will lose its effect.
Similarly, you never want to get a reputation as a ‘shouter’.
You can control situations with your voice, but not by shouting all the time!
Move around the room
Classroom presence is about much more than standing at the front of the room with a big booming voice.
Moving around the room keeps kids on their toes! Not only that, by strategically positioning yourself next to certain pupils or in certain areas of the room, often you will see that potential flashpoints of disruption are prevented – without the teacher having to raise a finger or even say a word.
This is easier said than done, of course – but no less important.
You should do all you can to maintain a calm exterior, no matter how angry or frustrated you might be with a student or class.
Showing a class that you are flustered or that you have ‘lost it’ is a declaration that you have lost – or are about to lose – control of a situation.
Again, this can be difficult to do sometimes, but try to maintain a positive attitude.
Use positive language with pupils and avoid negative commands such as ‘stop’ or ‘don’t’.
Similarly, try to approach each lesson and class positively.
If you go into those tricky Year 9s on Period 5 on a Friday with the attitude that the lesson will be a disaster – it probably will be!
Routines and boundaries
Children will naturally push boundaries in terms of behaviour.
They need to know what your ‘red lines’ and what your expectations are.
You need to make these clear.
Establishing routines can be really helpful with this.
The tips above are no ‘magic formula’ – but they will help any teacher to tackle low level disruption.