A charter affects everyone in the classroom, including the teaching assistant, the students as well as yourself.
Begin by setting the scene in your classroom by explaining to your students that implementing a charter does not replace any whole school charter and/or expectations. As an educator you may then ask why use one in the first place?
In some of my previous blogs, I have focused upon the importance of building professional and respectful relationships with your students. This is the next step to add to your toolbox and is one that you can use across various situations.
"The charter is about how the students want to develop the environment where teaching and learning is not only inclusive and engaging but where everyone respects one another and their views".
The charter works as a positive system within the classroom but can often include several “Thou shalt not….” commands set by either yourself or the students.
Student age and ability will dictate how much you steer the ship. This needs to be as little as possible so the students feel they have ownership and will buy into the principles.
Using your well-developed agreed charter
- The main use of your charter will be how, when, and why you speak with your students as a group or as individuals. This is vital when dealing with issues that have fallen below your expectations and those agreed by the students.
- When behavioural issues have taken place, affecting the inclusive, engaging teaching and learning, chair a short session with the students to encourage them to put their views across in a respectful manor. This can reinforce the charter and its values. Try to keep the focus on the charter itself, rather than on the individuals in question. This will assist in preventing escalation of any situation.
- Some teachers find it stressful dealing with parents/carers regarding matters of student poor behaviour. This is understandable as we all know students give an abridged account of events to parents/carers who will always initially attend a meeting totally on the side of the student!
Preparing for a Parent/Student Meeting
It’s important for you to then prepare for a meeting with a parent and student. Reflect on how you have dealt with the situation. You may feel confident that you treated the student with respect and within the terms of the classroom charter. You can then start your meeting by explaining the charter to the parent, how it came about, putting emphasis on the fact it was mainly developed by ALL students within the class including their son/daughter.
The vast majority of parents will then listen more to what you have to say. You will have a much better chance of explaining how the behaviour of their son/daughter is outside the agreed charter and is affecting teaching and learning. Mention what has happened but don’t dwell on this as the student will feel you are” having a go”. Focus on the charter and how you need to have all students working to it in order the deliver your teaching.
With a little practice this is a good way to build a lasting professional relationship with parents/carers. If you build good relationships with parents/carers and you treat the students with respect your chances of delivering outstanding, inclusive, engaging teaching and learning is increased.
"Take your time to get it right! Do it in chunks within your 'To Do Now' exercises, or if you feel it needs doing a bit sooner, use some teaching time. If you get it right then that teaching time will be time well spent!"
Students will often tell us that they have “rights”, and they do. They forget that all students have the same rights. It may help when finally writing your charter if you build some of it around what the students feel are their rights.
Below will help to explain that rights are wider and for all. This is not prescriptive so allow them to be creative within your focus.
A charter should be between 5 and 7 points and not war and peace!
- I have the right to learn, and the responsibility to behave in a way that allows other students to learn and staff to teach.
- I have the right to be treated fairly and with respect, and the responsibility to treat others fairly and with respect.
- I have the right to be, and feel safe, and the responsibility to act in a way that allows other students/staff to be and feel safe.
- Shouting or raised voices is not permitted in this classroom by students or staff.
About our Community Expert
Community expert and former Detective Inspector, Paul Raynor has direct experience in teaching educators how to better manage behaviour within secondary education.
Paul has experience with safeguarding, and has supported schools with writing behaviour policies in conjunction with senior leaders. He is an expert in his field.