1. Working in groups

Every community has different beliefs and values, guided by the customs of the local society. These beliefs and values help to determine what behaviours are acceptable in that community.

Pupils will first learn these standards at home, and this can be useful to you. You can draw on their families’ expectations to help identify the ways pupils and staff are expected to behave at school:

  • in the classroom;
  • in the playground;
  • towards the teacher;
  • towards each other.

Developing the principles of good behaviour with your pupils will assist their concentration during class. They are more likely to listen to what is being said and treat each other respectfully.

In addition, by finding out ideas from your pupils, they will feel that they have agreed to any expectations of behaviour. They are more likely to respect these expectations than if you had just told them they must behave in a certain way.

Doing this successfully involves some careful planning and can take some time to develop. At each step, you should listen carefully to your pupils’ ideas.

Case Study 1: Classroom rules

Mrs Aber is a Grade 4 teacher in Uganda. She has 63 pupils. During orientation week, at the beginning of term, she asked her pupils about the behaviour expected of them at home. As she has a large class, she put the pupils into desk groups of eight, to compare their families’ expectations. She asked them to list four rules common to all of them.

The class gave many examples of behaviour their families expected – many of which were the same for different children. Mrs Aber wrote some of these up on the board.

She then asked if there should be the same rules for behaviour in the classroom as at home.

In groups, they chose which home rules could be used in the classroom, and why they wanted to use them.

They then shared their ideas as a class. Mrs Aber was pleased, and used these ideas to establish some principles for behaviour at school, covering:

  • how we treat each other;
  • how we behave during lessons;
  • how we behave during playtime;
  • how we treat our things.

They voted on six rules that they wanted to adopt.

Activity 1: Understanding rules

This activity can help explain why we have particular rules, and how they benefit everyone.

Organise your pupils into groups. Ask them to identify five rules at home and five rules at school.

Get one example of a home rule and one example of a school rule from each group. Write them on the board.

Ask the groups to discuss:

  • why they think we have each rule;
  • how each of the rules helps them.

Discuss their ideas as a class. Prepare to ask questions that will help them think more about their answers.

Draw out the different principles behind rules, by questioning the class: e.g. safety; respect; helping others; helping ourselves. Ask them to link each rule with one principle.

Ask pupils to each write a paragraph about why we have rules. Make a display of these.

How suitable were their suggestions?

Section 3 : Ways of taking responsibility

2. Sharing responsibility for the classroom