The Art of Narration

Why narrating the ‘why’ has helped me to feel more confident with behaviour management.


As Doug Lemov notes in Teach Like a Champion 2.0, reminding your pupil that ‘you want [him or] her to be successful and that you believe in and trust her intentions’ when responding to unconstructive behaviour will help your interventions to be ‘far more effective.’ This, he states, is because the interventions are ‘framed’ positively. The pupil knows exactly why you are reproaching their actions, and, crucially, that you’re only doing so to help them succeed.
While I have only been in the classroom for a few months and have much to learn, I have been lucky enough to observe this effective approach in action since September. What is perhaps best described as the ‘art of narration’ is engrained in Michaela Community School’s ethos and employed by every staff member. It is Lemov’s ‘positive framing’ but more. It is giving every pupil the opportunity to understand exactly why we do everything that we do: why we listen to teachers in lessons, advocate kindness, speak in full sentences, follow the page when peers are reading and so on.
We seize every opportunity to do this. Teachers will narrate the ‘why’ in assembly, during individual conversations with a child whose standards are gradually slipping, during lunchtime conversations (I’ll write on our unique ‘family lunch’ set-up another time) or by promptly explaining why they gave a pupil a detention immediately after handing it out.
Upon noticing that a pupil is distracted during a lesson, for example, a teacher might say something along these lines:
“It’s really important that we’re all following so that no one misses something vital and falls behind. I want all of you to succeed together, not just some of you.”
Trying to make these kinds of comments part of my teaching style has not only helped with classroom management (encouraging all pupils to be on task) but provides endless opportunities to demonstrate to my pupils that I really do care about them.

In the lead up to starting at Michaela Community School, the thought of managing pupil behaviour en masse seemed the most daunting aspect of my new venture. But this ‘narration’ method – coupled with consistent, school-wide behaviour systems which I’ll expand on in another post – has made it all the simpler. Our pupils are much more reasonable than I once imagined. This is because they know that we do things with their best interests at heart. We tell them this again and again.

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