Madrassahs are created for big ambitions- raising generations of Muslim children with sound knowledge and practice of Islam and good conduct. However, these are often undermined due to absence of a Behaviour Management Strategy; one that emphasises expectations, curbs low and high levels of disruptions and monitors progress. A successful Madrassah Behaviour Management Strategy must fulfil four functions; it must ‘PIRM’- Prevent, Identify, Respond and Monitor negative misbehaviour until it is eliminated. Below is a concise explanation of each element:
Preventative measures aim to prevent misbehaviour from occurring in the first place by eliminating any possibilities of ignorance, confusion and disengagement.
- Create a Behaviour Policy
Establishing a Behaviour Policy is an essential step to preventing misbehaviour. It is a set of written rules and statements that define what you do as an institution to prevent, respond to and eliminate negative behaviour and what you do to respond to and acknowledge positive behaviour.
It sets out clear expectations of staff, parents and children. It is extremely useful for new staff and inexperienced teachers who will know exactly how to handle misbehaviour. It is also useful for preventing misunderstandings from arising between teachers and parent over dealing with a child’s slacking progress or behaviour.
This policy can be obtained by subscribing for Mizan Accreditation.
- Set Rules
These should be in a format accessible to all children and should ideally be elicited by them. Additionally, children should be made aware of the consequences of breaking those rules.
- Have Clear Expectations
On registration, parents/guardians need to be informed of the Madrassah’s expectations of their children’s learning and behaviour. Parents/guardians should sign an agreement declaring their commitment to the Madrassahs principles and willingness to support their child so he/she can progress in their learning.
This agreement can be obtained by subscribing for Mizan Accreditation.
- Train Teachers
Organise regular group and personalised teacher training sessions to coach teachers on how to effectively implement the Madrassah’s Behaviour Management Strategy and how to deliver engaging and knowledge-packed lessons.
- Deliver Engaging Lessons
Often the root cause of misbehaviour and disruption in the classroom is not the child’s unwillingness to learn, rather, it is the absence of learning in the classroom.
An ideal lesson is one that is free from empty time gaps, includes activities that cater for the various learning styles (auditory, visual and kinaesthetic) and contains knowledge that is tuned to the right level; new and challenging enough to be engaging and simplified enough to be understood and applied.
- Model Good Behaviour
Model expectations of behaviour by exhibiting them yourself through your professionalism, punctuality, organisation, respect and sense of responsibility to the Masjid, your colleagues, the children and their parents.
Additionally, incorporate character education in the Madrassah’ curriculum and have lessons on the excellence of the Prophet’s manners (peace be upon him), the Sahabah and the noble predecessors.
- Recognise positive performance and attitude
Another way to prevent misbehaviour is to acknowledge and motivate positive behaviour and excellent work. Students who gain attention for positive efforts are less likely to seek attention through disruption.
After taking all preventative measures, misbehaviour will still occur, but will be easier to contain, manage and eliminate.
The second phase is to brainstorm and draw a list of misbehaviour that are likely to occur in your Madrassah and whether each act is a Minor, Serious or Very Serious. Here are some examples.
Minor- Sitting inappropriately, Leaving shoes in the wrong place
Serious- Name calling, Lying , Taking phone out
Very Serious- Swearing, Arguing rudely, Fighting
Those categories will differ from one Madrassah to another depending on its context and its teachers’ judgements. Teachers and the management are advised to apply their common sense and to reach an agreement on their classification of the different forms of misbehaviour so they may have a unanimous and consistent response to them.
Once this list has been drawn, teachers will find it beneficial to refer to it before responding to a child’s misbehaviour.
It is also advisable that parents and children are given a copy of the list so they know your Madrassahs strict boundaries.
Each and every single form of misbehaviour has disciplinary consequences and these consequences should escalate until misbehaviour is eliminated. Children feel safe when they know they are protected from chaos and bound by clear boundaries and disciplinary consequences.
The consequences should not be random disciplinary actions. Rather, they should be logical and linked to the student’s mistake. For example if a child pushed a box of crayons on the floor, he/she must put everything back, clean the floor and write an apology letter.
The purpose of those logical disciplinary consequences is not to punish or humiliate the child, but rather to teach them how to correct their mistakes and make better choices for themselves.
Teachers and the management must brainstorm and come up with consequences for minor, serious and very serious forms of misbehaviour.
Again, all teachers, staff, parents and children must be informed of the disciplinary consequences that will be taken on the occurrence of a misbehaviour.
When responding to misbehaviour, the following two advice from expert in Behaviour Management, Tom Bennett cannot be emphasised more:
- Be consistent in applying disciplinary consequences and
- Do what you say and mean it every time
The same applies to responding to and acknowledging positive behaviour; teachers should be consistent and must follow up with whatever reward they promise to give.
Frequent negative behaviour should be monitored to ensure that it is on the decline.
- Behaviour/Punctuality Report
One way of doing this is to put the child in focus on ‘Report’– which clearly highlights the child’s behaviour or punctuality goals, has a place for the teacher to mark and comment on achievement of goal and requires the student to show the report to a senior member of staff, who will be in weekly or fortnightly contact with parents.
- Behaviour Management App/software
An excellent and free one is www.trackitlights.com. It is uses a traffic lights system to record the names of children who portray positive behaviour (green) and minor (amber), serious (red) or very serious (dark red) misbehaviour.
The app produces a report about each child’s behaviour which can be shared with parents during meetings and to help set appropriate targets and measure the extent of positive behaviour.
- Regular Evaluation of Strategy
Teachers and management must regularly evaluate the effectiveness of their Behaviour Management strategy, its weaknesses, strengths and how to improve it.