It’s OK to Chat during Jamie

Simon Knight of the Frank Wise School in Banbury and I wanted to answer the question:

‘At what point does a teacher decide behaviour is unacceptable?’

To do so, we collected observations of behaviour from a random sample of teachers over a five day period. These were short written statements, such as:

‘I asked for their planners and one initially refused, asking why I wanted it, holding it out then pulling it back etc.’

We then asked teachers via twitter to take part in a Comparative Judgement exercise. Their task would be to state which of a series of pairs of behaviour they thought was worse. Occasionally they would be asked if the behaviour they were reading about was unacceptable. In this way we would not only be able to rank order the behaviour in terms of perceived severity but we would also be able to see where they had drawn the line of unacceptable behaviour.

Response rate

In total, over the period of two hours, 47 judges completed the minimum quota of 30 judgements. 43 of these judges were sufficiently consistent in their judgements to be retained for the analysis. In total this gave us 1,290 judgements and a reliability of 0.90 for our scale.

How consistent were the judges in their ranking?

By splitting the judges into a series of random halves we were able to see that the correlation of the rank order between the split halves averaged out at 0.77. There did therefore, appear to be consistency in the ranking.

Were there any behaviours that judges were less consistent in their treatment of than others?

Most of the behaviour was consistently judged, but one behaviour was judged more variably than the others:

‘Year 8 Speaking and listening presentations and general low level chatter during some aspects of presentations (but always linked to the topic being presented).’

Where was the line drawn?

The line was drawn just above Jamie Oliver! It seems then, that chatting during Jamie is acceptable.

Crying during lessons
Year 8 Speaking and listening presentations and general low level chatter during some aspects of presentations (but always linked to the topic being presented).
A SEN key stage 1 pupil went from calm and content whilst in free play, to instantly showing signs of distress by screaming and pulling at a teaching assistant’s arm pointing at a box of toys stored away on top of a unit that the pupil could not reach.
Hurrying around the classroom or in corridors.

The pupils were watching a video clip of Jamie Oliver and being a bit chatty.
An A level Psychology student discussing life changes causing stress and discussing the fact that Hugh Hefner’s wife may be pleased if she was bereaved.
Head down — Student not feeling well/tired, putting head down, unclear if they need pushing or just rest.

How representative was our sample?

Clearly we wouldn’t want to make any claims about our sample, as it was self-selected from twitter. All the reliable judges, by self-report, had taught at some stage. The vast majority were practising teachers, over half with 10+ years of experience.

What next?

Having shown that a reliable scale can be drawn up, we can now begin to investigate some interesting questions. Does the line teachers draw change according to age or experience? Are some schools less consistent in drawing the line? And perhaps, most importantly of all, is a consistent behaviour line conducive to better behaviour?

You can download the full results here.

You can still take part in the ranking and get some feedback by email here.

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