As a behaviour consultant, I often get asked the same question:
“How can I justify taking 10-20 minutes completing an incident form when I just don’t have enough time in the day to do the more important parts of my job?”
My answer is always simple and straight to the point; you can’t.
It is no secret and no surprise that as the responsibilities of teachers and pastoral staff increase, the willingness to spend time form-filling freefalls.
Recently, a pupil referral unit in London called me to ask if I could recommend a better way of doing things, so I went to see them the very next day and what I discovered surprised me.
They were recording all incidents; negative, positive AND safeguarding on paper!
These sheets of paper were then filed away in an old lever file and just left there; after all, the incidents have been logged, the consequence or follow up actioned, job done right? Well no, sorry Mr Headteacher but I’m a straight talker and I think there is something that you need to hear.
If you are just recording your incidents, with no strategy or plan in place to use what is likely, hugely insightful behavioural data, then you are adopting an eyes wide shut approach.
For negative incidents in particular, being able to find and report on all incidents that have occurred in a school is vital to a successful behaviour management strategy. The ability to quickly and accurately separate incidents by antecedent, or location allows for informed decisions to be made on how to reduce the number of incidents in each category. Even taking note on what the weather was like during the incident can give you a hugely beneficial insight into what is causing these flashes of poor behaviour.
I would suggest that every school regardless of size, digitalises the reporting of all incidents, stored in a place that is safe, secure and accessible both in and out of school.
Some schools choose to do this via their MIS, after all its there, why not use it… until they realise that while putting data in is a quick and relatively simple task, getting that data back out again is just another drain on time.
Some schools choose to do this via Excel, after all it can be put on a school network, everyone has access to it, and we can do it quickly… until they realise that to get any meaningful data from the spreadsheet, someone needs to take the time to turn it into a functioning report and the data is often outdated.
For this particular school, I proposed a third option, to explore the possibility of using BehaviourWatch to see if it could not only make the lives of his staff easier, but also generate live, actionable reports that can spot flashpoints for behaviour, compare incidents year on year, see which incidents are occurring most often (and which teachers are reporting them) plus a whole lot more. I also noted that we always tailor the system to the school, so it will work with their current form structure and terminology.
So to learn more about how you could improve the recording and reporting of incidents, and making sure that your time is spent doing what matters most, click here to discover how your school could benefit from BehaviourWatch.