Why are you shouting?

In schools it is common to see and hear a lot of shouting from teachers to discipline a student but why shout? In some cases it has become the default to behaviour management with the belief that if I yell, students will respond accordingly. They will suddenly stop in mid-anger, reflect, then apologise for their misdeeds and sit down to complete their work. I remember teachers shouting when I was a student so it must work. However, this is not the case in my experience. I found that if anything shouting made things worse.

As an NQT, it was part of my behaviour toolkit. I would shout, scream and yell to solve any misbehaviours with little success. Students would only shout back, but not to worry, I got louder. I would win because I was the adult and if anything, my shouting would be a deterrent to others to not challenge my authority and show respect. I shouted, they shouted and they were removed. Result. Next lesson would have to better but that was rarely the case. Instead, the same behaviour continued, it was almost as if we were in a standoff. Who would flinch first? Why was it not working? Should I shout more and louder? I was the adult, the teacher and they still are not listening! It was at this time that I started to ask some big questions, not of the student but if me. What did shouting achieve? How do I react when someone yells at me? How did it teach correct behaviours? Am I modelling respect?

The short answer is that shouting does nothing. In majority of cases the relationship with the student has been damaged, it’s hard to let rust someone who constantly shouts at you. No behaviour modification took place so my shouting only kicked the behaviour issue to the next day. In my school we are trying to tackle this issue by introducing restorative justice. Behaviour conversations take place on how the student’s behaviour impacts their learning, the progress of their peers and effect on their family. It is in its infancy but we are finding students reflecting more about their behaviour and making better choices in and out of lesson. Shouting makes it difficult to have these conversations because it is not modelling the behaviour we want students to mirror. Therefore, we should aim to change behaviours not managing them and shouting does not help us do that.