A reflection on one year of our Hive Switch, the aim of which is to build constancy and certainty into the heart of our daily practice.
The Hive Switch is a collective energy, which, when everyone works together on core consistencies, creates momentous change. In this case to transform the learning behaviour of our students.
These are simple things that mean a lot when staff collude in their execution.
The strength of the Hive Switch is in its simplicity, yet it is deep in its ethics and purpose and in its impact on learning. All adults must be utterly resolved to stand together on these core consistencies for the impact to be sustained. It only takes one teacher to ignore a deviation from the core and this affects everyone, allowing students to play in the gaps between adults.
The effectiveness of the Hive Switch is a consequence of the communication that flows from the mouths of all the adults in school, classroom by classroom, day by day, repeated and strong. Holding tight to these rules through reasoning and tough love – never with anger, always with humanity – ensures that all students can access the best quality teaching that we can deliver.
When things get tough, we squeeze tighter together around our Hive Switch, with firmness and constancy and without aggression or shouting. The majority of students don’t need aggression, they respond to reason, and those who struggle have been punished for years with no positive impact.
Leadership stand alongside colleagues in a visible show of support. Our walkabouts signify that we are around for guidance and support and repeatedly reinforce our culture of hard work and personal accountability. In turn this helps us to infiltrate our aspirations for all students to flourish.
This is not a manual for behaviour management, it is a community culture that requires extensive communication and the training/coaching of teachers to become significant and caring, strong and engaged.
‘We can all be strict without being nasty, maintain boundaries without cruelty and correct children without aggression.’ Paul Dix
The Hive Switch weaves through teaching; teaching that is engaging and relational.
Steve Biddulph’s four Fs provide a good guide to teacher approaches that support our Hive Switch:
Friendliness settles and calms the class. Boys in particular can only learn from a teacher whom they feel likes them.
Fun engages students playfully in an environment of risk-taking and learning from mistakes, without feeling shame.
Firmness creates a relaxed but clear sense of who is in charge.
Focus comes from a well organised lesson with clear direction and a sense of progress and concrete achievement.
The evidence from the first year of our Hive Switch indicates that students are better at revising for exams, the work in books is demonstrably more sophisticated, hard work in class is the norm, we are seeing improved cooperation with previously disengaged students, parents are feeling better informed about their child’s learning, learning is embedded and students are making improved levels of progress.
As simple as the components of the hive switch are, as they become submerged into the daily ritual and routine of school life, they do in fact affect a culture change that enables sustainability.
All in all we are seeing a marked improvement in students’ cognitive and emotional self-regulation. Students are motivated to apply effort and continue when they find things difficult, as well as demonstrating an increased ability to respond to the demands of the experience. This is particularly evident in the excellent way that year 11 have approached the challenges of the new GCSEs, demonstrating great resilience, hard work and focus as they sit through (in some cases) 23 exams. But it is also evident as years 7 to 10 sit their end of year exams with immense personal accountability, recognising that focussed hard work leads to achievement.