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CME Unit 4B

An introduction to resources supporting Certificate for Music Educators Unit 4, supported by the Musicians' Union.

Section B: Learning Outcome 2 (LO 2)

Be able to promote children and young people’s positive behaviour

Four essential elements

Read and consider the following four essential elements (A, BCD) related to promoting positive behaviour and tackling challenging behaviour when working with larger groups or whole classes.

By developing effective routines, you can begin to address the challenges of undesirable behaviour.  All children or young people typically benefit from such routines which work best if the teacher, or leader, consistently applies them, but you should expect a short period of subtle negotiation. Some learners will check by testing the boundaries and the more consistently you treat the situation with the same routines and demands, the safer the learner feels, the stronger his/her belief in your being in control of the session will be, the less they will test, and the more they will relax into learning.

For each lesson or session you lead, you need to develop effective strategies to:

A  Get the children or young people into the teaching area or working space.

B  Be able to get on with what you have planned to teach or work on.

C  Develop and maintain good working relationships with the children or young people, supporting and enabling them to learn.

D  Close a lesson or study session and get the children or young people safely out of the teaching area or working space.

Let’s look at each of the four elements in turn below.


First, starting the lesson or session; getting the children or young people into the teaching area or working space.

A1 Be in the teaching/working area so that you are ready to meet and greet the children or young people.

A2 Set the room up to match the differing needs of each class or group. It is often helpful to have the class in the round to allow all the participants to see what everyone else is doing. It helps to make learners feel safe, and will help you with hearing and watching their timing when playing/singing together.

A3 Arrange the chairs and/or tables so that your students are close enough together, or far enough apart, for a meaningful lesson. If you are working in a big space, you may decide to block off the back row(s).

A4 Have specific safe strategies that you, and any other adults who are present, use for getting instruments and equipment out, if you have not already done this (depending on age group and activity) before the session or lesson begins.


Second, getting on with what you have planned to teach.

B1 Positive behaviour can be supported with an inclusive and agreed set of rules that are publicised and continually reinforced. Here’s an example from one music educator:

a) “We respect each other’s music”;

b) “We don’t play or talk when others are playing”;

c) “When the teacher raises her hand, we stop what we are doing and listen for instructions”;

d) “We always try to make a good musical sound and think about what we are playing”.

B2 Take care not to draw attention to children and young people who are particularly shy. It can cause embarrassment and humiliation. Begin with a smile, and no more than short bursts of eye contact. Avoid creating a situation too early where they have to play or sing a solo, however short, until you sense they have sufficient confidence to do it.

Element C

Third, developing and maintaining good working relationships with the children or young people, supporting and enabling them to learn. There are four key elements to this:

C1 Setting appropriate learning challenges for all the individuals present;

C2 Responding to everyone’s diverse needs;

C3 Overcoming potential barriers to learning;

C4 Making learning and teaching more enjoyable.


Finally, closing a lesson or study session and getting the children or young people safely out of the teaching area. Just as with starting a lesson or study session, this needs to be done in a calm and ordered way, so that children or young people know what to expect:

D1 Be aware of the time, and if you are working in an environment such as a school, where a bell signals the end of the lesson, note whether this is in time with your watch. Learners often take the signal for the end of the study session as one for them to leave the room.

D2 Have specific safe strategies that you and all adults use for packing instruments and equipment away. Aim to complete this task before any signal for the end of the study session is given.

D3 When equipment is safely packed away, take a few moments to reflect on the session with the children or young people, reviewing what has been musically achieved and use this opportunity to give positive feedback to the group and, if appropriate, a number of individuals.

Learning activity 3 – relating to Learning Outcome 2 (LO 2)

Now, read and consider the following checklist table based on one in the publication, ‘Challenging pupils: enabling access’, from the Qualifications, Curriculum and Assessment Authority for Wales (QCAAW, 2000).

It summarises:

  • key factors in organising the space you are going to work in;
  • managing the children and young people;
  • rewards and punishments

Organising the Space

  • Make sure all equipment is easily accessible
  • Try and set an appropriate ambient temperature
  • Try to ensure lighting is suitable for the work that you have planned to do
  • Make sure that any materials or equipment you plan to use are properly labelled
  • Ensure that the layout of the room facilitates easy and safe movement
  • Positive pupil grouping
  • Orderly working environment
  • Make sure any work in progess or completed is displayed
  • Involve the students in the classroom layout
  • Develop and establish appropriate routine ways of distributing materials (e.g. giving out instruments & passing music around)

Managing the Children and Young People

  • Make sure you, the music educator, and other adults, arrive on time
  • Make sure you give clear instructions
  • Acknowledge positive behaviour
  • Acknowledge achievement
  • Act as a role model – be what you want them to be!
  • Remember to include differentiated learning tasks
  • Adopt a variety of pedagogical approaches
  • Remember to use all the adults in the room
  • Emphasise the pupils’ role
  • Have a small and simple set of rules
  • Negotiate rules as appropriate
  • Display rules as appropriate
  • Reinforce rules

Rewards and Punishments

  • Ensure they relate to learning behaviour
  • Be fair and consistent
  • Ensure your demands are achievable and relevant
  • Ensure rewards and punishments are understood by all including parents /carers

Take some time to:

  1. Think about how you meet your students and start your teaching session to ensure positive behaviour.
  2. Identify any of the points in the chart that you could adopt to improve your effectiveness.
  3. Write a short statement (250 – 400 words) explaining the importance of consistent and supportive responses to children and young people’s behaviour.