Behaviour: Disadvantages of a lecture in behaviour management

Weekly updates from Tom Bennett with advice and tips on behaviour and classroom management

What I am about to say may sound suicidal; you can probably forget most of the things you were told in your training about behaviour management. Learning how to control a classroom isn’t something you can really pick up in a lecture hall. Like your first kiss, no instruction manual can prepare you for it. One simply has to engage, participate, and navigate with all your senses.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t also a place for formal education in this process. But to believe that a lecture or tutorial will equip a teacher for the jungle of the classroom is optimistic at best. New teachers typically come out of training knowing more about virtual learning platforms than behaviour management. Talk about being the best trained jugglers on the Space Shuttle.

Here are three things to remember about getting better.

Unconsciously unskilled at managing behaviour

You have no idea how to control a classroom. This is normal, never forget. Some of your ideas about it will be sound, others will resemble fairy tales. Many new teachers believe that if they show enough love for their subject and students all will be well. This is not so, alas. Many children are perfectly indifferent to your happy thoughts, and will view you as an enormous, teacher-shaped piñata. Don’t beat yourself up over it. But get busy learning.

Consciously unskilled at managing behaviour

You know what you want them to do, and can see that some of your tactics work while others don’t. Note them well. Ask other teachers if you can observe them, preferably with the same class. But be aware that what worked for them may not work for you, simply because you are not them. They may have seniority or the kids may have already built a relationship with them. Don’t slavishly imitate what they do. Instead, go away and think about why what they did worked. Absorb it into your repertoire. Then go try it for yourself.

Consciously skilled at managing behaviour

Once you start to get into your groove, you’ll have to force yourself into a routine. Controlling others isn’t a default most of us fall into readily. But if we are to be good educators, then control and direct we must. Most behaviour tactics take time. At first you will encounter resistance. Some students will be perfectly obstinate for months, but keep up the pressure. These are the ones who need your boundaries MOST. If you give in, you condemn them to bad habits that stay with them a lifetime.

Keep doing this. That’s all there is to it. Apart from the other stuff. I’ll tell you about that later.

Good luck



Tom Bennett is the TES adviser on behaviour and a teacher at Raines Foundation, an inner city state schoolin Tower Hamlets. He regularly supports teachers on TES through our behaviour forum and monthly newsletterson behaviour. Read more from Tom on our behaviour forum or on his blog or Twitter


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