Behaviour management: Don't free fall into Christmas

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

It isn’t easy to keep Christmas out of your classroom. The temptation to ease off – or to give up – is enormous at this time of year. The season can act as a solvent to good intentions, as across the world lessons dissolve into games and reluctant DVD screenings of Transformers 2 or Madagascar 4.

But if you want to maintain momentum until the last minute, it doesn’t mean you have to channel Scrooge and ignore the season entirely, far from it. If there is a time of the year where it is possible to incorporate sentiments of good will and compassion into lessons more, then I have yet to discover it.

Here are my ghosts of Christmas past, present and future on the matter *rattles chains*.

1. Kids are at school to learn

This doesn’t mean that they can’t have a bit of fun too, but do consider the consequences if you cave in to their festive demands of ease and inactivity. The hardest thing for a teacher to deal with at this time is the knowledge that every other teacher in every other classroom is playing Disney films. Kids will howl and yelp at your sobriety and then it’s a nightmare keeping them straight. Every year it seems like a race to see which teacher can pack in the lessons first, sometimes weeks before the end of term.

2. Consider the poor attenders

Some kids struggle with coming to school at all (read: serial bunkers). So what does it look like to them if they know that all they’ll do in school is watch the first half of three films, do a word search, and then go home? It looks very much like a waste of time.

3. Why not take Christmas into the lessons?

In RS this is a piece of cake, but it doesn’t take much effort to theme up a lesson or two in any other area. If you have form time, why not do what many Polish teachers do on Christmas Eve lessons (yes, school right up until then) and have a Christmas lunch with your form? Everyone can bring something in, and kids will learn to see each other as members of a community who share and not just as a collection of individuals.

Keep the best parts of Christmas - the sharing, the benevolence, the spirit - in your lessons, but don’t use it as an excuse to deny children the most precious gift we can give them: an education.

And Merry Christmas.



Tom Bennett is a teacher at Raines Foundation, a state school in inner city London. He regularly supports teachers through the TES behaviour forum and monthly newsletters on behaviour. Read more from Tom on our behaviour pages or on the @tesBehaviourTwitter account.

His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum/Bloomsbury.

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