Behaviour Management: Sweat the Small Stuff

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

When you are running a room, especially if dealing with a difficult class, it is tempting to avoid the smaller misbehaviours in favour of dealing with real confrontations. In one sense that’s perfectly right. Given a hundred things to handle, a wise teacher will prioritise and bury the biggest beasts. It is smart to go for ring leaders of behaviour, for trend setters and role models. That is of course correct. But it is also important that you devote time to crushing smaller misbehaviours as much as possible. To start with, you should send out a message that you won’t tolerate even the littlest misdemeanours. This shows that you mean business and that you know what you’re doing. It also heads off many larger indiscretions before they happen, as these often escalate from seemingly invisible low-level disruptions.

Here are three minor infractions upon which to pounce:

1. Chatting softly to friends

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the talk won’t be about work. It will be about something else. If kids aren’t chatting, then chat can’t develop into a slagging match or a fight. Even the whispery stuff needs to be met with a response.

2. Looking out the window/head on desk

These are precursors to completely switching off. A short rap on the desk, a shoulder tap, a name called or a directive to focus should be enough.

3. Hands suspiciously under the desk

Most likely, this WILL be a mobile phone. I don’t care what the 21st century learning cult says; phones are a major pain in the class. Wait until you get photographed with one and then see how you feel about them.

JUMP on these matters if you see them. Do not ignore them. You will be stamping on the lit fuse of future bad behaviour, I assure you.

And 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

His latest book, Teacher, is out this month, published by Continuum/ Bloomsbury


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