Behaviour mangement: Truths for the first three weeks

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

Lately I’ve been talking to a lot of NQTs. Their concerns are remarkably similar, which reinforces my belief that teaching is a shared experience, and that getting clobbered by difficult classes is hardwired into teacher DNA. New schools, new classes, new syllabuses are a bear to deal with at first, and will test your reserves to the wooden walls of your fuel tank.

So here are three truths to remember when things get tough:

1. It’s not you; it’s them

…Which makes teaching sound like every break up, ever. But believe me, unless you are actually chasing your students into the class with a flaming mace, you are not responsible for their misbehaviour. If you believe in free will, moral responsibility− and I do− then you have to believe that kids make choices. They are not helpless vessels of determinism. They chat at will; they (sometimes) work at will. What they do not do is misbehave because your awfulness has crept like a miasma across the room and made them boogie on the desks.

2. Hold the line

I am thinking of the last stand of Rourke’s Drift here. Keep firm, keep setting boundaries, keep applying sanctions, keep calling home, keep recording misbehaviour, keep escalating, keep informing line managers and other staff. Persist like the Furies. If it doesn’t seem like it’s working…then it probably is. But it won’t happen overnight. It might take months and months for you to even see the fruits form on the branch. Your efforts are a seed, not a magic bean.

3. You are not alone

…Unless you choose to be. Enlist the aid of others who know the kids, who can give you advice and who can take the naughtiest bounders out for a spell. You exist inside a huge hierarchy. This can be a powerful tool, but tools only possess utility when you take them out of the box. Worried that you’ll look rubbish by asking for help? Believe me, you’ll BE rubbish if you don’t. Which one is more important?

Go get ‘em.



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 now, published by Continuum/ Bloomsbury


Related articles and resources

Recent ‘Top Tips’

Three things to do in your first few weeks with a new class

Sweat the Small Stuff

The first day back

Surviving a student encounter in summertime

More ‘Top Tips’

Links to all Tom’s top tips

Relevant resources on TES

Behaviour and classroom management resources

Behaviour and classroom management resource collections