Behaviour: Top tips for dealing with Diva Fever

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

Every class has one: the man who would be King, the Queen of the Night, the student who can’t quite grasp that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Here’s how to deal with three of the most common types of Divas.

How to cope with students on smartphones

The Chantelle: This is the least serious, and most common, of the divas. They are usually five minutes late to your lesson, and their excuse for this is: “What?” The best tactic, as with most divas, is to starve them. Rather than eating food, divas live on the oxygen of attention, absorbed directly through their mobile phones. Switching this supply off will usually pacify the Chantelles, although they will often turn to social networking on their smartphone to seek fresh sustenance. Seriously, a little tacit ignorance goes a long way with these specimens, although make sure you deal with misbehaviour when you are ready to. The key thing is don’t let them lead.

What to do with attention-seeking extroverts

The Louie Spence: More troublesome. These Divas will approach your lesson twenty minutes late and their excuses will revolve around personal emergencies that you really wouldn’t understand, so just back off, yeah? Their danger lies in their confidence. No-one’s needs are as important as theirs, although if they’re on a good day, they might defer applying mascara for a few minutes. These beasts also require starving. Because they are more powerful, this needs to be done gradually; otherwise, like a frog in a pan of slowly heating water, they’ll get suspicious. Don’t react too quickly and don’t over-react. They’re desperate for you to prove how important they are so don’t satisfy them by exploding. Simply ask them to be quiet and refocus them on the work. If it doesn’t work, have them removed.

Dealing with completely unreasonable students

The Full Barbara Streisand: Beware the Jabberwock. If they bother turning up to the lesson, it’s only so they can announce to the class, and their camera crew, that you are a complete bitch who can’t even teach anyway. Turning off the attention valve is ineffective with the Barbara Streisand (BS) because a) people will wonder where your testicles have gone, and b) the BS will take it as an overture to overthrow her, and will defend her territory with vigour. Resist the temptation to deal with the full BS by trying to out-Diva them by copying everything they say in a funny accent; or most tempting of all, just laughing constantly at everything they say, then asking, “Are you finished?” Instead the solution is to scorch the earth. Send them out, without hesitation, and have them removed while external to your classroom. Do not give them an audience. Don’t show them that being horrible will gain them notoriety; teach them that it leads to unpleasant consequences, and do so with vigour and precision.

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


Related articles and resources

Recent ‘Top Tips’

Planning lessons around behaviour management

What to do if a child makes a disclosure to you

Managing sneaky kids

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