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‘Three Top Tips from Tom’ will be updated weekly with the best advice and tips on behaviour and classroom management.

Tom Bennett is the TES adviser on behaviour and a teacher at Raines Foundation, an inner city state school in Tower Hamlets. He regularly supports teachers on TES through our behaviour forum and monthly newsletters on behaviour.

Back to School- starting the term on the right foot

Well, we’re all back; no matter how you square the circle, most of us will be back in the galleys again this week, tugging away at the oars as a porcine slaver beats an empty barrel with the handle of a broom. Well, that’s one way to look at it. The beginning of a term is just as important as the beginning of a novel; if you lose the hook, you lose the audience. Here’s how to start in a way that makes sense, and makes the rest of the year easier.

  1. Clear up last term. I’m not an advocate of letting things slide from the previous term- after all, nothing has been resolved, only time has passed. So, make sure you follow up with any behaviour issues still outstanding from the last few weeks before Easter. It might make you seem like a complete hard-ass, but… actually that’s exactly the idea. You need to let them know that, like the Terminator, you will pursue justice across the endless wastes of time. If you feel bad about it, console yourself with the thought that you will accrue enormous respect for your relentless adherence to the rules and standards you set. And conversely, you’ll have to deal with less and less misbehaviour if they realise you won’t give up EVER.
  2. Reboot your room. If you think things haven’t been going too well, it is NEVER too late to reboot your standards. Of course, you can’t just press CTRL+ALT_DEL to achieve this (try it though; you might have the upgrade), but simply reissue the class rules, and spend a bit of time at the start of the first lesson back reminding them of what you expect, then follow up with everyone who breaks those rules. Don’t tell yourself,’Oh, it’s near the end’ ‘, or worse, ‘They’ve got used to the way things are with me.’ YOU are the arbiter of order in the room; they need you to be.
  3. Use your energy while you have it. The start of the term will see you at your most emotionally buoyant and fortified. Odd as it may sound, tackle the tough jobs now that you put off until later. The phone calls home, the meetings, the behaviour contracts. Get battling while you’ve still got fight, and your energy isn’t sapped by attrition.

Good luck to everyone going back, or those back already.


Read more from Tom on our behaviour forum or on his blog or Twitter

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