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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.

Are you kidding? Behaviour advice during the Christmas Holidays?

What are you going to do, give a detention to the postman? I suggest that the break afforded to you from school already possesses so many intrinsic social minefields and financial bear traps that I need hardly add to your mountain of concerns by looking at classroom high-jinks. Instead, here are three of the most unusual behaviour requests I’ve ever had to answer on the TES forum, or in schools I’ve had the pleasure of working in:

  1. ‘I fell in a classroom and a pupil promptly ur__ated on me. What should I have done?’ True request, although I’m never too sure how serious these queries are. I asked him if he’d tried pee-r support, ho ho ho.
  2. ‘One of my pupils looks at nude women on his Smart phone in my lessons. It keeps him quiet, and if I ask him to hand it over he gets abusive. Is it easier to just keep the peace?’ Genuine question from a member of an audience who came up to me after a speaking gig. I fuss you not. What he was asking, I think, was, ‘Say it’s ok, please?’ But that, I could not do. I just boggled at him for a bit, checked that my Universal Translator wasn’t broken, and assured him that, no, it probably wasn’t the best way to achieve a learning environment. Anyone who thinks that teaching involves a series of obvious decisions, take note.
  3. ‘Have you considered that your SOUL yes your SOUL is as BLACK AS SIN and that your VILE ADVICE treats children as if they were NOTHING BUT ANIMALS WHEN THEY ARE THE ONLY PUREST ACT OF CREATION I ADVICE (sic) YOU TO STOP LYING THE WAY YOU DO AND TRY TO BEG GOD TO FORGIVE YOU….’ (Goes on in similar, capitalised, underlined, italicised manner for several pages). I’ve had a few letters like this, worryingly enough sent to my school, by people so odd I can only assume that they find it difficult to get dressed in the morning without putting both legs through a sleeve and crashing through a coffee table or something. There normally aren’t any questions, other than rhetorical ones about how I can live with myself, etc etc. One day I’ll collect them and sell them as a Kindle guide to the perils of writing on the internet.

Have a lovely week, And remember: the Christmas spirit doesn’t happen by itself. Make it special by making it happen- see friends and family, remember those less fortunate, and make sure you have a taxi booked to take you back from wherever you crash out. Get some perspective on your job by reminding yourself that you’re a human being as well as a teacher. Watch Home Alone; attend a Midnight Carol Service. Phone an old friend. Do what you do.

And Merry Christmas :)


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