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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.

He said, she said, she never, really?

If you remember the 70s buddy-cop series Starsky and Hutch, you’ll remember that the crime-fighting duo regularly dropped in on their local snitch, affectionately referred to as Huggy Bear (‘to you, Mr and Mrs Bear, a son- Huggy’). In the show, I never remember Huggy getting spannered for grassing up his underworld colleagues, but in the real world, snitches are often less gently treated. However in a classroom, especially in the younger years, you can find yourself facing the opposite problem- too many children, queueing up to grass each other up for a series of felonies and misdemeanours. The problem is, of course, whom do you believe, and what do you do about it? The TES behaviour forum recently supplied a number of excellent remedies to this perplexing knot of a problem:

  1. If a pupil comes up to you and claims that little Jimmy clobbered her with a claw hammer or something, then you have an instant dilemma: did she really, or is she being framed (if I can continue with the metaphor)? Unlike Cluedo, it’s hard to call the bluff. So one tactic (if the allegations aren’t being made frequently) is to take both aside and get both sides of the story, written if they’re old enough. It needs to happen quickly, though, before stories get constructed. You can also get witnesses to do the same, and in the manner of sleuths everywhere, see if any inconsistencies arise.
  2. Problem is, this takes an enormous chunk of time out of your life; and the kids will learn it. This means that anytime they want to defelct the lesson, or simply disrupt it, they might hatch a little plan to create a diversion from your carefully planned lesson on Volcanic migration, or something. So if possible, deflect the deflection; tell them that you’ll see them both after class so that they can write out their stories, or at least describe them at length. The victim will probably relish the chance to tell his side, and the aggressor will bemoan the privation.
  3. The old fashioned approach is, of course, to try to keep your vision global as much as possible. Good teachers learn to move around the room in a strange crab-walk, eyes beading back and forth and never really showing their backs to the room- naughtiness multiplies in the dark side of the teacher.

 Good luck

Tom

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

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