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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.

Tone your behaviour muscles- even in the break

It might sound like an odd proposition, working on your behaviour management when school is out; doesn’t it require…well, kids and so on, perhaps a classroom? Not a bit of it. Behaviour management is clumsy, inelegant way of describing how we attempt to work our will on the greater world. It tends to refer to classrooms, of course, but in every social exchange in which we participate, we are to varying degrees attempting to influence, persuade or otherwise modify the behaviour of others. You do it in the supermarket, the sweet shop, and possibly even in the shower, depending on your domestic arrangements. So here are three things to think about in your everyday social conversations with others, and what it can mean for your classroom practice:

  1. Listen to yourself - When you speak to others, what kind of voice are you using? Are you proud, confident, authoritative, wheedling, or bossy? If you have Human DNA, you will probably come across in different ways in different situations. What does this tell you about how you speak to your children? Do you treat them as nuisances, servants, problems or…children?
  2. Humour - Are you naturally communicative, friendly, funny, even? How does this reflect on your teaching persona? The way you are in the classroom is necessarily a professional projection, and no teacher should attempt to a friendly but loveable clown. But we often have higher tolerance levels of humour and stress depending on the situation we are in. One teacher I knew flew off like a cracked teapot every time a child misbehaved, but was calm and gentle outside lessons. What can the different sides of your personality tell each other about how to talk to people, and how to handle difficult situations?
  3. How do you get what you want? - Interestingly, when we speak to people in situations where we don’t worry that they’ll refuse us, we often speak in calm, moderate tones of cool, assumed expectation. For example: in a greengrocer. Yet when we want something in a classroom, we often fall prey to shouting, begging, snarling or being sarcastic. Command sounds calm. That’s what you should aim for in the classroom too. Sound as if you expect to be followed, and often , people will follow you.


    You know, you can do this at parties too. Good luck with all that research.

 Good luck


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