Behaviour - Top Tips from Tom

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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. Tom is the author of The Behaviour Guru, a specialised behaviour guide which includes content from the TES forums.

Lesson planning for bad behaviour

A lot of behaviour management is done inside the classroom, and depends on how you conduct yourself, your tone, your verbal content, what you do as a result. A lot of it occurs outside the classroom too: the phone calls, the meetings, the follow up, etc. While we shouldn’t listen to myopic advice that implies that a well planned lesson will sort out any behaviour issues (because it won’t), it is also true that the content of the lesson can have a significant impact on how they respond, and how you can tailor your behaviour to those responses. Here are some ideas for lesson planning if you want to make the biggest impact on the behaviour of the class:

  1. Keep it simple, sucker. - If your classes are giving you significant grief, then it’s time to put away all the games of Jenga and elaborate learning projects based on ‘Million Pound Drop’ or something. They’re simply too time consuming in a large class, and you’ll be so distracted trying to deliver the fiddly handouts, or run the game (or whatever) that it’ll only take a few misbehavers to run rings around you. Remember, behaviour is your first concern- crack that and you can do almost anything with them. So design a lesson that is straightforward, simple to explain and almost idiot proof (I say ‘almost’ because nothing is truly idiot proof. I checked). That way the class can work on it, and you can focus on anyone who wants to monkey around.
  2. Be prepared. - Baden-Powell was right; have your lesson aim on the board before they come in, if possible; have the worksheets/ books/ Ipads (I can dream) on the desk before they get there. That means when they come in, there’s no controversy about what they have to do, and what your plans are.
  3. Be the sage on the stage, not the piggy in the middle. - Plan your lesson so that, as far as possible, you’re in clear eyesight of all of them. Turn your back on them as little as possible, so that there are no ‘attention vacuums’ for them to fill with paper planes/ flame throwers/ random acts of pointless violence, etc. If you have to walk around the room, try to do so like you’re walking onto a duel, i.e. maintain eye contact with as many of them as possible, even if you have to slowly creep around the room to get to your destination. Many kids will call you over just to lure you into the classroom equivalent of a bear pit. Walk softly, walk tall.


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