‘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.
Dealing with low level disruption
LLDs are more like WMDs. They’re like Kryptonite for the well planned lesson. Often so slight that it doesn’t seem worth tackling at the time, it can turn a class upside down just the same. Here are some tried and tested tactics to tame the tiresome…
- Tapping, rocking (I mean on a chair, not in a musical sense) and chewing gum. Don’t give this kind of behaviour too much attention in front of the class- you’ll only feed it, and something annoying can erupt into a confrontation. Instead, wait until the class is on task, and working independently of you; then mention it to the student with a minimum of fuss. That way, you get your message across without turning it into entertainment for the rest of the room.
- Whispering and chatting. Every teacher has their own acceptable threshold of talking during lessons- unless it’s relevant to the lesson, the less the better. My personal tolerance point is somewhere between nothing and almost nothing. Often less. Tackle whispering and chatting immediately, otherwise it sets an example that others will copy. Quietly and clearly address the talking. If you ignore it, it won’t go away- it’ll often increase, especially once pupils see that they can get away with it.
- Persistent low level behaviour is just as disruptive as infrequent high level disruption, because it turns the focus away from the learning and towards mucking about; so even if someone never quite does enough to register on your naughty radar, if they keep chipping away at your lesson despite your direction, then you should feel free to sanction them as if they had done something more serious. Because it is serious- they’re damaging their learning, and that of others around them.
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