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Ain't misbehavin'

Keep your pupils focused with these practical strategies from Andy Vass

Little Sally is distracting her classmates again, while Jack is looking dreamily out of the window. It's another typical moment, a snapshot of the persistent low-level bad behaviour that frustrates teaching staff and occasionally threatens to drive them insane.

Teachers try a range of tactics to establish a climate in which they can deal with misbehaviour and create an effective work environment. All of these strategies depend on the quality of the relationships the teacher builds with the children. Also crucial is the relationship between teachers and assistants, so they should discuss and clarify these issues:

* What rewards and sanctions can a TA apply without reference to the teacher?

* What rewards and sanctions can the TA apply after reference to the teacher?

* What rewards and sanctions should only be for the use of the teacher?

A good question for a TA to ask a teacher is: "What would I be doing that allows you to feel my support is most effective?"

Staying calm and in control allows you to be at your most effective in the classroom. Since not every strategy works all the time with every child, here are 10 "field-tested" ways for TAs to maintain authority.

Andy Vass co-wrote the DfES training modules for teaching assistants.

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