Ask a teacher - QA

Q: I want to arrange the tables in my classroom so that pupils can sit in groups and discuss their work, but my head of department is wedded to rows on behaviour grounds. Should I push my point or toe the line?

Steve, Coventry

A: Start small scale and discuss with your head of department your plans to integrate groupdiscussion work (with one specific class or module of work) to improve pupils' learning. Talk to teachers who use group work successfully. Finally, invite your head of department to observe group work lessons.

I am a head of department and my colleagues have proven my assumptions wrong at times, and I have become a better teacher for it.

Clayton, Cumbria

A: It is important that all pupils are involved in quality speaking and listening activities. Introduce group work gradually to ensure its success, so you can convince your head of department of its impact on raising standards.

Plan carefully, building in easy-to-manage collaborative and exciting activities that your pupils will enjoy. This should reduce incidents of poor behaviour too.

John, Wigton

A: This cuts to the heart of an important question for teachers: whose classroom is it anyway? Your choice of arranging the furniture says a lot about what kind of lessons you want to deliver and, ultimately, what kind of teacher you want to be. So don't give up.

Just make sure that the pupils know why you are arranging the tables in groups and make clear your rules for group work

John, Warwickshire

Coming up

Q: I'm not good at quick responses to pupils' sarcastic comments. I shouldn't enter a discussion with them, but I'd like to have one-liners to use. Can anyone think of common things pupils say, and a quick comeback that works? Here's one I often hear . "This is boring".

Q: Why do some staff get away with murder in terms of breaking rules, when other staff are disciplined for doing the slightest thing wrong? Does it depend on the head's favourites or the head of department?

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