The problem: I am an NQT having major problems with behaviour management. My top Year 8 (S1) set are angels and most of my Year 7 (P7) groups are fine, but I can't control my other six classes. I have seating plans but am met with so much attitude when I try to put them in place that I have given in. I've changed my classroom layout to a horseshoe but while this is working well for my easier groups, the others are a nightmare in it. I use a system of ticks and crosses in lessons - any other ideas to help me pass my NQT year?

What you said

Set up your classroom in rows. I don't care what anyone says, it's 100 times easier to manage kids. Aim for three long rows, rather than four shorter ones (there's less turning round that way).


I had a terrible start to one lesson and solved it in the short term by getting a senior teacher in to shut them up initially, and make it clear she was backing me to the hilt. Then the pupils worked in silence on a copying-out-of-the-book activity, with the threat of detention for anyone who spoke out of turn.


The expert view

Worry not. Every new teacher goes through a version of these growing pains. If you persevere, you will win, but it's going to take a bit of grit and determination.

Go back to the seating plans. It's a huge expression of who is in control of the room.

Your system of ticks sounds lovely, apart from one thing - it's strangling you. All that time ticking and unticking, writing names and so on. Have a book at your desk and tick their names.

Reiterate your behaviour expectations and get them to write them in their books, or even display them on the wall.

Hand out detentions like fliers outside a nightclub.

Keep yourself seatedstanding at the front as much as possible. It gives an impression of solidity and stability.

Plan for poor behaviour. There is nothing wrong with old-school (literally) lessons in which the kids have to read a textbook and answer 10 questions.

Don't give up. These things take time.

Tom Bennett is author of `The Behaviour Guru' and `Not Quite a Teacher'.

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