Tom Bennett

The problem

I find behaviour management hard to deal with as I am a non-confrontational person. I have been advised that I need to get angry more often. I don't know why, but I find it hard and can't handle aggressive or rude behaviour from students. I need to get a grip on this as it will make my life easier, but I don't know how. I feel constantly exhausted at school and am often just focusing on trying to get to the end of the day.

What you said

I don't think good behaviour management means that you have to shout and be aggressive (often this can make the situation worse). The main thing is to be really firm. Say what sanction you are giving and why. Students will often argue and get aggressive, but you just need to remember that you are the adult. You are in charge.


Think through, work out and rehearse the sorts of things you might say or do when kids are being aggressive or rude. Almost all the time being outwardly calm is the right thing, but sometimes acting like you're really angry can have the desired effect.


The expert view

Never get angry. It serves no purpose. I have seen tiny teachers who whisper who are fantastic at behaviour management. How? Because they said something and meant it. You set boundaries. You outline the consequences. Then when the students deserve them, they get them. Nowhere in this does anyone have to get angry or shout. Just do what you say you will and eventually you will wear them down. The trick is to realise that it is a war of attrition, not shock and awe. It takes time. After a while they will expect your boundaries to always be electrified. And then, ironically, you will find yourself having to do less and less. But it requires an iron will, consistency, repetition and repetition (see what I did there?). Give detentions to all that deserve them. Phone parents as much as possible. Follow up with line management. Use school behaviour policies. Escalate. This all takes time and is exhausting, but far less exhausting than never getting to grips with bad behaviour and suffering the same problems in lessons for ever.

Tom Bennett's latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum.

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Tom Bennett

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