My biggest mistakes in the classroom

Debate on The TES online staffroom

Debate on The TES online staffroom (www.tes.co.uk) sheds intriguing light on what works and what doesn't. And sometimes lessons learnt during teacher training need some adjustment. "Be authoritative, not adorable" is a good rule.

"In my early days I tried to be a friend to the children in my classroom, which is when it became difficult to retrieve tricky situations," writes NQT20078. "I am now working hard to develop my role as classroom leader and find that it is easier to be firm but fair. The children respect this."

So far, so unsurprising. But how authoritative should you be? What about raising your voice? Ranting, even?

"Don't get angry - they'll just find it entertaining," bessiesmith was told on her PGCE. But, she adds: "I spent ages as a student not getting cross and not being effective. When I tried getting angry, it revolutionised my teaching. Used sparingly, an occasional fierce rant works wonders."

What about the s-word? "I'm almost afraid to say it, but I told the class to 'shut up'. Some of the children's faces were very surprised," confesses jeanie77. "I feel a bit guilty," she adds. Jeanie gets warm common sense advice from alg114b.

"Don't do guilt, we all say things we'd rather not have done. If I am truly out of line with kids, I have a rule: I'll apologise in public and when they are in the wrong, I give them an opportunity to make up for it discreetly. Teenagers are forgiving of a battleaxe if she's fair."

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