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Q: I recently started teaching at quite a rough city school and am struggling with the behaviour of many of my groups. They won't shut up. A Year 7 group said they were going to complain to the head about me and say I cannot control the class. I've been open with my head of department and she and the senior management have been supportive. Do you think I should be worried?

Amy, Nottingham

A: I'd make them go out and line up again - over and over - until they stand quietly behind their desks while I take the register. If you waste a whole lesson just lining up, then so be it, they'll soon get bored.

Saying: "Well, you've wasted my time, so now I'm wasting yours" and keeping them in for break or lunch is never popular.

If you have them before break, lunch or home time, put numbers up on the board and keep them in for the length of time. You can't keep them in for long after school, but you can at lunchtime. Good luck, it does get easier, honest.

Margaret, Kent

A: Tell pupils it is not your job to teach them how to behave, it's your job to teach them your subject. They know how to behave. That is my standard line if anyone tries anything like you've mentioned.

In tougher schools it takes time to get pupils on your side. Believe me, if you can get through the first year, you will see a huge change next September. Keep going with it

Kate, Bristol

Coming up

Q: I watched a register taking technique in a primary school and wondered if it would be suitable for secondaries. The teacher didn't say just the pupil's name and get a "here" in response, she said: "Good afternoon, John" and they replied: "Good afternoon, Miss". There are lots of ways you can improve relations with pupils, this might be one of them. Any thoughts?

Q: I have been accosted by the assistant head over the past three days. Writing my starter and objective on the board, he came and asked me how I thought teaching and learning was going. His point was that he hadn't seen me do a plenary. Plenaries don't have to be at the end of the lesson, so he can't assume he will witness one at the end of my lesson. Should I do a plenary if he walks in or should I stick with my normal teaching style?

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