Ask a Teacher - QA

12th September 2008 at 01:00

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 a bank of one-liners. Can anyone think of common things pupils say and a quick comeback that works? Here's one I often hear . "This is boring".

Donna, London

A: Trying to put down our pupils verbally is not the message we want to put across as their role models.

Pupils will say "this is boring", so my advice is to make the learning expectations clear so that pupils know why they are doing the task they are set and how it links to career skills.

If pupils disrupt the learning by constantly being sarcastic, you must use your school systems to send the message that this is unacceptable. - Clayton, Cumbria

A: Most of us have yearned for the killer line that would outsmart the class smart Alec, have the class in stitches and endow us with masses of street cred. If you had that gift, you'd have discovered it by now. The danger in trying it is that you'll do it badly and lose dignity.

There is a lot to be said for rising above this type of exchange. After all, you are a teacher, not a professional comedian dealing with hecklers. - Richard, West Sussex

A: If you are hearing "this is boring" frequently, perhaps you ought to be asking what you need to change about your lessons, rather than worrying about your glib one-liners.

Alternatively, ask pupils to tell you what could be done to make the task more interesting. - Liz, London

COMING UP

Q: Why do some staff get away with 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?

Q: Some colleagues use pupils' "best" work for classroom display, but I want to recognise what a less able pupil has achieved by putting up something of hishers, although it is not perfect and does contain some spelling mistakes. Would I be wrong to do this?

Send your answer or any question you would like answered by your fellow teachers to askateacher@tes.co.uk. We pay pound;30 for any question or answer published.

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