Be prepared for wayward Wayne

27th October 1995 at 00:00
Watching experienced colleagues teach with no sign of any discipline problem, any newly-qualified teacher with a wayward Wayne or annoying Annette to face might contemplate the following:

Set up your classroom

Set up your classroom for ease of movement and access to named resources, (space permitting.) Children love the chance to queue up, nudge, chat and irritate. Place your desk for maximum supervision, particularly of the book corner.

Signal for silence

Choose a suitable signal to grab their attention. Whereas a megaphone might seem attractive at the moment, think of your colleague next door and content yourself with a hand clap or something that best expresses your personality.

Keep checking around the class

A common mistake is to get involved with a demanding individual, and forget to check on what is happening in the corner. Experienced teachers are characterised by the "nodding donkey syndrome", as they consecutively check on what is happening under their noses and all around the class. A regular check on the lavatories also pays dividends!

Give security

Children like to know just how far they can go. Tell them what to do, list the activities on the board and check that they know the time limits. The more differentiated the tasks the better. Have an acceptable activity ready for the Samantha or Nicholas who finishes hours ahead of the rest.

Give praise for known success

Let children know exactly what is acceptable and what is unacceptable to you, and remind them frequently. Your standards might differ from your predecessor, so you need to eliminate any confusion by frequently summarising and reinforcing your expectations.


Define in your own mind what is misbehaviour, and compare it with school expectations. You need a fair degree of agreement, which should then be supported by your colleagues. In your own class, praise examples of good behaviour, reprove poor behaviour and on repetition move the culprit nearer to the door.

A prior agreement with a colleague or the head to accept any miscreant will isolate the culprit from the limelight he craves and give you and the class a breather.

Experienced teachers see no shame in using the full resources of the school, which includes supportive colleagues. NQTs often struggle on from a misplaced sense of inadequacy.

The bad old days have gone when NQTs often attempted to cope in isolation as the mentoring system has grown. Despite such improvements, we still have struggling colleagues in need of a supportive hand.

Not all are NQTs.

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