1st July 2011 at 01:00
The problem - There is one boy in my form who is not maliciously bad, just persistently talkative. He answers back and his voice is loud and disruptive. How can we get him to talk less and stop disturbing the rest of the class?

What you said

"I have one of those. As a class, we decided to `deal with him', so he sits in front of me and no one answers him. You need the class on side, but if they want to learn, they are happy to co-operate."


"One thing that has worked for me is giving the student three cards at the start of the lesson and every time he calls out, take away a card. Explain that he is free to ask why, but that conversation will happen at break, not in learning time."


"I put my persistent interrupter at the desk in front of mine. Every time he blurted out, I raised my hand like a block a foot from his face and carried on the lesson. Then I wrote his name down. At the end of the lesson he had to stay behind and we discussed how many times his name had been written down. It worked."


The expert view

Find out from colleagues if he repeats the behaviour in other classes and what they do about it. Their strategies might work. You can also try the three I's: investigate, ignore andor initiate.

Irritating behaviour can indicate a need for attention that can sometimes be constructively channelled. It can also be the consequence of poor social skills and a lack of empathy. Feedback from members of the form about how irritating they find the behaviour, handled so that it tackles the behaviour not the person, can be effective.

A strategy of isolating the pupil by ignoring him is unlikely to be effective. Often it stimulates a competitive atmosphere where the pupil feels justified in going to greater lengths to achieve attention and you feel obliged to sanction what has become a more serious behaviour management issue.

Ignoring his behaviour is more effective if the reasons are explained first, because it gives him the opportunity to be proactive in adjusting his behaviour.

Stephen Calladine-Evans is assistant principal at St Richard's Catholic College, East Sussex. For more behaviour advice, go to

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