16th December 2011 at 00:00
The problem - I'm a PGCE student writing an essay on behaviour management. I have looked at the theory behind the practice, but was wondering what "top tips" teachers would give an NQT? I'm hoping to compile a list to submit with my assignment

What you said

It might be more worthwhile filling your report with fully-referenced research. My experience at teacher training was that university work was strictly academic - trusted sources and all that. But, with that in mind, I find a great way of dealing with mobile phones is to give pupils the option of putting them in their bags or on the desk. The pupil doesn't feel challenged as their item isn't being taken away, and it's out of the way so the lesson can continue.


A "top tips" way of going about your essay is the worst thing you could do (I'm an initial teacher training lecturer and an essay like that wouldn't come up to scratch on our course). Approach it from the perspective of some underlying pedagogical philosophy.


The expert view

The link between academia and practice is a topic close to my heart, principally because I found, and I think many teachers find, that the theory can be about as much use to your early years in the classroom as a sherbet suppository.

One of the training problems I have observed in the transition from the lecture hall to the classroom is that, in the former, theory trumps practice; in the latter, theory goes out the window.

Papers on behaviour management are often written by people who do not teach and, in some cases, never have. As a result, they are looking at a culture from the outside. And theory is often written by people who have taught in rarefied, non-representative situations.

Teaching is a craft as much as a science and crafts are best developed by practice, imitation and experience.

Gathering experiential evidence is a good idea as long as you contextualise it by, perhaps, contrasting it with the theories of academics.

Tom Bennett is author of `The Behaviour Guru' and `Not Quite a Teacher'.

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