25th May 2012 at 01:00
The problem - I had a hideous last few lessons with my hardest Year 8 (S1) class at the end of last term. Worse, my NQT observation with them was graded as inadequate because of behaviour. My other observations have been outstanding, but this one fell flat - they wouldn't stop talking, throwing paper, getting out of their seats. I need to make a fresh start by rethinking my expectations. But what is the best way?

What you said

Go in hard and remind them you're not messing about. Refresh the seating plan and make it clear that you will escalate consequences if they fail to obey.


The expert view

I am sorry to hear you had a tough time, but this is normal. Yes, you do need to reboot expectations. Here's how:

1. First lesson back is all about the behaviour, so a seating plan is a must: separate troublemakers and put the worst offenders under your nose. Organise tables into rows so that interaction is discouraged until you want it to happen.

2. Restate your (non-negotiable) rules. Make a list of 10 required behaviours - check out my resources on the TES website (http:bit.lyxlKIx4).

3. Focus on independent learning. If they are a weak group, keep tasks short and mix up the types of task they need to do. Avoid having them move around.

4. Make behaviour the focus of lessons for a few weeks (unbeknown to them); set straightforward work, so you can monitor the class far more easily.

5. Anyone who breaks your rules gets a warning or has their name written in your book. This book is very crucial - it is your detention list. Tell children when they have accrued a detention.

6. Hold detentions, ideally the same day. Do not let them work them off, and do not let them go early. Make them sit in silence and give simple, boring tasks.

7. Follow up on anyone who doesn't attend; escalate the sanction, involving line management if appropriate.

8. Keep paperwork tight. Keep track of who comes and who does not.

9. Repeat ad nauseam. Once they start to behave, you can have a more varied lesson plan, but until then keep it simple.

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

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