25th January 2013 at 00:00

The problem

I am at my first PGCE placement. I am trying never to shout at the kids. I prefer to use the school discipline system - but maybe this is a bit idealistic? Today I was speaking to a pupil who had been sent out of form. A second pupil was on his way to the learning support centre because of behaviour problems. The second pupil started teasing the first and would not stop. I shouted at him and it worked - he instantly went on his way. But I was unhappy with how I dealt with the situation. What else could I have done?

What you said

Sometimes when all else fails you have to shout. And it works! You've probably been trained not to shout, but when was the last time those tutors stood in front of a class? No need to feel a failure.


The pupil did as he was told as you exerted your authority. No problem. It took me almost to the end of my PGCE year to shout. Sometimes it is necessary so don't beat yourself up about it.


A "don't mess with me pal" message can go a long way. If you shout because you have lost control, it's less effective.


The expert view

No great harm done. Shouting is often a weak strategy, because if the pupil continues to disobey, you look a proper spanner. Plus, it entertains those in the class who are not involved and shows that you have blown a nut - not a good look if you are trying to convey a message of: "I'm in charge of myself and this space."

But it worked. If the tool works, it works. But be mindful not to rely on it - you will find that it is a claw hammer when you may need a screwdriver.

In this case it showed that you meant business and that you were not to be crossed. The most effective strategy is usually to stay calm and then follow up later if anyone mugs off. We play a long game in behaviour - it is not vital that we deal with everything immediately, but we must deal with it later - and promptly.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES blog, or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum. Post your questions at

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