9th August 2013 at 01:00

The problem

How many warnings should you give before sending a child out of the classroom? My students are always complaining that they aren't given enough warnings before I take action. However, often I can get to the point where I have told the offending student seven times to behave before I send them out. How can I cut down the number of warnings without being seen as too harsh? Do you ever remove students straight away, without warnings, for serious offences such as dangerous behaviour?

What you said

If they are saying to you, "But you didn't give me a warning", then obviously they are playing the system. They know what the rules are, they know that they don't need multiple warnings. They are just seeing how much they can get away with. I often tell individual students this little fact when they make such a statement. Often that ends up with the student in question being on the correct path again.


Avoid getting into discussion about how many chances they get - if that happens, they have drawn you in. As my friend says: "Don't make friends with the enemy." Don't engage in discussion about the rules once they are set. Giving students enough time to take in what you are saying is important, but three strikes and out is enough. Any more and they are getting away with bad behaviour and playing the system.


The expert view

If you have told them the class rules clearly, then you have warned them. Escalate at will - I tell my students that I will do this. But be consistent: don't give one child detention for chatting and then just warn the next. Using warnings too much simply gives the students a snooze alarm - they can misbehave a bit, then wake up. That is the wrong signal.

Tom Bennett's latest book, Teacher Proof, is out now, published by Routledge.

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