15th October 2010 at 01:00
The problem: How long should you wait after a behaviour incident before discussing it with a pupil? Some people advise straight after the lesson; others say you should wait until the pupil has had time to think about their behaviour. Any ideas?

What you said

"If they are still angry and liable to lash out, it may do more harm than good to address it straightaway. However, the bad behaviour may have been such that the pupil ought to have been removed from the class."


"Leaving a gap makes it hard for you to keep track of who you have seenare yet to see over the course of several days. I almost always discuss incidents with students at the end of the lesson."


"I tend to try to do a resolution meeting with a pastoral team member before teaching the pupil again."


The expert view

Resolve the problem as soon as possible, clearly and without blame, using the phrase "What I sawheard was ..." Explain to the pupil the impact their behaviour had on you, themselves and the rest of the class. Try to discover why they behaved in this way. What was their thinking behind it?

If there is a school culture of bad behaviour not being tolerated, try to find out why they think it is acceptable to behave in this way. Give examples of what good behaviour looks and feels like.

Draw them back to a picture in their mind of "good behaviour". Express your continuing trust and confidence in the pupil. Say something like: "I know you are better than this. I expect more of you, and if I'm not mistaken so do you." Reinforce the fact that bad behaviour is not tolerated at the school and reiterate that it is their behaviour you disapprove of, not them.

Keep painting this good-behaviour picture clearly and frequently and explain the consequences of poor behaviour. When the immediate problem has been resolved, encourage them to keep up the good work by praising them. Sharing your positive feelings will encourage them to demonstrate good behaviour. They might forget what you said and did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Behaviour is a direct reflection of our thoughts and beliefs: what we think about ourselves and the world we live in determines the way we behave towards it. If the school is built around a culture where everyone understands high standards of behaviour it will become easier to create the right environment.

Dr William Holden is chairman of motivation specialists Sewells and author of 'The Guide', a self-help book on personal development. For more behaviour advice, go to



- Address the problem as soon as possible.

- Try to find out why the pupil behaved the way they did and why they thought it was acceptable.

- Reinforce good behaviour with praise to try to change the way the pupil thinks about themselves.


- Apportion blame or let the pupil think it is them rather than their behaviour that is at fault.

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