Behaviour: Class management

1st October 2010 at 01:00
I'm an NQT and keen to get my behaviour management right from the beginning. Everyone tells me to be very strict from the start, but my PGCE taught me that this might turn the class against me. Any advice?

What you said

"My advice is to be firm, fair and above all consistent; if you say that you are going to do something you must follow it through. Never get into an argument with a student, especially in the classroom, as they will not back down in front of their peers."


"It's the teachers that give up and let things go that get a reputation as pushovers. Learn their names, names are power."


"Set expectations for each lesson before the students enter your room. Have a self-explanatory starter activity on the board or on tables so there is an obvious `something' for them to get on with."


The expert view

Above all, you have to be authentically yourself - your best, professional self, that is - so talk yourself into this mode before your first lesson. You will know from your PGCE year which behaviour management techniques worked for you and which didn't, and you need to remind yourself constantly in the early days at your new school of the lessons you have already learnt.

An inflexible approach, doing what you think other people expect of you, will not work: the art of teaching is in seeking to understand your pupils as quickly as possible, being highly sensitive to their needs and responding to them with adaptability and creativity.

In effect, your approach to them will be guided by their needs - but do not be misled into thinking that they should call the shots in terms of behaviour. Remember that you have responsibility for their education in your classroom; you are the one who should be guiding their learning, and you need to establish yourself in their eyes.

You need to "own" the classroom from the moment your pupils come in, making sure that nothing escapes your attention, and that you respond immediately to anything that will distract from their learning or the learning of others.

Be prepared to think on your feet. Your pupils will respect your knowledge of the subject, your commitment to them and your intelligent response to their needs. Be engaged, confident, consistent, enthusiastic and extremely well-prepared, and you will be setting yourself up to succeed.

Dr Helen Wright is headteacher of St Mary's School in Calne, Wiltshire, and a member of the Girls' Schools Association. For more behaviour advice, go to



  • Remind yourself of the behaviour management strategies that worked on your PGCE placements - and those that did not.
  • Remember that you are in charge and you should set the tone for the class.
  • Make sure you are well prepared and able to respond to your pupils' needs.
    • Don't

      • Adopt a particular approach because you think that is what is expected - be yourself.

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