Behaviour: Ignored by pupils

24th June 2011 at 01:00
I'm a TA working in a Year 4 class with a few badly behaved boys. If the teacher is present it doesn't escalate, but if it's just me they don't listen, even when I use the same sanctions and language as the teacher. How can I get them to follow my instructions?

What you said

"How long have you been with the class? If it's not long then it may be that you need a bit of time to become established with them - just be relentless and consistent with the sanctions and I should think they will catch on eventually."

Mr Leonard

"Ask (the teacher) to talk to the children and clearly communicate the idea that if you give her a list of names of children misbehaving then she will deal with it exactly the same as if it happened when she was present."


"You could try keeping the group behind at the end of the lesson and tell them off yourself, with the teacher standing near."


The expert view

The art of managing difficult behaviour can be stressful even for the most accomplished practitioner. If you prepare well and think positively, you are more likely to win at changing the children's behaviour. Henry Ford once said: "Whether you think you can, or think you can't - you're right." Positive attitudes are contagious and will affect the children's outlook in class.

When dealing with a challenging situation, it is important to detach yourself and not take it personally. Instead, breathe deeply and display a calm and confident exterior as this may help to reduce a child's anxiety and their frustration and enable them to feel more secure. Remember to keep your tone of voice low and calm no matter how frustrated or upset you may be feeling. Remember also to reassure the class or individual pupils that you care about them and that their display of misbehaviour has not affected your overall concern for their welfare. When pupils feel the teaching assistant is in control, they are more likely to calm down and make the right choice and so improve their behaviour.

The single most important message in achieving good behaviour management is consistency. It must be made clear to the class that if a rule is broken, a corrective must be implemented so that the child can be given every chance to reflect on their actions. Encouraging children to make the right choices and to keep class rules is always a priority. A consistent approach sends a positive message to the children. Correctives need to be timely, specific, logical, reasonable and fair, with a clear beginning and ending.

Nicola S Morgan is a behaviour management consultant, author and co- founder of For more behaviour advice, go to



Think positively - it will help to change the outlook of the class.

Be consistent - if a rule is broken, there will always be consequences.


Take it personally - detaching yourself from the situation will help you to deal with it logically.

Cope with this on your own; enlist the teacher's support.


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