Behaviour: Personal comments

13th May 2011 at 01:00
I'm a student teacher and some girls I teach are making personal comments as I walk past. Colleagues advise me to ignore it, but this seems to make the girls bolder. This is now affecting my work as I feel I have to avoid them. What should I do?

What you said

"If you ignore them it'll probably get worse and others will be drawn in. Your line management needs to deal with these girls very firmly - insist that they do."


"Go and see your head of year or department, explain the issue and say you would like to give the girls some kind of sanction. Request support from them in enforcing the sanction."


"Find out the names of the girls involved, then have them summoned to the office of the head of yearform tutor one by one. As a group they have a collaborative courage; alone they are just young girls."


The expert view

When the next incident occurs, make careful notes straight afterwards, detailing comments, those involved, dates and times. Talk openly and honestly with your university tutor and school mentor and bring your notes with you. Explain how these comments make you feel.

Make sure you are aware of, and confident about, the behaviour-management strategies and policies of the school so that any actions you take are in line with these. The next time the problem arises, ensure you are in an open place and inform the girls calmly and clearly that they are breaching the school's code of acceptable behaviour and respect, that you do not talk to them in those terms and you expect them to be polite in return. Do not let them interrupt and do not get sidetracked. Warn the girls that you will be taking further action if it happens again and check that they understand.

If it helps, organise a meeting with each of them individually, with you and a more senior member of staff present. However, in the first instance it is better to deal with this yourself if possible. If the pupils see that you need support in order to discipline them they may take advantage of this when you are alone, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

If this happens again, inform the girls that they were warned that further action would be taken, then arrange for each one to be interviewed by you and another staff member and issue a suitable sanction, depending on the policy of the school.

You can protect yourself by remembering that you are the adult in this situation and that you are not the first person, nor will you be the last, to fall victim to their attempts to wind up the teacher.

Kate Aspin is a senior lecturer in primary education at Huddersfield University. For more advice, go to



- Make a note of each occasion on which this happens, including names, comments, dates and times.

- Make sure you are familiar with the school's behaviour-management policy.

- Talk to the girls and explain that you will be taking further action if it happens again.


- Involve other staff if you can avoid it - this gives the pupils a message that you need help to discipline them.


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