The behaviour question

4th October 2013 at 01:00

Just occasionally, but without warning, I find myself shouting at a student when their poor behaviour has been relatively minor. I'm always immediately ashamed of my lack of professionalism. I haven't been able to spot a pattern of behaviour leading up to it happening, and if that is the case, how do I identify what is triggering my emotional outburst so that I can redirect myself towards a more constructive strategy?

What you said

Low-level disruption is like a drip, drip, drip on a rainy day. Count to 10, walk away, attend to something else, but do not shout. A teacher shouting at children is a sign that they are tired, have tried various strategies without any success and are desperate. We are only human, and the behaviour in some schools can be difficult.

I think it depends entirely on the child and what their behaviour actually was. Is it really unprofessional to shout at a student who has just done something really horrid to one of their peers? I have often found myself, in a raised voice someone else might describe as a shout, saying something like, "What on earth do you think you are doing?"

I would say that at no time are my "shouts" rooted in any form of emotional outburst, but the children don't generally know that and I actually think it's quite important for them to get a response that reflects their actions. If I have just seen a student punching someone, calmly telling them that I am going to fill out a pink slip and send it to the head of year, expecting them to sit down and get on with their work, is simply a dishonest response.

The expert view

You're only human. We all blow off steam. It's good that you've spotted this, though. Consider how it looks to the students: flaky, aggressive, emotional and weak. It might intimidate briefly but the overall effect is very negative.

It would be great if you could be filmed: imagine seeing yourself. You'd be so embarrassed. You're the adult. Keep practising restraint until it becomes habit. It's like giving up cigarettes. You might slip back a bit but the point is you keep on giving up.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog (bit.lytombennett) or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. Watch his behaviour videos at www.tesconnect.combehaviourvideos Tom's latest book, Teacher Proof, is out now, published by Routledge

Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour


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