The behaviour question

25th October 2013 at 01:00

I've just started my first year in teaching and I am doing fine, apart from when I teach one particular class. A good three-quarters of the group have complete disregard for anything I say. The primary issue is that they just won't listen to any instruction. I do the long pauses, the detentions and everything else, but they still misbehave. There seems to be a mob mentality and they are not afraid of sanctions. There's definitely a main culprit who is a huge show-off and constant attention- seeker and always has to have the last word. What can I do?

What you said

Ask your head of department to help devise some sort of team-teaching where there are two adults in the room, just to get things sorted initially. Start again from the basics.

You need to forget about having a laugh or doing fun things for now if you want to have a firm control of this group.

The expert view

This is all perfectly normal, if enormously tiring. It's not you, as people say when they break up, it's them. It's the fact that you're new. It's their resentment of authority figures. It's their boredom and desire to amuse themselves. It's the mob mentality. Here is the medicine:

Lay out your boundaries again. Tell them what the rules are and the consequences of breaking those rules.

Report and log every act of misbehaviour. Give them detentions - lots of them. Carefully track those students who don't come and immediately enforce a more severe sanction.

Try for silence but give out work that they can all complete without much input from you - it doesn't matter if it is standard book or sheet work. That then frees you to track and amend behaviour.

Have students removed as soon as they start to seriously impede the lesson.

Insist that line management assist you. That is their job.

Cut off the head: aim for the worst culprits and make sure the class sees that you are dealing with them. Psychologically, it is important for you to show them that you are in charge. Right now, they feel that they are.

Collect them (or arrange for them to be collected) from their last lesson so that they cannot miss your detention.

In that detention, make sure they work, or write lines, or do something boring and unpleasant. It isn't a holiday, it's a deterrent.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru. 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

Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour


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