The behaviour question

22nd November 2013 at 00:00

I'm a newly qualified teacher and have a problem with persistent low-level to mid-level disruption and disrespect. I have most of the bottom sets. There are 30 students per class: usually 15 or so are fine, seven are prone to being led by the others but can be good and the rest are perpetually disruptive. They will not stop talking over me, they throw things constantly, four or five of them are permanently out of their seats, they shout out all the time and they deliberately ignore me. I have sent them out to work in another lesson, I have given them behaviour points, I have given them detentions, I have put two on report. The head of department sticks her head in once a lesson to check on me and glare at some of the worst offenders (whereupon they all become angelic and fall silent). But it still doesn't seem to have any effect. In response to my requests for help, the school does nothing. All I've been told is to go on a behaviour-based continuing professional development course. The thing is, I've read all the books, and watched the videos. I really do not know where to go from here. I can't stand a whole year of this.

What you said ...


The students need to see that you are serious, that you have high standards and that you won't give in. Remember to praise, too - it's really important that those students who want to learn are rewarded.

The expert view

Remember, this is not your fault. You are in a particularly difficult space. You are new to the students. They have not developed the trust in you or the respect that you need. Your school also appears to actively undermine new teachers. You do not need continuing professional development or behaviour videos. What you need is:

1. To keep pressing your sanctions as often as required. Repetition is one of the magic keys to behaviour management. Never give up. Even when it seems like you are having no effect, you probably are.

2. For your line management to grow a pair of testicles. Press them, too (line managers, not their testicles). Keep bugging them to do what the school behaviour policy says they should do. Read that document until you know it better than they do. Then follow up with them to the bitter end. And if they don't do it, ask why.

3. If all else fails, to leave and go somewhere that appreciates its staff.

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.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today