The behaviour question

24th January 2014 at 00:00

As the eldest of seven children, I grew up in a household where everything was played out at top volume. I've recently realised that I have brought that into teaching with me. I'm a newly qualified teacher working supply shifts so I'm not sure what would happen if I had my own class, but my inclination in lessons is to rise above noise levels and raise my voice as an indicator that something is wrong. This way of interacting tends to increase the volume in the classroom. I don't have behaviour management issues in general, but dealing with a loud (and getting louder) class is exhausting. And it leads to the dragging sensation that you've done nothing but nag all day. I work in a lot of inner-city schools, where if I waited for silence I would grow old and die before the students looked round. I work with three- to seven-year-olds. Does anyone have any advice on how to de-escalate noise and "franticness" in a classroom?

What you said.


It's not easy, but try to talk in a quiet voice yourself so that the children have to be quieter to hear you. Give rewards to children who are listening. A noise meter can be good, too - they're cheap to buy and the children are fascinated by the dial moving. Sanction those who spoil it for others. Don't give whole-class sanctions as some children will be keeping quiet and it's not fair to punish them.

The expert view

Shouting is fine if you keep it in a box and only let it out when you need it. If the class is really noisy there's nothing wrong with a short sharp bellow to let them know it's time to come in from the zoo and get busy getting quiet. But after that you need your "slightly louder than normal conversation" voice. The fact that you've spotted this as an issue means that you can control yourself. Keeping the volume turned up to 11 all day is pointless as it just becomes background noise, and there's no difference between being disappointed and being pleased. Watch someone you admire and see how they speak. Better still, have yourself filmed and see how you look and sound. It's sobering, I assure you.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. Watch his behaviour videos at www.tesconnect.combehaviourvideos

Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now