The behaviour question

31st January 2014 at 00:00

I currently have the most difficult group of students I have taught for years. They are a combination of really challenging learners with interesting outside-of-school lives and a large group of unmotivated and lazy boys. I have tried loads of seating plans but I just can't split up the lazy ones enough. The other issue is that three of the students are causing chaos. They turn up late to lessons so I try to keep them back for detention. Sometimes they stay and sometimes they just walk out. The rest of the class simply don't complete coursework when I ask them to. I am starting to issue detentions but they don't show up. After that, they get a detention with my head of department but he is also assistant head and not very effective at setting detentions, which means it is taking too long for him to see them after they have missed mine. Any advice on these issues would be great.

What you said


I think you probably need to stop battling with them and get them onside. Have a bit of a heart-to-heart with them, remind them that their exams are important and that they are virtually adults and need to start taking responsibility for their learning.

The expert view

At this point in the proceedings there are, I think, two strategies that need to be experimented with:

  1. The most obvious approach would be to cut off the head of the snake. The small group of children who are disrupting the lesson for the others need not to be there any more. Have them taken elsewhere for the duration of the lesson, by whatever means necessary. Everyone else in the class deserves a safe working environment and right now they aren't getting it. Only allow re-entry as part of a package of behaviour promises.
  2. There are only two forms of motivation: deterrence and reward. As with some adults, children can't be reasoned with: they don't make decisions rationally but act based on moment-by-moment preference and appetite, so there's often little point endlessly talking them down. Just insist on a certain level of work each lesson, and explain to them that if they don't manage to complete it they need to stay behind, subject to further sanctions. What they need are clear boundaries and high expectations.
    1. 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 here

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