The behaviour question

21st February 2014 at 00:00

I have an all-male class and am due to teach a lesson on condoms as part of a sex education module. Do you have any tips on how to encourage the children to be sensible and stop them from messing about? I know from experience that this is not a particularly mature group and I fear that the class will act up, disrupting the lesson and taking away none of the important advice on offer.

What you said


A teacher I work with has a great tactic that he uses for these sorts of classes: at the start of the lesson, get the students to think of all the words for a condom andor penis they can, and say them out loud in a class discussion. It doesn't matter if it's a swear word or rude. This tactic gets it all out in the open and takes some of the power out of it.


I start by telling the kids that they will be discussing very adult topics and I trust that they will behave accordingly, listen and ask appropriate questions. If you assume that they will mess about, they probably will. If you exude a confidence that they are mature enough to handle the subject sensibly, they usually will. And if anyone starts misbehaving, don't tell them off, just ask how old they are and if they are seriously going to do whatever it is they are attempting.

The expert view

Be confident and treat it like any other lesson. The students will smell fear on you if you dwell on your anxieties. It is important that they learn this stuff, so keep that uppermost in your mind. I couldn't agree less with the "get them to brainstorm as many rude words as they can" tactic. It's a recipe for mayhem, I assure you. If you ask them to do this then you guarantee a descent into the darkest of places, which is exactly what you were trying to avoid in the first place. This isn't a boil to be lanced - it's an artery that needs a clamp.

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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