The Behaviour Question

19th October 2012 at 01:00

YouTube is blocked for pupils at my school, but I wanted to use it in a lesson so I logged on with my own password. I later discovered that one of the pupils had filmed me with an iPad to obtain my password, and that he and his friends had then used it to play online games that would otherwise be blocked. I've changed my password but am worried about the consequences. I've been told off by another staff member. Can I be sacked?

What you said


You were naive but you are not the first teacher, nor the last, to be so. You have clearly learned from this experience, so don't worry about it. They will not sack you - at worst it will be written on your records but I doubt even that. Put it down to experience.


You are being way too hard on yourself: what you describe could have happened to anyone - and besides, you have learned a valuable lesson that you would not pick up out of a teaching textbook. You have discovered what pupils are capable of doing with iPads and will now be in a position to take steps to prevent it as far as possible in future lessons. Perhaps in a few monthsyears, you will reflect on this and laugh. I have had things happen to me in class that I thought were the end of the world, but because no serious harm was done, I could laugh about them later.

The expert view

You have no need to feel dumb; you are not defeated; you are certainly not alone.

You have simply made a small error. No one was hurt and nothing was damaged beyond repair. You are being far too hard on yourself. Ironically, I find it is the people with the highest standards who often do this, because they expect so much of themselves and then feel the contrast more keenly when they cannot always match those expectations.

In your career, you will make many mistakes. How will you deal with them? This is as much a test of your ability as anything else. No doctor can save all his patients; no lawyer wins every case. When you trip, stand up again and be more careful in future.

Unfortunately, in all walks of life, there will be people - usually small, incompetent people - who take delight in torturing others over their mistakes. I suspect it makes them feel better about themselves. Or possibly you have taken their criticism too much to heart? In any case, making mistakes is a necessary part of getting better, as is being told when you have erred.

Forget all about it. The mistake is in the past, and your career is in the future. If you can balance your high expectations with perspective, I expect you will make an excellent teacher. Head up, now.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his blog,, or follow him on Twitter at @tombennett71. His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum

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