THE Behaviour Question
I'm working in a very challenging school as an NQT. During training, my behaviour management was strong and I think I manage behaviour well. But I have one particular class where the pupils don't listen, do what they like, don't work, are very rude, walk out of class and so on. The school sanction system is completely ineffective. Pupils also don't care if parents are called. I tried to use more rewards but this has had little effect. This is a school-wide issue. Now even some of the nicer kids are badly misbehaving - serious things such as verbal assault of teachers, throwing objects and constantly truanting. What can I do?
What you said
It sounds as though the school needs to do what one institution in Wales did recently - a new head arrived and operated zero tolerance. Parents and pupils were told in advance that pupils would be sent home if they arrived in non-regulation clothing, were abusive and so on. They apparently sent 200 pupils home on the first day but stuck to their guns and had a marked improvement in educational outcomes that year. My niece had a wonderful teaching practice there as it became a vibrant place.
You must plan your lessons to allow for maximum time managing behaviour. Log all infringements and make sure any physical assaults are officially recorded.
I support this. It just goes to show that if schools want to change, they can - if they implement the right practice.
The expert view
You sound as if you are suffering from one of the hardest things to solve: a school that is weak on behaviour. Here are my thoughts:
1. Find others who have good behaviour in their lessons. Talk to them, observe them, get them to observe you and offer advice.
2. What are the school sanction options? There must be some. Use as many of these as you can. You can set detentions, surely? If the pupils fail to attend then escalate into more serious sanctions. If it gets worse press for exclusions.
3. Phone calls home are only effective if the parents buy into what you are saying so try to be positive but disappointed rather than angry with the parents. Ask them to help you by supporting a detention or administering some sanctions at home.
But little of this will help without supportive line management. You need backup. If a school does not support its new teachers (and all teachers) in behaviour management then it does not deserve to have any staff or children. If it is that bad look somewhere else. There are better schools out there.
Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES blog, or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum
Post your questions at www.tes.co.ukbehaviour.