The Behaviour Question

22nd March 2013 at 00:00

One of the first rules of teaching is not to show emotions such as anger, frustration or fear during lessons. I could do with some tips on actually achieving this, particularly at the end of a full day's teaching. I'm in my fifth year and quietly confident in most of my classes, but there are a few, usually key stage 3, where I face an onslaught of questions, moans and problems from all directions. Before I know it, my emotional brain goes into panic mode. Do you have any tips for dealing with the many interactions that go on in lessons and staying cool, calm and collected?

What you said


Don't be controlled by your emotions but act them out in front of the students when you deem it necessary. Are you telling me that people respond to automatons? If you have influential students who are emotionally damaged or incapable, you need to be entirely businesslike. But other than that, act out the appropriate emotion when appropriate. MisterW

You could take some stress out of your lessons by having clear routines and sanctions for children who forget their exercise books or shout out questions. Know in your mind what these are and don't get rattled but apply the sanctions calmly. It will take time but things should improve. Also consider what you could do to make life in general less stressful. If tiredness is setting in before lessons are out, you may need to reduce your workload or make sure you are unwinding at night.

The expert view

Your dilemma is common to us all. But if you know what you will do in advance of the situation occurring, then you will be able to handle it much more efficiently. However, for the more erratic children, I recommend:

1. Tactical ignoring. If a student thinks it is cute to shout out, I refuse to respond until I am ready. Then I usually give them a cautionsanction for shouting and remind the class that I do not respond to communication that is not properly conveyed. It is amazing what this strategy allows you to ignore.

2. Follow up on that. Make sure that any students who shout out or repeatedly forget things spend some quality time with you in detention or tidying up. They quickly learn to change their behaviour.

3. There is no point getting stressed about things that aren't directly within your control. Their behaviour is their responsibility. What you do next is yours. Good luck.

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

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