I'm a student teacher and find it incredibly difficult to pinpoint the perpetrators of bad behaviour when there are several children misbehaving at once. I find that, as a result, I am coming across as inconsistent because I'm not sanctioning some students who deserve it. I feel really frustrated about this but I can't work out how to apply sanctions consistently when I can't tell who I should be applying them to. Do you have any suggestions for how I can improve my awareness of behaviour across the whole classroom?
What you said
I had similar problems at my first placement - especially the inconsistency. I was told to begin to note visibly any and every behaviour I saw that did not meet my expectations. If anybody misbehaved, I wrote their name and a mark on the board. I set the number of marks for a sanction quite high (five marks) so that they could get used to it. It seemed to work.
My advice would be to implement a new seating plan and to plan lessons so you do not have to circulate as much.
The expert view
You mean you weren't issued with your visor of a hundred eyes and the headphones of omniscience when you were sent in? Your training provider should be shot. Of course, these wonderful artefacts don't exist. No teacher can see or understand everything in their class. The first thing to say is that you shouldn't worry too much about being perfectly fair. You can't get everyone every time. What you can do is to sanction people you clearly see misbehaving and then the problem erodes over time. A good tip is to make a seating plan so that the majority of the troublemakers are near you, interspersed with children they don't talk to. Then make your base the front of the class. Try not wandering around for a while. Sit yourself down, take some weight off your feet. Whatever you do, always face the class, and if you have to move around adopt a crab-like gait so that you can always face potential troublemakers. Sanction the ones you catch. That's all you can do. If they holler "foul" at you just explain - once - that this is what you'll do because it's the only fair thing. Good luck.
Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog (bit.lytombennett) or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. His latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum
Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour.