First reflect on your own self-image
In my opinion, the education system is failing teachers in the area of classroom discipline. They are given insufficient training in basic principles of psychology, which could help them with discipline issues and in building a child's self image, subsequently changing their behaviour. Instead, teachers are under such pressure to hit government-led targets and meet education trends that they don't have time to build pupils' characters.
A great teacher can have a significant impact on a child throughout their life. It is important, therefore, for teachers to understand the long-term implications of what they say and do in shaping a child's character and self-image.
According to analysis of GCSE results by the Institute for Public Policy Research, the quality of a child's teacher is the single most important factor - after the child's background - to impact on their performance. Therefore, teachers should be given straightforward training in how to improve their own self-image before they can begin to affect their pupils'.
If a teacher comes into class feeling inadequately equipped to deal with a pupil, children will instinctively sense this and use it to their advantage. Research shows that children quickly learn how to assume a sense of power from siblings and peers, although they may not understand the implications of their actions.
The teacher who is respected, valued and trusted can be the anchor in the lives of vulnerable adolescents. If there is to be more training for teachers - both pre and in service - it is right to focus this on classroom practice, much of which has its roots in an understanding of human behaviour.
Heather Wright, Behavioural analyst and co-founding director, Leading Light, Lancashire.