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18th January 2008 at 00:00
I teach a BTEC group which is quite challenging and this course gave me useful strategies. After I had been on it, I greeted everyone with a smile. They said: "You're in a good mood today, Miss." It made me realise just how negative my body language had become.

I've tried to use more praise and rewards. Pupils in lower ability groups are aware of their situation, they don't want to be reminded of it. A little praise goes a long way. If a lesson has gone well, I tell them how much I enjoyed it. It makes it clear that there's a link between how they behave and how I feel.

It's important not to let things irritate you. I used to have a problem with people not bringing pens to lessons. Now, I lend them a pen, but only if they give me something of theirs in return. They get it back at the end of the lesson, if they remember to return my pen. It's only a bit of fun, but it's helped changed the atmosphere in the classroom.

Being assertive isn't the same thing as being aggressive. It's about drawing clear boundaries and enforcing them, while at the same time being positive and cheerful

Denise Sharkey is an enterprise teacher at de Ferrers Technology College in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire. She was talking to Steven Hastings.

THE DETAILS

Assertive Teaching to Manage Challenging Behaviour is run by Mill Wharf Training and being repeated at a range of venues in 2008. Dates include January 23 in London, February 5 in Coventry, May 6 in Manchester and June 18 in London.

Cost pound;195 or pound;175 for early bookings.

www.mill-wharf-training.co.uk.

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