Now here's the drill...

12th October 2007 at 01:00
Mark out your teaching area and patrol the class like a sergeant major. Woe betide anyone in the firing line, warns Sue Cowley.

A tricky question for you: where do the rebels sit? Yes, there they are at the back of the room, plotting mass revolt. Now another one: where do teachers stand? Ah, there you are at the front delivering your lesson. Have you spotted the flaw in the plan yet?

It's crucial to take control of your teaching space. Think of cats and the ways they mark their territory (no, no, please not the urinating) prowling the area, constantly on alert, hackles up at any sign of danger.

Find ways to establish the room as your own. Rejig the chairs and tables to suit your needs. Devise a seating plan. Meet and greet the pupils at the door. When trouble brews, get in close and tap your fingers on the desk. Not too close (watch that personal space) but close enough for the dreaded "coffee breath" to have an impact.

Don't get stuck at the front. Yes, I know that whiteboard cost a fortune; yes, I know you spent hours on a multimedia presentation. But don't stand protectively beside it. Get your arse in gear and circle the room like a hawk. Teaching is a physical, as well as an intellectual, activity.

And as the lesson finishes, be the one who says how and when the pupils will leave. Chairs tucked in, floor clear of rubbish, hardest working first yep, it's your space.

Sue Cowley is an educational author, trainer and presenter. Her books include Guerilla Guide to Teaching (Continuum). For more information, visit

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