Pavlov's dogs listen to the bell

23rd September 2005 at 01:00
A good behaviour policy is one with whistles, bells and flashing lights, according to teachers on the TES website.

Contributors to the online staffroom have been debating the best way to stop fractious Year 8s talking throughout lessons.

Most agreed that a raised voice is not enough. One teacher suggested using a whistle to call for silence. Another recommended flicking the lights on and off.

One contributor said: "I have a glass bell (pound;1.50 from a charity shop). Got a few laughs the first time I used it, but now I have my class trained like Pavlov's dogs."

Others appeal to pupils' more competitive instincts. "I have a stopwatch with a loud beep that I press when they start talking, and again when it's quiet," said one teacher. "I write down the amount of time it takes, and then tell them they have to beat it next time."

Alternatively, teachers can divide the class into teams, and award points on the basis of which team is silent first.

Or they can write the names of pupils on the board, awarding ticks for good behaviour. Any pupil with three ticks by the end of the lesson is given a reward.

Some teachers prefer to resort to the dramatic. One suggested: "If they really won't shut up, sit at your desk and ignore them. Make sure you are doing something. If you keep looking up, they know you are waiting, and ignore you.

"You should have them asking if you are going to teach them within five minutes."

Suggestions also included introducing a silent session, where work is set from a textbook, and any conversation is met with an immediate detention.

Further silent sessions can then be used as a threat.

One teacher said: "When they come in the room, get them to stand behind their desks in silence before they can sit down. Most do not like standing for very long."

But many contributors maintain that the oldest techniques are still the best. Several praised the effectiveness of seating plans and telephone calls home to parents.

But pupils take pride in outsmarting teachers. One contributor wrote the word "silence" on the board, rubbing off one letter for each infraction.

When the entire word is gone, a sanction is imposed. "This has worked well for me," she said. "Although one cheeky monkey asked if I could write 'supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'."

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