Peter's story

8th October 2004 at 01:00
The majority of secondary teachers now believe indiscipline is a major concern - but most primary staff do not share that view. David Henderson reports

A teacher for 12 years, Peter Harris found a particular class failing to settle and keep on-task after the first few months of term. It left him irritable and it spoiled his other classes. He realised that the only days he enjoyed coming to school were those when the S2 "terror team" were not timetabled. He wondered if he was losing his touch.

David Roderick, his behaviour co-ordinator, went over a checklist to get a shared understanding of the behaviours Peter encountered, some aspects of his style and approach, and the classroom layout. Together they recognised that two pupils had problems concentrating and this led to the distraction of others. They also adjusted the seating to minimise disruption and amended the "welcome" routine at the beginning of class. Peter set out his expectations for the lesson and placed it in the context of the history curriculum.

These small changes made a difference but concentration was still wandering. Direct teaching was split into two or three bursts in a lesson, providing pupils with a menu of tasks and breaking up the class into paired or small groups. This worked.

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