Ten steps between heaven and hell

27th October 1995 at 00:00
Level 10. Teacher completely relaxed and comfortable; able to undertake any form of lesson activity without concern. Control not an issue - teacher and pupils working together, enjoying the experiences involved.

Level 9. Teacher completely in control of the class, can undertake any sort of classroom activity, but needs to exercise some controlauthority at times to maintain a calm and purposeful working atmosphere, in a friendly and relaxed manner.

Level 8. Teacher can establish and maintain a relaxed and co-operative working atmosphere and undertake any form of classroom activity, but with considerable thought and effort at times. Some forms of lesson activity may be less under control than others.

Level 7. Teacher can undertake any form of lesson activity, but the class may well be rather "bubbly" and rowdy; there may be minor instances of a few pupils messing around on the fringes of the lesson, but they desist on request. No challenges to authority. Class listens in silence, straight away.

Level 6. Teacher may need major effort to establish and maintain calm atmosphere. Several pupils will not remain on task without persistent surveillance, exhortation or threats.Lessons may be draining. Pupil activity may be limited by teacher to maintain control. Pupils sometimes are noisy, call out, or talk to each other at will across the room, but still no direct challenge to authority, refusal or major disruption.

Level 5. Teacher's control of the class is limited. Atmosphere at times rather chaotic, with several pupils manifestly not listening. Some of the pupils are challenging authority. Lesson format is constrained by these factors but still no open refusal, no major atrocities, just a lack of purposefulness and calm. Pupils who wanted to work could get on with it, albeit in a rather noisy atmosphere.

Level 4. Teacher takes time and effort to get the class to listen. Teacher tries "to get their heads down" on to written work as soon as possible. Lesson preparation is influenced more by control than by education. Pupils talk; minor transgressions (no pen, no exercise book, distracting others by talking) go unpunished. Teacher reluctant to sort out ringleaders, tries to "keep the lid on things" and concentrate on those pupils trying to get on with their work.

Level 3. Teacher dreads the thought of the lesson. There will be major disruption. Even pupils who want to work will have difficulty doing so. Swearwords may go unchecked, pupils will walk round the room at will.When teacher writes on the board, objects will be thrown around. Teacher can't wait for the lesson to end and be out of the room.

Level 2. Pupils largely determine what will go on in the lesson. Teacher takes materials into the lesson, but once distributed they will be ignored, drawn on or made into paper aeroplanes. Objects will be thrown at teacher rather than round the room. Teacher goes into the room hoping they will be in a good mood, that they will leave you alone and just chat to each other.

Level 1. Teacher's entry into the classroom is greeted by jeers and abuse. So many transgressions of the rules and what constitutes reasonable behaviour that teacher may turn a blind eye to atrocities to avoid confrontation, refusal or escalation. Some pupils deliberately commit atrocities under teacher's nose, for amusement. Teacher wishes he or she had not gone into teaching.

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