Behaviour (bad) and its management are inescapable issues for teachers today, at least if the postings to our forums are any gauge of the profession's concerns (and if they're not, I'd like to know what is).
Last autumn, we set up a behaviour forum to accompany Friday magazine's 10-part series on the topic, but any thoughts of this being a temporary forum were soon banished. Seven months on, it's busier than ever.
This week we had a fine crop of threads. On Wednesday, bombikea set a challenge: who could claim the shortest elapsed time between disciplining a pupil and the school receiving a complaint from the parents? Bombikea's own bid seemed impressive: "I told a child off just before break, she phoned her mum in break and the head of year contacted me 14 minutes later."
But Redwing could do better: "Last day of spring term I told off a girl, parent on phone asking for deputy head three minutes later."
Then along came eddbanger with the two-minute winner. But in his case the parent was also a dinner lady at the school.
Teachur had a heartening story. Having told off a child, said child phoned mum right away in class. Teachur grabbed the phone, told the mum why, confiscated the phone, and has had no word from that mum since.
If only behaviour management in our forums was as effective. During the holidays, with postings breaking the 3,000-per-day barrier, we almost lost the plot. Each post averages 50 words. War and Peace has 600,000 words: four days' worth of forum postings. So we opted for Plan D, and built a detention forum, to which disruptive posters could be consigned for an indeterminate period. Detainees could talk among themselves, but could no longer disrupt the mainstream forums.
The first two miscreants to find themselves in this virtual sin bin were variants on a notorious mischief-maker, chris1bn. Chris2OO5 and Chris2006 became instant cell mates, swapping baccy and fantasising about cakes with files inside.
Then Chris2006 started his prison diary, or rather blog. It's more Adrian Mole than Gramsci, but see what you think.
"Day 8. Had some new cellmates yesterday. Chris insists on sleeping in my bunk and maddy and richardandjudy are spending a lot of time under the covers.
"We all watched The Great Escape again on tape this morning. Richard or judy said we should set up an escape committee."
There's a truly reformed character, I don't think. You know where you can read the rest. I have to get back on playground duty.
Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website. www.tes.co.ukstaffroom