Tips of the trade

21st September 2001 at 01:00
By now you are starting to get to know and like your class. You have your own classroom and you feel at home. But make sure you know your way around beyond the classroom. To walk around the school with confidence and authority you need to know where you are going. Have a wander - after school if necessary.

Avoid the temptation to bury your head and shuffle anonymously on your way. You should keep your head up and always be aware of your surroundings. You are on duty. The more vigilant you appear to be, the less likely it is that there will be anything to intervene in.

A cheery greeting to a pupil will usually get a response and give you an air of authority. Other courtesies will have the same effect. Don't let minor incidents go unremarked.

For too many new teachers, duty day is a low point. Ironically, while these duties carry the most risk and responsibility, you have probably had little advice on what to do.

Try to deal with incidents yourself, but you should know who has overall responsibility for the duty session. Know what your responsibilities are and where you should be. Be on time and be vigilant, and keep a constant lookout. Break duty is not a time for discussions with colleagues.

Watch colleagues at work. Notice how they deal with incidents and how pupils respond. Get involved. Intervene if you see heated discussions or unusual gatherings. This intervention need only be a physical presence - perhaps a reassuring "Is everything all right?" We pay for all tips we use. E-mail yours to

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