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Advice for NQT starting in September

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by shamichak, Jun 20, 2008.

  1. Im starting my NQT this September (Secondary) and am keen to get my behaviour management right from the beginning so that I do not have any problems for the rest of the year. Everyone tells me to be very strict from the beginning but I found during my PGCE placements that this has a potential to turn the class against you. Any adivce would be gratefully appreciated.
  2. Im starting my NQT this September (Secondary) and am keen to get my behaviour management right from the beginning so that I do not have any problems for the rest of the year. Everyone tells me to be very strict from the beginning but I found during my PGCE placements that this has a potential to turn the class against you. Any adivce would be gratefully appreciated.
  3. teacherofmany

    teacherofmany New commenter

    Personally I would say it's not about being strict per se, but about being firm, fair and consistent. Ask for the behaviour&/rewards policy before the summer and prepare anything you feel you need to implement it from day 1 e.g. ticklist/merits/charts or whatever the school use.

    It would also be useful to spend some time talking to/watching teachers (ideally NQTS from this year as they'll know how it feels to try and interpret the policy from a newcomer's point of view) and ask for tips on how to implement the chosen system - some of them seem incredibly complicated on paper but once you've seen them in action it makes a whole lot more sense.

    As you're a secondary teacher it will be important to set expectations for each lesson before the students enter your room. Have a self-explanatory starter activity on the board or on tables (can be wordsearches or brainteasers, use goodmorningchildren.com for simple ones or for inspiration) so there is an obvious something for them to get on with. Meet and greet the class, perhaps sending them in a row at a time, "first row please you four, instructions are on the board" and wait until they've sat down before the next four go in and so on.... if you stand half in/half out of the room you'll be able to see both the waiting line(!) and those who've been sent in. Depending on the school's BP you might want to award merits/mini celebrations sweets/similar to those who've come in and followed instructions. This kind of settling session will take time from the academic learning but the process will speed up as time goes on as the routine becomes familiar. Be prepared to be firm - standing in a doorway is boring but it puts you in control from the outset.

    One of the things that I'd advise against is introducing your own system/s but chopping and changing it like the weather... it will take you a while to get used to teaching in the school full stop what with planning, learning names of staff and pupils, finding your way around etc. etc. never mind being 100% confident on your implementation of the BP. This is where consistency is crucial - if you approach the management of behaviour in a consistent fashion then not only will it mean you won't have lots of different BM strategies to remember for every group you teach but you'll also find it easier to identify aspects that aren't working for you.

    The other thing is easier said than done - remove emotion from the way you respond to disruptive or challenging behaviour. Hopefully this will be addressed in the BP but I've found the 1, 2, 3...magic method of BM particularly helpful with this. A brief summary is as follows: when a child engages in a low-level disruptive behaviour (aka 'stop behaviour') you say, X that's 1. If they do the same/something similar within the session the response is, "X, that's 2". Repeat until they receive 3 reminders and they are sent out. The idea is to remove emotion from BM situations and, those who do it well quickly send the message to pupils that they will not engage in a discussion about the behaviour/fairness/who started it etc. The teacher does not say, "X that's a 1 because you kissed your teeth at me, don't you know how disrespectful that is? Do you see me kissing my teeth at you? No? So don't do it to me...now where were we...?". Pupils who answer back to a 'count' are told, "X that's 2/3" depending on where they'd got to. The reason I've explained this is that it is based on reminders and calmness, not stressed out teachers 'having a go' at pupils wasting their learning time and the like. The system as a whole may not be used in your new school but the emotion-free approach can be utilised anywhere.

    Good luck!

  4. Thanks for your response. You have a lot of useful ideas which I will definitely seek to use.
  5. BigFrankEM

    BigFrankEM Established commenter

    Think of getting a different job in a different line of work. Before September.

    I know that seems to be unhelpful, but nobody will give you better advice than I have just done in the first sentence above.

    Good luck, however.

    My God, how you´ll need that. And the hide of a rhinoceros. And the psyche of one too.
  6. All great sound advice on previous posts. I would always have a copy of Bill Rogers Classroom behaviour to read and re-read, I would also read Michael Marland the craft of the classroom.

    I was a lousy PGCE and a lousy NQT completely clueless, took it all personal, self doubt, getting into silly debates with year 8 (how stupid of me debating with experts), bring on the valium and cornflakes. 5 years down the line OFSTED say my lessons are outstanding, I breeze into classrooms.

    Five years ago I heard a child say of me (he is nothing, you can do what you like)

    Five years later I heard another child say watch out here comes Hitler. I wanted to give him a merit point.

    sometimes I observe student teachers learning the trade. But I never forget how hard I found it and how rewarding it become in the end.

  7. Hi,
    With the exception of knowing your school's behavioural policy, the most important thing that you can do is to draw up a seating plan for each class that you will be teaching. You will need to refer to the AEN register, taking into consideration any medical needs, such as hearing / sight problems, naturally sitting them near to the front of the class. I always seat the class boy/girl, in pairs facing the front, tends to stop them chatting. If there are any students on the AEN register with behavioural issues, then I sit them on the front row, next to a good student (you may need to make slight changes once you get to know the class).
    A seating plan has several advantages, ie it shows the class, from the beginning, that you are in charge. It stops friends choosing to sit next to each other and so not concentrating on their work. You have divided those with behavioural problems and have aided those with medical conditions. The AEN register will also inform you of any students that should not be seated near to each other. You should find, providing that you enforce it, that there is less talking (make sure that you nip any moaning, outside the classroom about a seating plan in the bid). Also it stops the arguments between students as to who is sitting where. You will have the advantage of the seating plan to learn the names of the students, which always takes time, and so may direct questions, using the students' names. By doing this, it will impress those observing you that you have taken the needs of the individuals into consideration and can address them by name.
    I would also suggest that you always line the class up outside the classroom and check that their unform is correct before allowing them to enter, standing by the doorway to ensure that those both inside the classroom and outside are behaving.
    I would also suggest that, where possible, you have the date, lesson title, learning objective and key words on the board before the students come in. Then ask one student to hand out the exercise books and get the students on task straight away by writing the above in their books, whilst you call the register. Always ensure that the students are silent whilst you call the register, stopping if necessary to ensure this. Also make sure that their reply is 'Yes Miss', 'Yes Sir', by doing this you are setting the standard that you expect in your classroom. They will, from time to time, test you so you must be consistent.
    My advice is to be firm, fair and above all consistent; if you say that you are going to do something, e.g. phone home, then you must follow that through. Never get into an argument with a student, especially in the classroom, as they cannot/will not back down in front of their peers. Always remember that you are the adult and they are the child, even if they are 6'4"! If you tell a student to move and they want to argue why, then the simple answer is 'Because I said so', in a firm voice, thus giving them nothing to argue about. I suggest that if a student is not doing their work, then in a short sentence, 'Ryan, on with your work' and then turn away, showing that you just expect Ryan to do as you say. If Ryan doesn't, then I would suggest telling him to go outside the classroom, where you can speak to him and warn of detention/phone call home, depending on the 'incident'.
    When you have had to tell a student off, I suggest that you do the following after a few minutes either ask the student a question, which you are sure they can answer, or check that they understand their work, in a pleasant voice, thus showing the student and class that the incident was not personal.
    With group work, always choose the groups yourself, using your seating plan; this way no one is left to feel a 'Billy no mates' and you will have more control of the task. Your seating plan sorts out your paired work.
    When talking to individual students, always place yourself in the best position to view the whole class and, if possible, crouch down to their level.
    Phone calls home are a very good tool and most students don't like it. If you set a detention for say break and the student does not turn up, then I would suggest that the next time you have a 'Free' period before break or lunch, that you go five minutes before the end of their lesson and pick them up to serve your detention. You usually find that most teachers don't mind you doing this and it shows not only the student, but the rest of the students, that you mean what you say - consistent. This is where a lot of teachers go wrong. It is hard work building up a positive reputation in a school, you have to follow everything through and often, in the first couple of years, give up a lot of time, e.g. break, lunch after school, but believe me it works and you will find that eventually, the students will know that it is not worth misbehaving in your class. If you have a student who is particularly difficult then use his/her Head of Year or your curriculum leader to support you.
    On very rare occasions, when a student flatly refuses to leave a classroom, then I suggest that you ask the class to line up outside the classroom, leaving the student. Once they are outside, and certainly not in front of the said student, ask a good student to get your curriculum leader/ Head of Year to assist. Often you will find that the student who is misbehaving does not want to stay in the class on their own, as they have lost their audience and will leave the room, in which case filter the students back in, keeping the said student outside. Always apologise to the class for the disruption to their lesson.
    If there is an incident in the classroom and you need to know who did it, e.g. something was taken or thrown, then ensuring that the class sit in silence, give each student a small piece of paper and tell them to write down the name of the person who did it and fold the piece of paper ready to give back to you. Do not allow them to make verbal comments, ie 'Don't know', 'Not giving a name' as this may encourage the others not to write. You may end up with a lot of 'Don't knows' because they haven't seen anything, but you will probably find several with the same name(s).
    Try to develop the tone of your voice and the use of body language is also very good, i.e. a look, raised eyebrow often says more than words. Always hold your head high walking through the corridors, as students are very good at picking up weaknesses through body language and you will find yourself, after a few years of teaching, that you can spot those teachers who are going to have problems just by reading their body language.
    I would also suggest that you always remember that you are there to do a professional job, ie to teach, not be their friend and that you cannot go far wrong, in your first couple of years, with the old saying 'Don't smile before Christmas.'
    I do hope that you find the above suggestions useful, they have certainly worked for me over the years. Once you have a good reputation in a school, the students know where to draw the line with you and you can start to have fun. You will have earned their respect and they will enjoy coming to your lessons because they are able to learn and feel safe, knowing that you have their best interests at heart.
    Best wishes for September,
  8. Thanks for the brilliant advice. As a soon to be NQT, I too want to know how show the kids I mean business from day one.

    I will most definitely take heed of the good advice I have been given, and I will 'try' not to smile until Christmas!
  9. *EDIT :'I too want to know how TO show the kids I mean business from day one.'
  10. Thanks for this thread - really useful advice.
    Since I'm primary and KS1, I think it's going to be difficult not to smile 'til Christmas! They make me laugh too much.
  11. What fantastic ideas/help.

    Thank you!

    I'm looking forward to starting far too much. I need to learn to make the most of my holidays NOW! I'll calm down after going in school next week I think and start thinking of it in the job sense...I hope, otherwise I'll make a rod for my own back!
  12. Think there's some fantastic advice there, in addition I would say that you should remember all these steps will do is minimise discipline issues, nobody NEVER has problems, so don't be too hard on yourself if you makes errors of judgement, we all do it sometimes, but you learn from it so it's valuable.
    and about the not being too strict so as not to have them turn against you, truth is, kids respect a teacher who does their job well. I was known as 'The *****' by my old year 11's. They didn't all like me, but they recognised that I got good work out of them.

    Good luck :O)
  13. 1 Do smile, and well before Xmas, having a sense of humour and using it will not make you weak, its trying too hard please kids that does that.

    2. Don't shout and don't get angry, never take it personally, its not, they are just kicking against the system not you. As soon as you lose it at least some will see that as a victory and plan a repeat next lesson, even if they had to do an hour after
    school for it , they still got 'a result'. I ripped a door of its hinges once, it was round the whole school before I had reached my next lesson.

    3. It is not so much "showing them you mean business" that counts, its the fact that you actually do (mean business). You do this with tenacity and determination. NEVER accept poor behaviour. Whatever strategy you adopt to confront it do so, even if you just stand there and nag them until you bore them into good behaviour (I have seen this approach work well)

    Its the teachers that give up and let things go that get a reputation as pushovers.

    4. Best strategy? Probably the ones most commonly used in your school as the kids are used to them, expect them and tend to accept them without demur.
    For instance nearly every teacher will find that shouting is less effective at quietening most classes than suddenly falling silent. Because it is such a comon technque. When teachers do this kids tend to stop talking, call for quiet and at least some will ignore you. In our school a common technique to silence a group is to make them stand up, because its so widely used they understand it and the expectation its use implies.

    5. Learn their names, names are power. "Young man" can be ignored, "James put that down" is harder to ignore. I used to print out class photo sets.

    6. Praise good behaviour, sometimes publicly, sometimes quietly. 80% of behaviour management should be positive.

    Now for some slightly more controversial advice

    a) Do not pick fights unless you know you can win them. Leave the tougher year 11s for the more senior staff to deal with. There is little point in calling after a year 11, who is already walking away from you, to pick up a crisp packet you are fairly sure he dropped. He will ignore you, argue with you, and you may have to call senior staff anyway. The world will not end if you quietly let a few things pass that nobody knows you saw anyway. In a few years when YOU are the establised staff you can catch up by helping newer staff in turn. I fought every battle I could find in my determination to be respected. It will wear you out. I still confront issues others will ignore but now I have the credibility, the time in post and the longevity to make this easier.

    b) Practise exercising your authority on compliant year 7's. Practice by being firm but fair with those you teach, practise on your own form, then gradually expand your personal disciplinary remit. It will give you confidence, build your presence in the school and 5 years later they will ALL (well most) obey you with little fuss.

    c) I spent my first few years working hard to make sure they all "Knew I meant business" as a result I was seen as unreasonable and 'stressy'. Now I can enforce the same rules I did then but with a little more panache and often using humour. Where before I would sternly demand "spit the gum into the bin young man you know its against the rules etc etc" I would now line up a joke..........however feeble..
    "Has anyone seen the bin, I must be going blind?"
    "Yes sir its in the corner"
    "Oh, - smiling - is that the same corner your gum should be in?"
    Kid will often as not grin and go and spit it out.

    Give them a route by which they can co-operate without losing face and most times they will.

    d) DO NOT panic when the real incorrigibles give you a hard time, they give everyone a hard time, call SMT explain you want them dealt with and follow it up later. In dealing with the real little 5hits keep the length of the encounter as short as possible. Seek compliance, warn, then send them out, call for backup or walk away and have them sent for by a senior member of staff later, word will soon get round that you follow things up. Dont stand in the middle of the playground rowing with a year 11 who is NOT going to comply. Short sharp, follow up. That said there have been times when not knowing their names I have simply followed them to their next lesson, got it, then dealt with them later.

    Best behaviour manager in our school has two rules
    1) ring the parents
    2) do what you say you are going to do, no idle threats (harder than it sounds, I made one on Friday)

    The kids are terrified of him. Some of the staff are too.

    Above all do not let the heat and light generated by the badly behaved hide the glow coming from the 80% of kids who are just great.

    NQTs often walk away from a tough lesson feeling the whole class is against them. Head of Dept comes in to help, withdraws the 2-3 ringleaders and suddenly you can hear the birdsong again. Did it myself for an NQT in my dept last month who had bee in tears, next lesson she said "I enjoyed it for the first time" I had removed ONE rogue (and 2 nice but gobby girls).

  14. Posted by: geffone at 21 Jun 2008 21:03

    Can you please tell me what it is that makes your lessons 'Outstanding' please? I have just been observed and got grade 3 Satisfactory. Swear to God I don't know what they want? At this point I would kill for a 'good'. Have had 2 Satisfactories in a row now and as far as I am concrned, they are not good enough. Feel I am a much better teacher than this; I too 'breeze' into class - "What mood is she in?", I overhear. I feel like saying to SLT; okay something is wrong here, I must need some help as I am suffering from the delusion that I am a good teacher; put in the necessary support to help me?

  15. Thanks again for the good advice. Keep it coming!
  16. Good luck, be patient and have broad shoulders! Seriously though, it takes time to build up relationships with classes. I found a huge difference going back for my second year and setting my expectations consistently in year one paid off. You can't work miracles so don't be too hard on yourself when you have a rubbish lesson/ morning/ day, which you will. Just because you've asked them, then told them, to stand in silence at the beginning of each lesson doesn't mean they will, not at first anyway! My idea of golden rules, for what it's worth (many already been mentioned):-
    1. Learn names as quickly as possible - it gives you a psychological advantage.
    2. ALWAYS wait until they are quiet until you speak. If you start by talking over them, that's how you'll carry on.
    3. Be consistent and fair. Stick to your rules every time. I remember thinking that I couldn't face saying "line up, no talking, blazers on, shirts tucked in" outside the room one more time as I was just wasting my breath. But as if by magic I noticed after a while that they would start nudging each other to do just that when they saw me coming. Don't get me wrong, not every time, but it does pay off eventually.
    4. Use praise, it works wonders - "Thank you for standing so quietly this side of the room - credits for excellent behaviour" worked better for me than yelling at the noisy ones as the others wanted to follow suit. Point out positive behaviour that they should copy.
    5. Try to make out that you really like them and like teaching them. Greet them with a smile and good morning etc. It creates a positive atmosphere which they respond to.

    Don't want to turn this into a huge post so I'll stop there. All the best!
  17. My Professional Mentor at my first placement taught me a good one. When you come across the token student who insists they've done 'loads' since last time you checked, just initial in the margin with the time next to the line they are on. It works like a charm! You don't have to say anything to them, even the dopey ones will figure it out what you're doing. If they haven't done any extra when you check again, you have proof and can follow it up.
  18. I've recently been on a needs-focus course run by Rob Plevin. You can find his site on line, and I found this course a real practical support when improving my classroom management skills during my PGCE this year. There is nothing like gaining practical support from experts who have had substantial hands on experience.
    Hope this helps.


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