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Dear Tom, setting the boundaries

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by anon1021, Nov 27, 2011.

  1. Dear Tom,
    I'm currently exploring secondary teaching.
    There are a lot of posts here regarding gaining discipline in the middle of a term. As an NQT, how would you approach the first couple of lessons to ensure that bad behaviour does not become an issue?
    Some lessons I have observed do have behavioural issues in that, even foul language is ignored like the teacher hasn't heard it. I am quite an assertive person but worried that this may cause conflict in the classroom.


  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Padawan
    I'm glad to hear that you're assertive, and I'd like to guarantee that this WILL cause conflict in the classroom. But that's not a bad thing; if you have confidence in what you want from them, in what you will and won't expect, and in the importance of your educational mission, then I'd be more worried if you didn't come into conflict at some point.
    Of course, what you mean is, 'will it cause disproportionate levels of conflict?' And the answer will depend on the class(es) you end up with. But the strongest string in your quiver will be knowing what you want from them and having the guts to carry on even when they wriggle and grimace. In any room of more than one person there will be conflict. Assertive is good; assertive is respectful and mannerly. Aggression is unwelcome, as is slavishness. You need to be able to assert what you want, ensuring that what you want is just and correct, and then deal with any fallout that results from non compliance. Stand tall.
    Here are some of the most important things that new teachers should do from the instant they enter the classroom:
    1. Set out your stall, first. Before any other education, because it is primary and prior to all else. Good learning flows from good behaviour. Here is wisdom. Tell them your ten rules of the class. Don't bother discussing it with them. It isn't a discussion, it's a structure, and boy do some kids need structure.
    2. Tell them what the consequences of behaviour/ misbehaviour are. Make them clear and easy to understand.
    3. Take a list of names that transgress, and without fail, do something about it; phone home, set detentions, etc.
    4. Always follow up if someone fails to attend, repeats the behaviour, etc. Then escalate, involving line managers and other staff/ adults.
    5. On the first day, I always make sure that (as long as physics permits), I'm there first; work on board, my desk laid out, the whole class tidied and ready to rock.
    6. Make a seating plan from day one: it asserts your authority on the room, and over them. It sends out an immediate message that they don't get to make the rules, you do. The plan can be on the board, or you can assign them one by one. Get them to get their planners out on the desk so you can check if they're mucking you about. Also; there will be a few lost souls milling about, displaced from their rightful places, so you'll know what's what.
    7. I stand at the door, just in the door way, and greet them as I come in, making it necessary for them to walk slightly around me. Never give way; show them that they must step slightly aside to you, and mind your wishes. Greet them with a firm 'Good morning' and eye contact. Smiles not entirely necessary at this point; keep it firm.
    8. Finally, no matter how firm you think you;re being, I almost guarantee that you're being too soft with them at first. The vast majority of teachers I've seen have high aspirations to be stern and end up being too matey. Avoid this if possible. Never be nasty; never be cruel; always be fair, and focussed on the prize: their education. Anything that interferes with that is haram.
    And any kid swears in your lesson, just give them a detention, once you've given them fair warning that it won't be tolerated in your room. I cannot express how boneheaded it is to attempt to be street with the kids and allow them to cuss and swear like it's a sailors' mess. It's a classroom. They walk on Holy Ground.
    Your room, your rules.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his personal blog, or follow him on Twitter here.
  3. Thanks Tom,

    I'm going to print this out and keep it for future reference!

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