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Never shout in class - Use 'presence'

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by valerie yule, May 24, 2011.

  1. 'Presence' used to be taught to teachers. I have seen a rowdy class immediately silent when a tiny ancient nun came to the door and said quietly, 'Quiet, please'. She had 'presence' which she consciously exerted. She could use it on a whole yard of playing children. It is a conscious thing
    I have seen it used by many old teachers, and have learnt to use it myself.

    Shouting only teaches children to shout - and they shout louder.
    MathMan1 likes this.
  2. When I was training I was told that I needed to have 'presence' but know one was every able to explain what it was, and I don't think it was ever demonstrated to me well either!

    any tips?
  3. Nebulous concept; just means the kids are afraid of what you can do. Easy to have it in times when the kids were brought up to respect the norms of society, of the governing body of the school, of their parents, teachers, etc. That's no longer the case; a teacher doesn't have that kind of back-up any more. You're on your own; lucky if you're 6'4" with a rugby-player physique. Or maybe if you own a big car and lots of bling. I dunno; what does make an impact on today's youth? Just being a decent person with a strong personality won't do it.. or only for a while.
  4. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Never say never. I don't like to see teacher shouting because they have lost their temper. Shouting in a controlled way as part of a strategy for dealing with a pupils behaviour might have its place at times.
    There are times when raising your voice is necessary. Is that shouting? When does raising your voice become "shouting"?

  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Oh I don't know...I'm basically just a normal person, but can just walk into any of our year 5 or 6 classes and stand and stare and they quieten and behave. Granted I have built up an, undeserved, reputation of being really, really strict. My own class know the reality, but are sworn to secrecy. The rest just go on reputation and quieten immediately. I'm neither tall, nor big and generally don't need to rant and rave, though I can do both if I think I need to.

    I was once in a corridor with children coming out of classes in both directions, they were more excited than usual for some reason or other. A bottle neck in the middle was about to become very dangerous as a child had fallen. I absolutely yelled "Stand Still!" and about 100 children did, and fell silent immediately. I then said, almost as loudly "Do not move, unless I tell you personally to do so!" I could then move children one by one to get to the child who had fallen, make sure they were ok and then move the rest of the children on in a safe manner. Once the situation, which had frightened a few children, was more or less over, several children said they had no idea I could shout so loudly. I honestly don't think I was wrong to do so on that occasion.

    As someone else said, Never say never!
    MathMan1 likes this.
  6. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Presence is a myth; it's not a skill, nor is it a magic aura that surrounds you; it is a result of the relationship between people, and as such, isn't automatic. Some things can accelerate this objective:
    1. Being calm
    2. Being in a position of acknowledged authority
    3. Doing what you say
    4. Showing that you respect yourself, and believe in their ability to succeed
    5. Not taking any rubbish
    etc. If I walk into a classroom these days, I get 'the hush' because they know me, and they know what I'll do. Were I to walk into another school, that 'presence' would vanish. I could speed up the process of its renewal by knowing what I need to do to build the relationship, but the concept itself is an intangible; smoke and mirrors. The reason why it's important to know this, is because so many new teachers beat themselves up because they don't possess this nebulous abstract. The reality is that they can't assume it. It can only be developed.
    sebedina, kpjf and Happyregardless like this.
  7. If you want to make a point using examples then you really need to put them into context - pray tell us what makes these children 'challenging'?
    Your measuring enthusiasm? What is the standard unit for enthusiasm?
  8. Does this mean that having 'presence' is largely down to luck?

  9. Tommymcmonkey

    Tommymcmonkey New commenter

    If you are going to aggressively criticise people, at least know the difference between 'your' and 'you're'.
  10. I agree Valerie....as for a quite/softly delivered instruction the kids respond carefully and for a loud one act worse.....
  11. '. It is essential to make sure you follow through with disciplinary measures. Call home, detention etc. Don't threaten them with a punishment and then let them get away with it. Once they know this you will have presence.'
    Not always up to the teacher, though, is it? If the kids know that you can't do much that matters to them, and that even if you try, the school management will say 'tsk, tsk', give them a candy and send them back to class, no matter how much 'presence' you think you may have, it won't get you anywhere. And this is the kind of thing kids do know.
    tgom likes this.
  12. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I see many young, inexperienced teachers who have real "presence" and who are respected by their pupils because of the range of behaviours they engage in that build relationships. And it certainly has absolutely nothing to do with fear. I give an example of this in post 10.
  13. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    sorry if i missed this but did you clarify what you mant by "relatively challenging". ?
  14. I don't think that trying to build working relationships with children is a waste of time but I disagree that attempting to do so gives one 'presence' amongst challenging pupils. You see if they are to work relationships require cooperation and challenging children are by their very nature uncooperative. Old Andrew provides a much better description here;
    Some of the challenging children in schools I've worked in would tell your trainee to *** off just for being new and being in the room - just setting boundaries and getting these students to listen for a short amount of time takes considerable effort on the part of a new teacher.
    The conclusion that I have is that anyone who says that 'relationship building' is an effective way of dealing with challenging children either has no idea of what challenging children are actually like or they are appeasers.

    raspberrysouffle likes this.
  15. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    Positive relationships with challenging children are something that build over time. I have a very challenging class of Y5s this term - and after 4-5 weeks of severe frowning, I am only just being able to work them round to my way of thinking. My praise is beginning to matter because we are getting to know one another better. I am slowly winning their allegiance by showing myself to be (very) firm and fair. Once they start to really care what I think, then my comments about the good behaviour I want to see (eg being kind and respectful, trying hard, settling to work, doing best, not putting friends off - developing a working atmosphere) will have a greater effect. There are so many strategies available - esp at primary school - certainly for me it's more than an ability to use a whole school behaviour policy. Shouting? If the circumstances require it. Presence? When the kids don't know you? Let's just say it takes a while to build it up.
  16. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Perhaps you could clarify whatiti is that is innate in challenging pupils that makes them uncooperative.
    By saying that only "some" of the challenging children would behave this way would suggest that "most" would not. Perhaps you could clarify what why these pupils seem not to be innately uncooperative.
    Perhaps you could clarify in what way the teaching style I describe in post 10 does not take time and considerable effort, or why it does not involve setting boundaries.
    Perhaps you could explain why your conclusion is that anyone who thinks differently from you has "no idea" of what challenging children are like when you have no access to their employment history or their cv.
    Perhaps you could clarify who it is that teachers who build relationships with their pupils are "appeasing".
  17. Our TES behaviour expert Tom Bennett wrote an interesting article on teacher presence. Have a read at the link below:
    The myth of teacher presence

  18. Nothing innate at all in most cases Raymond. Most challenging children are not interested in learning because it is far easier (and more interesting) to sit and do whatever they like - in many schools they have learnt that there is no consequence for doing this and will challenge anyone who tries to suggest otherwise.
    I said that it is natural for challenging children to be uncooperative. I don't recall saying that challenging children are challenging from
    Well if the student teacher did spend ages getting this class into line and did have to use punishment in order set boundaries it kind of undermines your argument about developing "presence" in the classroom doesn't it.
    Because I've never seen any of your ideas turn around a single badly behaved child. The nicest conclusion I can make is that your experience of challenging children is very different from mine. I may reconsider this conclusion if you put your earlier example into context.
    I didn't say that building relationships with students amounts to appeasement. I said that anyone who claims that 'relationship building' is the best way to deal with badly behaved students is likely to be appeasing them. Nothing wrong with building working relationships but basic standards of discipline need to come first.
    No doubt you will now claim that you never said discipline shouldn't come first but you need to be careful as saying so further undermines your argument about classroom 'presence'.

  19. I personally believe that respecting the children is enough, they will respect you back and your presence will be asserted. If children know that you are a decent person then they won't try and take the biscuit, but it is always useful to have a back up of ideas. One thing I have noticed whilst training that works is the use of a timer in the classroom. Children know immediately that they will lose lunchtime if the timer goes on!
  20. Sadly this is not at all true. There are plenty of absolutely delightful teachers at my school, who get routinely walked all over.
    In my opinion it is 100% your reputation. Your reputation as someone who relentlessly follows things up, your reputation as a person who will defend the weaker members of the class, who will stand up to the difficult kids and get them to do as they are told. I went on a trip recently and some of the Y10 boys told me that 'my eyes' make them scared (!!) - I have never raised my voice to any of them but they say they 'just know' not to try it on with me. Possibly they saw me tell off someone in my old year group (the year above them) and didn't fancy a slice of that. Or maybe it is just reputation and the fact I have been there for years. I would hasten to add that presence is easily lost... there are ex-HOYS at our school who teach far less and who the younger ones try it on with quite regularly - much to the hilarity of the older kids who know better...!
    Totally agree with the comment about pretending to be confident even if you're not. And also about building relationships. But don't rely on the fact that you might be a decent person... kids smell out fear and weakness and they descend like birds of prey.
    Catsoup and MathMan1 like this.

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