As part of my CPD I was encouraged to read Getting the buggers to behave by Sue Cowley. This book, which is part of a series, has been credited with telling it like it really is and giving teachers practical rather than just theoretical tips for behaviour management. The majority of the advice is good and solid although mostly common sense in my opinion but it is helpful to see some of the basics, which one is more likely to overlook, written down plainly. Personally I feel that the book is more suited to those who teach in one classroom continuously on not those who, like me, are constantly moving around the school. For example it is quite hard to be at the door to welcome your pupils into your world when it is clearly not your world and they are more likely to be there before you. However, the notes about pace and thinking about the time of day you see the pupils made me reflect on my teaching and the learning environment and change some aspects of my lessons. The main thrust of the book is about behaviour management strategies and I admit that in large classes with one or two troublesome pupils these hints and tips are a valuable addition to my teaching arsenal. But, (yes there is always a but) in a lower ability class or a class with a majority of troublesome / disengaged / disaffected pupils there is little practical advice forthcoming and the theory of the book falls almost a rapidly as your confidence. However, do not be disheartened when a class blows up in your face. This is all part of the great game and even the most experienced and confident teachers have bad days, bad classes or bad periods in the week. Here are some of my tips which are not contained in this book.
1. Talk to your colleagues – other teachers may have a tip for dealing with little Jimmy that might be your way in
2. Don’t go in expecting a battle – I’ve made this mistake, it is stressful and results in mid-week alcohol consumption.
3. Take each day individually – don’t judge the class on a bad period but…
4. Don’t let them lull you into a false sense of security – 2 good lessons in a row does not a good class make!
5. Shouting and dealing with every little thing does no good – some pupils want you rise to their behaviour, pick your battles.
6. Pick them off one by one – if you have a number of difficult pupils try and get them onside one by one.
7. Remember they go away – chances are that you’ll only see this class 3 or 4 times a week, don’t let at 1/6th of your timetable dominate 5/6ths of your head space.