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Supporting children's development
Supporting children's development

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2.5 Maintaining classroom discipline

Tom Bennett, the author of Managing Difficult Behaviour in Schools (2015a), believes there are ten things every teacher should be doing to ensure order in the classroom.

  1. Don’t assume pupils know how you want them to behave.
  2. Have a seating plan.
  3. Be fair, consistent and proportionate.
  4. Know pupils’ names.
  5. Follow up.
  6. Don’t walk alone – use the line management if necessary.
  7. Don’t freak out.
  8. Get the parents involved.
  9. Be prepared and organised for lessons.
  10. Be the teacher, not their chum.
(Adapted from Bennett, 2015b)

Activity 7

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Reread the list of Tom Bennett’s (2015b) top ten tips for maintaining classroom discipline. These are the things that all staff should be doing to ensure order in the classroom.

Then watch a video clip on managing low-level disruption. Watch it straight through once without pausing or taking notes.

Download this video clip.Video player: low-level_disruption.mp4
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Now watch the clip a second time with the following questions in mind:

  • How could you, as a teaching assistant, support the teacher to manage low-level disruption?
  • How confident do you feel in supporting the teacher with this?
  • What would help you to increase your level of confidence?

If you are not currently working as a teaching assistant, imagine a situation in which low-level disruption is occurring and apply the questions to this.

Make your notes before reading our comments.

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Tom Bennett talks about the corrosive effect of children engaging in ‘little’ misbehaviours, such as chatting or passing notes, or being distracted. As a teaching assistant you are well placed to support the teacher in managing this type of behaviour. Perhaps you identified how you could gently remind children to listen, or praise a child for behaving appropriately. Focusing your comments on appropriate behaviour often has the effect of correcting the inappropriate behaviour of others, without the need to say anything to those children.

Tom Bennett noted that managing low-level disruption is something that takes time, and there is no ‘quick fix’. Equally, gaining the skills and knowledge – and confidence – to manage children’s behaviour effectively is something that takes time. Talking to the class teacher or to your mentor, or to the member of staff responsible for behaviour management in the school, will help you to develop your knowledge and skills in managing behaviour.