Back to Basics (2) – Behaviour Management

By Sarah Hosegood

The Hosegood family are not very interesting people. We are all Geographers and we are either teachers or town planners (my sister was the rebel!), so dinner table conversations are a little bit dull for outsiders. However these dinner table conversations have given me one of the best pieces of behaviour management advice.

My mum always said the most valuable thing a teacher has at their disposal is their voice. As a trainee teacher I don’t think my voice was always under control but as I have gained more experience my voice has become more powerful.

My (and my mum’s!) top tips:

  • When using your voice, always give yourself somewhere to go. This means that you can’t shout all the time. Shouting should be an extreme of your voice and should happen very rarely. This means that when you do shout you have the desired effect.
  • Once you have the attention of the students keep your voice low so you keep their attention and they have to listen carefully.
  • Even if you are tired and having a bad day your voice can disguise this so go up tempo and bright in your voice and ‘trick’ the students into enthusiasm.
  • Always welcome your students into the classroom with a bright, enthusiastic, cheery voice and it will start the lesson in a positive mood.
  • When you want to get your point across, repeat the point slowly in a deeper tone to your normal voice.

teacher voiceYour voice is only one aspect of behaviour management and other teacher hints and tips below offer you some key ideas.

Lucy Sidney; “If a class are too chatty (during a discussion or at beginning of the lesson) I ask them all to stand up. They are not allowed to sit down until they are all silent. If they start talking whilst descending they must stand up again! They soon learn that being quiet is better than standing up.”

Zoe Shepherd; “Only ever pretend to lose your temper. Don’t actually lose it. Know your kids and remember they have stuff going on in their lives that may affect their behaviour. Own your space/ classroom you are inviting students into your class to share and learn with you – be confident.”

Helen Wilson; “Wait for pupils to be displaying the behaviour you want and then praise it with thanks. Develop a “waiting stare” which says, “we are not moving on until I’ve got the behaviour I expect”.”

Hanh Doan; “Have a seating plan. Organise/plan pairs and group work. Give clear instructions and clear warnings of sanctions for misdemeanours”

Beth Ashton; “With a difficult group, have a clear, visual way to keep track of where students are in terms of the behaviour diamond. I usually write “warning, move, detention, on call” so they can see what the next consequence will be.”

Michael Tatham;Praise all those who are doing what you do want (the others will eventually get the hint that they need to do or change something!).For example, ‘Well done Tom’s table, you’re books are out and you’re all ready to start’. Or, ‘Thanks Bethany, you’re looking this way and listening.’”

Jo Cavanagh;Establish routines early on in terms of your expectations e.g. stand behind their chair in silence when they first come in.”

Nat Moody; “If you are taking a new group learn names as soon as possible. Set routines as early as you can. Do not allow them to speak when you are.”

Jane Pearson;Keep the pace by using music as a timer when you want minor things done quickly and efficiently eg packing away, handing in textbooks, writing down the date and title.”

Sue Lutz;Timing activities using a stopwatch keeps them on task.”

Susan Kent; “If an individual child is off task just approach their desk quietly kneel down so you are at their eye level and explain that they have a choice – they can get back on task in the next 30 seconds and show you how awesome they can be or they will be moved to the back of the classroom to work alone/sent outside.  Their choice.  Give them 30 seconds and go back and ask them.”

What would your top tip be to ensure good behaviour management?

Useful links:


Back to Basics (1) – Seating

By Helen Wilson

Over the coming weeks and months we are starting a new series of articles called “Back to Basics”. These articles will cover any aspect of teaching, with the overriding idea that they are ideas useful for NQTs, recently qualified teachers, or the more seasoned practitioner who wants an easy reminder of skills. We will include tips from Beaumont teachers and if you have something you wish to add, please feel free to comment on the article. This week we will look at seating in classrooms, and there are plans for posts on behaviour management, group work, getting the attention of a class, report writing, being a form tutor and more. If you have a topic which you would like covered in the Back to Basics series, please feel free to contact us on twitter (or email one of the Teaching and Learning Team).

desks and  chairsSeating

Seating plans (not the the pieces of paper you might give to an observer in your classroom, or a cover teacher, but the actual idea of deciding who sits where in the classroom) are useful for all sorts of reasons:

  • ensuring you meet the special needs of any pupils in the class;
  • managing behaviour firstly by showing that the classroom is your space; but also by ensuring that disruption is kept to a minimum by strategic placing of certain pupils;
  • ensuring that you can easily change to group working where necessary with minimum fuss.

After an initial seating plan in September with a new class, where I will have considered the obvious things like SEN and tips from previous teachers, I invariably have a change of seating within a few weeks, once I have got to know the pupils for myself. At this stage, I will think about raising expectations, developing confidence and managing potential disruption.

I try to raise expectations by, for example, seating a pupil with excellent written presentation next to one for whom this is a target; a pupil who doesn’t contribute much next to a pupil who needs no such encouragement; a pupil who is always completely focused next to one for whom that is a difficult skill. I have found that I can use seating to help develop confidence by placing pupils who just need a bit of teacher encouragement and praise in an easily accessible seat, or next to someone working at a similar ability. And like many others, I place potentially disruptive students in a place where they find it difficult to do so – this can involve some experimentation, but once that place is found, I stick to it.

Below are top tips and ideas from other Beaumont teachers:

Susan Kent (Geography): “I try to mix up the boys and the girls, but in the case of a boy heavy class I keep some of the quieter girls together for confidence.  I also think about ease of grouping them for group tasks and making sure I have mixed abilities in each row/section. I keep the attention seekers at the back but where I can see their books easily.  I always work from the middle of the classroom outwards so the spare seats are in the harder to reach areas of the classroom.”

Frances Jackson (English): “When deciding on a seating plan for mixed ability classes, I like to practise G&T by stealth. Rather than just focus on my lower ability students, I like to think about how to get a good spread of my more able in the classroom. This way, what my more able students say is accessible to more of my class, especially in pair/group work.”

Helen Robson-Smith (Maths): Once I know a class I usually sit students of similar ability next to each other, so bright students can inspire each other to greater things and weaker students don’t worry about ‘he’s on question 7 and I’m only on question 2’.”

Ella Dickson (Maths): “When I am planning a seating plan I consider the four most disruptive students and seat them in the four corners. Then I work inwards. When I know a class better I ask for their input. When I don’t, I try to ask their last teacher for any tips. Sometimes it’s best to put the two chattiest next to each other.”

Elena Dundjerovic (Business and Economics): “At GCSE level, I use target grades to guide my seating plans and my expectations of the students. I sat a student I really wanted to challenge with a very weak student so I was able to observe the more able student’s knowledge and provide support for the weaker student without having to sit with them throughout the lesson. Again, I like to keep pairings mixed as well. The key is to rotate them each half term, even if they are working really well. You can always tweak and it keeps the students focused. If a student is sat on their own because of odd numbers I always do a new seating plan each half term and let them fill the space of a student that is absent during this time.”

Sarah Hosegood (Geography): “I ensure that all SEN students are ‘accessible’ e.g. on the end of a row or at the front so it is easy for me and a TA to support. I also have times when they are able to pick other people to work with free from the seating plan for part of a lesson or all of a lesson and talk about how I am ‘trusting’ them to work well together and it normally works really well and gives them a break from the normal people they sit next to.”

Always Learning

By Zoe Shepherd

For the second year I have been working for Herts For Learning  and the Alban TSA as part of their NQT training programme. I find the whole process hugely rewarding and inspiring. This year I led the whole drama programme and relished the opportunity to organise the weekend. I ran sessions on Engagement and Expectations for Key Stage 3, The Importance of Extra Curricular and Social Media in Drama, Time Saving and Survival Tips for the NQT year and Key Stage 5 teaching.  Nikki Ward, a former Beaumont Drama teacher ran a session on fulfilling potential at Key Stage 4 and Emily Gray from Trestle Theatre Company led a practical workshop.

zsh 2

I find that running sessions such as this allows me to reflect on my own work as well as hopefully inspiring the next generation of drama teachers. The 4 teachers I have got to know this weekend are enthusiastic, passionate and determined. Qualities that I hope I still share with them. I have taken away some great ideas and shared some of the things we do at Beaumont in drama and across the whole school.


Sharing good practice is at the heart of teaching and learning at Beaumont. Our first Teachmeet is just around the corner and after a weekend with the fab 4 drama NQTs I am looking forward to making new connections and getting ideas from our colleagues on November 8th.

We are all learners and having opportunities to listen to teachers at various stages in their career is always worthwhile. I will see my NQTs again in March when I look forward to hearing about the next stage of their journey.