When we talk to teachers about what their perception of teaching in the UK is, the response generally makes a reference to challenging behaviour.

Managing students behaviour is imperative regardless of whether you teach in Australia/NZ or the UK. Throughout your time teaching in the UK, you are more than likely to experience some challenging behaviours so here are a few of our tips that helped us whilst we were supply teaching and in a long-term position in London.

Ash, who worked as a Primary teachers in London, has written a few tips that helped her out whilst working as a day to day supply teacher and in long-term positions. Dan and Ellie, both Secondary teachers, have written a few tips that they used throughout their time teaching in London.

Primary School Behaviour Management

  • Learn as many names as possible. The ‘class clown’ is usually pretty easy to pick so appoint them a job at the start of the day to give them some responsibility and get them on your side. For example reading the register, writing the names of the children sitting nicely and so on.

  • If you have a TA in the class ask for a bit of a rundown on who to look out for and who is sensible.

  • Don’t underestimate the power of positive reinforcement: A simple happy face on the board can make a big difference. Try to say 3 positive things before anything negative and make it clear to the children why their name is on board for example: “Wow Sarah, you are looking at me and sitting so nicely so I know you are ready to learn, I will put your name on the happy side.”

  • Familiarise yourself with the behaviour policy/reward system and expectations that the school has. Make sure you make the children aware that you know this.

  • Know the names of the Senior Leadership Team at the school, this is a good way to use positive reinforcement. A simple, “Mr Evans has let me know that he would love to see any examples of outstanding work from today’s lesson!” can go a long way.

  • If you have the class until the end of the day and you see some great behaviour/work make an example of it and ask that child who is picking them up so you can show them their great work.

  • Set clear expectations from the start of the lesson. How the children walk from the playground to the classroom and sit down to the begin their lesson really sets the standard of the lesson. If it’s noisy and not up to your standards have the class do it again.

  • If the class seems to be playing up at a bit, ask your TA or a sensible student if you don’t have a TA if this is how they normally behave. If it doesn’t then stop the class and refer to the behaviour policy again.

  • Follow through with any consequences/rewards that you give the children.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance from the senior leadership team, that is what they are there for.

  • Remember positive reinforcement! I have repeated this because it can be very easy to focus on the negative.

  • Be firm, fair and consistent.

Secondary School Behaviour Management

  •  Find out from the particular school you are teaching at what their expectations are within the classroom and what is the behavioural management policy in place. Always better to ask than not know.
  • Setting clear standards on what you expect from the class before the beginning of the lesson. For example, this might be lining up outside and walking in quietly, don’t be afraid to repeat actions if they haven’t managed to listen to clear instructions. Student’s do like structure so always remember this will work in your favour.

  • Time to be firm but fair! Most of the time it’s easier to be strict and gauge what the class is like before allowing yourself to relax in the classroom.

  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes pronouncing students’ names, just try your best to get to know your students. A good way to assist with this is to allocate a student to help you mark the register.

  • If you notice some students who are not fully engaging in the work that they have been set, try using the “sandwich method” and comment on two positives and one improvement they could make.

Ie: “Jack I can see you have completed quite a few questions on your worksheet, however you seem to be getting distracted by Tom. Let’s keep up the good work and finish off the other side of the sheet.”

  • Try your best to organise your classroom work or activities set for you with time schedules. For example, explain to the students that the first activity may only go for 10mins, they way they know what to expect. A brilliant way of displaying this might be to write it up on the whiteboard / smartboard.

  • We are all aware that during supply you may only have the students for a short period of time, however, building positive relationships with them and taking the time to get to know them can make a huge difference whilst in the classroom. Who doesn’t want to be known as that teacher who is easy to communicate with?

  • Always try and follow through with any disciplinary action and be consistent. An easy way to keep up with this is to use sticky notes and write down any names of students who are late or misbehaving. Always remember that restorative practice may be a great way of handling this situation before having to take the issue further.