The main cause of pupils misbehaving is usually due to them struggling or being bored, and it is important to remember that this is rarely a personal attack - it is not personal. These pupils usually struggle to regulate their emotions therefore, having the tools in place to help you deal with these situations is key in controlling these behaviours within your class. Ofsted reports that two in three schools have unsatisfactory behaviour, hence why it is so important to gain control of these situations quickly and efficiently. 
There are a number of great tips and strategies that our teachers have found to be successful. At GSL, we also held a Behaviour Management workshop specifically focused on managing challenging classes as a temporary or supply teacher - where these same tips were discussed. These include:

Not acting on the secondary behaviours before addressing the primary issues. 

This will ensure that the student does not get away with the first bad behaviour and still has to face the repercussions of the first behaviour. An example of this would be the primary behaviour of not putting their phone away in class and the secondary behaviour being distracting other pupils and showing their phone around. The primary issue of having their phone out must not be forgotten or overshadowed by the secondary behaviour of disrupting the class. Secondary behaviours can also be displayed after the primary behaviour has been dealt with – for example sulking after putting the phone away.

Using positive language in your reaction to these behaviours.

It is important to use positive language when reacting to misbehaviours. A great example of this is firstly to say to the whole class ‘I’d like everyone to stop talking now whilst you do this independent learning’ instead of ‘Stop talking now or you will get sent out’. In a way using this negative language initially to address any bad behaviours, is setting yourself up to fail, the students are going to play up to your stresses instead of respect that you are being reasonable. It also provides a reason and expectation behind your instruction.

Praising good behaviours

This is one of the most important tips…It is so important to praise when a student has been good, listened to your instructions or has finished a task you set efficiently. This gives the student satisfaction that their good behaviours will be recognised and praised, as well as showing those students who often display inappropriate behaviour that if they are good, they will be praised; which in turn will give them satisfaction and will also feel good about themselves. 

The ‘When-Then’ approach

This is an approach that enforces that once the class has completed a set task, or finished the required work in a set time frame, you will reward them with a video or an interactive game or set a fun task. This shows them that they can have fun and, in a sense, will be rewarded for finishing the set tasks, and in turn motivate them to finish the tasks effectively.  It can also be used to divert a behaviour without confrontation.  For example: “When you have put your phone in your bag, I will come and help you with that task.”

Proactively building positive relationships

Teaching relationships are built upon time and trust. Those students who trust you and can see you put the time and effort into them, are more likely to listen to, and respect you. Forming these positive relationships are key in ensuring bad behaviours are minimised and dealt with effectively. 
When taking supply bookings this is very difficult to achieve, especially if the classes are used to having supply and teacher turn-over is high. This is when your attitude is most important. Respect the difficulty of the situation for them – it is not personal to you.
Follow the school policies, but also set your own expectations and be calm and controlled. Have a back-up plan if the work is not set or prepared. Only set consequences you can follow through – always follow through.  Try to leave the classroom with situations resolved in case you meet the same students later in the day.  Treat each lesson as a new start – but be consistent.


Having clear classroom rules and expectations are key. This allows both yourself and the students to know what to expect and how to act. It is essential you reinforce these rules during lesson time, as it will ensure that the students know where they stand, and so do you.

For some great strategies in action – we love Bill Rogers who can be found on youtube.

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