Teacher area
tips, tricks and general advice

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Welcome to the Teacher Area

Click the links to find helpful behaviour & teaching strategies & resources.

Share ideas, resources, best practice with colleagues on our twitter page.
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We have provided a collection of behaviour and teaching strategies and a range of fun activities.
We thank trainers and colleagues who over many years have helped us hone our own skills and strategies and continue to do so.
Try out some strategies, adapting them to suit your needs and classes is the key to success. Experiment in areas where you may need to improve - perhaps it's classroom entry, or trying to incorporate successful writing strategies with reluctant learners.
Our fun activities offer you something different to try.
No time to develop the activity resources? No problem resources for these will be soon be available via an app.

Based on the principles of routine, prediction & expectations:

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. classroom entry & exit
. lesson starters
. equipment
. using praise
. sanctions
. latecomers
. homework


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.using ICT
. internet research
. peer group pressure
. using displays & posters
. improving literacy
. reading & writing routines
. homework
. extended writing
. fun activities

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This section is meant as practical guide to help teachers with some behaviour management strategies.
We will add more over time, but feel free to sent us your own strategies.
Will are more than happy to acknowledge you if we post it here.
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  • Take charge over what you can control - your classroom.

Plan your routines
Very rarely are we faced with a new problem or circumstance.

Therefore we can have our strategies ready and waiting.
Everything should be about routines, habits and consistency.
This eliminates all the " I did not know …" interruptions and arguments.

The routines and habits are ours.
No negotiated rules of the classroom - it's your classroom, you know what works best not the students.
Explain your rules, yes. The life lesson is simple rules are imposed upon us, get use to it!

Set-out the class as per your needs - may be different for different classes.

Learn student names quickly - use a seating plan if necessary or play name games.
Knowing names makes life easier on so many fronts not least in disciplining & praising students.

Establish & reinforce your routines at every possible moment, until they are understand & used.

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  • Your lesson begins at the door, set the tone for the day. Be positive & give the message that learning starts now ….

Greet them at the door with a smile and a welcome, set the tone from the off - give them some attention, before they demand it in their own way!
Students will often reflect back what they see - be positive from the off. "Great to see you this morning."

Line-up can work with larger groups, to get them in the right frame of mind before they enter the room.
Better to clam them down in the corridor than in your classroom.
Expectations can be reinforced as they line-up, reminders given.
It is also a chance to speak with every student as they enter, be it a greeting, some humour and/or a reminder.

A reminder might be about what to do as they enter - sit in the same seat as last time, according to your seating plan and get their equipment out. Coats & bags away etc.

Get the students to start their lesson starter if you have one.

Essentially give them as little excuse as possible to do nothing as they enter.
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  • Head-off any equipment issues before they become lesson disruption issues.

Be ready & prepared for the equipment saga!
Have spare equipment ready & deal with students later - the aim here is get to the start of the lesson as quickly as possible. Delays here can wreck an entire lesson.
Do your equipment check - lay out their pen, pencil, homework diary, book etc. Those without a pen etc are given one without any fuss.

"Today I only gave out 2 pens, big improvement, next I am looking for everyone to have a pen".

Wall poster can serve as a reminder as to your equipment expectations particularly at the start of the year.
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  • Get the lesson underway asap, get everyone learning from the off.

Starters which are already on the desk waiting for the students can bean effective way to get going e.g. a word search, that they can easily complete. You do not want questions at this point.
You may well be in the doorway still greeting & reminding students.

Simple rewards to the first people to finish or merits etc can be effective to get full focus on the starter.

Oral starters in the form of questions and answers can also be an effective way to begin the lesson, getting everyone engaged & establishing your authority from the off. Get everyone involved, with rapid fire type questions.

Loads of praise, smiling, humour at this point to set the tone & create that positive fast dynamic start.

As many types of starters as possible are recommended to keep the starts fresh & lively.
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  • Be strong with latecomers from the first lesson, to get on top of it before it becomes a game.

All latecomers should now be in class before the main lesson begins.

A consistent routine for latecomers is vital, it is one area students identify as teachers being 'unfair'.
Expectations on punctuality need to be crystal clear from the off. Be aware of the lesson that may precede yours e.g. PE, where latecomers are to be expected - be prepared, perhaps with a longer starter to allow everyone to be in place ready for the start of the lesson.
Have a late book they sign in or make a note of their late arrival in your lesson. (This can be used later to establish a pattern and avoid the argument about how many times the student was late!) Good for reports etc. or when informing the Tutor/Head of Year.
Deal with the incident at the end of the lesson - this avoids the lesson being disrupted & the student getting the attention.
Expectation for latecomers: a polite apology when arriving late, with full explanation at the end of the lesson.
A detention can be given - 5 mins is enough to make the point.

Latecomers can destroy the lesson before it has really began, so be prepared!
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  • Predict, plan & be ready for all interruptions.
    Expectations need to be clear & consistent.

Hands-up What is your routine for asking or answering questions?
Are you consistent in your approach?
With small groups you can often get away with allowing students to shout out, but sometimes this can get out of hand …….. so establish a routine and stick to it.
Encourage hands up with "Excellent Sarah hand-up and waiting quietly" or "Thank you Abbi, for waiting with your hand-up so patiently".
It may sound babyish - but it reinforces the positive and gives attention to the right people.
It is important to acknowledge those who don't get to answer as they can soon become discouraged from raising their hands or even start shouting out to get attention.

Check with the school nurse about any students who may need to use the toilet or require frequent drinks of water e.g. diabetics !
Water cooler
Sounds trivial, but often a visit to the water cooler includes a punch or a comment to a couple of students on the way and before you know it the lesson is disrupted as students argue with each other etc.
What is your strategy ...
Only get a drink as they enter?
Ask (hand-up) before they get a drink?
Is water allowed at certain times during a lesson?

What is your policy for visiting the toilet? It is a surprisingly controversial issue amongst students, being identified as being one of things that teachers are not fair about. Equally it can become a highly disruptive factor in your lesson if several students trail off to the toilet.

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  • Be specific with praise to reinforce your expectations.

Give attention to any behaviour and it is likely to occur more frequently.
So praise should become part of our routines.
Difficult when we are surrounded by poor behaviour …. yes it can seem like it. Therefore we have to be more explicit with our praise and rewards.

Think 5 year old e.g. "Excellent Sarah, sat down and ready to start …."
" Mohammed has done his homework and I can see he has tried really hard with it, well done."
Doesn't have to be over the top or a merit for everything. Often a thank you - a recognition of what they have done - is enough?

What is your policy for merits? A reward system can quickly become counter productive if students see their distribution as being unfair. So be consistent., but not to the point of them expecting them for a certain action though. Unexpected rewards can be the most motivating, so the boys never quite know when they are going to be rewarded.

Try to be very specific with praise for it to be motivating.
General praise is less effective.
e.g."well done Rob you asked some really good questions", rather than "good lesson Rob."
Now Rob knows exactly what he has done well & is more likely to repeat this.
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  • Consistent application of sanctions makes them more effective.
    Make your point & move on.
    Never make things personal.

List your top 'crimes' and have sanctions in place.
The training college adage is as true now as it ever was.
Carry out all your threats ….. so be careful what your threaten them with!
Listen to yourself or your colleagues
Your expectations should be known - hands-up, reading in silence etc

On average half of lessons, end at break, lunchtime or the end of the day, so detentions are easy at this time.

Detentions are punitive punishments - you can keep them short, to make your point - let them have their break or lunch food.
Give lines - they have something to do and they can write quickly when they want to!

If they have to come back for a lunchtime or after school detention - collect them if possible. It's very visible to other students that you mean business and you save the hassle of a no show and upping the detention as a result.

Explain why they are in detention - avoid lecturing them and remind the student of your expectations during this time.

Try to end on a positive note - you are punishing the act - do not make it personal.

Keep the focus on your expectations and how (s)he failed to meet them, and what (s)he has to do next lesson.
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  • Plan it, don't throw them something at the end of the lesson.

Homework can often be an area of conflict.
. make sure all students can do the work set, differentiate where necessary.
. homework to be about reinforcing knowledge & skills, to practice what has been learnt in class.
. explain it carefully, give the students a chance to look over it & ask any questions - this lessens the
chance of any student having any excuse not to do it. Explain assessment criteria, might be linked to
GCSE criteria or simply a completed or not criteria. If work is practice doesn't necessarily need to be
. deadline as per school policy or when appropriate - check dealing does not clash with anything else &
lessen the chance of it not being done.
. have homework out on show at beginning of lesson, quickly check & challenge those who have not
done it & implement your sanctions; punish the act - everyone had the opportunity to complete it.
. sanctions may be linked with school policy. Give another chance for homework to be done at home, to
emphasise the need for it to be done a home or at least after school - same as everyone else.
. avoid homework being a battleground
. some classes can respond well to test revision - tests can be simple one word answers - but have the
benefit of not having to implement sanctions for homework not done. Underachievement in the tests
will indicate which students are not revising!
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  • Make better use of this time. End the lesson on a positive.

How do the students leave your classroom? Gather around the door? Try to sneak out early?
Manage the exit as carefully as the entrance.
Sometimes the rush to get rid of a class is very much a missed opportunity on many levels:
Example: just before the bell, pack-up, check for rubbish (seeds), stand behind your chair.
End the lesson on a quick-fire plenary of questions.
Students tend to be at their most alert at the beginning and end of a lesson, so it's a good time to reinforce the main points

With small groups you can dismiss individually with a positive comment for each student. The latecomers can be the ones left behind after the others have gone.

"Thank you for the lesson, well done Jayne great answers, off you go. Matt excellent sentences off you go, Faris remember your pen next lesson thank you ….. "

it's a great opportunity to give individual attention and is effective as its the last comment they hear as they leave your room - can you find a positive comment for everyone?!

Consider your colleagues by getting the students to leave your room in an orderly way, helps everyone - the corridor may be more orderly and the arrival at the next lesson may be less chaotic….
Those were the days ....
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We have included a range of effective strategies to help improve learning & raise achievement.

. In addition we have some fun activities for you to try.
We have tried & tested them all, but circumstances & classes vary, so feel free to adapt as best suits your needs

. Please email us with your feedback and own suggestions, which we will happily include with acknowledgement if you wish
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  • It's all about the learning …. enough said

It's all about learning & succeeding
. give clear lesson objectives and revisit them often: knowledge, skills and behaviour
e.g. write the objectives on the board, keep referring to them, use the behaviour posters to remind the
students of your expectations

. consistent expectations, in terms of academic & behaviour
. explicit assessment criteria for everything they do - everyone needs to know what they have to do to
succeed, no surprises
. teach them to self-check against the assessment criteria
- often the instinct is for a student to finish a question & then forget about it
- GCSE students need to become familiar with the levelled marking schemes to understand what is
expected of them
- peer marking can be a good method to start with

. everything we do is about learning, improving, succeeding is the mantra!
Management strategies

. It's all about the learning!
It's easy to forget that when swamped with 101 other things, but it's important to focus on student learning at a strategic level
. keep things simple in terms of: expectations & assessment
. reinforce good practice
. support good practitioners
. help those that need support
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  • Be mobile around the room …

Individual attention and close monitoring increases work rate
. on our feet, circulate, give meaningful specific praise
. have mini plenaries throughout the lesson - e.g. after a spell of written work - great way to check the
level of knowledge
. ask questions - 'hands-down' - give thinking time after asking the question
. 'feed' easy questions to lower ability students
. give checklists of things to include - write them in their book
. be around, overseeing, motivating, encouraging, praising & give nowhere to hide for the work shy!
Management strategies

. get to of the office, be around the school, not to intimidate but to support and understand what is going on
. spend time talking to colleagues, praise and encourage the right things
. use this time to listen
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  • Be aware of peer pressure & be ready to combat it in lots of subtle ways.

Peer group pressure
. specific praise for 'doing the right thing'
. make them feel good about themselves through academic work
. influence the influential - deliberately build relationships here
. make it cool to achieve, use merits, give sweets, praise the 'influencer' when achieving, maybe inject some humour
. praise quietly when walking around the class, if this works better
. stop the 'influential' one in the corridor and praise him/her, away from his friends
Management strategies

. happens with teachers too
. be aware of the influential staff members, get them onside and stop them being a negative influence
. often they can be the ones feeling threatened by changes, real or perceived
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  • Be selective in your use of ICT. Constantly question its effectiveness to get the most out of it.
    Often ICT can slow the pace of lessons.

Use of ICT - interactive whiteboards: do they aid student learning? YES
. good quality audio-visual materials are accessible and improve learning
. teacher labelling etc can aid student understanding
. pages, notes, diagrams and brainstorming sessions can be printed off for every student
. audio, video and websites can be incorporated easily

Use of ICT - interactive whiteboards: do they aid student learning? NO

they can slow the pace of whole class learning
. focus on looking good rather than content/knowledge
. didactic teaching in another form
. any boost in motivation is short lived
. interactivity slowed the lesson as individuals took their turn

Use of ICT - interactive whiteboards: do they aid student learning? YES & NO

. variety is the key so use IWB with care
. use as per the benefits in the green box, whilst keeping in mind the points in the red box

. visualisation is perhaps the greatest aid to learning that the IWB can bring
. labelling for lower ability or second language users can be very beneficial

IWB bus stud2

Business students' brainstorm printed off from the IWB
Students can concentrate on giving ideas rather than having to worry about writing it down

Use of iPads

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  • Plan internet research carefully to make it work for you.

. give the students guidelines for the research - what is needed, what is not needed
. a checklist of search keywords (created by themselves via a brainstorm)
. how to recognise a good site - readability, images etc
. create bookmark folders & bookmark good websites
. give example of websites for lower ability students to get them started
. be specific about what is required from their research
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  • A wide range of well-thought out, high quality, stimulating displays are used to support the work in class; there are examples of 3D work, interactive displays, examples of best work
    Ofsted key indicators

Displays: why do they matter?
. good displays add to the appearance of a room
. appearances do matter - what message are your displays giving?
. many students are motivated by displays especially photographs of them in action!
. it can be an effective way of showing your appreciation for effort
use display work as a model of how you want work presented

Displays: getting it right

50/50 is considered a good balance between the students' work and permanent displays
. refresh displays regularly - they can become 'wallpaper' very quickly
. make sure display work can be seen from a distance
. permanent teacher displays should be visible to all students and be curriculum based

Temporary posters: used to aid the learning process

. student's work enlarged and annotated by the teacher to illustrate strengths etc.
. learning objectives posters
. key word posters - evolve with the lesson, use in the plenary and/or as a starter
. sentence starter posters
. exam question posters with explanations
. number your posters for quick referencing "Everyone look at no.2 …"
posters can be used for plenary sessions and for the next lesson starter, or boys can create their own as the plenary of starter

Posters: tips
. make sure the posters can be easily read
. list habits you want the students to develop
. number the poster and items on the poster for easy reference e.g. poster no.2 word 7
. a poster is a teaching tool not a work of art - your (or their) own handwriting makes it personal
. limit what is on each poster

constant reinforcement is very beneficial & can include:
. key words
. spellings
. definitions
. key knowledge
. important dates
. learning objectives
. exam questions
. assessment criteria
etc, etc etc,
Management strategies

. good chance to lead by example
. a Head's display can be a very powerful motivator for students e.g.
Head's Excellence board
Head's Most Improved
Head's Sports Awards

. Use displays & posters during inset, presentations & meetings as a way of role modelling
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  • Take charge over what you can control - your classroom.

For many students at GCSE level their exam performance is being restricted by their poor literacy skills.

The Ofsted report (April 2013) lays much emphasis on the need for a school to have "outstanding policies and practices in promoting literacy across the curriculum" (page 8).
Whether such whole school policies exist doesn't lessen the fact that history as a subject makes literacy demands on the students & as teachers we need to develop strategies to support our students.

Furthermore as individual teachers we benefit: (page9)
. pupils need vocabulary to cope with the demands of the subject
. writing helps clarify thoughts
. better literacy improves (academic) self-esteem, motivation and behaviour
. confident students are better independent learners
. better literacy raises student attainment in history & other subjects.

Vocabulary needs to become part of the routine, when listening, speaking and writing.

Develop your strategies that work best for in your classroom and subject.

What words and phrases do they need in the exams - use them all the time
e.g. describe, explain, compare, which is most important, how useful/reliable is the source etc.
Use them in discussions with your students.

Use them when speaking as well as when writing
"We are having a discussion about ……."
"Let's compare ……"
"Can you describe ……."
"Please explain …."
"What is the function of this pen ……"

For many less motivated students, those who appear not to care, it is because they don't see a successful end in sight. Academic failure is all they have to look forward to. Step by step, lesson by lesson we can engage them, and give them strategies to help them succeed. This is not dumbing down - this is giving them strategies that will help them succeed. Literacy especially in history can be a barrier to succeed for many.
Management strategies

. a key area of focus for a management team
. support of a literacy programme to improve student skills is essential from the beginning and all the way through its implementation
. use the expertise within the school as well as be prepared to bring in outside experts
. monitor the programme's implementation
. support experimentation to find strategies that work
. encourage the active participation of all departments
  • The use of key vocabulary forms a key component in the teaching and learning of the children; routines are evident and the vocabulary is impacting on the learning
    Ofsted key indicators
Case study from the Ofsted report:

Woolwich Polytechnic for Boys, London
School: 1,800 boys - lower than average attainment, English a second language for many students.

Strategies that worked…..

For speaking & listening:
. plan 'talk' into all lessons - give everyone an opportunity and use 'talk' frames to help with use the correct language and phrases.
e.g. sentence starters "The aim of this …" "The result of …."
. give pupils time to think through their answers before they speak
e.g. ask a question and then say "No hands up for 10 seconds"
. plan the introduction of new vocabulary and then use it to reinforce it
. have visual clues in the classroom - objects, posters etc.

For writing:
. provide a structure the boys can use in their planning
. start with discussion and build up a 'word bank' of the key words
. model the writing to show how it is done and reaches the lesson objectives
. allow them to write in their own language first before trying in English
What works - based on the Ofsted case studies

. Understanding the language need
what language do the students need to succeed?

. No quick fix
thinking literacy at every step of the planning

. Literacy for every subject
understand that everyone is working for the same aim, that what they do benefits your teaching and your wok will help others - students literacy will improve

. Plan for literacy
plan to develop pupil's reading, writing, speaking & listening
perhaps identify keys areas; extended writing: key words; spelling etc
work with your department to embed this in schemes of work

. Use the library
work with the librarian - seek advice on texts etc

. Monitor what you are doing
how do you know if what you are doing is working?

. Experiment
try different things, look at some of the strategies here, try them adapt them etc
ask colleagues what they do that works - we teach the same boys.