Tackling challenging behaviour in the classroom

Challenging behaviour is one of the most difficult problems that teachers can face. Julian Stanley writing for SecEd offers some practical advice and support.

Budget cuts have forced many schools to cut staff numbers, which in turn, as many of you may be experiencing, can leave teachers without adequate support in managing difficult student behaviour in and out of the classroom.

Earlier this year, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) warned that cuts to support staff as a result of the squeeze on school spending was leaving teachers increasingly vulnerable. In particularly challenging schools, ATL argued, teachers facing bullying and occasionally threatening behaviour by students had reported that they did not have enough support to deal with such situations. 

Of course all staff should be able to feel confident that they can go to work and do their job without any fear of intimidation. First and foremost, we want to see all schools establishing a culture that ensures strong and clear behavioural policies are not only in place but can be discussed and understood by all and properly implemented.

Teachers should never be expected to deal with a particularly difficult situation or on-going issue alone. For less threatening behaviour, as any experienced teacher knows, there are a range of behaviour management tools consistently used on a daily basis. 

Challenges to authority, a refusal to obey rules and verbal abuse can be extremely demanding and exhausting. Sustained over long periods, we know it can have a detrimental impact on teaching staff’s wellbeing, both physically and mentally. It can of course also have adverse effects on a student’s learning. 

Before assuming that in the first academic term of the year there is already nothing else you can do about a challenging situation, think about how you respond presently to inappropriate behaviour. This is often the key to deciding which changes you may or may not need to make and the sorts of strategies that might be best to implement. 

Some useful questions to ask yourself (and respond to honestly) might include the following.  Do I: 


  • Follow my school or college’s behaviour policy and guidelines?

  • Threaten actions but not usually follow through?

  • Use a discipline plan?

Read more Tackling challenging behaviour in the classroom

Have you had a bad experience in the classroom? Did you have the support of the school? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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