Confessions of a Teacher – Behaviour

“I've been kicked, punched, bitten, spat at.”

Teachers speak openly about dealing with bad behaviour in this new film.

Please note some language in this film may offend.

Challenging behaviour is one of the most difficult problems that teachers can face.

In Education Support Partnership’s 2018 Teacher Wellbeing Index, 43% of education professionals cite poor behaviour as a cause of their physical and mental health issues.

Verbal and physical abuse can be extremely demanding and exhausting.

In this short film, which you may find upsetting in places, teachers open up about the things they’ve had to deal with in the classroom. From items being thrown at them to being racially abused, these teachers have suffered the lot.

One teacher reveals: “I've been kicked punched bitten spat at.”

Another talks about the horror of finding rude drawings of herself in a book she was marking, and seeing photos of her faced edited onto images: “I was mortified because a year 11 had his phone confiscated and me in a bikini was his screensaver.”

It’s not just bad behaviour from students that can be a problem.

Two teachers in this film open up about experiences they’ve had with colleagues. One says: “You'd expect working professionals such as teachers to treat each other with respect and kindness you deserve.” He goes on to say: “They treated me like dirt they bullied me. It was horrible that they made me feel I was totally worthless.”

Another teacher says: “I couldn't face going back into that school. The thought of going back in just was completely unbearable.”

3 Expert Tips for Managing Your Class

1. Agree some rules

  • Create rules and express them positively so you’re not just giving pupils a list of ‘don’ts.’
  • Explain why the rules are there, and ask for suggestions from pupils to help get their commitment.
  • Stick the rules up on a poster on the wall, and review them together regularly.

2. Look at your leadership style

  • A balance between an assertive and cooperative style is regarded as the most effective way to improve classroom management.
  • Use speech and body language to appear calm and in control (even if you are not). The first step in a challenging situation is to give yourself thinking time and to take a deep breath.

3. Try the PEP approach

  • Proximity: Walk around the classroom and stand close to a pupil you think is about to misbehave, being careful not to invade their personal space or come across as intimidating.
  • Eye Contact: Hold eye contact before during and after speaking to someone about their behaviour and state your expectations clearly.
  • Posing questions: Rather than telling a pupil off, pose a question, such as “Why have you not started your work?

These tips have been compiled by BBC Teach in collaboration with Education Support Partnership.

You do not need to suffer inappropriate behaviour alone. Call Education Support Partnership’s free and confidential 24/7 emotional support helpline on 08000 562 561.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites. By clicking the link to access the external website you will be redirected to a site controlled by Education Support Partnership. Please note that the BBC is not the data controller of the personal data you enter into the external website and it is not responsible for the services provided by any external organisation. When using an external website, you are subject to their Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

This is the second in our new series of films with teachers opening up about pressures they face. Click here to watch what they had to say about exam season, and sign up to the BBC Teach newsletter if you’d like to be notified when we post new content.

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