I meet teachers in FE who bemoan the lack of instant ‘disciplinary’ processes such as detention or temporary exclusion.


In college, while it’s important that students toe the line behaviourally (after all, it’s what we expect in society is it not?) I believe it’s also essential to use all other options available before getting down and dirty with the punishment.


Why do I think this?  By the time a person reaches 16 and enters college, and if their conduct is not quite the ticket, they will have been punished many times already.  Did it work?  Probably not.  So the classroom-hater on your course is not going to change unless they have a different experience.


Sometimes if a student is hard to teach, is playing the fool, shouting out, refusing to work, the emotion which rises in me is “HOW DARE YOU”.   But should it pierce the surface and explode in front of everyone?


Dave Vizard (www.behaviourmatters.com) writes about this. His view is that consequences need to relate to the behaviour (not over-the-top).


  • Students should be CERTAIN that the consequences will be followed through
  • Be offered CHOICES to let them know that they own their own behaviour
  • Teachers should choose RECONCILIATION rather than revenge…
  • …and use tactical IGNORING if a student is deploying secondary behaviour (sulking/eyes to ceiling/huffing/arguing)


Here’s a summary of some of Dave’s ideas (and mine) for ‘Immediate or Deferred Consequences’ without arguing or making it personal:


Immediate Deferred
Moving seat Chat after class
Cool off time Complete work in own time
Time out (away from class) Behavioural targets


Managing your own behaviour is emotional intelligence.  If you can understand enough about your own reactions you begin to understand feelings in others.  Some of the best classroom managers are those who can single out the behaviour from the person, deal with each separately, and maintain a positive relationship.


My experience with a former student springs to mind: she tended to be a bit tricky - in fact she took great pleasure in telling me that she hated me.  I held my nerve and I confess that my classroom management skills, and my ability to remain calm, were tested to the full.  But after a few weeks I overheard her telling another student that I was ‘alright’.  It was a bumpy ride but she achieved her qualification. That’s proof that it works.