• Abigail Spruce

How to take control of your classroom

For those of you who are following my blog, you will know I recently started working in a new school. We're a term in and I'm still not happy with the behaviour in some of my classes. I've been wracking my brain to work out why!

  • Is it because I'm the new teacher and they're pushing their luck?

  • Is it because I have had to isolate for 2.5 weeks already?

  • Is the wind blowing in the wrong direction today?

All of the above are probably true to some extent (definitely number 3), but I refuse to let the problem eventually sort itself out. So in true Spruce fashion, some research had to begin!

Here are two of my favourite takeaways from some research and CPD, and how I'm going to input these into my covid-19 safe and nomadic teacher life.


Having a clear routine or set of instructions limits the behaviour issues in a classroom, as there is less of a grey area for students to find! Most of my research indicate to using written instruction or some kind of display to explain what students should be doing.

After finding some primary resources about noise levels (click here for an example of what I found) I knew I wanted something similar for my classes. It needed to be appropriate in design for all my classes (Y7-Y11) and interactive so that I can put into my existing presentations and change as necessary. A poster would have been sufficient if I had one classroom, but covid precautions dictate that I am a nomadic teacher for the meantime.

Here's an example of how I can use it to show students what is expected of them in terms of noise level.

All instructions are clear for all to see.

No grey area.

Download your copy here, then just copy and paste the entire contents into your existing presentations.

Talking Levels Display - Interactive
Download PPT • 325KB

The Positive Teacher

I hold my hands up - I am guilty of starting on a negative.

"Why haven't you got a pen?"

"Why are you 10 minutes late to my lesson?"

"Take off the jacket, it's not the correct uniform"

All valid points mind, but the tone and delivery is negative. Students that didn't want to learn fractions today are now even further into camp 'Maths is terrible' from that one statement. I'm not suggesting that these shouldn't be addressed, but the way this happens can be improved.

Rob Plevin's webinar made me reflect on how my language could change how students respond in that scenario. Building positive relationships with students needs to be a priority for these classes next half term. I'm going to do my best to change my behaviour and language, and hopefully see that reflected in my students.

"Do you have a pen today? Perhaps someone who is extra prepared can help you out today."

"I'm so glad you've joined our lesson. Do you have a late slip from the member of staff you were with?"

"Show me that smart uniform I know you've got hiding under that jacket!"

Same issues as before, but the tone is completely different! I really need to embed this language into my everyday teaching.

Classroom Management Success in 7 days or Less

I need to wrap this blog up with a spotlight on the most important bit of CPD I've done this year. Rob Plevin's webinar on classroom management taught me so much in the space of one hour. If you are able to attend one, I highly recommend it.

Check out his website and see if there is one coming soon: https://needsfocusedteaching.com/

(For those reading this as it comes out, there are two webinars on the 29th October 2020).

I now have two of his books in my possession: Take Control of the Noisy Class and Classroom Management Success in 7 Days or Less so hopefully you will see a review on these on the TL;DR page soon!

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