Teachers urged to shut up

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The Independent Online
IT is time for teachers who say "Stop it" to stop it. And those who try to keep order with the command "Shut up" should shut up, writes Judith Judd.

Classroom language, it seems, is one of the keys to controlling bad behaviour. Teachers who used attention-drawing demands such as "Girls!", "Sandra!" or just "3C" should expect chaos to continue, according to a booklet issued today by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers which offers guidance on discipline.

A string of commands, threats and demands is much less likely to end disruption than a firm signal that behaviour is unwanted, with a reminder of known rules. So a teacher should say "Rulers aren't for fighting with" or should warn of the consequences of bad behaviour - "Someone will get hurt if this equipment is lying there."

Chris Watkins, of London University's Institute of Education, warns teachers not to make derogatory personal comments about their pupils. "Timothy, stop being childish and give Rosemary her ruler back," is counterproductive because it builds up resentments. Instead, the teacher might say: "Timothy you're quite able to get on with your work, so return Rosemary's ruler and let her do the same." He also says teachers should also control their desire to react angrily to aggression by counting to 10 before responding.

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