Needs Focused Teaching

A bit of preaching and a behaviour management freebie to get your class quiet


I know, I know, you’ve  heard this one before; I harp on about it often enough. But for the benefit of new visitors and seeing as though winter will soon be bringing those dark gloomy days in the classroom, (unless you’re in Autralia), I thought I’d share what I consider to be the most important behaviour management tool for classroom management success.  Putting your efforts into this one area will help you succeed more than any other strategy I know of.

Your Most Important Behaviour Management Tool

A few years ago I was talking with a colleague after delivering training at his school. He, (let’s call him John), told me a story about one of the teachers at the school, (she can be called Janet for the purpose of this story and for the benefit of any Terry Wogan fans), who was struggling badly with one particular group of students; she just couldn’t get them quiet.

John was Janet’s head of department and he often had to pass through her room when she was teaching in order to get resources from the main store cupboard. He told me that on one particular day he happened to be passing through when Janet was teaching her most challenging group.

The students were literally out of control – screaming, shouting and totally ignoring Janet’s cries to settle down. John didn’t normally intervene unless asked to do so but he felt this situation was only going to get worse so he walked round the room speaking quietly to some of the students for a few minutes. Without the need to raise his voice, a hush gradually descended on the room and the students returned to their seats facing Janet; happy faces, ready to work.

John quietly left the room and went about the rest of his day without giving the incident a second thought.

At the end of the school day, when the students had left the premises, Janet caught John in the staffroom…

“John, how do you do that? How the hell do you manage to get that group so quiet so easily?”

I’m sure she didn’t expect the reply he gave her. She wanted a magic bullet, a sure-fire behaviour management strategy, a new way of speaking, a secret hand signal or a never-fail script to follow.  But I hope she understood the power of what he said and I hope you do too, it’s priceless.

It is the single, most important behaviour management tool any teacher can develop and it leads to an enviable level of respect from your most challenging students. This is where the real rewards in teaching lie.

“I’ll tell you exactly how I do it, there’s no magic to it….

I know these kids. I’ve spent time with them. I go to support them playing football for the school at weekends, I chat with them in the corridor, I regularly speak to their parents on the telephone, I visit their homes, I’ve taken them on trips, I sit with them at lunch time. The door to my room is always open to them, they know they can come and chat when something’s wrong and I make a point of catching up with them whenever I can.”

Building positive relationships with your students won’t solve all behaviour problems but it will certainly reduce incidents and will make dealing with problems much, much easier. Students are, after all, far more likely to listen and respond to a teacher they trust and respect.

Now, if you can just wait a minute while I climb down from my soap box I’ve got a cool little present for you…

We had this produced a few weeks ago and it’s proving very popular as a ‘classroom silencer’ or noise level meter. Just stick it on your whiteboard whenever your students get too loud. Or whenever you fancy a chuckle… 🙂

Get your Fun Classroom Silencer here

Become a Gold Member and get access to ALL our much-loved, unique training videos – click here

Jacinta says 21st March 2015

Hi Jay, I am a supply teacher also. I love Rob’s video’s ect as he gives a big bag I tricks. I once over used a noise maker, as I couldn’t get the kids to stop shouting and settle. The next time I had the class we chatted about it and I promised not to use the noise maker and was as feed up with it as, they were. I think talking about respect and doing the right thing. We all agreed we wanted to have a better day than we had the last time….we did. I Used the line up first, and a few other suggestions. We ended up with a very productive day. The Principle ended up offering me a job as they had already gone though 6 teachers and I was able to get them working hahaha and she said she loved walking into the room and found a nice working atmosphere. They weren’t perfect but I don’t think anyone walked away with a headache (Thanks Rob_). I think they also liked my honesty and saying sorry, and what I could do this time to make the day better, and then asked them what they felt wrong and what they could do to make the day better…I didn’t take the job, but am now a steady supply teacher at the school.

Rob Plevin says 16th November 2011

Oh dear Inna, I’m sorry to hear that. I think the problem may be quite simple to solve though… many people have found that updating their flash plugin works – just go to and download their latest flashplugin for free. That should do tthe trick. 🙂 (I hope!)

Inna Zhuravliova says 10th November 2011

Dear Rob!
The problem isn`t only at Theresa`s end.
Thanks a million for all your fabulous contributions.
But, whenever I try to watch your videos, the only thing I get is a png picture.
I`ve tried different comps in my city (Odessa, Ukraine) and it`s always the same. What a pity!
You are magnificent! Thanks again!

Ritz says 8th November 2011

I believe last year I tried that strategy with my 5 and 6 year olds and it really worked . There were 11 boys that just seem to be rowdy all the time. The previous teacher had warned me to (tie my waist) because of their behaviour and that she was not able to carry out not one single lesson to the end without having to loose her cool. I used the light switch to get thier attention, clapped three times and sometimes counted backwards. In the morning when they came in I would ask stuff like how they were doing, comment about how they looked and within short the 11 boys were the ones keeping the class together. One thing though I was consistant with what ever I did with them. It may take a while to see results but to me, when they get it, you will surely enjoy the reward for trying. 🙂

Rob Plevin says 5th November 2011

Well, maybe Otten. Elvis is meant to be a ‘fun’ reminder of noise levels. You wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t use him if a group is out of control – he’d be no use whatsoever. But as a bit of fun, to keep noise levels at an acceptable level instead of constantly nagging your students with ‘Settle Down!’ – type comments, I think he has a place. Let me know if he doesn’t work though. 🙂

Otten Greedy says 4th November 2011

Haha, Elvis is cool! But, honestly, I don’t think it can help in getting a class quiet. It’s too.. hm.. simple, may be?

Rob Plevin says 18th October 2011

Theresa I’m afraid that sounds like a problem at your end. Have you tried viewing on a different computer?

Teresa says 18th October 2011

I can’t even view it? Won’t let me.

Rob Plevin says 16th October 2011

Well said Chelle. Thanks for the post.

chelle says 16th October 2011

Totally agree with you, Rob. I am a supply teacher (for the last five years). The day I have depends on the day I decide to have and whether I decide I like the school and the kids. It also depends on whether I ‘buy’ into the class reputation or decide that the class ‘works for me’. Even so, there are some exceptions – hard core students that are bullies to supply teachers for the fun of it. In that instance, you have to resort to the school’s management policy for professional backup and to show students you mean business.

chris says 12th October 2011

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Rob Plevin says 8th October 2011

OK CR, Jay, you’re absolutely right – as a supply teacher (with the exception of long-term supply) you don’t have the opportunities to get to know the students over any length of time – that’s impossible. And relationships do take time to build.

But the essential idea still holds true. When you meet people for the very first time you make a decision whether you like them or not and there are things they can do/not do, things they can say/not say that will effect those feelings.

Even a supply teacher can effect the way students respond to them – in their very first meeting – by the way they approach them in the first place.

Jay says 8th October 2011

I agree with you CR, as a supply/contract teacher the students consider you fair game for bullying. It is impossible to develop a connection in a one-or five day teaching session. I am continually being told, I must earn the respect of the students first, but how can this happen in a short period of time. I use the same rules and consequences as the normal teacher, the quality lessons depend on whether or not the normal teacher has left an indication of where the students are in the curriculum. .

Rob Plevin says 7th October 2011

Cheers Jeffrey, will do. 🙂

Jeffrey Slough says 7th October 2011

Could not agree more. I have found that teachers who have difficulty finding connection with their students also have issues with class management. Students must see you as a human first, and a teacher second. It takes some time to establish a “trusting” connection but it is invaluable. Add to that of course all of the good tools for good teaching, bell to bell, quality lessons, multi-modal teaching, etc…. Great article, keep up the good work.

Rob Plevin says 7th October 2011

Leave your comments and let me know what you think of ‘Settle Down Elvis’

    CR says 7th October 2011

    Sounds great but it doesn’t work for supply teachers!

Comments are closed