Ten tips to improve pupils’ behaviour and attainment


1. Give pupils a language to describe their emotions; get them used to talking about their feelings. Encourage them to write a diary (see above).
2. Pay attention to pupils who are behaving well. Try and ignore misbehaviour. Make sure you reward good behaviour, not bad.
3. Be specific with your praise. Say precisely what you like about a pupil’s work or attitude. People always feel better when they know precisely what it is that they have done well. That way they can repeat that behaviour more easily.
4. Get your pupils to think very carefully about where they are sitting before the lesson. Ask them to choose to sit next to someone they don’t normally sit next to, and to decide in advance who this will be.
5. If a class is too noisy and not listening to you, split them up into smaller groups, ‘handpicked’ by you, and give everyone in the group a position of responsibility. A central tenet of emotional intelligence is that people should have feelings of power and control.
6. Give your instructions in a calm fashion. Try to avoid shouting and appearing angry. Show that you have control over your own emotions.
7. Pre-empt trouble by taking a long-term view. Emotional intelligence is about seeing the long-term perspective rather than the short term. By planning your lessons well in advance, providing a variety of different exercises that pupils can engage with, you are implicitly showing your pupils that the long-term view is the one that is best. The Elton Report found that poor behaviour in 80% of lessons was due to poor planning on behalf of the teacher. 
8. Walk away from confrontations. The emotionally intelligent teacher always buys him- or herself time to think about how best to deal with a situation.
9. Question poor behaviour, but don’t make blanket judgements about pupils. Make pupils think about their behaviour, not be defensive about it. Ask them how they are feeling about the lesson and why they are feeling that way.
10. Institute an emotional literacy programme during your tutor times. Encourage the whole school to participate.

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