Managing Pupil Behaviour: Improving the Classroom Atmosphere

November 8, 2012

Author: Terry Haydn

Edition: Second

Publisher: Routledge/Taylor & Francis

Pages: 220

Price: £95.00 and £22.99

ISBN: 9780415614313 and 14320

You know you are on to a good thing when you pick up the review copy of a book and immediately try to apply it to your own pupil management philosophy, even though you haven't taught in schools for more than a decade. This is the main strength of Terry Haydn's book. It is accessible, inspiring and makes you want to raise your game, no matter how confident (or not) you might be about classroom management techniques in general. It's a book that speaks to teachers.

The new edition is still a manageable length and can be carried around discreetly, to dip into during a hard day at school or during a postgraduate certificate in education course. It takes a thorough approach to discipline, focusing on subjects such as the context of pupil behaviour, working with colleagues, and planning and preparation. The research behind various disciplinary approaches is also there, which gives the book a scholarly leaning. There are checklists of issues such as common mistakes and levels of competence that allow teachers to apply this to practical matters. For example, in chapter 4 there is a section on politicians' statements about discipline (usually fairly authoritarian), discussed in the light of disaffection and disengagement. Opposite, there is a section entitled "How much control do you want?" which ranges from:

a) Palpable air of fear when you walk into the classroom

b) When the occasion demands, you can conjure up "a whiff of fear"

c) You can get the class completely quiet and attentive by a simple word or gesture ...all the way through to...

h) Some pupils do not comply with your requests, and you have to turn a blind eye to some things that are going on in order for the lesson to continue for pupils who might want to learn.

The juxtaposition of these items makes it clear that matters of control can be in the hands of the teacher, not politicians or pupils, and that it is for the teacher to decide when and how particular classroom management techniques should be applied. Chapter 8, entitled "Telling the truth about the working atmosphere in the classroom", gives the other side of the story, namely that teachers' actions form only part of the social world of the pupils, and that their effectiveness at any time will vary according to the school in which a teacher is working. As Haydn concludes, "There are no golden rules that always work: only ideas, theories and suggestions to test out against your own experience." How true.

Who is it for? Trainee teachers and others who wish to improve their classroom management techniques. (In an ideal world, politicians would also try reading it for its insights into schools but I am not holding my breath.)

Presentation: Highly accessible, concise and thoughtful, with great cartoons.

Would you recommend it? This book is rapidly becoming a teacher-training classic, so yes.

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