How to deal with rowdy form groups?

Not a request for help (although it’s always goot to share good practice), but I suddenly realised that I had inadvertently made a breakthrough today.

They’re Y8 and a very mixed bag in terms of ability, attitiude and behaviour. Strangely (or so it seems to me) some of the brightest in there are also the most disruptive. An image of a vulture springs to mind but that may be a little harsh (I must be in a good mood!).

Anyway, I’ve tried quizzes, games, reading, class detentions, shouting and all sorts of other tactics in an attempt to get them to shut up and sit down – even if it’s only for enough time to take the register and read any notices. I’ve realised that it’s the little routines that make the difference.

I’ve always asked them to line up before entering the room, but had been lax about the state and volume of the line in favour of making sure they got in and out on time (and of course the more rowdy they are the more time you need to get them in and take the register – and so begins the vicious cycle).

Lately I’ve been thinking ‘to hell with it’ and waiting quietly for them to line up properly. Today I even asked one of them very deliberately, politely and quietly to please join the line with the rest of the class – worked wonders!

So they’re in. Only 2 minutes left to actually get the register done, but they’re mostly now in the right frame of mind. I wait until coats are off before I start the register and stop if anyone is talking, banging, swinging on chairs, playing slaps, turning round, etc. I don’t shout, cajole, moan, complain – I even try not to give the really annoying ones ‘The Look’ (with varying degrees of success). The kids do exactly what I was told they would. They blame each other – specifically, the ones making all the noise. Of course they defend themselves by shouting back but the mood quickly changes and everyone knows who the real trouble makers are. I just wait patiently, looking at nothing in particular and as soon as the class is ready we go to the next name.

No rewards here for the attention seekers, at least not from me. This, of course, leads them to try more and more desperate attempts to provoke a response and I must confess to a slight concern over where and when I will have to draw the line.

Of course they end up 2 or 3 minutes late to the next lesson, although hopefully this will improve as the message starts to sink in. All I need now is a spell to convert Y11 apathy into completed coursework…

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