In an effort to boost hygiene in schools, antimicrobial-technology specialists BioCote have created the world’s first classroom that actively protects against bacteria. Run in conjunction with existing customers, the south-east England primary classroom was completely refurbished with a range of BioCote protected products – from the carpet and walls to the desks and chairs – which all inhibit the growth of potentially harmful bacteria. Consequently, the total environment of the antimicrobial classroom has seen a huge 96% reduction in bacterial contamination.

At the start of each year, the vast majority of teachers write a seating plan for each new class. The seating plan will often have minor tweaks throughout each term, however the majority of students will have the same seat for the whole year. My argument is though, should a seating plan not be a flexible document related to ability and current progress of the students?

As shown in articles by the likes of Kriscia Cabral, classroom design and layout play a big part in a pupil’s learning. Melanie Laing of Innova Design Solutions gives her top ten tips on how best to innovate the classroom.

The decision to improve and modernise classrooms offers teachers the opportunity to create a space which truly meets their needs and those of their students. But where do you start? And how can you ensure the changes you make have a real impact on staff and students?

When I used to provide sessions on classroom management to our regular cohorts of trainee teachers, one thing I noted was how poorly they prepared themselves to deal with misbehaviour. Though they all planned their lesson content - their starter activity, plenary and so on - virtually none had a plan for how he would respond to bad behaviour.

Yet misbehaviour in lessons is almost certain. If you enter a classroom without a clear idea of how to respond to it, you will have to make things up on the spot.

This is generally not a good idea. For one thing, a punishment contrived and applied on the spur of the moment can be as much of an inconvenience to you as to the miscreant. “Right, you can spend your lunchtime with me!” Oh dear, that’s your well-earned lunch break spent in a classroom with a warm sandwich and sulky teenager.

In my previous article I discussed ways of minimising misbehaviour and creating a positive classroom climate. But, like an English summer, even the most temperate lesson is prone to showers. The following tips are designed to help you prevent a drizzle of mischief becoming a deluge of disobedience.

Keep the lesson flowing. When dealing with misbehaviour, always start off with the least intrusive intervention possible. For example, a pupil is tapping a pencil whilst you are talking. He might be doing it absent- mindedly, or he might be trying to provoke a reaction. In either case, try ignoring it. (This is called “tactical ignoring”: you are making a positive choice to ignore the behaviour, not failing to act because you are unsure of what to do.) If the tapping doesn’t stop, point your gaze at the source of the noise or move towards it. That will usually be enough to get it to stop. Other low-level intervention techniques include asking a relevant question (which is often all that is needed to bring the pupil back on task), and using non-verbal signals - such as a finger to the lips or even just a raised eyebrow. These enable you to maintain the flow of your lesson and not distract other pupils while ensuring that the class knows you’re monitoring its behaviour. Responding too quickly or too aggressively to minor misdemeanours can leave pupils feeling aggrieved or humiliated – and faced with a choice between defying the teacher and losing face in front of peers, many will defy the teacher. The issue then escalates, the disruption is drawn out, and the lesson flow is interrupted.

Everyone knows the old adage “prevention is better than cure”. This is as true of classroom management as it is of anything else. Preventing disruption from occurring in the first place is far better than struggling to regain control when things have all gone pear-shaped.

As staff mentor, I was once asked by a newly-qualified teacher if he could come and observe one of my lessons. He wanted, he said, to see “How you deal with confrontation”. I told him he was welcome to come and see my lesson, but he was unlikely to see any confrontation because I tried hard to make sure it didn’t happen. Of course, the question he should have asked is “How do I avoid confrontation in the first place?”.

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