If you're considering teaching in London, but have heard some really frightening stories about the behaviours of the students, read this story first.
Ben was a teacher from New Zealand and I had placed him in a really tough inner city school. He was young, hip and up for the challenge, but even he admitted his struggles in his first week. The students were pretty typical children in an inner city school - they didn't want to work, wouldn't listen and were sick of being yelled at by adults in general.
Ben took the bus to school every day. So one day, on his way to school, he made an origami bird out of his bus ticket. He was occupying his hands while his brain got to work on finding a solution for the behaviours of his class.
When Ben arrived at school, he decided to use this "bus ticket bird" as an incentive with his students. He knew it was all about tone of voice. Kids get excited about the littlest thing, as long as teachers use their voices to make it exciting.
So in his best excitable teacher voice, Ben asked the class, "Who thinks they can win this very special Bus Ticket Bird?"
All the students looked up. What? What's that in Sir's hand?
"This bus ticket bird is soooo special, only the best behaved child will get to keep it. At the end of the day, I'll decide who worked their hardest, tried their best and was a great friend to all the children in the class. That child will go home with bus ticket bird!"
And you know what? He had a great day. And every day after that was also a great day. Ben found the simplest solution to his classroom management problem.
Now that's great teaching.
Liked this post? Read this one about rules, and this one about behaviour management.
Be sure to read Guide to Teaching in London: A Survival Guide for Canadians (the American edition will be out soon).