Effective Classroom Language: Do’s and Don’ts

Since then, I have learnt that the language teachers use in the classroom can have a positive or harmful effect on pupils, so their words need to be chosen carefully.

We’ve all had lessons where we’ve had to repeatedly ask pupils to be quiet, but instead of pulling your hair out in frustration, try using these classroom management “dos’” and “don’ts” – paying extra attention to the language you use when managing pupil behaviour.

Learning simply cannot happen when pupils misbehave, so it is crucial that teachers handle disruptions in a consistent and non-confrontational manner.

Praise good behaviour

Rather than concentrating on the pupils that misbehave, focus your attention on the pupils that are working well. A simple, “well done to those of you on the extension task” or “good work front row” can be very effective. Even mischievous pupils want to please the teacher, so give them the opportunity to change their behaviour before you consider sanctioning them.

Offer the carrot, not the stick

Rather than reminding pupils of the sanctions for bad behaviour, remind them of the rewards they can receive for exhibiting good behaviour. You can even implement a rewards system in the form of certificates, prizes and privileges.

Words of praise like “well done” or “excellent work” can be very encouraging when you mean them, so give credit where credit’s due. Awarding a prize for ‘Pupil of the month’ can also make them very competitive and encourage them to stay on task!


Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.




About our Community Expert


Simi Rai
Community Expert

Over 5 years of experience in educational settings throughout London, Madrid and Barcelona. Whilst studying English Literature and Language at King’s College London and the University of North Carolina, she fell in love with her subject – both the study of literature and craft of writing.

After graduating, she completed the Leadership Development Programme with Teach First, whose mission is to provide equality through education, and attained her PGCE in Secondary English at Canterbury Christ Church University. She was then appointed as Deputy Head of English at one of the highest performing schools in England in a London inner-city academy.

Following this, she completed her Leadership and Management MA at University College London (Institute of Education) and became the director of an English Language company based in Barcelona.

The Blame Games and Student Behaviour

“We can curse the darkness or shine a light”

A Headteacher once said to me she knew when a new video game had been released because there was a spike in absences and lateness the day after!

Interesting thought really especially as both teachers and parents alike currently glaze over when they hear the word fortnight; to the extent that one primary school recently banned any mention of it in the classroom.


Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

12 Ways to Support Introverts in the Classroom

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Some may perceive you like one or the other. However, in my opinion, there’s an extrovert and an introvert in all of us.

It is what we do with these aspects of ourselves in different contexts that will help us in situations that need us to adapt.

Similarly, for children, some pupils are extroverts that naturally contribute in class and voice their opinions and appear confident and self-assured. As teachers though, we still need to look and observe more closely as sometimes being an extrovert can mask a whole host of issues.

Introverted pupils can also be a challenge in class. In the Oxford Dictionary, an introvert is described as a “shy and reticent person”. What we need to know as teachers are that just because they have “quieter qualities” within their personality trait, they are not less able. It takes skilful teaching and learning and “getting to know the child, carefully, over time” that will help them make progress.

Here are 12 ways to encourage introverts in your class!

1. Get to know the child

Observe them keenly and look at how they behave and interact with their peers. Build up a picture from others such as teaching assistants, midday supervisors, parents and carers and former teachers. It will inform you on ways to move forward with the child.

2. Observe body language

Although some may seem shy and hesitant, body language and facial expressions still give us huge clues on what people think and their likes and dislikes.

3. Give them “Voice Time” and don’t interrupt them

Give pupils advance warning of what you want them to do and inform them of any change so that they have time to reflect. Be patient but persist in getting a contribution, so they also have the chance to share their ideas and opinions. Avoid interrupting then as that can disrupt their thought trains.

shy book class

Click here to download the Opogo app on the App store and read this blog in full!

Alternatively, click here to download the Opogo app for android.

How to identify behaviours in the classroom

Anyone who has worked in a school setting knows that there are many unusual behaviours from the majority of pupils that present themselves almost daily.

Playing detective to unpick what these behaviours may mean is one of the most challenging, yet interesting aspects of working with children and young people.

Observing these behaviours, speaking with the pupils and colleagues in order to form an opinion and then effect a programme to support and develop is a key role of being an educational practitioner.

1. Observing

What exactly am I seeing…?

– Chatting

Everyone has experienced a chatty class, a chatty lesson or a chatty pupil. Never quite feeling that you as the teacher of a session are being heard and followed is frustrating. This frustration can make you question your ability to teach.

Rethinking this and seeing it from the class, groups or pupils’ point of view will help with your well-being and with reducing the talking in your lesson. Pupils chat for a variety of reasons. Unfinished conversations, a feeling of anonymity (I can talk as I am invisible and not really noticed or valued), a need to chat in order to learn (yes this does exist!) and chatting can also mean that the learner is not engaged with the learning.

– Anxiety and nervousness

Each of us can suffer from anxiety at one time or another and for children, this, unfortunately, is also true. Being anxious makes the pupil appear disinterested and distracted. Of course, they are as they are battling with a myriad of emotions and feelings that are blocking their ability to be present.

They may be anxious as they are not very sure of the expectations for them in the session, they are concerned about speaking in front of an audience or indeed speaking at all, and they could be worried about non-school related issues and concerns.

Emotional girl

– Sadness

Being sad and coping with sadness can often go undetected in pupils. By their very definition and being, children are seen as gregarious, resilient, happy, easy to please and risk takers.

Our approach to the pupils that do not fit into these categories, some or any, is often us, as teachers, questioning what is wrong with the pupil and why are they not fitting into the stereotype. Of course, there are as many reasons for this as they are children, but one of the reasons experience has taught me is that the child may be sad or coping with a sad situation or experience.

– Reluctance

Being reluctant to participate in an activity in a class environment can stem from low self-esteem or self-image. This can be about confidence and also about their previous experiences and expectations.

The pupil who refuses to conform or does not appear pleased that you have volunteered them for a class job or honour may just be feeling reluctant. We can often interpret this reluctance as rudeness or obstinate and our ego can take offence. The child, however, may just be unsure of themselves.

2. Gathering information through conversations with; the pupils, their peers and colleagues.

– The upshot is no one really knows why anyone does anything but gathering as much information as possible around the behaviours can help with the offer of support!

Organised class discussions to focus on pupil well-being is a good starting point. This may be planned around a story starter, the focus of a circle time or a similar empathetic opportunity in the classroom for a discussion. Schools are using animals to help with this facilitation, specifically dogs, who often come into school with a trainer who can support with the process.

Untitled design (34)

Getting to speak and know the class and the dynamics are crucial. Arts and crafts activities can often illicit pertinent conversations. The old ‘sewing circle’ model, with soothing music on in the background. Planning quiet times into your class day or week also helps with the opportunity for best copy work to be produced or colouring in and finishing off.

When these activities happen informal conversations often take place. Sitting with the class and specific pupils for lunch or on the way to and from a school trip is another forum and speaking with the teaching assistant, music teacher, PE coach or the adults who supervise the breakfast club or after school provision allows for another adults’ insight to be gathered.

3. Creating a programme of support and development once the information has been gathered.

– Simple changes in classroom practice can have a huge effect. This is when you can be at your most creative and use your skills and knowledge of children and their development.

Consider the following:

  • Giving opportunities for talk time in the classroom
  • Having a ‘worry box’ that pupils can write their worries and concerns on
  • Ensuring all pupils have the opportunity of working and chatting with a friend during any one school day
  • Having a ‘complements’ focus on a Friday where each pupil gets the opportunity to receive compliments from their classmates and to also complement themselves
  • Creating a clear outline of expectations for every job you ask the pupils to ‘volunteer’ for
  • Providing books and reading opportunities that are feeling focused; this could ab a category in our book area
  • Get some class pets; fishes, stick insects, small animals. They allow pupils to be caring and nurturing with, and to also make mistakes with as well. A fish does not shout at you if you forget to feed them once!

Untitled design (40)

– Using school structures

These structures can be used to support; mentoring, teaching assistant time, buddy systems, SENCo involvement, school nurse, counsellors can also be a great help, and this will be for more specific needs that you feel you would need some support to address. Use the many ‘human’ resources in your school setting and never underestimate the value of an open and sensitive conversation with your colleagues.

– Parental engagement

This is another area that can help support a child. Working in partnership can be hugely successful and can enable pupils to flourish in the school setting. Supporting pupils in this way can also help with your own professional development as a teacher as engaging with parents successfully is a skill in itself and one that can only be learnt from experience. You may also be helping a family to address their own worries and concerns and thereby additionally help the pupil.

Different behaviours are not always for the reason we think and one of the key elements of being a teacher that focuses on well-being and support is that of playing a detective and of taking nothing for granted!