Chapter 3: Classroom Interactions and Managing Pupils

Chapter 3 is about classroom interactions and managing pupils and covers communicating with pupils and motivating them, as well as managing behaviour and primary to secondary transitions.

There are two explainer videos in this section. One provides an overview of the chapter, from classroom management and communication through to behaviour and helping pupils feel connected to school life. The second explainer video concentrates on positive behaviour management and supports unit 3.3.

For unit 3.1 we have provided a link to an online voice recorder so that you can carry out Task 3.1.1 and listen to your own voice, matching the task in the book. We also provide an expansion of Table 3.1.1, looking at the characteristic features of effective explanations. We’ve created flashcards from Table 3.1.2, linking Bloom’s (1956) and Anderson et al’s (2001) adapted taxonomy to what pupils need to do, thinking processes and possible question stems.

For unit 3.2 you will find the ‘language of praise’ from Task 3.2.5 in the book so that you can explore how praise is used by you, or by others.

For unit 3.3 we have summarised the unit in an explainer video on adopting a positive approach to behaviour. As well as this, we have provided Figure 3.3.1 Desirable and Undesirable Behaviour as a checklist, and Table 3.3.2 Some Causes of Unacceptable Behaviour as flashcards. Figure 3.3.3 Planning for Behaviour for Learning has been expanded.

For unit 3.4, the author has set Task 3.4.2, which suggests reading or watching Diary of a Wimpy Kid, so we have provided a link and instructions to help you do this. We’ve also collected the factors having an impact on pupil’s transition experiences.

Classroom Interactions and Managing Pupils

Creating a motivating climate for learning

3.1 Communicating with Pupils


Task 3.1.1 The quality of your voice

Record your voice either reading from a book, newspaper, natural monologue or conversation. Listen to the recording with another beginning teacher. Your voice may sound different from the way you hear it; normally, you hear your voice coming back from the soft tissue and bone in your head. Most of your audience hear it coming forward. As you become used to listening to yourself, try to pick out the good points of your voice. Is it clear? Is it expressive? Is the basic pitch pleasant? Also, consider areas for improvement. Do you normally speak too fast? Is the tone monotonous?

Repeat the task, but this time vary the verbal dynamics. For example, try reading at your normal speed, then faster, then as quickly as you can. Remember to start each word precisely and concentrate on what you are saying. Then try varying the pitch of your voice. Listen to the tape with another beginning teacher and consider strategies and helpful advice for improving. Try these out in your teaching and store your thoughts for future reference/experimentation.


Table 3.1.1 Characteristic features of effective explanations

Clear structure

Is the explanation structured in a logical way showing how each part links together?

Key features identified

What are the key points or essential elements pupils should understand?

Dynamic opening

What is the ‘tease’ or ‘hook’ used at the start?

Clarity – using voice and body

Can the voice or body be used for emphasis or to embellish certain points?


Are there clear linguistic signposts to help pupils follow the sequence and understand the key points?

Examples and non-examples

Are there sufficient examples and non-examples to aid pupils’ understanding of a concept?

Models and analogies

What models might help pupils understand an abstract idea? Are there any analogies you could use? Will pupils understand the analogy? How might you help pupils identify the strengths and weaknesses of the analogy?


What concrete and visual aids can be used to help pupils understand more?


Are there opportunities to check for pupils’ understanding at various points, to note and act on misconceptions or misunderstandings? Are there opportunities for pupils to rehearse their understanding?

Connections to pupils’ experience

Are there opportunities, particularly at the start, to check pupils’ prior knowledge of the subject and to link to their everyday experiences?


Are there distinct moments in the explanation when key points that should be learned are repeated and emphasised?


When and how might it be appropriate to use humour?

3.2 Motivating Pupils


Task 3.2.5 The language of praise

Observation schedule download

Use the observation schedule below (or develop a similar one of your own with categories for praise and negative comments given to an individual, a group or the whole class, for both academic work and behaviour):

  • Observe a class taught by an experienced teacher. Sit in a place where you can hear everything that is said. Record the number of times the teacher gives praise and makes negative comments to individuals, groups, and the whole class in relation to academic work, effort, perseverance, and behaviour. Observe the same experienced teacher in another lesson. This time write down the different words, phrases, and actions the teacher uses to give praise and negative comments in each of these categories and the number of times each is used.
  • Ask someone to conduct the same observations on your lessons. Discuss the differences with your mentor and, if appropriate, develop strategies to help you improve the amount of praise you give and the range of words, phrases and actions you use to give praise (you might be surprised to find that you use a phrase such as ‘good’ or ‘OK’ very frequently in your teaching). Gradually try to incorporate these strategies into your teaching.

3.3 Managing Classroom Behaviour: Adopting a Positive Approach


Adopting a positive approach

Explainer Video: Adopting a Positive Approach

Positive behaviour management


Table 3.3.2 Some causes of unacceptable behaviour

Use these flashcards to quickly revise different causes of unacceptable behaviour, and think about the ways in which you might respond to each situation effectively.


Figure 3.3.3 Planning for behaviour for learning

Use these checklists when you are planning lessons to effectively prepare for behaviour before it occurs.

Behaviour for Learning Checklist Download


  • Know the names and roles of any adults in class.
  • Meet and greet pupils when they come into the classroom.
  • Display rules in the class, and ensure the pupils and staff know what they are.
  • Display the tariff of sanctions in class.
  • Have a system in place to follow through with all sanctions.
  • Display the tariff of rewards in class.
  • Have a system in place to follow through with all rewards.
  • Have a visible timetable on the wall.
  • Follow the school behaviour policy.


  • Know the names of pupils.
  • Have a plan for pupils who are likely to misbehave.
  • Ensure other adults in the class know the plan.
  • Understand pupils’ special needs.


  • Ensure that all resources are prepared in advance.
  • Praise the behaviour you want to see more of.
  • Praise pupils doing the right thing more than criticising those who are doing the wrong thing (parallel praise).
  • Differentiate.
  • Stay calm.
  • Have clear routines for transitions and for stopping the class.
  • Teach pupils the class routines.


  • Give feedback to parents about their child’s behaviour – let them know about the good days as well as the bad ones.

3.4 Conceptualising and Theorising Primary-Secondary Transitions


Task 3.4.2 Understanding discourse around secondary school transition

Read Diary of a Wimpy Kid or watch the movie based on it (or a book or film of your choice that is primarily for 11-14 year old children and young people and which includes starting a new school). Please make notes about the plot line, words and/or imagery used around starting a new school and/or their development stage. What is the dominant discourse? Also, consider what discourse is used around relationships with new peers, teachers and also their own family members. Please reflect on what positive and/or negative messages there are for a young person as they navigate multiple transitions. What can you do as a teacher to ensure a more positive discourse? Make a list of future actions.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Trailer


Factors having an impact on pupils’ transition experiences

In Jindal-Snape and Cantali’s (2019) study, pupils consistently reported that the families were their strongest support network. Therefore, it is not surprising that relationships with family members could have both a positive and negative impact on their transition experiences. Studies suggest that supportive and engaged parents, stable homes and siblings in the new school can all facilitate positive transitions (Smith, Akos and Lim, 2008; Hammond, 2016; Mackenzie, McMaugh and O’Sullivan, 2012), especially as they reduce anxiety about moving to a new school (Frey, Ruchkin, Martin and Schwab-Stone, 2009). Therefore, parental involvement in the transition process is crucial and has been found to have a positive impact on their child’s transition experiences, highlighting the importance of you as a secondary school teacher involving parents in transitions planning and preparation. As can be expected, when this relationship was not good, it could lead to negative transition experiences (Hammond, 2016; Jindal-Snape and Foggie, 2008; Jindal-Snape et al., 2020).

It seems that pupils had positive experiences of starting secondary school due to having a wider group of peers to choose friends from as compared to the primary school. They had the possibility of re-inventing themselves to make new friends (Booth and Gerard, 2014; Davis, Ravenscroft and Bizas, 2015; Farmer, Hamm, Leung, Lambert and Gravelle, 2011; Neal and Frederickson, 2016; Symonds and Hargreaves, 2016). However, several studies also reported that relationships with peers was a cause of anxiety and negative transition experiences. These were related to losing old friends, worries about making new friends and bullying (Hammond, 2016; Jindal-Snape and Foggie, 2008; Dismore and Bailey, 2010; Evangelou et al., 2008). This has implications for you as a secondary school teacher in providing opportunities for development of positive peer relationships, for instance, through small group work, buddy system and/or early intervention when relationships become negative.

Similarly, positive relationships with teachers were seen to support positive transitions, with some pupils highlighting the importance of knowledgeable and passionate subject specialists (Booth and Sheehan, 2008) and some with additional support needs finding the clear structure and routine provided by secondary schools to be better for them (Neal and Frederickson, 2016). However, the majority of literature reports that pupils were worried about being able to form good relationships with teachers, which was related to a belief, sometimes based on what they had been told by primary school teachers, that secondary school teachers are stricter (Jindal-Snape and Cantali, 2019). Secondary school teachers were also considered to have inconsistent rules and expectations, did not trust or respect pupils and had different pedagogical approaches (Ashton, 2008; Jindal-Snape and Foggie, 2008; Tobbell and O’Donnell, 2013). Some longitudinal studies reported a change in pupils’ perceptions once they started secondary school (Jindal-Snape and Cantali, 2019). As a secondary school teacher, you could contribute to changing pupils’ perceptions prior to the move, for instance through more frequent reciprocal visits of staff and peers over a longer period of time.

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