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Book Review: The Behaviour Guru

Mary A., teacher
8 Apr 2019
4 min read
Book Review: The Behaviour Guru

A truly excellent behaviour management solution for teachers...

All teachers - whether new to the classroom, or with many years of experience behind them - can find pupil behaviour challenging and undermining. Any kind of help, support and advice at the start can really make a difference. Tom Bennett’s book The Behaviour Guru sets out strategies that will help you deal with behaviour management in the classroom. He answers every kind of problematic behaviour scenario one can possibly think of.

As a teacher himself, he has a real insight and understanding of what it’s like to start out in this profession. He admits that he himself ‘went through the wringer’ as a newly qualified teacher, so you feel that he really understands the world of teaching and empathises with what you are going through. He does not sound smug, self-righteous, or like he is just spouting the same old trite jargon in a disconnected and patronising way.

Using his experiences of teaching in inner-city London schools, as behaviour guru on the TES advice forum and working as a nightclub bouncer, Tom Bennett encourages teachers old and new to assert their authority in the classroom. Gail Robinson, the community producer of ‘TES Connect,’ praises Bennett for ‘giving no-nonsense practical solutions to a huge range of classroom behaviour problems’. Certainly, this no-nonsense guide is valuable for all teachers, informing them of many things that teacher training doesn’t, and offering instant strategies for dealing with the most common and extreme classroom scenarios.

Bennett answers teachers’ letters from the ‘Behaviour Forum’ of the TES online portal, first showing the letter and then the suggested solutions. He covers all kinds of behaviour problems, from low-level disruption right up to extreme behaviour problems, and he promises simple ways of dealing with these problems. The solutions he offers are reassuring, and hopefully won’t leave you planning lessons at midnight on a Sunday whilst unconsciously worrying that it’s all in vain, fearing that everything will descend into chaos within minutes of starting the lesson.

The book really helps you to feel that, when it comes to what you are dealing with in the classroom, you are not alone. In Bennett’s own words, ‘most problems are ubiquitous; there are no new challenges under the sun that someone somewhere hasn’t faced and defeated. It makes perfect sense that teachers should prop each other up, share their experiences, and pass their own learning on to other teachers- after all, that’s what we are supposed to be experts in.’

Education consultant Julia Rowlandson states that Bennett’s ‘proactive approach to behaviour management is based on his experience in and outside the classroom and is firmly embedded in common sense.’ She praises the book as ‘informative, entertaining and at times confrontational’. Indeed, Bennett is bold, encouraging and humorous all in one. In the introduction, there is a section entitled ‘Never Give Up’ where Bennett encourages the reader: ‘You are the Terminator! Did Arnie ever give up? No!’. Wise words, and also hilarious. I highly recommend this book.

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