Classroom Clinic – Lose that Low Level Disruption!

“Dear Classroom Clinic,
Three words are driving me insane. Low. Level. Disruption. 15-20 minutes into the lesson this one class just stop listening to me and chat and mess around. I muddle through the lesson but it’s never as productive as it could be. What can I do?”


Firstly, everyone will have encountered a class like this at one stage or another so please don’t take it too personally. This common issue can be tackled by thinking about three key areas…

Reflect on your planning

  • Ensure the pace and structure of lessons are good.
  • Check student understanding – is the lesson accessible to all?
  • Check whether the lesson is engaging – are you trying different styles and strategies?
  • Have everything organised (resources) before the lesson.
  • Always have things for the children to do – is your planning ‘double planning’ i.e. student focused. Are students actively engaged in learning throughout your lesson? e.g. with a ‘do now’ whilst lining up, a ‘think thunk’ to contemplate on the carpet, or an activity awaiting them on their tables.
  • Have a seating plan and for younger years: carpet places and line spaces.
  • Have high expectations and routines repeated regularly – i.e. pens down, following the speaker, stopping at your signal, a countdown routine.
  • Switch to a discussion task if several students are losing focus.


Use non-verbal strategies

  • Proximity to student – move to stand close.
  • Move the student to sit in a different seat.
  • Use the ‘death stare’.
  • Carpet wriggler – sit on a chair, so as not to distract others.
  • Give the child some blue tac to fiddle with.
  • Give the child a task – ask them to hand something out.
  • Use Class Dojo if possible.


Positivity and Choice

  • Reward good behaviour.
  • Focus on the children who are on task and praise them.
  • Give the children options – one of them good, one boring, dependent on their behaviour.
  • Use a traffic lights system.
  • Give responsibility to the children to stop each other – not going to lunch until…


Follow the school behaviour policy if sanctions are required, but be careful not to set whole class sanctions!

Hopefully, these tips will help moving forward. Having a strong initial presence and an activity for the students to immediately engage will help assert your expectations that they will work in your lesson. For more in-depth advice why not come to our free Behaviour for Learning training course on the 18th May? If you would like any more specific help by email or phone, please email


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