Behaviour Support for Schools
Beacon School Support
Behaviour Support for Schools


April 2016: How to stop your class in their tracks!

Common classroom management mistakes

Getting your whole class to stop and listen is a crucial part of keeping order and conveying information. However, getting everyone to stop quickly can sometimes be easier said than done. Waiting around for children to stop is boring and resentment can rapidly build as valuable learning time is wasted. When a class is slow to stop, it also significantly decreases the amount of pace you are able to inject into a lesson.

So - what do you about classes that find it difficult to come together as a group? Here is our guide to stopping your class in their tracks.

Why do they do that?

Some pupils have realised that NOT stopping when everyone else does, gains them a lot of attention. This can feel very powerful.

We know that some pupils need more attention than others and some would rather receive negative attention (i.e. being told off) than no attention at all.

Those students quickly work out this nifty trick to draw all eyes to them; deliberately carry on with what you are doing when the teacher has asked everyone to stop.

Remember: ANY reaction at all, is giving attention. That includes sighing, frowning, looking, tense body language, telling off, using the pupil's name, asking others to ignore them etc.

Starve unwanted behaviours by withdrawing attention completely and remaining neutral.

What can you do about it?

Here are key tips for getting your class to stop when you want them to:

  • Don't stop the class too often; make sure that when they stop, it's for an important piece of information, delivered animatedly. Keep it short and sweet, otherwise it becomes irritating to keep being interrupted.

  • Use a clear stop signal (not your voice). Musical instruments are popular. As are chants where the class replies. e.g. Teacher: 'One, two three...' Class: 'Eyes on me!'

  • Follow up with immediate praise, attention and recognition for those who HAVE stopped straight away.

  • Resist the temptation to stare or wait out anyone who is deliberately not following instructions. Instead, make a statement such as 'We're moving on now.' This lets pupils know that you won't let the learning be held up.

  • Use a visual signal such as a gesture or an image on the board to back up your stop command.

  • Make stopping fun!

Staff meeting activity

This activity will take approximately 10 minutes and will enable your staff to share ideas about stopping their classes quickly and effectively, therefore avoiding wasted learning time.


You will need the following materials:

  • Pens and paper.
  • Copies of page 1 of the newsletter (download the PDF version of the newsletter below). At least one between two members of staff.
  • Access to the internet / the facility to show this month's Beacon video (optional).
  • Timer or stopwatch.
  • Small prizes such as mini chocolate bars.

The activity

Explain that the aim of this activity is to generate as many ideas as possible for stopping your classes quickly! Staff will work in teams of two and there will be prizes for the team who generates the most ideas and the team who has the most creative idea!

  • Ask staff to get into pairs.
  • Fold paper in half and write 'auditory' and 'visual' as headings at the top of each half.
  • Explain that there will be 5 minutes to write down as many ideas as possible under each heading. Try to make sure that staff think about auditory, visual and combinations of both which are likely to be most effective.
  • Set the timer.......and say GO!
  • After five minutes, stop everyone (anyway you know how!) and ask for feedback / gather ideas.
  • Vote on who should win the prizes.
  • Collate all of the ideas and display in the staffroom as a reminder.

Now put up copies of the first page of the newsletter on display in the staffroom, so staff members can refer to them at a later date.


Don't print this page! We've produced a much more attractive version for printing and sharing. Use the links below for printing and distributing the information to your staff.

Newsletter (colour)

Newsletter (black and white)


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