Managing behaviour and boredom in the classroom

Managing behaviour and boredom in the classroom


Be bold, behave, be brilliant, be you!

One thing clearly stood out from my first encounter working as a school teacher – the importance of behaviour.

When students get bored their minds will wander and where there is boredom misbehaviour is sure to follow.

“Behaviour shapes attitude” far stronger than “attitude shapes behaviour.” – Tom Peters

Instead of focusing in on the obvious here – behaviour and attitude – let’s look at this ‘problem’ from a different angle.

Building and maintaining a good relationship and rapport with your students is just the beginning. (You feel better.) Next, develop a winning formula for a brilliant lesson. (Correct approach.) Get your content and delivery style right – make it interesting and different – and students who are there to learn will soon be totally engaged and should never be bored again.

Alternatively, let’s try something similar to the ‘flipped classroom’ technique here, and look at this again but from a different perspective.

Having a good relationship and fun with my teacher is a good start. (I like you.) Next, do another awesome lesson! (I enjoyed the last one, it was SICK; I learned loads.) Now get your act together and sort yourself out – you’d better make it interesting and different (or else) – and remember you are there to guide us, to help us learn. To be totally happy with your job – and to be the best teacher you can be – you must ensure that we will never be bored again.

“Children are at school to learn, not to behave.” – The Guardian

March 2014: With a life-changing pilot and FOUR days teaching in schools under my belt (!), and previous to that over 25 years in the design industry, five of those ‘overlapping’ as a motivational speaker and enterprise champion, here’s my four top tips and themes to help you and your students AVOID behaviour and boredom issues in the classroom.

Be bold, be brave, be brilliant, be you!


Tip 1: BE BOLD

Take action. Leadership, integrity, honesty – become a great role model.

“Young people will be your hardest audience, but are also the most rewarding.” – Anon.

  • Plan a new pilot project to test out your ideas – concept, content, materials, delivery
  • Ask for help, advice and support from colleagues or other more experienced people
  • Dig deep and do your research. Remember: facts, not just opinions
  • Make sure every lesson includes an element of fun, exploration and interactivity



Courage. Take risks, overcome your fears and learn to embrace failure as part of the journey.

“We encouraged the speakers to be provocative and disruptive.” – CAPE UK, Education Conference, Bradford (2010)

  • Get permission to fail at the start of the project – and learn to not beat yourself up about it!
  • Believe in yourself, prepare well and plan every detail of your activity
  • Carefully consider your content and don’t be afraid if (at times) you appear vulnerable
  • Ask for permission to record or film your lesson – and reflect upon your performance



Communication. Great ideas and great questions will help engage students and stimulate creative enquiry.

“The future of education is about entertainment not just enterprise.” – The Bulletman

  • Try something new, creative and adventurous – do something different
  • Use props and learning resource tools to help make your lesson a memorable one
  • Ask great questions and keep students active, involved and on their toes
  • Listen to glisten – adjust the lesson (on the fly) based on a great answer to your question

The Art of Communication

A well-planned and well-delivered lesson packed with great ideas, creative activities and stimulating resource materials – video clips, music, props, games, well-designed slides plus having some great questions up your sleeve – will all contribute towards stopping students from becoming bored and engage them in creative enquiry and meaningful dialogue.

BTW. One of the best questions I have ever heard is this: “What’s the most important thing about…”

Clearly any good teacher will know you should not be doing all of the work stood at the front and doing most of the talking! Yet I have not yet seen or heard any teacher apply the ‘ideal’ 80/20 rule of student v teacher time in a lesson, have you?

Note: Good answers to great questions (I later learned) should always be answered with further OPEN questions such as: “WHY do you think that?”, “HOW do you know this?” and “TELL me more”.

And finally…


Tip 4: BE YOU

Persistence. Turn your passion into a purpose and take pride in your work. And, above all, be yourself.

“You either are, or will become, a reflection of the people and the environment you surround yourself with.” – Anon.

  • Do what you love, love what you do – and inspire others to do the same
  • Remember, a pilot without a purpose is like a game without a goal – so find your purpose
  • Take time out for reflection, stand back and always aim to improve what you do
  • Celebrate success. Be yourself. And never ever give up!

“It’s not the way we feel that affects our behaviour, it’s the way we behave that affects how we feel.” – Anon.

If you look great and feel good about your lesson (confidence) then how you behave and act as a teacher will transfer and transmit to your students just like magic. What boredom problem?!

One way to do this, especially good for us ‘outsiders’ (AKA enterprise champions – and coming into school from the world of business), is to be authentic, share your success story, your journey from A to B, from school to business AND deliver a memorable message with impact. This is also sometimes referred to as a ‘career spotlight session’ and I’d recommend every entrepreneur and innovator who is passionate about young people to do what Nike advocate: ‘JUST DO IT’.

Young people need great role models and that role model is YOU!

Doing your talk, shaking your stuff and delivering a brilliant lesson or activity that is life-changing is something we should all aim for and aspire to do. We need to take action, we need to do it now, and we must all take responsibility to help young people in these challenging and turbulent times. So seize the day – Carpe Diem ­­as they say!

Together let’s create a dynamic learning environment that contributes towards a world-class education system in the UK. And for all those (ace) ‘super teachers’ out there who are ‘on purpose’, want to go the extra mile and really make a difference, I’ll leave you with the inspiring words of Albert Einstein…

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And, “Only those who attempt the absurd can achieve the impossible.”


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Paul Kerfoot is creative director of Bulletpoint Design, Bradford, West Yorkshire, UK. His alter ego, ‘The Bulletman’, is a 1940s comic book superhero and a 1970s Action Man toy. (Memorable eh?) As an active member of PSA (The Professional Speaking Association), Paul promotes himself as a motivational speaker, communication enter-trainer and enterprise champion. To make a difference in your school and to help change your world, please email Paul: or call: 07785 777829

Special thanks to: Paul Mackie (E3 Bradford 2012/13) and Bob Jones (Education Bradford / SERCO 1999-2010) for their support, inspiration and for helping to create some amazing opportunities to work on ‘life-changing’ pilots and enterprise projects in schools in Bradford & District.

This article has been produced for David Hyner and issue 2 of his next book, ‘The BIG mistakes that teachers make… and how to avoid them!’ (Dec 2014). Teachers (and education speakers) share more top tips to help improve results, manage the class, prevent stress, and manage yourself and your time.

David Hyner of Stretch Development Ltd is a motivational speaker who speaks about ‘Massive Goals’ and is a fellow member of the PSA and has worked in schools all over England giving keynote talks and workshops to thousands of students. After the huge success of his No1 best selling eBook for education, issue 2 (available on Amazon) will provide more top tips on the “MUST AVOID” list of the BIG mistakes made by some teachers, including YOU!