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Diversions and diffusers

Confronting behaviour head on is rarely the best way to calm students down and put them in the right frame of mind for learning.

A skilled diversion gives everyone a chance to take a moment to regroup and avoid behavioural cul-de-sacs such as, “You will”, “Shan’t”… You want to stick to the conversation you have planned. Diffusers let the student know that you are listening to them and that they have been heard. ‘Diversions’ and ‘Diffusers’ will stop the interaction exploding.

Examples of diversions

  • ‘I need your help with….’
  • ‘Do you remember…’

Examples of diffusers

  • ‘I know this is difficult but…’
  • ‘The comment was heard by everyone but we will deal with this after the lesson’


Create two lists of strategies to use when students become disruptive under these headings:

  1. Diversions
  2. Diffusers

Try to think of as many strategies as you can and write them down before moving on to the next step. Share them below.

On the next step you will see Paul’s list of ‘diversions and diffusers’ used by some outstanding teachers working in difficult circumstances. You can then compare your ideas to those of others.

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This article is from the free online course:

Managing Behaviour for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre