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Running the Room: The Teacher’s Guide to Behaviour

Running the Room: The Teacher’s Guide to Behaviour

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All children deserve classrooms that are calm, safe spaces where everyone is treated with dignity.  Creating that space is one of the most important things a teacher does.  But all too often teachers begin their careers with the bare minimum of training – or worse, none. 

How students behave, socially and academically, dictates whether or not they will succeed or struggle in school.  Every child comes to the classroom with different skills, habits, values and expectations of what to do.  There’s no point just telling a child to behave; behavior must be taught.  Behavior is a curriculum.  This simple truth is the beginning of creating a classroom culture where everyone flourishes, pupils and staff. 

Running the Room is the teacher’s guide to behavior.  Practical, evidence-informed, and based on the expertise of great teachers from around the world, it addresses the things teachers really need to know to build the classrooms children need.  Bursting with strategies, tips and solid advice, it brings together the best of what we know works.  Don't forget The Companion Guide.

It’s the book teachers have been waiting for. 

Listen to Tom Bennett on Ollie Lovell's Education Research Reading Room podcast.


About the Author

Tom Bennett is the founder of researchED, a grass-roots organization that raises research literacy in education and campaigns for better evidence awareness worldwide.

In 2015 he became the UK government’s school ‘Behaviour Czar,’ advising on behavior policy, as well as chairing the Mental Health in Schools panel.  He has written four books about teacher training, and in 2015 he was longlisted as one of the world’s top teachers in the GEMS Global Teacher Prize.  In the same year, he made The Huffington Post’s ‘Top Ten Global Bloggers’ list.

He is also the Director of Tom Bennett Training, which works exclusively with the most disadvantaged students and schools in England, helping them to turn around.  His online resources have been viewed over 1,200,000 times, and he is a Teacher-Fellow of Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge.


Praise for Running the Room

Wise, clear, and eminently practical, this book will help teachers create a classroom atmosphere where students feel valued and ready to work.

Professor Daniel Willingham,
Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia

‘Practical’ is the standard praise for a book on behaviour, but Bennett’s book is something different: a thing of beauty. And not just because of his humility, humor and occasionally elegiac prose. Because the truth is beautiful. 

To love children is to ensure that our classrooms protect them and honor their chance at learning – bring out the best in each of them and teach them to be giving and positive members of the society we share. Sadly the first response when adults find themselves unable to ensure such an outcome is often to argue that it is unnecessary. Rarely has anyone explained so clearly an alternative and provided as practical (and beautiful) a guide to accomplishing it.

Doug Lemov,
Author of Reading Reconsidered and The Coach's Guide to Teaching

Tom Bennett has written the book we all needed at the start of our teaching careers. With characteristic wit and wisdom, Tom describes what some of the most effective teachers have done to create the best learning environments. It’s kind, searingly honest, and stuffed full of concrete examples that’ll help trainees through to headteachers. If you’re at the start of your teaching career: read it. If you’re 20 years in like me: read it.

Claire Stoneman, Teacher and School Leader

In this masterful volume, Bennett outlines the highest-impact theories and strategies to be able to – as it says on the tin – run the room. Bad advice is everywhere when it comes to behaviour, and no other book explains easily actionable and effective techniques so clearly. This is the book I needed years ago; how much time have I wasted discovering for myself a fraction of the techniques and routines clearly outlined in this book?

Readers are indeed lucky to have access to it as I have no doubt it will improve the practice of teachers with all levels of experience.

Adam Boxer, Chemistry teacher,
Editor of The researchED Guide to Explicit and Direct Instruction, Co-founder Carousel Learning

As always, Tom gives pragmatic and sensible advice for managing behaviour. The anecdotes he shares from early teaching are both devastating and hilarious, but ultimately serve as a reminder that great teachers are made, not born. A really helpful book for any teacher who wants to improve their craft.

Natasha Porter,
Founder and CEO of Unlocked Graduates

If you want happy staff, if you want pupils to learn, if you want parents to pick your school, if you want teachers to be able to teach, then treat behaviour as an integral part of the curriculum. Above all else, teach behaviour and teach it some more. This is a must read. 

Sam Strickland,

Running the Room is a unique book. It’s a rare combination of erudition and anecdote, gravity and wit, failures and triumphs, self-deprecation and swank, trials and tribulations and optimism. In a style that often made me think of Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), Tom shows us how running the room is the teacher’s ultimate act of love and dedication to education and their students.

Professor Paul Kirschner,
Emeritus Professor of Educational Psychology and Guest Professor,
Thomas More University of Applied Science

This is classic Tom Bennett – funny, practical and wise insights into classroom 

Daisy Christodoulou,

Director of Education at No More Marking

This is a must-read, not only for new teachers, but for anyone who spends time in classrooms of any kind. Tom Bennett understands that behaviour in school is nuanced; there are no clear black-and-white rules that work for all teachers in all schools. There is no magic wand. 
Establishing excellent behaviour in schools is as much about subtleties, persistence and culture as it is about clarity, transparency and consistency. It can be taught – and this is how.

Clare Wagner, West London Free School

We know behaviour is one of the greatest sources of anxiety for teachers and potential barriers to learning for pupils. This book does much to alleviate both problems and will be a useful addition. 

Professor Sam Twiselton, Sheffield Hallam University

In some areas of education, there is lots of high-quality research evidence about the ‘best bets’ for improving one’s practice. For these areas, my advice is simple: read the research and figure out what this might mean for your own practice. In other areas, like behaviour management, where the research evidence is thin, weak, or contradictory, my advice is different, but equally simple. Find people who know what they are talking about, and listen to what they have to say. Like Tom Bennett. 

In Running the Room, Tom condenses all he has learned about managing student behaviour – from his experiences as an inner-city school teacher, by observing hundreds (thousands?) of classrooms, and by carefully researching what good research there is – into a wonderfully accessible, practical – and, yes, funny – guide to classroom management. This book is the best guide I have ever read on getting good behaviour in classrooms. It should be required reading for those training to teach, but experienced teachers will also find a lot here to reflect on, and to use. Highly recommended.

Dylan Wiliam,
Emeritus Professor, University College London


This book is brilliant. It will make you a much better teacher.

You probably already know all of this. Tom is the founder of researchED, the game-changing teacher-led international education movement. He is a published author, speaker, trainer, teacher. He is the DfE’s national behaviour adviser and is frequently in the national media defending teachers from nonsense ideas that do damage. The TES famously referred to him as ‘the voice of the modern teacher.’ There isn’t a more helpful, credible, kinder voice in education.... Do you want to know how to run a classroom with compassion, high standards and with learning at its heart? Of course you do, that’s why you’re a teacher! Tom will tell you how.

Jude Hunton,
Principal, Skegness Grammar School