Beating Pupil Interruptions

Reading time: < 1

Hanna Beech

Hanna Beech has been teaching for ten years and has a range of experience across Key Stages 1 and 2 in a large Primary School in Kent. She is a phase leader for Years 3 and 4, and also leads on teaching and learning for...
Read more about Hanna Beech

What can you do to help pupils stay on task after an interruption?

Ways To Wait

A parent is hovering at the door, a colleague pops in to ask a question – pupils often ‘forget themselves’ whenever there is an unexpected interruption and find it the perfect opportunity to go off-task!!

  • Get yourself a push lamp (Ikea have these!) or a touch lamp of some kind is great.
  • Explain to the class that interruptions WILL occur from time to time. Ask them to share ideas about what they think they should do if an interruption occurs – call these ‘Ways to Wait’.
  • Explain that when an interruption occurs, you will turn on the lamp. When the lamp is on, the pupils should remember the ‘Ways to Wait’.
  • Put it into practice, praise success and enjoy a feeling of pride when an interruption happens, and your class doesn’t descend into chaos!

Why is it a good strategy?

  • Pupils often WANT to please, but if they don’t realise how important it is to keep focussed (even when your attention is taken for a moment) they won’t even consider it!
  • This strategy builds class rapport, helping pupils to feel a sense of collective pride achieved by acting respectfully.


When you first embark on this strategy, ask a colleague to spontaneously pop in or call, so you can practise just after you’ve introduced the idea. This will provide pupils a chance to show off their understanding of the strategy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.