The events of the other morning, and a conversation - one of many - with a student who believes that the school needs to tighten up its discipline, reminded me of something I'd written in the comments about the idea of consistency in behaviour management, over at Tangential Thoughts:
To be assertive with your class means to change from the inconsistency of the parent/guardian role to the strict consistency of the teacher. Children listen to what your behaviour says more than your words. Their parents love them, and can get away with inconsistency. They have no such investment in a teacher, and will test your threats to the limit.
I remember when the crunch time came for me to tackle classroom management properly, as a beginning teacher, around four or five months into my first year.
During the morning a colleague to whom I'd referred students said to me 'you can keep passing these kids on to be punished forever, but you'll never solve the problem till you just decide to do it yourself.'
I thought her patronising and went off to a training afternoon, where the workshop leader said this: 'To act assertively in the classroom means you will have to change. Every day you will see people in your school who are willing to put up with a living hell in their classroom, day after day, year after year, because for them it feels safer than the fear they feel of change.'