ASBO Teacher

An irreverent guide to surviving in challenging classrooms

By: Samuel Elliott


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Products specifications
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Size: 234mm x 156mm
Pages : 288
ISBN : 9781785835223
Format: Paperback
Published: February 2021

In ASBO Teacher: An irreverent guide to surviving in challenging classrooms, Samuel Elliott shares the simplest solutions to the toughest problems in today’s classrooms.

Foreword by David Didau.

Samuel Elliott has been the pupil from hell.

He knows what he needed from his teachers in order to turn his life around – and in this book he shares that knowledge with hard-pressed colleagues who just want to do their best for their pupils.

In ASBO Teacher Samuel offers no-nonsense principles hewn from the chalkface of the modern British classroom: ideas and approaches that have worked for the author in the most challenging settings and with the most testing pupils. He also provides a set of tips, tricks, and heuristics (rules of thumb) that he has gleaned from his ASBO apprenticeship, his close reading of contemporary educational research, and his first four years of teaching.

Covering a range of issues spanning behaviour management, lesson structure, resource preparation and narratives in the classroom, the book is a blueprint for becoming a particular kind of teacher – one who has high expectations, a concern for pupil well-being, and a knack for ushering learners into more effective learning.

Furthermore, the stories in the book are all true and pupil dialogue is verbatim, although Samuel has done the literary equivalent of putting the names and places through a blender, siphoning out extraneous fluids, while retaining the salutary pulp and fibre.

Samuel also provides humorous, accessible insights into the psychology of teaching – encompassing, for example, fostering effective relationships with students and squeezing the best out of traditional teaching approaches rather than adopting fads.

Suitable for trainee, newly qualified and recently qualified teachers, as well as more experienced educators.

Picture for author Samuel Elliott

Samuel Elliott

Samuel Elliott has been a classroom teacher since 2016. Having grown up, lived in and taught in deprived areas affords Samuel key insights into misbehaviour that many teachers lack. These experiences informed his approaches in his trainee and NQT years, which, combined with his research into behavioural psychology, have since given rise to a pedagogy that borrows from both traditional and progressive philosophies.

Click here to read Samuel Elliott’s blog.


  1. ASBO Teacher is an engaging read full of practical advice and strategies for behaviour and classroom management. Samuel Elliott draws on his own experience as a student and teacher to provide real-life examples and insightful explanations of why some approaches do or do not work. Although the book is based on the experience of the author in a challenging setting, it is invaluable for all teachers – as you never know when that most testing student will arrive in your classroom!

  2. Useful reading for teacher trainees, newly qualified and recently qualified classroom teachers, as well as more experienced educators, ASBO Teacher offers a unique body of insights and practical wisdom on how educators can best teach and engage troubled and troubling students. ASBO Teacher is especially recommended for school district, college, and university library Teacher Education collections and in-service teacher training curriculums.
  3. ASBO Teacher is an engaging and absorbing insight into the realities of teaching in many secondary schools and colleges. In a humorous, eye-opening and at times shocking account of his experiences in the real world of secondary schools, Samuel Elliott shares a range of techniques to help you survive in challenging classrooms. 

    Samuel relates his personal experiences as an ASBO teenager and his later transformation into a teacher with -˜insider knowledge' really well. His down-to-earth, direct style is not all about giving you nightmares of being landed with a group of challenging pupils, however. The book is full of tips, tricks and heuristics that he has gleaned from his personal experiences and woven into effective practice advocated by experts such as Bill Rogers, Phil Beadle and Tom Bennett. 

    Furthermore, this is not just a book for new teachers or those in inner-city schools. Once lockdowns are over, teachers at all levels and in all settings are going to be faced with a -˜changed clientele' - and issues will include catch-up at all levels, including: behaviour management, disenchantment, relevance of learning, etc. This book is essential reading in this respect, as Samuel gives practical tips on consistency of strictness, how to use the behaviour management system, lesson structures, feedback, target grades, creating resources, and deindividuation. Take on board some of the really solid, practical advice Samuel offers and learn the skills of humour, determination, consistency and resilience to gain the skills and confidence in order to stay on board - as, if you're going to make a difference, and change the culture of -˜Failure? I couldn't give a f@ck' attitudes, you need to learn elements of the culture that is valued in the pupils' own -˜part of town'. 

    ASBO Teacher should be essential reading for staff, at all levels, in secondary schools to help reduce exclusions and improve attendance - as well as in colleges to address the students labelled as NEET.
  4. ASBO Teacher is the educational equivalent of a Bear Grylls survival guide, with particularly insightful tips on effective classroom management. It offers an informative view that details why pupils often misbehave and provides a fantastic array of practical strategies and approaches that any teacher can pick up and run with. The anecdotes and stories embedded into the book also give the issues at hand true relevance and are easy to relate to.  

    A cracking read and a must-have book for any classroom teacher.  
  5. Samuel Elliott's ASBO Teacher takes us on a whirlwind tour of the modern British education system that is hair-raising, eye-opening, and hugely entertaining.

    I laughed and nearly cried in places as he revealed, through a wealth of astonishing anecdotes and first-hand experiences, the extent of the challenge facing teachers nowadays - a predicament that went far beyond what I had suspected in my wildest imaginings.

    I only remain hopeful for the future of our young people because there are innovative thinkers like Elliott. Once a disruptive pupil himself, he is now a highly articulate and emotionally intelligent teacher whose ability to relate makes him - yes, I am going to invoke that old cliché - inspirational.

    While his book must be essential reading for those in the education sector, Elliott is a very funny writer, which makes his account a rip-roaring read for those taking a glimpse into his world from the outside. I enjoyed it immensely. I found myself laughing out loud at his stories about attempting to deal with near-impossible situations. I haven't been so amused by a young professional's plight since It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet.

    His rapier wit and irrepressible sense of humour lifts what might have been a depressing account of what goes on in our schools into a soaring narrative, and at times deeply affecting. Ultimately, Elliott is a man on a mission. He wants to reform the way we teach our most difficult kids.

    I found his arguments deeply compelling, especially the idea that mollycoddling rebellious youngsters only makes them respect you less. He is surely onto something when he says teachers would be better off learning a bit about what is happening on the streets outside their classroom before attempting to reach the kids inside the classroom with gooey compassion that rings hollow to them. I found fascinating the theory that bad behaviour varies in type by area, and that a teacher would benefit from finding out what concerns and motivates the kids in their manor.

    Likewise, I also found persuasive the idea that if you are going down this road, you better get it right, as there can be nothing more counterproductive than a teacher trying to reach a kid with -˜Nando's themed homework'.

    Instead, Elliott fleshes out an approach based on really understanding the psychology behind the behaviours that are a barrier to learning. It makes total sense to me that without a way of overcoming or cutting through these barriers to learning there will be no learning, so one might as well not bother. And once you've worked out the way the pupils' minds work, and earned the right to be heard, not letting them walk all over you had better be your next objective.

    I only hope his innovative ideas are heeded by those with the power to change the status quo, whereby teachers seem to be caught between patronising and placating their worst charges, and performing like a children's entertainer for the rest. As Elliott says, the biggest burden on teachers currently is that they are expected to behave like CBBC presenters.

    For his part, Elliott is to be congratulated for making up his mind to follow the best research, and, -˜without boring pupils into a coma', to let the subject he is teaching speak for itself - no frills, no gimmicks. Perhaps it is simply the honesty of that approach that works. One imagines that Elliott teaches with a sense of authenticity that even the most difficult teenager eventually warms to. And, of course, he comes from where they come from. The ultimate lesson of this scholarly but hugely readable book may be Elliott's insistence that we should challenge kids to raise their game, as he did himself.

    For those embarking on a career in the inner-city classroom this book is surely an invaluable resource, an essential guide, and a compendium of -˜everything you need to learn about teaching that the establishment may never teach you'. I hope many new teachers educate and entertain themselves by reading it.
  6. I sometimes read education books and wonder what kind of school their authors must work in, as many of the strategies seem so alien to my experiences in disadvantaged schools. From the moment I picked up Samuel Elliott's brilliant book, I felt completely at home.

    Like Samuel, I too was a complete swine as a teenager, and his experiences of growing up in the same area as the students he teaches means that when it comes to behaviour, he has seen it all and probably tried it himself! His retelling of his youthful exploits and teaching experiences are laugh-out-loud hilarious; anyone who has worked with teenagers will recognise some of the situations he writes about and feel themselves cringing at his mistakes in dealing with it early on in his career.

    The subtitle of this book calls it irreverent, but to label it wholly as this does it a disservice. It is crammed full of brilliant behaviour management strategies that are rooted in research, psychology and Samuel's own experience, giving teachers a unique insight into why kids might misbehave and what they can do about it.

    This book won't help you turn kids into robots, but its useful realism will genuinely help improve your behaviour management skills. What is more, it is written by someone who is still in the classroom, walking the walk. I will be recommending ASBO Teacher to everyone.
  7. Filled with truth, ASBO Teacher-¯illuminates the reality of modern-day teaching with vivid and visceral clarity. At times shocking and at others downright hilarious, Samuel's revelations are always insightful and carefully disseminated, taking in both the bigger picture and the finer details of education theory.

    This is not just an enthralling account of one young teacher navigating his way through the comprehensive system; it is also filled with invaluable advice for others who are attempting to do the same.

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