Joe Elliott

Principal of Collingwood College and Professor of Education, Durham University

Speaking at


The expert teacher: preventing and managing problem behaviour in school.

Globalising influences are leading to the dilution of the teacher’s formal authority and a concomitant disposition on the part of some children to become more assertive and unresponsive. While it is often desirable for children to demonstrate the capacity to be independent and autonomous, these characteristics can also result in indiscipline and a classroom atmosphere that is not always conducive to learning.
In order to ensure high quality classroom contexts, it has become increasingly important for teachers to demonstrate professional authority through the exercise of their pedagogic and interpersonal skills.While pedagogic skills can be relatively easily described, and thus taught to novice teachers, expertise in the interpersonal realm involves tacit knowledge that is not easily articulated or communicated.
In this talk I shall discuss the impact of globalising trends on teacher authority and discipline. I shall then identify some key elements of skilled teacher interaction that appear important for high quality classroom environments. In so doing, I shall seek to demonstrate that these do not represent a set of ‘tips for teachers’ but, rather, are integral elements of a general form of teacher expertise that is easy to recognise but difficult to describe.


Joe taught in mainstream and special schools prior to practising as a local authority educational (school) psychologist. He joined the University of Sunderland in 1990, later served as Dean of Education and Lifelong Learning, before transferring to Durham in 2004. A Chartered Psychologist and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, he is registered to engage in clinical practice by the Health Professions Council. Joe is an Academician of of the Academy of Social Sciences and a member of the UK’s 2014 and 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) Education Panels. Joe’s research interests are stimulated and informed by his experiences as a teacher, clinician, teacher trainer, & lecturer.