TPS10: How do I manage the class when a bee enters the room?

#10 in the Teaching Problem –> Solution Series.

The Problem:

The question asked in various forms including: Everything is going fine. And then a bee flies in!

I don’t know how common an issue this is but let”s explore it…


I can only give a personal perspective on this rather than any kind of expert opinion. My instinct is to consider a few key factors:

  • Model a calm response; minimise the drama. Act rationally.
  • Accept that it’s a rare event and a short-lived disruption isn’t the end of the world
  • Be mindful of genuine anxiety and allegies.
  • Protect the bee – whatever happens DO NOT KILL THE BEE.

In general, it pays to aim for the least disruptive response. Open windows wide and hope the bee flies out or guide it out with some rolled up paper or a metre ruler. (Apparently if you turn the lights off they’re more likely to head for window where the light is).

As as far as possible try to carry on with the lesson. Students very often pick up on this cue – that we are mature enough not to over-react to a bee and yes, we can carry on and let the bee find its way out . This is easier if the bee is buzzing at the window rather than flying around the room. If students can carry on, then so can you… keeping it all calm and no fuss while the bee finds its way out or settles somewhere. This has to be the primary response.

However, if your students are too anxious – hyping it up and screaming, reacting with genuine fear or because of past allergic responses or because of some group hysteria – you might want to allow some specific students to leave the room while you manage the bee. Forcing anxious students to tough it out can be a bad move. Any child with a record of allergic sting reactions will have reason to want to leave the scene. It’s not the time to turn their anxiety into a disciplinary argument. If they don’t or can’t take a cue from your calm reaction, then ask the select few to stand outside temporarily. Will this lead to students taking advantage? Probably not. And even if they do.. it’s a one-off; don’t sweat it

If a bee is persistent and the class is persistently reacting, you might want to decamp and find another room but this really has to be a super last resort. I’ve known teachers who did this, just so that the whole bee issue was removed and they could salvage the lesson. They didn’t feel they had a choice. It’s a judgement call.

In my experience, 9 times out of 10 the first ‘carry on regardless’ approach works out fine. But don’t treat it as some kind of bravado pride thing not to allow the bee disruption to win! Just do what you need to do and whatever you decide, that’s fine – it will rarely happen again.

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