5 Comments

  1. teachingbattleground
    April 27, 2015 @ 2:51 pm

    Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

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  2. andyc37
    April 27, 2015 @ 4:39 pm

    Thank you for your article. I have to agree with you – we are all too often quick to find excuses for poor behaviour, and do not handle it well. Every child is different, and very often we have to put in place pastoral intervention to help. But this should not allow us to lower our expectations.
    Like you, I could be considered a fairly strict teacher – but one of the most gratifying comments I heard about my style was “strict – but fair.”
    Children respond well to clear boundaries. I make sure that they have them – and am always careful to explain the “why” of that boundary. Not to negotiate, I hasten to add, but to work on the empathy and understanding aspect.
    My approach is consistent – do “x”, and the consequence is “y”. And stick to it.
    I have taught the 8 to 13 age bracket in both maintained and independent sectors in South Africa and the UK for over 20 years – without ever getting really caught up in bad behaviour in my lessons (whole school issues are different, often due to the number of busy bodies getting in the way). A firm, caring but strong approach works. End of story.

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    • teachwell
      April 27, 2015 @ 5:36 pm

      Hi, thank you for you comment. It really bothers me that teachers of all descriptions find the strategies I’ve mentioned wanting. At a basic level if teachers, who despite their values, beliefs, attitudes and inclinations are unable to change the behaviour of a child in a positive way using a strategy, then it is the strategy that needs to change. Sadly, it is often the teacher who does.

      Reply

  3. julietgreen
    April 27, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

    There are reasons for behaviour. That goes without saying – our behaviour is predicated on a whole host of things (and mainly genetics, if you follow Pinker). Sometimes there is even brain damage or sociopathy. However, I agree in principle that we achieve very little through a positive reinforcement of the behaviour we wish to modify, and much ‘nurturing’ does just that. I’ve had to sit and keep my peace while a child, having recently aimed kicks and punches at a member of staff was placated and then rewarded. However, I’ve also seen pupils treated without compassion when their ‘bad behaviour’ has been through genuine distress, and I’m quite disturbed by the approaches of ‘team teaching’ which amount to pinning a child between two adults.

    Children are small primates, not puppies, and yet I find there is a some potential in the Dog Whisperer’s approach of being assertive and making clear the boundaries and limitations. Neither children, nor dogs, feel comfortable if they are in the leader role! I think of myself as a bit of a softy, but the pupils have told me I’m quite strict, compared with some teachers. It wasn’t a criticism.

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    • teachwell
      April 27, 2015 @ 8:46 pm

      I couldn’t agree with you more about team teaching. I find it disturbing that the same people who came in to advocate that we: spent more time with the challenging children to the exclusion of others in class, give them safe boxes they can access when they have kicked off (which is a reward although they claimed it wasn’t) and come up with reasons why we were ‘causing’ the behaviour (which you know if it is coming from half the class fair enough but from one child with severe problems – I doubt it), were the same people who came in and taught us how to team teach!!

      I’ve had to handle children and it is horrible – I absolutely hated it except for the fact that the child would have deliberately injured several other children in the process – threatening to throw scissors and a chair at them. I was told it was better to evacuate my class – which I had to do on several occasions – than exclude him. It’s a nonsense. Their constant placating actually escalates the behaviour and then we are expected to pin the child down!! Surely a fixed term exclusion is a better option than that. We maintain our boundaries but put together a plan to help and support child and family if necessary.

      I hear you about genuine distress and I am not saying that children can or know how to cope with really difficult situations. However, this is where we need to be able to refer to specialists more quickly. The same team above (of the nurturing then team teaching) just said quite casually – oh we have to be social workers and psychologists as well… well no we don’t actually we’re not qualified and as some of the examples I and others have experienced – it tends to be an unmitigated disaster because with the best of intentions they don’t know the field or what the positives and negatives of a particular approach are. Just because a person cares about a child doesn’t mean they have the answers.

      Those that fixate on saving one child say it’s compassion but for whom. If it’s only for that child and does not extend to the rest of the class who have to see the adult who is supposed to look after them being threatened, verbally abused and physically assault, then it’s not love for the child or compassion, it’s just that person’s ego and need to feel good about themselves as a result of ‘saving’ the challenging child. I can’t be doing with that.

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