How to Manage Children's Challenging Behaviour
Publication Year: 2009
In this new edition of his bestselling book, Bill Rogers brings together contributions from practising teachers that suggest ways to tackle disruptive and challenging behaviour. Bill introduces and comments on each chapter, setting out key principles for behaviour leadership in the style that makes him such a popular author. There are numerous case studies drawn from practice, each showing how the teacher manages the situation and what the outcome was: these examples from practice highlight the difference teachers can make to their students' behaviour, attitude, self-esteem and peer acceptance. Chapters look at: finding a way back from inappropriate behaviour; dealing with very challenging behaviour on a daily basis; creating a peaceful school and developing positive practice.
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Challenging Behaviour: Our Thinking, Attitudes and Strategy
- We Cannot Predict Where Our Students May End up
- The ‘Pygmalion Effect’: Where Expectancy Can Lead
- ‘Dear Luke’: What I Saw at the Outset and How Children's Behaviour Challenges Us in Positive Ways
- My Global Classroom
- ‘William’ and
- ‘Muddling Through’,
- Parents: The Difficult Chat
- Chapter 2: Understanding Challenging Children and Children with Emotional and Behavioural Disorder
- Understanding Emotional and Behavioural Disorders in Mainstream Schools
- Measurement of Difference or Meaning (When Working with Challenging Children)
- Changing Perceptions of Challenging Behaviour: Tom and His Teacher
- Finding a Connection Point for Change in Behaviour: Alex ‘Wins a Race’
- Choosing to Teach: Choosing to Make a Difference
- Chapter 3: Teaching Children with Emotional and Behavioural Disorder
- One, Two, Three, Four, Out the Door – or Stop (Straight to the Office Please)
- There is Always a Way Back: An Individual Behaviour Management Plan
- Helping a Child Change His Behaviour and His Short Attention Span
- AD/HD and Teaching Academic Survival Behaviours
- A Tall Order: A Challenging Student on Day One and after
- Individual Behaviour Management Plans and Group Support with Infant-Age Children: Troy's Story
- Chapter 4: The Hard-to-Manage Class: When it is More than One or Two
- The Hard-to-Manage Class: Reasons, Options, Support
- My Most Challenging Year 8 Class Ever
- The ‘Class from Hell’
- Classroom Meetings to the Rescue
- A Winner – in a Hard Class
- Chapter 5: Working to Build a Co-Operative Classroom Group: Classroom Meetings and Building Relationships
- Friendship Problems: Using a Solving Circle
- Relationships and Conflict-Solving (Classroom and Playground) with Infants
- Creating the Peaceable School
- A Beautiful Place: Building a Multicultural School
- A Human Story
- Chapter 6: Principles and Practices That Enable Us to Make a Difference with Individual Children and Classroom Groups
- Chapter 7: Supporting Parents of Children with Challenging Behaviours
- Communicating with Parents Who Challenge …
- Dealing with – and Supporting – Difficult Parents
- Supporting the Parents of Children with Challenging Behaviour
- Working with Difficult Parents
- Working with Parents/Carers of Children with Challenging Behaviours (Primary)
- An Extended Note on Anger (Primarily from Aristotle)
- Chapter 8: Narratives: How Teachers' Stories Connect Us, Support Us, Encourage Us and Enable Us as Teachers
Bill Rogers[Page ii]
“It's easy to see why Bill Rogers is revered by generations of teachers across the world. The stories assembled here are compelling and reflective. They will provide a stimulus and support to teachers ‘cutting and chipping themselves into the shape of the key which will have the merit of unlocking the minds and opening the hearts of the pupils they teach’. Bill's overview and commentary will as usual resonate with schools and teachers. It deserves a place along with his other books in the staff library. Any one of the case studies here, along with Bill's observations, could form the basis of any school working group examining the issue of ‘behaviour’. It's bound to lead to an improvement among pupils, parents and staff. And it will help teachers at the end of their tether both preserve their sanity and extend the tether!”
Sir Tim Brighouse, Advisor, Hamlyn Foundation and Visiting Professor, Institute of Education, University of London
Editorial arrangement, Chapter 6 and Introduction © 2009 Bill Rogers
Chapter 1 © 2004 Bill Rogers, Elizabeth McPherson, Peter D'Angelo, Jim Gilbert
Chapter 2 © 2004 Bill Rogers, Ken Sell, Larry Taylor, Karen Kearney, Elizabeth McPherson
Chapter 3 © 2004 Bill Rogers, Bette Blance, Mara Smart, Mariette West, Pamela Curtain, Kerrie Miller, Patsy Finger, Debbie Hoy
Chapter 4 © 2004 Bill Rogers, Leanne Wright, Denise Frost, Heather Fraser, Carmen Price
Chapter 5 © 2004 Carmen Price, Debbie Hoy, Ros Daniels, Carmel Ryan, Larry Schwartz
Chapter 7 © 2009 Gail Doney, Bill Rogers, Cathy Whalen, Maureen Smyth, Alyson Dermody Palmer
Chapter 8 © 2004 Sharn Donnison
First published 2004
Reprinted 2004, 2005 and 2006
Second edition published 2009
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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To all my colleagues who have taken time to share their stories; for their honesty, commitment and patient goodwill recounted here.
This is their book.
These are their children, their students. (We often use the ‘possessive’ pronoun, don't we, when we talk of ‘our’ students?)
Having worked in many, many classrooms as a mentor teacher, I want – also – to thank the teachers who have allowed me to teach alongside them and, over endless cups of tea and coffee, try to continue to make ‘noticeable and positive sense of it all’.
My thanks to my colleagues at Griffith University, particularly Bette Blanche, Dr Alan Edwards and Professor Neil Russell who have supported this project from the outset.
To my colleagues at SAGE Publications who have encouraged me in this project, particularly Marianne Lagrange and Joyce Lynch. In enabling this second edition, I also wish to thank Jude Bowen and Amy Jarrold, Jeanette Graham and all the team at SAGE Publications (London) for their constant encouragement and support, often at a distance (from the UK to Australia).
I want to thank Sir Tim Brighouse for his generous – and kind – support and feedback to this project.
To Felicia Schmidt for taking on another pressured typing task – thanks again.
All royalties from the sale of this book go to World Vision. As editor (with my colleagues), we are greatly encouraged to know that the money raised goes directly to educational programmes in South East Asia.
World Vision have asked me to thank all the contributors for that support.
And to my family – Lora, Elizabeth and Sarah – as ever – many thanks.BillRogers, January 2009
About the Editor[Page ix]
Dr Bill Rogers (editor and contributor) has been an education consultant for the last 20 years and was an adjunct professor (education) at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, for many years. Bill works in every area of education (primary, post-primary and tertiary) conducting in-service programmes for teachers, lecturing widely at colleges of education and universities, and working with parent groups and students in schools. He is the author of many journal articles and contributions to magazines (in Australia and the UK) and has published a number of books in Australia and the UK. Some of these books have since been translated into other languages (Danish, Polish, Estonian, Chinese and Portugese). He lectures in Australia, the UK and Europe. Dr Rogers is a Fellow of the Australian College of Education (Canberra) and Honorary Life Fellow of Trinity and All Saints College (University of Leeds). He has received awards for Excellence in Education from the Victorian College of Education and the Australian Council for Educational Administration.
Visit Bill's website – http://www.billrogers.com.au – for the latest information on where he is lecturing and conducting seminars.
Some of the contributors in this book have preferred not to name their school for natural reasons of ethical probity. The names of individual children in each account have been changed for the same reason.
Bette Blance heads up a professional development team (Bette Blance and Associates) in New Zealand. Previously, Bette has been a school principal and was (until recently) Associate Director of the Centre for Professional Development at Griffith University (Australia)
Pamela Curtain is a primary teacher and an education consultant currently supporting schools in Queensland.
Peter D'Angelo is an experienced secondary English teacher. A migrant to Australia, he has always worked in school settings with high multicultural populations. He is also a poet and has had several books of poetry published. Peter's essays are courtesy of Education Quarterly Australia (many thanks to Kathy Skelton) and The Age newspaper (Melbourne) – and, in particular, thanks to Larry Schwartz for his support.
Ros Daniels is a senior primary school teacher who has worked in schools in southern England. Ros has also been an education consultant to schools in the area of behaviour management and discipline.
Gail Doney is currently deputy principal of a large school near Melbourne and has had many years of experience in primary teaching.
Sharn Donnison has been a practising teacher both in Australia and overseas. At present, Sharn works as an associate lecturer at Griffith University, Queensland. She teaches in the Faculty of Education in the areas of educational psychology, sociology and communication. Her area of interest is concerned with young people's conceptualisations of the future and the cultural realities they appropriate to formulate those visions of the future.
[Page xi]Patsy Finger is a senior primary school teacher currently teaching in Queensland. Patsy has developed a number of initiatives in the area of behaviour support.
Heather Fraser is an experienced primary school teacher. She has taught widely (particularly in country Victoria).
Denise Frost is an experienced primary school teacher currently teaching in Tasmania.
Debbie Hoy is the principal of an infant school near London. Debbie has also had wide experience of consulting to schools in the area of behaviour management and supporting children with special needs.
Karen Kearney is a ‘beginning’ (mature age) teacher in Queensland. Karen has also been a member of the Australian army and police force. She has worked with young people in Police-Citizens' Youth Clubs and believes sport can be a key tool in educational outcomes.
Jim Gilbert has been a school principal and an educational advisor to many schools in New Zealand for many years.
Elizabeth McPherson (née Rogers) has taught as a primary school teacher in Melbourne. She is currently on leave, mother to three children. She has recently co-authored a book on early years teaching.
Kerrie Miller is an experienced integration teacher currently working in country Victoria. Kerrie works with a wide range of children with special needs.
Alyson Dermody Palmer is deputy head teacher at a Pupil Referral Unit for primary-aged children in London. She has worked with children with special needs for many years.
Carmen Price is a behaviour management psychologist of many years experience and works – widely – with schools in Queensland.
Carmel Ryan is the deputy principal of Labrador State School in Queensland. Carmel and her colleagues have developed a whole-school model for behaviour and learning. Their approach emphasises the concept of a ‘peaceable school’, emphasising problem-solving, mediation and resolving issues of concern.
Larry Schwartz is a journalist with the Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia.
Ken Sell is an experienced teacher of over 15 years. For the last three years, he has been working as an advisory support teacher for Education Queensland in the Nambour District on the Sunshine Coast. He has designed and implemented many in-service workshops relevant to primary and secondary teachers as well as advising administrators in areas of social equity and the interpersonal dynamics found within schools. Ken is presently finishing a research project relating to his work in schools.
Mara Smart is the deputy principal of Musgrave Hill State School, Queensland. Mara was formerly a behaviour advisory teacher.
Maureen Smyth is a head teacher of a school for students with emotional and behavioural disorders. Maureen has taught in the area of special needs and behaviour disorders for many years in England.
[Page xii]Larry Taylor has, over 30 years, worked in schools as a classroom teacher with Years 2 to 7, as an educational advisor in effective learning and teaching, and as a learning support and learning technology teacher. He has accreditation in the Myers-Briggs personality type indicator and Dr William Glasser's ‘Choice Theory’.
Mariette West is a teacher at Musgrave Hill State School, Queensland. Mariette, Pamela and Mara have developed a number of behaviour management plans for children with special needs and behaviour disorders.
Cathy Whalen is the head teacher of a primary school in central England. She has taught for many years in the primary sector in England.
Leanne Wright is an experienced secondary teacher (in Tasmania) currently supporting schools in the area of consultancy in behaviour management, student welfare and discipline.
Note: In the UK, a school principal is called a head teacher.
A teacher's response has crucial consequences … it creates a climate of compliance or defiance, a mood of contentment or contention, a desire to make amends or to take revenge …
Teachers have the power to affect a child's life for better or worse. A child becomes what he/she experiences. While parents possess the original key to their offspring's experience, teachers have a spare key.
They, too, can open or close the minds and hearts of children.Haim Ginott (1971)
In the morning when you rise unwillingly let this thought be present – I am rising to the work of a human being.Marcus Aurelius (The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius V)
This book came about as a result of working directly alongside teachers working with challenging children and children with emotional behaviour disorders. My colleagues and I believed that these accounts deserved a much wider audience. The direct, practical and positive nature of these accounts will immediately resonate with teachers.
These teachers (from Australia and the UK) work with children in mainstream and special education settings. Some I have worked with as a mentor teacher. These accounts range across primary and secondary school settings; from individual children with challenging (and EBD) behaviour through to whole-class settings where challenging and problem behaviour has been effectively addressed by these teachers.
Teachers spend a third of their waking and working day with children. Most teachers in most schools on most days engage students in their learning with effort, energy and goodwill. Many teachers have a passion for making a difference – even a ‘deceptively small’ difference in children's lives. Their goodwill, energy and patience is sometimes stretched ‘to the limit’ by some of the children they are called on to teach, ‘manage’ and support. Some of the children we read of in these accounts are children whose family dynamic does not always support what schools seek to be and do. The ‘causative pathology’ of some of these children is disturbing, distressing – even dysfunctional – yet these teachers never ‘re-victimise’ a child by saying, ‘What can we do with him? What can we expect? Look where he comes from …!’ While these teachers know that there are many factors that affect a child's behaviour (and learning potential), they also know that behaviour is also developed, and learned, and can be supportively changed in context. The context of the school can make a significant difference to children's behaviour, self-concept and self-esteem as these accounts testify.
[Page xiv]All the teachers who have written here believe that they can, and will, make a difference in the lives of ‘their’ children. That is why they chose to be teachers.
I am frequently encouraged by the incredible moral energy of the sort demonstrated and lived out by these teachers. In sharing their experiences more widely, I trust you, too, will be encouraged. These teachers have made a difference – a significant difference at times – to the lives of their children. These teachers remind us of what we went into teaching for.
The teachers in this book have shared not just ‘accounts’ of their children – their teaching and management – they have shared themselves with us. Their honesty, their goodwill, their courage, their passion for what they do (and why) comes across clearly to us. The ‘immediacy’ of these ‘stories’ creates that common bond we have with our colleagues.
These narratives are, at times, intensely personal and moving. My colleagues have all indicated that they share these accounts – these ‘narratives’ – to remind each other of our common struggle yet also to identify our shared journey, shared hopes and to celebrate our profession. I wish these accounts could be read more widely by ‘the public’ so they – too – could more consciously celebrate our profession. At least the parents of the children recounted here know these teachers made a difference.
All teachers, at every level in a school, face similar issues of behaviour from the typical calling out, butting in, inappropriate loudness (in a very small room) through to the more disturbing issues of bullying, violence and behaviour disorders. Every teacher has also had to address the question of how to meaningfully and realistically support that small percentage of students who present with emotional and behavioural disorders. This ‘small’ percentage – one to five per cent in most schools (Rogers, 2003) – have the potential to ‘eat up’ a lot of teacher time and energy, effort and goodwill. These teachers, and the schools in which they were supported, share the realistic and practical measures they took to support these children.
This book addresses the issue of challenging behaviours and behaviour disorders in schools and how teachers – in a supportive collegial team – have made a significant difference to their students. They have made a direct difference in terms of the students' behaviour, attitude, self-esteem and peer acceptance.
Sharn Donnison notes that such narratives can be understood, celebrated and utilised in our professional journey:
Narratives are active and not just passive retelling of events gone by. They are a way of making meaning out of the experiences of (our) everyday life; of visualising the world, organising the past and explaining the present. They help us identify, create, and justify our place in the world. (2004: 114)[Page xv]Preface to the Second Edition
The original project (this book) began while I was an adjunct professor of education at Griffith University in Australia. The purpose of the book was to invite teachers to share their experiences, understandings, ideas and skills of working with children who present with challenging behaviour. This they have done with willingness, candour, realism and hope. As they share their accounts, we hear their frustration, stress and pain as well as their professional goodwill, humanity and hope.
In this second edition, we have added a new chapter – ‘supporting parents of children with challenging behaviour’. Some parents, too, have challenging behaviours arising from stressful and complex life journeys. My colleagues have sought to share how we can support such parents with understanding – remembering, always, that the bond between parent and child is crucial to the child's well-being and development. As you read, where we use the term parent, we mean the parent, guardian or carer of the child.
At all times, my colleagues have been sensitive to the ethical probity involved in such narrative writing. Names of children and parents have been changed, and no school (as such) is identified without the permission of the school and parent/s.
As much as possible, I have tried to let my colleagues share their own stories; to let their voices engage the central learnings we can all draw from these accounts.
In Chapter 6, I have drawn together the key principles of behaviour leadership that clearly emerge from their work with children.
I have been encouraged and supported by these narratives of my colleagues. I hope you, too, will be similarly encouraged to ‘make a difference’ with your students and colleagues.BillRogers and colleagues, 2009[Page xvii]Note
This text does not detail clinical aspects of behaviour disorders or research on medication-assisted therapies for children with behaviour disorders. Colleagues are directed to the excellent text, Handbook of Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (2005) by Clough et al.Further Reading[Page xviii]1992) Effective Teaching in Schools,(second edition. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.1996) Effective Classroom Control,(third edition. London: Hodder & Stoughton.2003) Behaviour Recovery,(second edition. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research. (In the UK, London: Sage Publications.)2006) Classroom Behaviour,(second edition. London: Sage Publications. http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/97814462507302006) Behaviour Management: A Whole-School Approach,(second edition. Sydney: Scholastic Publications. (In the UK, London: Sage Publications.)
Conclusion[Page 173]The Art of Balancing: In the Daily Grind – A Teacher's Welfare
In his poem Ulysses, Tennyson muses on the burden of leadership: ‘…I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race, that hoard and sleep and feed and know not me …’. He then suggests, however, that:
‘… some work of noble note may yet be done.
Tho' much is taken, much abides, and tho' we are not now that strength which
In old days moved heaven and earth …’1
I read this as a teacher (not, of course, that we manage and lead a ‘savage race’!). We can all remember that first and early vigour, energy, enthusiasm and motivation at the start of our teaching career. As the years progress, we may sometimes feel (like Tennyson) that ‘much is taken …’ and that ‘… we are not now that strength which in the old days moved heaven and earth …’. ‘Much is taken …’ over the days, months and years. There is the natural stress of it all, what Shakespeare's Hamlet calls ‘The thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to …’2
It is the wearing down of it all. Whenever I talk with non-teachers about our profession, they invariably raise our ‘short hours’, our ‘fantastic holidays’(!). How many times have we had to ‘defend’ those misconceptions? If they only knew, (although I am sure many of the parents of our more challenging students know how demanding it is spending a third of one's waking day with their children.)
Teaching is a rewarding profession – no question; it is also very demanding, taxing and naturally requires multi-tasking. The natural stress of relating to many [Page 174]children with varying needs, and to have the professional responsibility for their educational development, also occasion our natural concern. Most teachers have significant goodwill, generosity of spirit, commitment to each of their children beyond their formal role as teacher. It is always that aspect of the teacher-student relationship that children remember as reflective adults; that their teachers cared.
1. Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1842) wrote the poem Ulysses. This poem is, of course, about Odysseus and his journeying back to Ithaca (his kingdom) after the fall of Troy. I have taken poetic (and metaphorical) licence with the poem. Ulysses is the Latinised name for Homer's Odysseus.
2. In Hamlet: in the most well-known of his soliloquies, Act 3:1: 62.
Teaching is a profession that can eat up the margins of our lives; there is always more we can do. It is also crucial – however – that we consider our personal welfare – within our role. We need to do this not out of mere self-interest but because it is necessary; it is right. Getting a reasonable balance between the formal demands of our role and those demands we place on ourselves as teachers. Then there are the elements we need to balance between work, home, family … this is not easy.
In his book The Road Less Travelled3, the psychiatrist Scott-Peck (1990) notes that ‘Balancing is the discipline that gives us flexibility. Extraordinary flexibility is required for successful living’ (p. 66).
We have to ‘balance’; we have no choice – that is the very nature of our living and work. To enhance a healthier, more realistic ‘balance’, we need to revisit areas of personal, relational and professional needs from time to time.
- We need our ‘holidays’. We need time for body, mind and soul to repair, to recreate. This is – in part – what is meant by recreation.
- We need time for personal professional reflection as well as collegial reflection on what we do as teachers. Teaching is a busy profession – we need to value, and make time for, personal and collegial reflection.
In working with colleagues in colleague mentoring, we have had extremely valuable discussions based on mutual classroom ‘observation’ and feedback in team-teaching sessions. An opportunity for professional self-awareness in a climate of elective professional trust. How many times do we ask ‘How aware am I of my characteristic behaviour as a teacher? Non-judgemental peer mentoring can enable such reflection and growth as a teacher (Rogers, 2002a).
- An interesting hypothetical question we sometimes ponder is: ‘Would I like to be a student in a class where I was the teacher?’ Bad day notwithstanding!
- We need to ‘let off steam’ from time to time, without vilifying, shafting or maliciously labelling our students. Staffroom ‘off-loading’ is healthy, necessary; it is a form of ‘moan-bonding’. Sometimes the off-loading is enough; at other times, it needs to move towards reflection, analysis and action. One of the least helpful comments in a staffroom is ‘I don't have a problem with … (a particular student or class).’ This is a deflating comment. Even if true, it hardly helps the colleague who is struggling with Jason, or 6B, or 8D. Further, it is likely to inhibit a colleague seeking necessary support. We can be quite self-recriminating as a profession (honest self-reflection and willingness to change is [Page 175]different). We have our bad days, sometimes very bad days. We do not effectively always reach every child; we reach many. We have learned not to blame – or berate – ourselves for what we cannot do.
- We naturally whinge and complain in our profession (student behaviour, some parents, our workload, ‘The Department’ …). There is a big difference between the ‘whinge’ that makes things worse, the dissenting and the divisive whingeing, and that ‘whinge’ that affirms, alerts, acknowledges and can lead to something we can do about it. I rather like the term I have heard in some schools: ‘moan-bonding’. After all, the etymology of whinge is effectively the combination of whining and cringing; ‘moan-bonding’ sounds more positive.
- Frustration and anger are natural; at times they are healthy and right. It is right, it is just to get angry at significant injustice, intolerance, abuse, bullying, racism, sexism … As teachers, we have had to learn to communicate our anger constructively. To assert and not aggress. Sometimes, it is right to assert unambiguously in ‘the emotional moment’; at other times, we may need to restrain ourselves, have cool-off time and then make our point clearly and calmly. There is a balance, even in our communication of anger. The feeling of anger never tells us what to do. The communication of anger with some clarity and justice is a learned behaviour. It is an element of will, and skill, that can be learned (p. 161–65).
- At times we will feel helpless, we will feel a failure. There are times we will feel momentarily helpless. There is no shame in this – it, too, is normal. Feeling a failure does not mean we are a failure, it does mean we have failed in a given instance. Forgiving ourselves (and others) is crucial in contrast to ‘mentally kicking ourselves’ and indulging in recurrent self-blame (pp. 9, 120).
- Colleague support is a significant factor in ‘keeping the balance’, particularly when we feel stretched, confused, unfocused, worn down by it all. The moral support of our colleagues – those in the ‘same boat’ – is consistently noted in the research as highly valued (Rogers, 2002a)4. As basic as a shared coffee, a word of reassurance, the note in the pigeon-hole, the flowers when you have been away sick, a colleague taking a difficult child to their class for 10–15 minutes to give you (and your class) a breather, through to the off-loading, moan-bonding and to those times of shared planning and problem-solving.
One primary school's in-house norm is that ‘the difficult student in our school is a difficult student for all’. Contrast this with the staffroom comment, ‘Do you know what your Jason did in the playground!?’ Our colleagues can and do encourage, affirm, assure. At times, though, we will have to ask for support from our colleagues because they may not ‘know’.
- It is important to remember that there are many factors we cannot control in [Page 176]our profession, within the children's home environment: family dysfunction; substance abuse; neglect; poor diet; structural poverty; long-term unemployment … When we focus on what we can do at our school, the natural stress is more realistically focused. Nor can we control ‘the Department’ and its mandates. We can control our response as a school to ‘the Department’; we can decide what we will do, where we can do it – in our school, in our class, with our students. We can manage external mandates rather than merely letting them manage us!
- A crucial factor in ‘the balance of it all’ is paying some attention to our personal physical health, and the reasonably basic things we can do. Even a basic walking routine several times a week, the fruit, veggies and water will help (we all know what we should be doing most of the time!)
3. The Road Less Travelled (1990) by M. Scott-Peck, published by Hutchinson and Co., London.
4. I Get By With a Little Help (2002) by B. Rogers, published by A.C.E.R. Press, Melbourne.
In Shakespeare's Henry VI, there is a passage that (to me) nicely sums up this ‘balance’ of time, work, recreation and rest:
To carve out dials … thereby to see the minutes – how they run. How many makes the hour full complete. How many hours bring about the day. How many days will finish up the year …
So many hours must I tend my flock.
So many hours must I take my rest.
So many hours must I contemplate.5
These lines could almost have been written for a teacher. We needs must balance time over ‘our flock’, ‘our rest’, even ‘our contemplation’.
We do our best, then, to balance the natural stresses and demands of our profession and the normal ‘wear and tear’:
‘that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield’ (Tennyson, Ulysses).
How many days till the end of term?
5. Shakespeare 3 Henry VI II. v. 24–40.
The nineteenth-century novelist George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) was once asked if she was a pessimist or an optimist.
‘I am neither,’ came the reply, ‘I am a meliorist.’ (cited in Potter, 1950).
I had to look up the meaning of meliorist. In The Oxford Reference Dictionary, its meaning is noted as, ‘A doctrine that the world may be made better by human effort.’ It does not say, ‘made perfect …’ – better is possible.
In re-reading these essays – and reflecting on them yet again – I suspect that this might be the settled response of the teachers here. We are ‘meliorists’.
I know I am a ‘meliorist’ – someone who believes that the world (and our little bit of it: Jason, Dean, Bilal, Tran, Melissa, Rebecca – 4C, 8D, 10E … our class, our school) may be improved by persistent, practical, human effort.
Each of these teachers has enabled their students to feel special, to feel positive and more secure about themselves and their place in their world. They have encouraged their students to see the best in themselves and have sought to enable them as learners to take conscious and thoughtful control of their learning and behaviour.
These teachers showed continuing respect and affirming for their students, even in the face of difficult, challenging, disruptive and hostile behaviours; they didn't give up, or give in. While not ignoring or ‘playing down’ (or to) their inappropriate and disruptive behaviour, they taught their students different and better pathways, gave new options. They gave guidance, direction, support and hope. In these teachers – at least – the young people found adults who believed in them and who helped them belong and grow.
They won't forget these teachers. Nor will their parents.
In a sense, there is no ‘conclusion’ to a book like this. There will always be teachers like these, here, who have shared themselves – and their teaching journey – with us. Thank God that there are teachers like this in our schools.
I hope their accounts will continue to encourage the kind of teaching, and humanity, they have shared with us.
Appendix: Nick's Individual Behaviour Management Plan[Page 178]Musgrave Hill State SchoolNick's Goal Behaviours
Acknowledgements for Nick's Goal Achievement
- Use the computer only when given permission
- Whole-class acknowledgement system (personal points/group points)
- Each smiley face = 1 stamp
- 10 stamps = 15 minutes on computer or 30 minutes in Middle Brumby
[Page 179]Consequences Plan
- Breakfast programme: Mum takes scooter to classroom and Nick goes straight to the office for breakfast and his medication.
- Family is seeking interagency support.
- Ring Nanny with good news or to calm himself down with her.
- Modified programme – attached. (Collegial support from Support Teacher Learning Difficulties.)
- Learning support assistance.
- Chaplain/Counsellor (Rock and Water programme).
- Seasons Programme – issues from parents' divorce.
- Use computer for writing because of fine motor issue.
- Chill out place – in reading corner of his own choice.
- Wear glasses.
- PALS – Positive Approach To Life Situations Programme (Griffith University Gold Coast Programme).
- Teach class to ignore his inappropriate behaviour (while Nick was not present).
- Build in time with Junior Stage reading teacher from 10–10.30 a.m.
- Allow take-up time.
- Mother has agreed to respond to phone calls from school.
‘Nick, you need to (e.g. keep your hands and feet to yourself).’ Allow take-up time by moving away and doing something else for a minute.
Complies: ‘Good choice, Nick. Well done.’ (Reinforce with smiley face for following directions.)
Does not comply: ‘Nick, you have chosen not to (e.g. keep your hands and feet to yourself). You are now on Marker 1.’
I have had this document explained to me and I agree with the contents.
____ ____ ______ _______[Page 180]On Marker 1
‘Nick, you are on Marker 1. You have the choice to (e.g. keep your hands and feet to yourself) or go to Marker 2, which is the Reading Corner for 5 minutes’ (cool-off time/reflection time).
Complies: ‘A responsible choice, Nick. Well done.’ (Reinforce with smiley face for following directions.)
Does not comply: ‘Nick, you have chosen not to (keep your hands and feet to yourself). You are showing me that you have chosen the Reading Corner.’On Marker 2
‘Nick, you need to go quietly to the Reading Corner. This is a thinking time to help you make better choices. If you cannot do that, I will need to ring Mrs Smart, and she will ring your mother.’
Complies: After Nick has settled, encourage him: ‘Well done for going to the Reading Corner.’ Nick sits quietly for 5 minutes. The timer will ring when the 5 minutes is up. Nick returns to his work.
Does not comply: ‘Nick, you are showing me that I need to ring Mrs Smart. You need to go to the office.’On Marker 3
Complies: Nick goes to the office.
Does not comply: Mrs Smart phoned who will advise mother of Nick's behaviour.On Marker 4
Complies: Nick goes to the office.
Does not comply: Mother will be phoned again to collect Nick.Re-Entry
From Reading Corner: – own choice – no comments made (i.e. the teacher does not start a conversation with the child …). From Mrs Smart/Mr Marsh: after a session – Nick needs to say, ‘I'm ready to go back.’ – Teacher to acknowledge by giving a nod. – No verbal comment – no judgement – no negative emotions.Summary of Consequences Plan
Marker 1 Last warning [Page 181] Marker 2 Time-out (5 min) in the classroom Marker 3 Time-out in office and phone call to parent Marker 4 Another phone call to parent and Nick collected to go home If necessary suspension or exclusion will be implemented. Class Teacher Student Parent Parent
When listed on a single page like this, Nick's plan and the teacher's verbal cueing looks a little ‘clinical’ (in a behaviourist sense). In reality, it was not like that at all. As in all the behaviour plans noted in this text (particularly Chapter 3), the teachers' interactions are always grounded in the positive relationships that they developed with their students. Even the use of the verb ‘comply’ sounds overly behaviourist(!). Again, in reality, these teachers have developed a positive, warm and caring relationship with Nick. Where they have had to discipline Nick (including time-out), they have been decisive and firm, but always encouraging.
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