I’ve been having some discussions recently with colleagues from across Education and Social Care, including those who work closely with each other and those who don’t.
I remember when I was at my mainstream school the attitudes of teachers towards the students was vastly different to the attitudes of the teachers within my specialist school. I’ve also witnessed these same (poor, negative, antagonistic) attitudes towards children from teachers in both my personal and professional life and I decided I wanted to write a blog post about this to get my thoughts down in some coherent way.
The attitudes of some teachers are nothing short of antagastic but I don’t believe that is even their thought process, not for all of them. This attitude issue goes further than just what I believed when I was a child on the receiving end. This is comes back to how teachers are taught both academically and through their peer support system to manage discipline with the classroom. And it’s something like this. I’m the teacher and I deserve respect full stop.
Before I go any further, this isn’t all teachers. I know loads of teachers, thinking especially of the wonderful teachers and support staff that worked with me during my time at Muntham House. However, whilst not all teachers, I believe it’s a good majority, but this is simply down to the way they taught and their continuing professional development which I think is lacking.
What would I suggest, I hear the reader asking. I think all education environments could benefit from learning the core elements of Positive Behavioir Support, Conflict Resolution and the basic elements of Transactional analysis.
Transactional analysis is a communication theory that helps to explain how people interact with each other. It helps to identify the underlying emotions and motivations that drive behaviour. When teachers are trained in transactional analysis, they are better equipped to understand the underlying causes of behaviour and to respond in a way that is both effective and respectful.
Conflict resolution training is a type of training that teaches individuals the skills they need to effectively manage and resolve conflicts. This training can be provided to people in a variety of different settings, including schools, workplaces, and community organizations. The training typically covers topics such as effective communication, active listening, problem-solving, and negotiation. The goal of conflict resolution training is to provide individuals with the tools they need to understand the underlying causes of conflicts, and to respond in a way that is both effective and respectful.
Instead of meeting a child’s attitude with teacher attitude and/or waiting for the right time to address the behaviour (thus realising the teacher hasn’t lossed anything by not dealing with behaviour immediately) the situation can be resolved that meets everyone’s needs. It means teachers become part of the solution, rather than adding more conflict simply because you won’t be spoken to like that, or giving someone a detention, a positive resolution is more highly likely to have a longer lasting impact, not to mention the high potential for respect and relationship to be built from this, therefore further reducing further disicpline issues.
You could simplify what I’ve put to ‘picking your battles’ but I think that’s too simplistic. It’s not just about picking your battles, it’s about building mutual respect, building relationship, so that future situations can be managed far better.
Let me give you an example from my time at Mainstream and my specialist school.
The Assistant Head at my mainstream school, always had time for me, nothing raised his voice to me, always said what he meant and did what he said he would do in relation to supporting and helping me. On this one occasion, I threw a pencil and the teacher asked me to leave the classroom. I refused. This led to two teaching assistants separately and together attempt to physical man handle me from the classroom. Something they were not trained to do and bruised my arms.
After they attempted and failed to move me, I assume at some point the Assistant Head was called. He stepped through the door motioned to me once and quietly said ‘Bob let’s go for a walk’. I walked straight out the classroom and 10 minutes later, I was back in the class and on task.
The example from my specialist school is this. They had a time out system, if you got 3 warnings in the class you were asked to leave and go to time out. This time out was manned by a teacher, there was always a teacher or a member of the Senior Care Team on time out.
There was a small handful who would come down and speak in challenging tone or spoke down in a condescending tone to the student being sent out. Guess what, chairs were picked up and/or they were sworn at.
However, our Art teacher had a completely different approach. Now that I look back, it was clear this was intentional. He purposefully built positive relationships with all his pupils and if he was on timeout, nine times of ten the person he needed to get out of the classroom, left the classroom willingly with him without incident and was back in the class before the change of period.
There is no substitute for relationship built on positivity and mutual respect.
If you’re reading this from within education and want to discuss this with me, I’d be more than happy to talk in further detail.