Behaviour Management in LLS Recommended Text

download (2)I can not recommend Managing Behaviour in Further and Adult Education by Susan Wallace enough as an essential read for anyone working in the LLS or training there or heading there in the future.

I love the easy writing style, the use of case studies which will be all too familiar to many NQT’s and PGCE placement students who are in FE in particular but also in HE.

It puts to bed the myths that students in LLS are there because they choose to be and as such will be model students, impeccably behaved and reasonable… crikey I was in a class of trainee teachers many with recent BA degrees under their belt who didn’t know how to turn up on time, stop giggling, keep on task, prevent themselves from doodling and chattering during lessons, presentations and guest speaks. If people who are trying to manage behaviour in classrooms as teachers can’t behave when they are students then there is no class out there which is immune from behaviour management issues.

As it’s titling suggests also prepare for gaining QTLS (if we figure out what is happening with that) so if that’s where you are heading and it probably is then it’s even more essential.

This is the most up to date version of this book and is available here from Amazon at around £11 plus p&p, £17.50 for the Kindle version and around £15.00 if you buy through Prime. The second edition is available here for less on Amazon and if you are really strapped for cash it’s still a useful purchase. Don’t be put off by the slightly different title it is still the previous version of this book. I have both and either are really useful but of course the updated version does have some useful updates relevant to changes in the sector. I’m not sure if it’s available in the Kindle library to Prime members for a free hire I’ve not checked but it’s one you will want to keep in my opinion anyway so for a reasonable text book price and for one that isn’t massive and hefty that you can stick in your bag and read in bed without danger of caving your face in if it slips from your hands it’s a good investment.


Thoughts on Educating the East End Episode 4

This is going to short and sweet. I always thought that exclusion was pointless, unnecessary and detrimental to the development of a child, but after watching last night I’m of a different opinion. It was clearly a difficult decision, there was nowhere left to go with discipline, other children were going to suffer and I am sure there was far, far more to the story than we saw out of respect for the child and his family. It was easy to forget that Jebb was introduced as a boy who had been excluded from another school previously as his dimpled cute smiling face touched our hearts and his plight and obvious struggles with coping with his parents’ divorce brought tears to our eyes. I felt deflated when he was excluded and couldn’t help but think that he was bound to become a statistic, a failure and then I was delighted to see that he is doing well, that the actions taken were right for him, they worked, he’s happy and thriving.

These programmes are never going to give us the whole picture but I think this is one of the reasons this team win awards, they take us on a realistic journey and they lead us to make assumptions and then they turn all that on its head, they challenge the way we think and our haste in making judgements.

Well done on another fabulous episode.

Educating the East End Episode 3

I loved this episode. I was struck by a couple of things and that is how this one seemed to show much better behaved, driven, involved and inspired kids who realised the importance of education and the added extras. I felt this was far more representative of young people in the main, or at least the young people I’m used to.

I loved the elections, the campaigning, the obvious camaraderie and support throughout the school, the barrier relaxing between students and teachers, all of it was inspirational. As a teacher who has shifted from FE to Secondary I was able to relate so much easier to this and I think it is true that they began the series with the difficult year 9 which consensus has it is the toughest year as mentioned in my first post on this series.

I was also interested to see how it was noticed that things going on outside of school were affecting the outgoing head girl’s performance and how it was nipped in the bud and ultimately did not affect her achievements at GCSE. I felt it was interesting to see the focus on developing her self belief and I felt educated myself by the head teacher’s comments on exam performance being largely due to a mental attitude. I’ve seen people filled with fear and negativity prior to an exam and have wondered how they can do that to themselves, believing that negative mind set can’t be productive but for some people positivity and self belief doesn’t come easy and that’s something to bear in mind now as a teacher. I don’t think I’m bigging myself up too much to say that I’m pretty good at encouraging students to have faith in themselves but I saw it more in action on the programme and feel that I understand the importance even more now of building that positivity. Some people do not have it instilled in them by parents or anyone else in their life, even society may have a low expectation or give out signs that trying is pointless and we as teachers do have to fight against that.

We were shocked that nobody seemed to know who the eventual election victor was. I guess that’s because he was under the radar, probably well behaved, always on time, good attendance and a high achiever. Nobody’s noticed him because he hasn’t given anyone reason to and in some ways I think that’s very sad. Imagine if he had never stood for election, he would possibly have passed right through secondary school with nobody ever noticing him.

I see how easy it is for deserving students to be bypassed on awards events and for opportunities to represent the school and for treats and rewards and while I get it now as a teacher that the challenging students take up the lion’s share of your time and focus, it’s really not fair. It’s made me want to make an even more concerted effort to make sure I notice the other students, not just the high achievers but the middling, average students who come in, sit down, get on with their work, achieve comfortably and leave. I know who they are in my current classes and I know who they were in my placement classes and I have to hold my hands up and admit that in my placement classes they were the ones I took longest to remember the names of, the ones I engaged with the least and the ones I should have recognised more.

As a student teacher you will soon realise that it really is the challenging students who you remember first and you will be shocked when you reflect and consider the amount of time you spent talking directly to them (another reason why reflection is important). You have to be careful of that, some ‘disruptive’ students just crave attention and they are very skilled at commanding it.  In one of my observations my university tutor advised me to ignore any behaviours which were not threatening or affecting anyone else. As an example in the observed class one of my students decided to make a paper plane and I asked why he had done that and I should have just ignored it, nobody else had noticed he had made it, it wasn’t detracting from the overall flow of the lesson and I brought everyone’s focus to the paper plane and thereby I caused the class to become distracted from the lesson and of course myself. Later on he wrapped toilet paper around himself and again I mentioned it and created the conflict situation the student wanted when again I could have just ignored it.

So lesson learned, less time on the attention seekers and more of acknowledgement of the under the radar, safe kids, they might not crave attention but everyone likes to be noticed for something they’re doing well and to have some attention now and again, I’d hate to think a student of mine would put himself up for an election and I wouldn’t know who he was but am aware of how easily it could happen.

Looking forward to the  next episode.

Supply and Demand

So I headed into the big wide world of supply with a good academic year contract if I want it, but I’ve discovered something about teaching, it’s not always what you imagine it is going to be. You think that your performance and subject specialist knowledge count for something when really it’s mainly about being able to fulfil a contract and your skills will be moulded to suit a vacancy as long as you fulfill the main requirements of the post.

So here I am teaching French and it’s good, it’s really good. I’ve had to brush up a bit on my own grammar and have been thankful to all of those French friends who kept me engaged in delightful conversation over the years. I  never thought of this as my ‘thing’ and never thought I’d want to teach at this level but I am loving it.

The money is not to be sneezed at and when you weigh up all things you kind of come out with a decent gross annual pay which would put a newly qualified solicitor and doctor to shame and is touching up there on consultancy rates, so that’s another good point and of course you can either continue in supply or look for something permanent, up to you… the money is alluring for some positions (especially those where there is a shortage so if you are able to teach in one of those go for it) and I’d take longish or short term contracts with periods of unemployment where I can spend all that lovely dosh over full time permanent drudge any day.

So I guess teaching is about pushing those boundaries and taking opportunities, at the end of the day you are sharing knowledge and if you’ve got to my age and studied as much as I have you have enough knowledge and pieces of paper to back it up to teach a whole range of subjects. Being a good teacher is knowing how to pass on information, it’s about rapport building and effective communication, good management of people and confidence, the specialist knowledge flows, if all of the other elements are in place.

This will fund me through my masters too and set me up for when it’s time to move on at last. I really hate that our move had been delayed so many times but things seem to be right, the decision is made and then a little voice pipes up as he gets cold feet, just a year and a bit to go and we’re out of here.

Now it seems that the delay wasn’t such a bad thing. I like flexibility, it was my method of working of choice before I had responsibilities and I love the way you never become complacent or settled and are always kept on your toes and also you never have time to become bored which is the most important thing. It builds skills and forces a development of self, of subject specialism and of all those other associated teaching skills.

Educating the East End Episode 2 Review

This is just going to be quick one as I went into lots of detail last time which can be found HERE and I don’t have so much time now I’m TEACHING!!

I watched episode 2 with my son and he said something which I thought was quite relevant in response to the discipline and that was “if we’re supposed to act like adults to prepare for being adults then when do we get to just be kids?”.

I thought it was quite significant and pertinent, when do they get to be kids? I know there were some serious issues of getting involved with the wrong crowd, but had the boy in question been battered outside of the school gates it wouldn’t be “a school issue” and parents would be advised to go to the police. The police had been involved yet the school still disciplined as well. But anyway, I digress, the kid is a boy, he’s having a laugh, teenage boys find everything hilarious, they are  being forced to stifle this essential element of who they are, the element which will bring them their most fun childhood memories because they are expected to act like adults which they are not.

Part of preparing for the adult world is them learning how far they can push boundaries and of saving face. The challenge was thrown down to put the ball on the desk within the allocated time ‘or else’, he played by the rules, he did as asked, he put it down within the time frame rule dictated by the teacher, the adult, and yet he was still the loser, the adult chose to break the rules and the ‘or else’ happened anyway, even though he had played by the rules dictated. I guess in that sense we could concede that he was being prepared for adult life, in that quite often as an adult you play by the rules and it gets you nowhere, or people with authority will change rules to suit themselves or they will break rules and that’s OK as long as you know your place and you don’t. He wasn’t pushing the boundary to irk the teacher, he was doing it to save face in front of his peers, and the same could be said of the teacher who had to save his face in front of the boy’s peers too, but he won and grandad was called in, detentions and exclusions bandied about willy nilly and when the kid does something really bad there is nowhere left to go with punishments and the whole process breaks down.

I was hugely in agreement with the PE teacher and the way he persuaded the football crazy lad to think of a plan B. It can be a fine line between destroying someone’s ambition by asking ‘what if’ and encouraging the back up plan but I think he did a great job of it.

My only concern is that the opportunity to coach football was seen as an opportunity at the right time and put to good effect and tied to performance criteria which is arguably a good thing, however the opportunity to join police cadets should have been identified sooner. Why do we wait for things to go wrong before we take action? Why does it take a child being ‘a problem’ before we get to know them and tailor part of schooling to meet a need and avert a crisis? Why is there little in the way of risk management for all from the start?

One of the down sides of waiting until there is a problem is that the other kids who are not offered these opportunities see them as rewards for bad behaviour and who knows where that could lead? Most likely to further bad behaviour.

Final point, the jewellery on that deputy head’s hands is ridiculous. How can you say you set rules around appearance as a preparation for adult or working life and then have teachers with hands rattling in rings, tottering around in high heels and with ear tunnels? It’s a conflict. You can’t wear those rings because in the adult world you won’t get a job if you go to an interview or to work like that and that’s being told to you by an adult in the adult world with a job… go figure, it’s confusing.

I’m not as into this series as I was into the last two but Educating Yorkshire took three episodes to grip me so let’s see what the next one brings later this week.

Using Social Media in Education – Fabulous Resource

This is a really useful post full of links to ideas for using social media in teaching, support for its use and a whole lot more. It’s a really good one, well worth bookmarking and referencing from time to time. Just click on the link below:

Edutopia Social Media in Education Resource Round Up



Teach kids how to educate themselves

I’m a real protagonist of not only teaching students (especially young ones) the subject you are supposed to teach them but to take some responsibility for also teaching them how to learn, how to develop their knowledge, their consciousness of the world and of their place in it.

I read  this article during a lunch break today and although it’s a lengthy(ish) read it is worth it. It has some spiritual reference which might have the non-believers among us rolling eyes and tutting. I hope not because it is appropriate and helps the whole ethos of the piece to make a lot of sense. Of course the problem is, people who need to read this probably won’t and that’s the frustration with this whole issue of education versus knowledge versus willful ignorance versus intellect. We often mix them up and they are not to be mixed up as this article also makes pretty clear.

I think one of the only ways we can encourage those who need to read this kind of thing to read it is to teach them to want to… and so we’re back to the start of this post. I really believe we can thread in promotion of a will to educate oneself and expand one’s own knowledge to anything we teach, it’s a philosophy which can be subtly embedded. Another take on the hidden curriculum if you like, using that concept for good and to expand minds rather than using it as the state arguably does, to shrink and restrict them.

Besides teaching or encouraging others to do the same, surely it is part of self-development to expand our own knowledge and not get set in our ways. A teacher who refuses to learn is something of an anomaly at worst, irony at best.