Final Thoughts/Tips/Advice etc…
- Use your Journal….
I find that there are some useful things to do if I feel particularly anxious before a class for whatever reason. Firstly I will write down, honestly, what I am worried about. In other words I use my journal. This can be challenging because it’s fundamentally difficult to accept that you are feeling fearful of a bunch of 11 year olds – or one particular 13 year old. You are supposed to be the adult and they are the children so there could be a reluctance to be honest. But be honest, because when you see the list in front of you, you can think about what it is that has got you spooked. You can then perhaps think about the reality of what you are going to face. Even though the anxieties can feel life threatening on a primitive level, they are of course nowhere near so. Consequently, when you see your list, you should think clearly about why you feel the way you feel and then ask yourself what help you need. That might mean something simple like telling someone that you feel worried to asking for support with your classroom management from your line manager to calling a child’s parent or emailing the head of year because of their persistent disruption.
What is important is that your behaviour in the classroom is as free from negative projections as it can be so that you can do what needs to be done to create a positive learning environment for you and for your pupils.
- Study photographs
It’ really important to see the pupils for who they are rather than how you think they are. It can help to really study the class photograph of pupils and recognise that they are children who need a teacher, a mentor, a guide, a mentor. They may not be telling you that with their behaviour but you now know that, whatever their behaviour is telling you, they want, like we all do, love and understanding.
- Triangulate with Parents – Call home basically
Calling home is a common tactic in schools and I would recommend you contact home as soon as you can with any new pupil/class. I would only add that it is important to set up a collaborative relationship with parents rather than a combative one. The tone of a conversation that is essentially “what are you going to do about your badly behaved child” can lead to a similar response – “what are you doing about the dact my child can’t learn?”. It’s the familiar us versus them, ‘splitting’, ‘good and bad’ , binary discussion that can be unproductive. Any approach which includes what ‘we’ might do together to help the child succeed, both you as the teacher and the parent, implies a ‘third position’ where the child can be thought about.
- Work with other teachers
Often the same classes/pupils are creating similar disturbances in other lessons. IN my experience, few schools make room for teachers to get together to discuss strategies that work or don’t work with particular children or groups. This work is too often left to SEN or AEN professionals who deal with pupils in isolation from the classroom. If this is the case, it can help to just contact the other teachers of the child and arrange to meet with them. If you can all meet with the child then more’s the better. The child will feel the containment of that meeting and will get the message that you are all working for their best interests.
5. Don’t Keep Your Worries to Yourself…
Feelings of isolation are attributed as one of the main reasons teachers leave teaching. Despite the business of schools, they can be very lonely places especially if you are secretly feeling bullied by a pupil or a class. Teachers don’t like to admit these feelings – they would rather soldier on than ask for help. Also, sadly, there still too few forums for conversations that are about personal well-being rather than performance review. However, you should raise your concerns with colleagues and also with line managers where possible.
Lesson 3 PDF: PDF Session 3 2013
Please make a comment either about this article or your own experience. Feel free to contact me, ask questions or make suggestions. This is a resource for teachers…