Angry young men

This week I have been dealing with quite a few angry young men. I put out an appeal on twitter to see what resources people might suggest using but in the end I created the following as a tool for encouraging reflection and solution focus.

Please feel free to feed back / adapt / use.



Reflecting on my anger

Think about what happened yesterday:

When, where, who else was there?(eg in history class, when the register was being done) What did I do? (eg shout, swear, lash out, punch, kick, walk out, take deep breaths and stay calm) What SPECIFICALLY triggered the way I acted? (eg something someone said, a look someone gave, something that had happened earlier but was still in my head) What happened next? (eg referral, detention, exclusion) How had I been feeling earlier in the day? (eg when I woke up, came into school, at break, at lunch)

Think back over the last few weeks and note down the times when you have felt or shown extreme anger.

Then, for each one, fill in the columns to the left.

When, where, who else was there?(eg in history class, when the register was being done) What did I do? (eg shout, swear, lash out, punch, kick, walk out, take deep breaths and stay calm) What SPECIFICALLY triggered the way I acted? (eg something someone said, a look someone gave, something that had happened earlier but was still in my head) What happened next? (eg referral, detention, exclusion)

Now look at the examples above and write the numbers of the ones where you controlled your anger successfully:

Now, thinking again about the situations where you have controlled your anger, write down the things that helped (eg breathing deeply, counting to ten, walking out for a break, having a friend or someone else talk to you and help you notice what was happening):

Now write down the things that you can do to help yourself from having another extreme anger outburst:

Now write down the support you need from others to help yourself from having another extreme anger outburst:


Inclusive CPD?

On Monday I delivered CPD on making our classrooms more inclusive.

I shared quotes from the technical guidance on 2010 equalities act that says when it is not ok to exclude and why we need to make reasonable adaptations to our systems.

I shared extracts from the Scottish Standards for teacher registration that use the words ‘care for’ and ‘wellbeing’ and reference responsibilities of all.

I suggested 8 myths that we need to debunk:
* Things have never been this bad.
* This is not the right school for him.
* We can’t do anything until she gets a mental health diagnosis.
* If X gets away with this, the other pupils will think they can too.
* I am not a social worker and this is not my job.
* There is no hope for that child.
* There is a quick fix.
* (Mrs Carter is a soft touch)

I quoted from Jarlath O’ Brien’s book.

I gave examples of alternative differentiation, beyond giving pupils a laptop or printing handouts:
* Ignoring fidgeting
* When a pupil is late to class, dealing with it in a very low key way
* Having spare pencils ready for the pupil who always forgets
* Tactically ignoring non uniform
* Allowing the whole class to listen to music on headphones while working
I asked “why wouldn’t you? Are you afraid of looking soft or giving in?”

And I gave a task in groups of 3: think about the pupil who is causing you greatest challenge.
I asked them to consider:

Who? What? When?
Things tried so far?
What can I do now to help this child or young person?
What can my agency do to help this child or young person?
What additional help, if any, may be needed from others?
What do others suggest?

I then asked colleagues to pick one of the suggestions and try it over the next two weeks. Then to email the others with an update in 2 weeks.

And at the start, I asked a colleague to deliberately arrive late. When he did, I snapped at him to wait outside.
I then told the audience to wait then went outside and yelled at him in their hearing.

We came back in and deconstructed what had occurred and whether such adult behaviour would ever be acceptable in other workplaces.
We asked:
• Why did I (teacher) respond like I did (initial and corridor response)
• Was the response ok?
• What could I have done differently?
• Why might the pupil be late?
• How did it make the pupil feel?

I also talked about the fact that in times of austerity, we need to work together to ensure that the needs of all pupils are met in the most effective and efficient way.
I played 3 songs:
We’re all in this together
When the going gets tough
All you need is love.

In their evaluations, some staff were very positive and said that the session had been very informative. Others were less positive and seemed to have felt patronised. Some felt (rightly) that there was too much of me talking and not enough time for them to talk and share.

My conclusion was that, as with pupils, one size does not fit all and that I perhaps need to look more carefully at tailoring what are scarce CPD opportunities to suit individual CPD needs.

As follow up, I am sharing these links with staff tomorrow as my Friday Thoughts:

I felt a bit like a lone lunatic, but I hope I might have made a difference to some.

Friday thoughts: CPD on a budget?

Friday thoughts.

This year at school I have started to circulate a weekly email to staff entitled ‘Friday thoughts.’ It has generally been received with a positive response and below is the email I sent yesterday. Perhaps you might like to do something similar in your school?

Happy Friday!

I don’t know about you but this week has felt like a long one to me.

I have been very touched by the lovely response that I have had to the Friday emails. I also thought it may be useful to share my thinking behind them.

In times of reduced budgets we need to find different opportunities to connect, learn, share ideas and engage in professional reflection. In these emails I try to provide stimulus for reflection around issues relating to inclusion, wellbeing and pupil support. Some ideas are mine but some are from people much wiser and more experienced than I am.

I would love for you to get in touch if you have an idea or piece that you would like included: I will simply act as curator and share.

This week, three things that I shared in my S4 assembly yesterday.

Inspiration from the Paralympics.

You may have seen this advert on the t.v. but it inspires me every time:

This one appeals to me as a dramatist and reminds us that the best of times can follow the worst of times:

And this, from the 2012 Paralympics. As I said to the pupils, everyone’s ‘proud’ will come from something thing different: for one it may be getting up in the morning and making it in to school/work when times are tough, for another achieving a gold medal, for another helping out a friend:

What have you done today?

Kindest regards

Do as I say and look after your voice.

This is a repost of a blog I wrote six months ago on @staffrm.

I thought that the advice may be useful for those starting back with classes after a long break. Or for those new to teaching this term.

But, in addition, I have lost my voice! It started with a sore throat on Thursday and I became hoarse. However, instead of staying off yesterday, I considered myself ‘indispensable’, went in and croaked through 2 lessons and three meetings and am suffering all the more today.
It will have been a false economy if I can’t speak next week and have to be off.
So, an additional piece of advice that I would add: DON’T ignore a sore throat or throat infection. When it strikes, rest and avoid talking.

I have worked previously with staff and students to help them look after their voices; as teachers our voice is a crucial tool yet one that is easy to abuse.
My sessions in the past have been practical so I will endeavour to make my ideas work on paper.
What I will write is preventative; if you have ongoing voice problems or a persistent sore or hoarse voice, please consult a doctor as you may need treatment.
My husband is a biologist and may be horrified by the non-scientific way that I describe things below but the images work for me.
Imagine a catherdral. In the cathedral hangs a wind chime. When a breeze enters the cathedral 2 parts of the chime brush together and a sound is made. The sound then echoes and resonates in the chambers and spaces of the cathedral.
The breeze or energy needed to make the chimes sound is your breath. The chimes are your vocal chords. The spaces where the sound echoes are the cavities inside your head where your voice gains resonance and volume.
It is crucial that you support your voice with breath. To breathe deeply, place both feet flat on the floor and centre your weight. Imagine that your chest and rib cage is a glass bell jar with a rubber diaphragm at the bottom (- ooh, bit of real science!). As you breathe in, keep your shoulders down and attempt to push the muscles in your stomach and round your back out. Breathe right down into your back and bottom. When you first do this, your head may feel light so take it easy! As you breathe out, pull your stomach and bottom muscles back in.
This may feel counter-intuitive but keep at it!

Before you speak, remember to breathe.
Relax the muscles in your face, mouth and neck. Blow raspberries. Chew as if you are chewing a huge toffee. Yawn. Get a neck massage.
Play with your voice and try to find a way of speaking that allows you to project and find resonance without straining or shouting. This may result in you changing the way you speak (eg raising or lowering the pitch) but it may be needed if you are to keep it healthy!
The cavities in your nose and the front of your skull are crucial resonators. Find them by humming. Push the hum into your nose and feel it buzz in your nose and lips. When you speak with resonance, the sound needs to come from that area so try speaking and focusing the sound there.
Sounds like hard vowels can hurt your voice if you force them; play with the word ‘apple’ and try and attack it more gently.

Don’t smoke. Ever.

Drink lots of water.

Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol.

Try to take time off talking for a short time each day, longer on weekends.

Be very aware of when you are tired and take extra care with your voice.

Don’t shout above classroom noise.

If you need attention in a busy class, use a slow, calm and well-projected countdown from 5 to 1 where 1 is silent and still. Teach and practise it from day one.