Our guest Blogger this week is Dan Finill.
Dan presented on his work as Inclusion Manager this week, working with our most challenging students, and has set out his strategies.
Working with young people can be a challenge and the question we always ask ourselves is, “How can we get them to behave and engage?” Its fair to say that we have a diverse cohort who have varying behavioural, social and emotional needs but I strongly believe that no young person wants to be naughty.
With such varying needs, it’s important that we always look for strategies that suit the individual but at the same time always ensure that students are consistently following the school code of conduct. We believe that in order to change or modify a student’s behaviour to be successful within a mainstream environment, we need to keep them within the mainstream environment. Rather than weeks of withdrawal or isolation, we deploy our resources to them within the classroom.
Mr Meale (Inclusion Mentor) – supporting a Yr 9 Pupil
Our focus for this week’s Butterfly sessions was around supporting and motivating challenging students and how we as professionals can adapt our practice. All too often as professionals and teachers, we focus on behaviour rather than learning. Students who find learning challenging often have little motivation and self-esteem and as professionals we hold the match that creates the spark for them to want to achieve more.
Simple observations based on their work helps build confidence and that will to want to please again. Things like…
“That’s a beautiful piece of work you’ve created today”
“That’s an interesting point, I hadn’t thought about that”
“I’m really impressed with your effort today”
“What you’ve written is spot on”
This doesn’t have to be over the top, just a passing comment whilst you’re walking down a row is just as valuable.
Whilst talking with our students, the key thing that they said they look for in a teacher is personality and the desire to form positive relationships. That ability to connect and understand their needs and from time to time having a bit of “banter” (appropriate within the expectations of a classroom of course)
Improving individual relationships is important to creating a harmonious and purposeful learning environment. The key to that is how we communicate with that young person and those that support them. Simple things like a quick positive phone call to a parent help create the start of a good relationship with students. But when it comes to behaviour management, we also have to be mindful of our approach as this is where relationships can be damaged. Naturally, challenging students will not be perfect all of the time. By ensuring a staged approach is followed (use of a warning system) remain calm and allowing opportunities for the student to modify their behaviour, helps you to de-personalise their behaviour towards you. When things do go wrong, it’s important that there is a resolution. By allowing an opportunity for students to sit and put their side across after the event or for you to let them know how you felt in that situation is really powerful. This is something that when I am coaching students, I make sure that they take ownership of the resolution and they are proactive at seeking out the member of staff to apologise and create closure.
Building positive relationships with pupils is not an overnight thing. In fact it might take months before you actually feel that you are getting somewhere. However that persistence, setting aside time from individuals, listening and coaching are just some of the key ingredients to creating a successful partnership.