In many ways this blog has been inspired by one of my twitter followers, @DrJStephensVP. She has a brilliant blog,
and is definitely worth a read. Her care and love for her pupils is clearly recognisable in her writing and her experiences are shared in a very open and heart warming manner. Her writing on ‘Tough Love’ made me think of my own experience as a Teacher and Headteacher.
I have always believed that the pupils that come into school unhappy, upset, frustrated often do so for a reason. The reason can be as simple as a poor nights sleep or as complicated as the worst type of neglect a child can experience. It is far too easy, when confronted with this behaviour to judge rather than discover the cause. Children often misbehave as part of a cry for help and support and not simply because they want to break the rules.
It can be difficult when challenged by pupils that have the appearance of wanting to be unruly however I have learnt that patience, care and respect have been the keys to unlocking the cause of poor behaviour on many occasions. As teachers, we will never have the full picture of the life of a pupil yet we must always remember that we are probably with them much longer than any parent during the week. For that very reason, patience is crucial in determining the direction of travel for that day.
@DrJStephensVP uses this quote in her blog,
This is so true in my experience. If a child already feels that the world is closing in on them, adding to their frustration, anger or fear simply makes them fight the system and search for different ways to release the build up of pressure. As you can imagine, this can lead to deepening concern.
It can be extremely hard when defiance is being presented constantly and it is at this point that the values we share as a School will come to the fore. We might not always have the answers, we will always make mistakes (we must remember we are only human) but what we can do is to maintain a consistant approach and realise, many children misbehave for a reason.
When a child is anxious, this can lead to insecurity, loneliness and an inability to think clearly as the feeling of being underpressure becomes insurmountable. To recognise anxiety in a child requires a teacher to often recognise the quiet child in the corner that appears well behaved or the child that speaks with anger and frustration but are unable to explain why. The cause of anxiety can be difficult to discover and it is only through providing the pupil time, that this can be achieved. To listen, to show care and to respect are crucial for every child, especially those that are anxious.
The angry child also has a reason for shouting, screaming, hitting etc. All these behaviours are a cause for immediate concern, not only for the angry child but also for those that feel threatened and scared of this behaviour. To shout and scream back will not help, to escalate the situation into a battle of wills will simply lead to misinterpreting the causes of the behaviour and make a stressful situation even worse. It is important to protect all the pupils but in order to prevent this occurrence becoming a daily event, we must ask why is the pupil angry? What is the cause of all the frustration? An angry child will often have many insecurities that become intensified the angrier he or she becomes. To talk through these problems is a crucial step to understanding the true nature of what is happening.
We might never know the full story behind a child’s problems. We might never be able to resolve the underlying issues and we might sometimes not succeed in helping a child however if we do not try and if we do not consider the needs of the individual then we will not be able to prevent future problems taking place within our school.
I’m sure that this blog doesn’t provide any new information for many that will read it however I also believe that it is important to remind myself and others that every pupil in our care deserves equal attention and if met with negativity and frustration, often the path to success is to meet these concerns head on with patience, care and respect. A successful day begins and ends with a smile and this brings me to one of my favourite quotes of recent months,
We should never underestimate the power of a smile and how happiness can release the stress of a tense situation. Consider the child that might not want to come to school, when they are greeted with a smile and an idea of what they might be doing that day, they can often enter the classroom in anticipation for the adventures that await them. To understand that the child might be worried about mum or dad or might need a cuddle of security from them, is crucial to the well-being of the child.
Teaching and leadership in schools can be very difficult but it can also be the most exciting and enthralling experience. If we treat each day with a smile, try and overcome negativity in others with happiness and as stated frequently in my post, treat pupils with patience, care and respect, I believe that the most challenging day can still be rewarding.