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  • Writer's pictureAction Hero Teacher

4 Reasons Why Most Behaviour Management Books DON'T Work

A tunnel of torn and old books
Forget behaviour, this pile needs to be managed...

We know the drill.

The lastest book/course/seminar comes out about Behaviour Management & promises to transform your classroom in 12 seconds.

You lick your lips in excitement... It's lead by Barry Haviér & Cassandra Man who have got PhDs from Harvard & Cambridge University, advised Boris Johnson & taught Sasha & Malia Obama.

You buy the book or log in to the online course. It's brilliant, inspiring and you are sure that their tips will finally get that rowdy Year 10 class under control.

With a tear in your eye, you feel empowered & confident.

Monday rolls around... And...

Nothing happens.

After 2 weeks, Johnny Tableflipper is still running riot in your class & you trying to find the next big thing in 'Behaviour Management.'

What went wrong?

Although we are technically on our Summer Holidays, many teachers are filling up their holiday schedules with CPD opportunities, especially in classroom management.

In this week's blogpost, we will be looking at 4 reasons why most Behaviour Management books don't give you the results you want, & what you can do to fix it.

Let's go!

1) They Don't Understand The Context of Your Classroom

A bored girl reading a thick book
You don't read a book to learn how to play Football

Before I start, let me state for the record, I am not against experts... (Take that Michael Gove!) All training & CPD should be based on sound evidence-based practices.

But it can also go the other way too. Too much academic theory that doesn't reflect the everyday life of your classroom will NOT get you the results that you need.

I once went on a Behaviour Management training lead by a child psychologist who explained that if a child was kicking off inside the classroom, we should "take that child out of the environment for 30 minutes & walk around the school until they have calmed down."

This is how we all looked at the trainer.

Leaving 29 rowdy children unattended for 30 minutes while you take a leisurely stroll breaks every 'ealth & safety' procedure in the book...

As a child psychologist, he would typically work with them on a one-to-one basis, it would be perfectly normal to take that student out of the room to explore their feelings to help them calm down. But as a school teacher with 30 wild kids staring at you, it's simply not feasible.

The aim of the game is to get techniques that you can apply quickly & efficiently. When you are learning new techniques, apply 'the 2-minute rule' - Constantly ask yourself whether this new tactic could be applied in 2 minutes or less.

If you cannot apply the technique in the same time that it takes to warm your morning porridge, then there is a strong chance that it won't work on the student.

2) They Are Too Complicated

The back of a man with his hands behind his head starting at a blackboard of maths formulas
Too much information

There are thousands of books that are released on how to make money and how to lose weight every single year.

But let me let you into a little secret. Making more money and losing weight are not that complicated. In fact, I can put them into 2 sentences for you:

MAKE MORE MONEY = Earn more + Reduce your costs

LOSE WEIGHT = Burn more calories + Reduce your daily calorie intake

I am in the same boat with all of you - I want to have the Brad Pitt Fight Club six pack ...

So are we all idiots? Not at all.

Guys, we don't need to know WHAT to do, but HOW to do it. Any personal development book that is worth its weight in gold, we teach you a SIMPLE PROCESS that you can replicate to get the desired results.

Sadly, authors are not paid to write short books (trust me when I tell you that!) I’m sure like me you have read books where it sounded like the author was a living dictionary. They made it their life mission to put as many fancy, complicated words on one page as possible.

Those books make great sleep-aids but it won't help you deal with Meghan Rubberthrower when she is, well, throwing rubbers.

Look for books that give you clear, simple steps that you can follow and get immediate feedback if it works. Everyone is different & there is no 'silver bullet.' If the training gives you a goal without a clear process to get there, you are doomed to fail.

3) They Just Want You To "Be Positive"

A grinning woman in a green, white & black pattern shirt
That smile hides the existential pain of teaching a Friday Period 5 lesson

When I left uni, my mate gave me a book that he told me would change my life.

This book told me if I visualised being rich & repeated daily affirmations of money coming to me, I would be driving my brand new Lamborgini to my 10 bedroom mansion in a month.

So I did it for a fortnight. My car got clamped & I had to pay £180 to get it released. I didn't have £180 & it never magically came to me. I put that book in the bin.

Although that was an extreme example, some Behaviour Management books talk only about changing your attitude and 'ignoring bad behaviour.'

While I am totally not against being positive & taking personal responsibility, there are times where you have to use your authority & this may not make you popular.

As much as teaching can be a satisfying career, it can be an extremely difficult one. Life happens to our students (and us) and it's about accepting reality and dealing with it. "Positive thinking" really does help but only if it's matched with "Positive Action".

In my book "The Action Hero Teacher," I make it clear that great teachers have the 'authority' to command the respect of their students and the 'warmth' to create build strong connections.

As a teacher, you are the leader of your classroom. You must learn when to use your authority & when you need to use your warmth. Find books that help you become a better leader rather than a positive one.

Ultimately, you are the bellwether of your classroom. You need to set the example that others will follow.

4) They Promise Huge Changes In Short Periods of Time

A person holding a mound of dirt with a growing plant in his hand.
All great things in life take time to grow

I’m sure like me you have seen books with titles like:

"Learn Web Design in One Hour"

"Become a Property Millionaire in 30 Days"

"Get a Movie Star Body in One Week"

"Learn Brain Surgery Over A Weekend or Your Money Back!"

Newsflash - 99% of these books will never deliver.

Besides, if people could do all those things in a week, why do we have university courses in those subjects? Have I missed a trick here?

To master any craft whether it's Chess, Entrepreneurship or Football, takes years and years of practice, study and constructive feedback.

Although most Behaviour Management techniques are simple, you will have to change the way that you engage with your students & this will take TIME before it becomes second-nature to you.

Also, one size does NOT fit all - every single class and student that you teach is different so you may have to make tiny tweaks for it to suit your style. You must be willing to experiment with the material until it works for you.

Here's my advice: When you find a great book/training, work with it for at least ONE month and by then you should see a difference. Your aim is to improve by 1% every day.

That's almost nothing right?

But imagine this: most teachers work 170 days a year. If you improved by 1% every day, you would be almost TWO TIMES better at the end of the year than you were at the beginning. That's the plan.

Pick one technique. Practice it for a week & notice what went well & what you could improve on. Tweak & repeat. This is called 'deliberate practice' & this is the most effective way to gain mastery in a given area. Don't just learn, study and improve.

If you follow these guidelines, you will start to become the Behaviour Management ninja you were always destined to be!

If you are a member of the National Education Union (NEU), I will be conducting 2 free pieces of training on Monday 24th & Thursday 27th August. In this exclusive training, I will give you tools, tips & techniques to help you lead your classrooms. Click here for more information.

For NEU members it's absolutely FREE. How cool is that?

But if you can't make that date, subscribe to my blog below to get updates when the latest workshops, blogs and fun stuff from AHT comes up. It will take you less than 20 seconds. It's worth it.



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