Welcome to the 2 part blog series called 'Gathering Your Behaviour Management Team.' In this first part, we look at the types of people we will need to help us deal with our most disruptive students. If anyone can help us it's Samuel L. Jackson. Enjoy!
In 2012, one movie changed cinema forever. Ironman, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow stood together on the Silver screen for the first time in movie history smashing aliens & box offices simultaneously.
This film was Marvel's The Avengers and this became one of the biggest cinema hits of all time finishing its initial cinema run with 1.5 billion dollars in worldwide ticket sales.
Although cinematic universes are now very common these days, in 2012 for comic book movies, this was still rare and never done to that scale before. The Avenger's team had gods, monsters, super soldiers and billionaire genius philanthropists. But they got the job done.
Colonel Nick Fury played by Samuel L. Jackson assembled the team to fight the threats that no single superhero could fight alone. You, my friend, must channel your inner Sam Jackson and find you some talented folks to help you deal with disruptive behaviour that you can't handle alone.
Teaching is a team sport. In the first of a two-part series, we are going to look at the 5 types of people that you must put on your Behaviour Management team to help you handle the most tricky students.
Getting to know these guys will make you as badass than Samuel L. Jackson himself.
1) Learning Support
These wonderful people will often come into your class and will give focused support to any students that have particular educational needs.
This will take different shapes in different places — in some places they are called Teaching Assistants (TAs) or Learning Support Assistants (LSAs).
But they usually have an absolute wealth of experience in dealing with SEN and SEMH students and will often have a lot of knowledge about the general class too.
If the disruptive student has special educational needs and has been assigned an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC) then chances are that the student get assigned one of these people.
Sometimes TA/LSA will ‘key-work’ that student so they will go with them to their different classes throughout the day.
Make sure that you make this person is your first port of call. Learning Support Assistants will have insights, wisdom and practical advice about the student that will be absolutely invaluable to you.
Especially when you are dealing with SEMH students, learning their routines, preferences and triggers can be the difference between having a pleasant lesson and being in the middle of a flashpoint. LSA's are your wing-people who can save your neck.
Another benefit of having these wonderful specialists in your classroom is that they are an extra pair of eyes and ears and you need as many as someone can loan you!
They can help you read the energy in the room, let you know if there are other students that are struggling with your material and even give you suggestions that will help students can better engage with your material.
Depending upon your institution, this can come in different flavours. In Secondary Schools, they often have Form Tutors who will register and provide additional support throughout the academic year.
When there are any issues with the student, tutors will be informed and can provide advice, help with sanctions or contact their parents.
Tutors are invaluable to you as they often know the bigger picture of your students that can give you vital clues on how they behave & what could be causing it. Great tutors tend to have built up solid relationships with their students & can help mediate any disputes.
Whereas Tutors will monitor the academic performance of the student, mentors provide additional pastoral support.
Mentors could have one-to-ones with your students or be structured around extracurricular activities. I have worked in schools that have run a whole range of clubs such as football, boxing, chess and even meditation and mindfulness!
These students would be taken out of normal lessons and mentors help the students learn valuable life skills like good communication, discipline, better self-regulation skills and team working.
Mentors have an extra advantage because they are ‘outside’ of the normal stream of education and the different setting may help the learner to feel more comfortable and more able to express their own individuality.
A mentor can help you figure out what makes that student 'tick' and give you strategies that will help you build rapport & engage your students. A mentor can be a gateway into the personality of your student & break down the barriers causing friction.
3) Head of Departments/Head of Year
These two functions are different: the Head of Department (HoD) looks after the academic standards of their subject and will work with Senior Management to ensure that factors that such as lesson planning, delivery and marking meet the institution’s standards.
The Head of Year (HoY) will look after the pastoral needs of that particular group of students and will work with the Form Tutors to track their behaviour and achievements.
The Heads of Year also work closely with outside agencies that, if needed, can provide additional specialist support to the student such as the Mental Health and Social Services.
Their job is to help you to look at for the wellbeing of the students in your institution.
Although on the surface, these roles appear different, these middle leaders will be the people that you will see if the situation starts to escalate to a point that you can’t handle on your own.
HoDs/HoYs can help you adjust your lessons to cater for students who do struggle academically or help stage interventions for students how are very disruptive.
They usually have a wealth of experience and have the authority and resources to help you adapt the student's working day to solve the problems that you are facing. They are powerful allies and an absolute must-have in your corner.
Real-life happens. Some of your students could have had terrible childhoods. Some of your students may have involved in horrible events that would break the toughest person that you know.
Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is that some of your students may have mental health challenges and that will show up in the classroom. These challenges may manifest as extremely challenging behaviour, hyperactivity, a hatred of authority or constant daydreaming.
If your students have been diagnosed with SEMH difficulties, they maybe put on something called an Education, Health and Care plan (EHC). These students may have the opportunity of seeing professional counsellors who are trained to support the students emotionally and mentally while they are in school.
Counsellors will often give your students tools that will help them cope with their traumas and work with them to manage any difficult or negative feelings that they will experience in school.
Depending on the nature of their trauma and how sensitive the information is, the counsellor may not be able to disclose the exact nature of your student’s issues.
But counsellors can help define the condition that they suffer with and give you steps to help you to help the learner.
Often these individuals will be vital in helping to provide an action plan that will give you a map of how to handle your student and give them the best support, guiding you on what the potential triggers and pitfalls you must avoid to get the best out of them.
5) Police/Youth Offending Team
Occasionally, you may have a student who may have committed crimes or is suspected of criminal activity. If the student has been cleared but is at risk of reoffending or dropping out of education, you may find that you may have to work with the Police and the Youth Offending Services.
Depending on how serious the situation is, your students may have to placed on ‘probation.’ Probation could mean that the courts will delay their sentence and will be asked to participate in projects like Community Service or youth crime prevention programmes.
Some students may have never committed any crimes but could labelled as ‘vulnerable.’ These students, unless there are outside interventions, are at risk of becoming criminals or being victims of crime.
If this is the case, the Youth Offending Team (YOT) may get involved providing workshops, counselling services and will work closely with the educational institution to make sure that they do not fall down that darker path.
Your student may be assigned a police liaison/social worker who will help offer support and guidance on what the student’s next decisions should be. The YOT may work with your student’s family as well, looking at how their environment is affecting their behaviour.
These interventions tend to be high up the food chain but if they do have a regular contact that meets the student, be sure to befriend them.
Depending on the nature of the intervention, the liaison can give you valuable insights into the environment the student is raised in, the influences inside & outside of school and can help you form a relationship with the wider family that can help you make a difference.
That's a lot of people to befriend. Now that you have identified your potential teammates, what do you do next? In next week's blog, I will give you a practical plan of how to assemble your team in a way that would make Captain America proud.
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Karl from actionheroteacher.com