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of Many

Managing classroom


ACER Press

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First published 2006
by ACER Press
Australian Council for Educational Research Ltd
19 Prospect Hill Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124

Copyright 2006 Jenny Mackay

All rights reserved. Except under the conditions described in the Copyright Act
1968 of Australia and subsequent amendments, no part of this publication may
be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any
means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the
written permission of the publishers.

Edited by Rene Otmar, Otmar Miller Consultancy

Cover design by Jeni Burton
Text design and typesetting by Mason Design
Printed by Shannon Books Pty Ltd

National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Mackay, Jenny.
Coat of many pockets : managing classroom interactions.

Includes bibliography.
ISBN 0 86431 469 8.

1. Classroom management. 2. Teacherstudent relationships.

3. Behavior modication. I. Title.


Visit our website:

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Gar vin, this is dedicated to you.

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Acknowledgements ix

About this book x

Teacher-Friendly Behaviour Support (TFBS) xi
Quotations from teachers and students xi
Additional information xi

Introduction xiii
The hidden curriculum xiii
Being a teacher xiii
The coat of many pocketsa well-equipped teacher xv
How to use this book xviii

Planning for behaviour and taking control
Getting the coat ready 1
Chapter 1
At the beginning 2
The behaviour framework 4
Establishing the framework 5
Stage One: Setting behaviour outcomesmanagement themes 5
Stage Two: Setting behaviour guidelinesthe behaviour frame 6
Building the behaviour frame 7
Values and rituals 7
Rights and responsibilities 8
Routines and procedures 8
Rules and consequences 8
Understanding rules 9
Consequences 9
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 11
Extract from TFBS group discussion 11

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Chapter 2
Introduction to Stage Three 13
Stage Three: The Interactive Management Process 13
Concepts and insights to enhance interactive management 14
Fundamentals for effective interaction 18
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 22
Extract from TFBS group discussion 22

Chapter 3
Introduction 24
Beginning the interactive management process 27
Taking effective control 27
Strategy for taking control 28
When they wont and when they cant 34
Clarifying your role 35
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 35
Extract from TFBS group discussion 35

Chapter 4
Understanding why students misbehave 37
Factors affecting behaviour 37
Focus on the teachers area of control, not concern 38
Students continue to misbehave because it works for them 38
The unconscious goals for misbehaviour 38
The flags of misbehaviour 39
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 48
Extract from TFBS group discussion 48

The skills of engagement
Wearing the coat and using its pockets 51
Chapter 5
Introduction to using assertive pockets
The teachers coatthe assertive pockets 54
Non-verbal messages 54
Self-talk 55
I-messages 56
Statements of expectation 58
E.C.A.Empathy, Content, Action 58
Offering choices / giving options 59
Applying choices 60

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Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 61

Extract from TFBS group discussion 61

Chapter 6
Introduction to using supportive pockets 63
The teachers coatthe supportive pockets 66
Non-verbal messages 66
Open responses versus closed responses 68
Open responses 68
What happens after the open response? 70
Open questions versus closed questions 71
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 72
Extract from TFBS group discussion 72

Chapter 7
Introduction to using follow-through pockets 74
The teachers coatthe follow-through pockets 76
Following through what are your options? 76
Consequences 76
Problem solving 79
Punishment 81
Problems with punishment 81
New teachers and the option of punishment 83
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 84
Extract from TFBS group discussion 84

Chapter 8
Introduction to using affirming pockets 87
The students growing self-image the mirrors 89
How a students ability to learn impacts on behaviour 90
The teachers coatthe affirming pockets 91
Perceptions, labels and behaviour 91
Reframing mind-sets 92
Catch them doing it right 94
Descriptive praise 94
Positive I-messages 95
Using humour 95
Being taken seriously 96
Initiating trust 97
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 97
Extract from TFBS group discussion 97

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Chapter 9
Teacher support teams 100
The teachers coatthe zippy pockets 101
Gaining cooperation with least intrusion 102
Avoiding the sideshows, staying with the main event 103
Taking control with least intrusion 103
Bringing back on task, redirecting with least intrusion 104
Defusing with least intrusion 105
Managing restlessness, pacing lessons, renewing energy 107
Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting 108
TFBS group discussion 108

Bibliography 115
Index 119

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To all the teachers who attended my seminars and workshops in Australia, South Africa, England, the
United States and Turkey, I so enjoyed working with you and wish to say a special thankyou for so
openly sharing your stories with me.
To my colleagues at Parent Centre in Cape Town, I wish to thank you for the stimulation and support,
the fun and pleasure we had working together.
To my colleagues in teaching, to my rst headmistress, who encouraged me to teach, to the head-
master who encouraged me to work with teachers and to my manager at Parent Centre, who gave me
that incentive to move on, I greatly appreciated your caring and support.
To my special colleagues in BMEF who believed as I did and who grew our organisation, I acknowl-
edge personally and thank each one of you.
To those colleagues in education in Australia who have been so welcoming, encouraging and
supportive, and who do all the organising and planning as I move around the country, it has been a
pleasure working with you.
To my two daughters, Justine and Cordelia, who have always been there, supporting all I do, a warm
and special thankyou.
To my parents and family, for whose ongoing support I am most grateful, thank you.
To Anne, Joy, Amanda and colleagues at ACER Press, thank you for all your encouragement and


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About this book

This book is designed as a pocket book for teachers; one that is within a teachers immediate reach and
that will become well worn through extensive use. It provides essential, practical and tested interactive
behaviour management skills that work in the classroom.
The chapters are sequenced in order to progressively build the application methodology from when
the teacher rst enters the classroom through to accessing ongoing teacher support. Behaviour manage-
ment concepts and skills are introduced, explained and established simultaneously.

The books objectives are to help teachers focus on:

w being proactive through planning for behaviour, rather than reacting to situations as they arise in
the classroom
w acquiring the knowledge, understanding and skills to effectively manage student behaviour
w working from a positive mind-set rather than a negative focus, and applying an approach that is
constructive and enables students to take responsibility for their own behaviour
w viewing their role in managing behaviour in the classroom as an extension of their teaching, rather
than one of controlling and policing students.
w realising the impact effective behaviour management has on a students ability to learn and achieve
in class.

In order to achieve these objectives and make the book practical and user friendly for teachers, the
following aids occur throughout the text:

Sections to guide and assist teachers as they apply the concepts, strategies and skills in their class-

T I P : Help to awaken teachers to a new approach, a different idea, or an important consideration when
managing behaviour.

Focuses on an important concept or skill that needs to be kept in mind when managing

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Provides teachers with a ready reference to what has been important in the chapter and can be used
as an aide-mmoire when applying specic concepts or skills in the classroom.

Teacher-Friendly Behaviour Support (TFBS)

These informal discussion groups are set up by teachers who have a specic interest in managing student
behaviour in their classrooms and school (see Chapter 9).

w An extract from a TFBS discussion, titled Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting is

provided in each chapter. Each extract focuses on specic concepts or skills relevant to that chapter
and teachers discuss how to apply them in the classroom.
w A full-length TFBS discussion occurs in Chapter 9, to illustrate how an open, friendly, constructive
and informative discussion is facilitated.

Quotations from teachers and students

Throughout my teaching journey, I have learned from the many beginning and experienced teachers
who have attended my workshops and with whom I have worked in Australia, South Africa, Zimbabwe,
England, the United States and Turkey, and I quote the wisdoms of these colleagues and our students
throughout this book.

Additional information
My website contains an extensive behaviour Help section with behaviour strategies for common
situations and case studies for reference. My seminar workshops are usually school based, and typical
workshop content can be viewed and bookings and specic requirements organised by email.
In Australia:

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An understanding heart is everything in a teacher,
and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back
with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with
gratitude to those who touched our human feeling.
The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but
warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and
for the soul of the child.

Carl Jung, 1942

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The hidden curriculum

Teachers open the minds of children: they are conveyers of the curriculum and facilitators of learning.
But teaching does not stop there, for it is not what we teach, but who we are and our interactions
with students, that lies at the very heart of teaching.

Walking into my rst class for the rst time I was excited and couldnt wait to start, but I was a tiny bit
apprehensive as well. As I left the staff room a couple of my senior colleagues felt that forewarned was

Theyre a tough class! Youve got to come in hard and keep them down. Sit on them right from the start,
said one.

Theyre not too bad if you sort them out rst. They just need a caring hand, said another. Youll be

Good luck! Dont worry, youll be ne! Just smile, said a third.

A couple of others had given me warm but sympathetic smiles. As I approached the classroom door, all
my fears came back: would they like me, could I control them, would I remember what Id planned to
teach? I suddenly felt like Daniel going into the lions den. How on earth was I going to cope? But then
I remembered, Take a big deep breath, hold your head up high and smile. I was okay.
A beginning teacher

Being a teacher
Some years ago, while living in Africa, I joined the staff of an old and well-established school at which
children were taught under the English system and graded according to academic ability. My classes
ranged across the grades, and in my second year I was asked to teach a C class, which was also to
be my home-room class. Over the previous year I had noticed an attitude towards C classes and I had
occasionally heard teasing amongst studentsYou cant join us, youre a C. Youre a dumbo! and the
tauntingStupid! Stupid!
As I walked into their room on the rst day, I took a moment to look at the faces of these youngsters
I was to teach, only to see the label of academically unable etched in their defensive, angry, deant
faces. I felt their disinterest, indifference, apathy, hurt and disdain for learning. After a few days,
I appreciated how strongly they had taken to heart the prophecies regarding their inabilities, and began
to see how entrenched these were in their behaviour and attitudes towards school and learning. At that


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moment I determined to change what was destroying their self-regard and negatively impacting upon
their lives, and to let them experience themselves and learning differently.
As teachers, we aim to open the minds of children: we are conveyers of the curriculum and facilita-
tors of learningthese are our tasks and they are central to all we do. But teaching does not stop there,
for no matter how well these tasks are performed, it is not what we teach, but who we are and how we
interact with our students that lies at the very heart of teaching.
As teachers we need to feel justly proud of our profession, and this can only happen if we see
ourselves as well-trained and able; that is, both knowledgeable and highly skilled in all areas of our
teachingone vitally important area being student and classroom management.
As teachers we face ever-changing groups of individuals with differing needs and abilities. In order
to effectively manage our classes, we need to understand behaviour, to know how to plan for classroom
management and student behaviour and to apply interactive skills that estab-
lish and maintain good working relationshipsthe foundation for effective
T I P : Know your curriculum teaching and learning in any classroom.
and know your students: This book focuses on the need for teachers to be classroom managers who
both are equally important. plan ahead and are both well informed and well equipped to interact with
students and ably manage the behaviours that occur in any classroom.

T E A C H I N G , L E A R N I N G A N D B E H AV I O U R
At the hub of any working classroom is student learning. It is around this that everything else revolves
and, providing learning is being achieved, there are usually few problems for the teacher. However,
things are not always that simple, for every teacher works with a random group of individuals who all
have needs. In any given class, some students make few demands as they happily settle into learning,
while others may not settle as they nd learning difcult; some may have physical, emotional or social
issues that interfere with their learning, and yet others may have unmet needs that totally over-ride any
need to learn: these will all be expressed through their behaviour.
In addition, we are teaching children who are still nding out how to get along with each other
and to manage themselves and their own behaviour; sometimes they nd this the most difcult of all
to learn.
When teachers face such obstacles that hinder and prevent learning, we need most ably and
succinctly to manage the situationthe student or students and their behaviour. As teachers we need
to be both knowledgeable and highly skilled, so we may, with least disruption, maintain the learning
ow in the classroom. This is no mean feat.


Learning is central to a dynamic classroom, and for teachers the guiding principles, learning processes
and outcomes are all outlined in their curriculum. However, unbeknown to most teachers, they are work-
ing with two curricula, for managing students has a curriculum of its ownthe hidden curriculum.
This hidden curriculum encompasses another level of learning: the unofcial, informal learning that
takes place in parallel with what is being taught in the classroom. Its range of subjects can be as wide
as the number of students in the classroom. Its emphasis is not on the subjects being taught but on
the people involved in the process. The learning that occurs through daily interactions in a classroom
leaves an everlasting impression on each and every student. For a teacher, this learning has no precise
denition, no clarication of needs, no set outcomes, no planning outlines and no assessment process.
The hidden curriculum and its learning process lie at the heart of all teaching and occur between a
teacher and every studenteach of whom is learning, discovering and asking, Who am I? What am I?
What is my worth?

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Whether in your teaching you face the schools toughest or easiest class, what both you and the class
accomplish during your time together will in part be determined by how you manage it and how you
apply the hidden curriculum.
However, you will need to consider the ongoing changes in education and society and the challenges
they bring, as they both impact on behaviour and affect classroom management.
These challenges come with:

w Changes in our teaching as we research how students best learn: students are now expected to
be active participants in their learning, not merely recipients of knowledge. Teachers are encouraged
to focus on enabling rather than telling students, and to provide learning experiences that not only
increase the quest for knowledgecapturing curiosity, igniting imagination and interestbut also
allow students to set goals, make choices, solve problems, negotiate situations and make decisions
with regard to their learning.
w Changes in lifestyle and life experiences: where students are part of a consumer-oriented, choice-
oriented society and are used to asserting themselves, to questioning others, making choices and
making decisions, they generally respond better to a self-directed approach to learning than an
autocratic style of teaching; which often results in them challenging their teacherstheir knowl-
edge and authority.
w Changes in a teachers role: where the emphasis has moved away from teaching as informing and
instructing to teaching as facilitating learning. This change is also reected in classroom manage-
ment, where the move is away from teachers being controlling and authoritarian to being more
democratic managers of students.

These changes and challenges only emphasise the importance of a teachers leadership and manage-
ment role, for despite the greater freedom in learning and expression, it is still necessary for learning
to occur in a structured way: teachers need to maintain control and guide the learning ow, model
the behaviour they expect and require, ensure boundaries are maintained for the benet of all, guide
classroom interactions and maintain an environment that enables and enhances learning. In order to
achieve all this and successfully lead students in their learning, two things are required: good working
relationships and teachers who are both knowledgeable and highly skilled in interactive management
and who wear their coat of many pockets.
When discussing the role of the teacher, beginning teachers who have sometimes felt quite over-
whelmed with the tasks before them ask me, But how do we do all this and how do we get all those
skilled responses and how do we know what to choose to manage a particular student or classroom
situation? The more experienced teachers ask But, what do you mean by a coat of many pockets?

The coat of many pocketsa well-equipped teacher

I met a teacher during one of my school visits. She was quite amazing. I watched her at work. She
seemed to be adept at catching students just as they were on the verge of misbehaving and turning
their behaviour around. Her classes were a pleasure to watch; she was relaxed and yet vigilant, rm but
empathic, she had great clarity in her communication and listened with ease. Eventually, I asked her
what her secret was.

Aha! she said, Ill share it with you, but you may only pass it on to someone who knows how to value
such a thing. Its my invisible coat. I put it on every morning as I enter the school grounds. I walk around
with it all day. I appreciate its calming effect. It keeps me sane and my stress levels down, it supports me
and is reassuring, particularly when my students are giving me hassles and in the very rare times when

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I really need itit keeps me safe. For this coat has a multitude of pockets and in every pocket there is a
skill, a technique, a strategy. When I face a recalcitrant student, an annoying, irritating, challenging or
rude student, I unzip a pocket and take out a skill.

I spend time adding pockets to this coat. When things have gone wrong in the day, or the lesson has
not gone as it should have because of what students said or did, I ask myself, What was the possible
reason for that, and how will I manage a similar situation next time? And in nding a solution, I add
another pocket to my coat.

This invisible coat is available for each of us to use, and when faced with misbehaviour, we can
consider what is an appropriate response for the given situation, turn to our pockets and slip out a
familiar skill.

In general, current behaviour management strategies focus on the student as the problem. As a result,
when teachers are unable to manage a students behaviour, there is no option but to resort to the
schools disciplinary policies and procedures. This is the authoritarian classroom paradigm in action,
and it has been coming under increasing pressure in recent years despite its great efcacy and value in
managing very serious or dangerous behaviour.
Teachers have found that students in general are becoming progressively less amenable to an
authoritarian teaching style. They are no longer passive recipients of information. Teachers can no
longer say, Do as I tell you, with impunity, and can easily be met with, No, I wont. Despite the exten-
sive introduction of disciplinary protocols as well as behaviour management protocols, policies and
programs designed to assist teachers in school and in the classroom, it is becoming increasingly difcult
to manage student behaviour.
Teachers are able to refer students they cannot manage to a senior teacher, school counsellor, welfare
ofcer, educational psychologist or behaviour management specialist. If the school itself cannot manage
the student, in some regions the student may be sent to a school specialising in problem behaviour. This
approach labels students and undermines teachers behaviour management skills by diminishing a need
for them.
But the biggest danger is that these approaches tend to support authoritarian principles and meth-
ods, leaving the teacher back in the classroom, on her or his own, to face a never-ending supply of
increasingly assertive students who are intolerant of authority and needing to test limits as a normal
function of growing up.
It is not surprising therefore, that teachers are experiencing an urgent need for behaviour manage-
ment support in the classroom. There is a growing need to take the focus away from the student being
the problem and what to do about them, and invest time and energy in training and empowering
teachers so they can effectively manage behaviour at the outset. For
example, when teachers see a possible or rising problem they are
T I P : Familiarise yourself with the
able to skilfully nip it in the bud, thus preventing that behaviour from
schools disciplinary safety net,
but rather than becoming reliant escalating or re-occurring and still maintain the learning ow. The end
upon it, aim to put your energy into result is that with skilled and effective management by the classroom
becoming highly skilled in managing teacher, behaviour problems diminish in number and degree. Even
student behaviour in your classroom. more importantly, the emphasis moves from seeing students as prob-
lems to seeing teachers as effective managers.

There is a greater than ever need to help students deal with the complexities of modern living as they
affect the classroom. Students see much of the world without the lters of maturity and experience. Life

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for many young people is confusing and this is reected in their behaviour, which in turn is reected in
the growing concern in the teaching profession for students who are not coping, who are aggressive and
violent, bullied, living with apathy, negativity, disengagement and loneliness, or with eating disorders,
drug and alcohol dependence, depression or chronic anxiety. If our behaviour demonstrates how we see
the world and how we view and experience our personal environment, it also reveals how we are coping.
Children need adults to protect them from what they are yet emotionally and socially unable to deal
with, and then to guide and appropriately teach them, so that they may acquire the skills and under-
standing that enable them to grow and cope with the encroaching adult world. In addition, children
need to be emotionally and socially stronger and more resilient in order to cope with the demands of
the modern world.
I would love to present every new teacher with a magic wand for controlling misbehaviour, but the
reality is that managing student behaviour requires time and effort. However, it can be a far less stress-
ful, demanding and onerous task for teachers when they learn to work proactively, to plan for behaviour
and follow a process that enables them to skilfully manage classroom interactions.
Every classroom is differentthe group dynamics, the teaching styles and approaches to learning
are all unique. However, the skills that build respect, responsibility, self-discipline, self-esteem and rela-
tionships are fundamental. It is in your choice and application of these skills and strategies that your
effectiveness as a teacher lies.
This book outlines a process that is easy to applythe Interactive Management Process (IMP). The
IMP guides you in your classroom management: it builds your skills base along with your understand-
ing of student behaviour. It is followed by a recommendation for ongoing collegiate support in schools
through Teacher-Friendly Behaviour Support (TFBS) discussions on managing behaviour.

Be proactivealways work to prevent misbehaviour and its escalation.
Plan for behaviourfor both the classroom and individual students.
Be positivehold and convey positive expectations; catch them doing it right.
Be persistentchanging behaviour is not easy; there will be resistance, so stick with your goal.

As teachers, our words, actions and unconscious behaviour are constantly teaching students how to
behave and how to respond to us and to each other. So it is rhetorical to pose the question as to what
students are learning when a teacher gets angry or shouts, blames or retaliates, is punitive, unfair or
dishonest in their dealings, demands that students listen but do not listen themselves, is aggressive
rather than assertive in conveying requirements and does not model the behaviour they expect, especially
the taking of responsibility, showing respect and acknowledging others. If you have not acquired the
knowledge, insight, skills and training to do this, you will nd teaching difcult, but, more importantly,
your impact on young lives can be negative and unhelpful.
How you respond to your students as a group or individually leaves an everlasting imprint on their
lives. The way you handle misbehaviourevery word and gesture usedcan convey a sense of caring
and of valuing, or their opposites.
An awareness of the existence of a hidden curriculum enables you to give it attention alongside the
standard one. It allows you to be the best possible teacher you can benot only through knowing your
subject and how to teach it, but also through knowing, understanding and being able to manage those
with whom you work, your students.

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Teachers have the power to affect a childs life for better or for worse. A child becomes what he
experiences. While parents possess the original key to their offsprings experience, teachers have a spare
key. They too can open or close the minds and hearts of children.
Haim Ginott, 1972

How to use this book

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great Argument
About it and about; but evermore
Came out by the same Door as in I went.
Omar Khayyam, translated by E.J. Fitzgerald (1859)

This book is not a quick x for misbehaviour, and it is not a textbook. You will not nd hard denitions,
reasoned argument, or great wisdom. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyams cynical sage has hit on a great
truth: learning a subject is not the same as gaining a skill. You can seek out the worlds greatest experts
and studiously learn their teachingsand still not be able to do what they do.
This book is a map, a framework by which to gain practical behaviour management skills. The con-
tent is not difcult, but two hints will help you. Firstly, you must practise, and secondly, to walk this walk
you will need to live the part. If you do, you will leave by a door very different from the one by which
the sage left.
The hidden curriculum is not about what or how we teach, but rather about whom we teach. Its
focus is not on facts and information, but people and relationships. The guiding gure is, as always, the

The book is divided into two sections, which must be read in sequence:

w Part One: Planning for behaviour and taking control

w Part Two: The skills of engagement
To all teachers:

w Every day you are important. For every student who passes within your sphere of inuence, whether
in your classroom, the corridor or in the school grounds, for that moment you are, unwittingly, a
star. Whether you glimmer, twinkle, shine or go dim is your choice.
I sincerely hope that all that follows enables you to choose well, and
T I P : Building your general that those students who cross your path will remember you as the
teaching skills is a lifelong process, teacher whose light enabled them to nd their way through youths
but behaviour skills can be quickly sometimes murky and turbulent places. Take what will enable you to
mastered if practised, reected upon
and improved with every challenge
that comes your way.

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Planning for behaviour
and taking control
G etting the coat ready

Like a ships captain without a chart to guide him, a

teacher can be easily blown off course, find themselves
floundering on high seas or even face mutiny.
The Behaviour Framework
The canvas on which the process is painted

It is so difcult engaging students and reinforcing the rules and expectations for behaviour when I have
children for only 12 hrs every week.
Beginning specialist teacher

At the beginning
A class, like any social group, needs established guidelines for behaviour so that everyone knows what
is expected of them. Each student is then able to take their place within the group with a feeling of
reassurance. As the teacher, it is essential that you establish classroom norms for behaviour early on.
The behaviour framework provides you with a guide to setting classroom limits and boundaries for
behaviour, and provides an outline for the continuing management of behaviour.


During those rst days with a new class, both you and your students will be observing and considering
each other. The students will be making up their minds about you, and you will be assessing them.
In this initial phasewhere there is a willingness to accept each other before opinions, attitudes
and behaviours become setplan carefully. Use this time to provide opportunities for relationships to
develop and to convey your expectations for work and behaviour.
Set the ground rules for working together. This will lay the foundation for
good working relationships and set the tone for all your classes.
T I P : Be friendly towards
Use activities that create opportunities for discussion and sharing.
students but never friends:
maintain respect and your
Although young students do far less assessing and generally are far more
professional standing at all accepting, this establishment phase is still important for them. Choose topics
times. You can make students that are of interest to both you and the age group you are teaching. Give
of your friends, but never students an opportunity to share their personal interests, hobbies, talents and
friends of your students. skillswith you and with each otherlinking into the curriculums subject
areas as appropriate.

Every day, when a teacher rst enters the class, students are quick to notice the unspoken messages
conveyed in the teachers stance, gestures, facial expression, eye contact and voice. They also notice
grooming and general attire. These all send distinct messages, to which students continually react.
Students instinctively search for someone whom they feel they can trust and who can lead and guide
them; a teacher who is capable, who knows their subject, shows respect and who establishes a comfort-
able working environment. Students unconsciously assess a teachers ability to control, communicate,
set clear guidelines, listen, empathise and acknowledge. If the teacher takes on the role of leader and

T H E B E H AV I O U R F R A M E W O R K 3

seems able and fair, they will be willing to give it a go, but if these messages are not received they will
communicate feelings of discomfort, insecurity and uncertainty. These feelings are invariably expressed
through behaviour.
In turn, you will become aware of the messages your students are sending; some will be assured
and condent, while others will communicate uncertainty and even vulnerability. Some students may
become needy and demanding, others wary and withdrawn.
Projecting condence, caring and a sense of control enables students to feel safe and secure in your
presence. They will have little need to act-out, and thus you will be able to focus on establishing good
working relationships and laying the foundations for future behaviour management.

Become aware of how you present yourself to your class. Students are adept at assessing teachers
through their appearance.
One day, the students in one of my classes were craning their necks to look out the window. Ohh!
Look, there she goes! Oh, no! Shes wearing her red shoes again. Wed better look out next lesson.
Why? I asked.
Oh Miss, when she wears her red shoes she always shouts at us; shes really cranky. We have to
watch out.
Dress comfortably but smartly.
Practise standing tall, walking and sitting condently. Convey a sense of inner competence and
Use eye contact. As your eyes sweep the room, brief eye contact can acknowledge, afrm and bring a
student back on task.
Dont forget to smile; it will relax you. Practise smiling (alone!), before you enter the class. A teachers
welcoming smile can warm hearts and ease individual tensions.
Tell yourself that whatever you feel is okay. If you are feeling anxious or nervous, just say to yourself.
Im anxious about this class, but I am the teacher here and I have planned for this lesson. Acknowl-
edging feelings lowers their intensity.
Ensure you have your day and each lesson well planned. Knowing exactly what you are going to
teach and how you are going to teach it will greatly enhance your self-condence, which you will
unconsciously project.
Perhaps the actor Michael Caine said it best: Youre like a duck; its all calm on the surface and paddling
like hell underneath (in Laufer, 2003).

Dress smartly and comfortably.
Be prepared.
Stand tall.
Smile. T I P : Your voice is an instrumentusing it well
can greatly enhance your teaching. Be aware
of its timbre, tone and volume. Your voice can
inspire students, or make learning difcult and
Organising is what you do before you do something, so that lead to acting-out behaviour. Some students
when you do it, it is not all mixed-up. are very sensitive to sound and to the teachers
voice. Autistic children can react strongly to
A.A. Milne, 192628 some sounds, including the teachers voice.
4 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Planning is fundamental to successful teaching. Most teachers plan well for what and how
they are going to teach. Working with the open curriculum is not difcult and planning is fairly
However, working with the hidden curriculum, which is all about who you are teaching, is not quite
so easy. It requires a different approach. In order to manage effectively, you need to plan for any even-
tuality. In order to teach the what and enable the how, you need to manage the who; this requires
planning for your students and their behaviour, alongside your lesson planning.

1 Become consciously aware of, tune into and observe student behaviours.
2 Get into the habit of focusing on and describing behaviour. It is the behaviour that has to be man-
aged and, if necessary changednot the student.
3 Start a behaviour journal or logbook.
Record behaviour. During class jot down a word or name to remind you to follow up or plan
for that behaviour next lesson. For example: InterruptingJo. Chatting2 girls back right.
No booksIshmael.
Keep a note of your responses, what worked and what didnt.
Make brief notes, as appropriate, of who was helpful, who annoyed, irritated, provoked, showed
leadership, is difcult to teach, avoiding, refusing, challenging and so on. This becomes a run-
ning commentary and enables you to look back and see what you actually have achieved with
some students and the class. More importantly, it facilitates your behaviour planning.
You will start by noticing the misbehaviours, but as you become adept at this you will be able to
focus on the cooperative behaviours, too. These become important in your management.
4 Take time to reect on your day or on your week. Take 510 minutes and keep your logbook with you
so that you can use it at any time to do some behaviour planning.
5 If you are a relieving teacher, be well prepared so that you are able to quickly establish your role and
clarify expectations for work and behaviour within the rst few minutes of entering the classroom.
Depending on the amount of time you will be spending with the class, you may be able to incorporate
into your days program a brief exercise to build relationships (see Icebreakers in the Bibliography),
or let everyone share something they enjoy outside school, such as an interest, hobby or sport, their
favourite book, story or TV show.

Observe behaviour.
Keep a record.
Reect and plan for tomorrow.

The behaviour framework

The behaviour framework outlines an effective management process for teachers to use in their class-
rooms. Like an artist, a teacher works within a frame, but the teachers canvas is multi-dimensional and
continuously moving.

1 The Behaviour Framework sets the boundaries, gives necessary guidelines for behaviour and pro-
vides a social contract between teacher and students (see Figure 1).
T H E B E H AV I O U R F R A M E W O R K 5

2 The Interactive Management Process is like a working canvas, whereby teachers follow a specic
methodology for managing behaviour in order to oversee the ever-changing picture. Viewed as a
painting within the frame, this process is dynamic as it guides the interpersonal interactions within
the frame. It enables teachers actively to plan for behaviour and to develop strategies for student
management that focus on building sound working relationships within the classroom (see Figure 1
below and Figures 2 and 3 on pages 14 and 15 in Chapter 2).
3 The Behaviour Outcomes are like the paintings global themes. They clarify expectations for behav-
iour and are central to a teachers management, guiding their planning and the implementation of
their management strategies.

Establishing the framework

Establishing the behaviour framework at
the beginning of the year brings multiple


benetsin overall behaviour manage-
ment, saved teaching time, increased student VA L U E S & R I T U A L S
achievement and in lowering classroom frus- THE INTERACTIVE
trations and stresses. MANAGEMENT PROCESS
At the outset, students are alert and with
curious, show less attitude and are usually B E H AV I O U R O U T C O M E S
more restrained. This makes them open to
new beginnings. Capitalise on this openness
by using the time to establish your behav-
iour framework. RULES & CONSEQUENCES
The Behaviour Framework is established
in three stages: Figure 1 The behaviour framework

Stage One: Setting behaviour outcomes

management themes
As a beginning teacher I am concerned about dealing with whole class issuesI need clear expectations
about behaviour.
From a beginning teachers list of needs

First, establish the behaviour outcomes you wish to achieve by the end of the school year, semester
or term. These outcomes should:

w be age-appropriate
w enhance the working environment
w enable the building of positive relationships
w reect personal and school values generally
w exemplify fundamental aspects of the hidden curriculum such as respect, responsibility, self-
discipline and self-worth.

The behaviour outcomes you choose will encompass certain behaviours you wish to reinforce or
have students acquire, and these will be supported by your behaviour frame. For example, if respect is
an outcome and is incorporated into your rules, you will teach students the behaviours that exemplify
that outcome and students will be expected to practise those behaviours until they become second
naturewhen the outcome will have been achieved.
6 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

You may choose general behaviour outcomes, as in respect, or specic outcomes, as in being well
prepared for lessons. In order to achieve the outcomes you require, be sure to specify them very clearly.
The outcomes you decide upon will provide the basis for your personal planning. Listing them ena-
bles you to clarify and establish your expectations for student behaviour.

When you take on a new class, you will already have certain expectations for student behaviour, but
allow yourself a couple of days to observe the class and decide what behaviour outcomes you need
to focus on.
List these behaviour outcomes in your behaviour journal/logbook. Keep the list brief and each item
simple. You may have several outcomes, such as one for each term (safe and clean environment,
consideration for others and so on), or simply one outcome, such as respect, for the whole year.
Under each outcome, list the behaviours that demonstrate that outcome. Some of these behaviours
may be reected in classroom ground rules. Prioritise your outcomes so that each becomes the focus
for, say, a month or term, or until that outcome is achieved.
You may wish to have your students work directly on your general behaviour outcomes, and as you
work through them, communicate each one very clearly and list, demonstrate or have fun role-play-
ing the expected behaviours. Even older students can benet from explanations regarding expected
It is important that students practise the expected behaviours and that you reinforce these behav-
iours simply by catching them doing it right. When each behaviour is on its way to becoming the
norm in your classroom, focus on the next one or two on your list, continuing until that behaviour
outcome is achieved.
Review your outcomes and behaviours regularly; once a term, for example. Some outcomes will
quickly become the norm, but others may take a year to achieve. As the year develops and students
themselves grow and change, you may need to bring in new behaviour outcomes.

Clearly communicate expectations.
Practise expected behaviours.
Review outcomes regularly.

Stage Two: Setting behaviour guidelines

the behaviour frame
When I do not know what the teacher wants I get scared and start to do silly things, and then I get
shouted at and it just gets worse and worse.
Student in discussion: What worries you at school?

When students know how they should behave, they feel secure, in control, sure of themselves and at
ease in class. More importantly, they are far more open and ready to learn.
However, when they do not know what is expected of them or how to behave, a variety of emotions
arise, not least of which are anxiety and concern for what may happen next. These feelings can be
expressed, for example, in bravadoI can do as I please! or withdrawalI dont want to! and so on.
These kinds of reactions will not enable effective learning; rather, the anxieties can spiral out of control
and escalate into acting-out behaviours.
T H E B E H AV I O U R F R A M E W O R K 7

Dont take it for granted that because you, their teacher, know what you want, your students do, too.
It is a common failing in human relationships, often expressed in a nal and despairing statement . . .
I didnt know that was what you wanted. Why didnt you say so?
In the classroom we often assume that students know what we are thinking
and what behaviours are expected of them, After all, they have been at school T I P : Clearly describe the
for x number of years, havent they? But students dont necessarily know and behaviour you wish to see.
often dont even get to the stage of making the above despairing statement. For example, Put the pencil
Rather, they tend to act-out their feelings of insecurity and uncertainty, and all down, thank you, instead
the teacher sees is the resulting misbehaviour. of, Stop that tapping or
A teacher who says, I expect you to behave, may not realise this could be Stop doing that.
meaningless to a 5 or 6-year-old. At this age, the statement could mean anything
from sit down to go to your room. To a 15-year-old it can mean something totally different, depending
on the teacher. If not claried, this phrase can be confusing, with ensuing misbehaviours. Avoid saying
this and similar phrases like, Behave yourselves, Youd better behave, Stop that behaviour.
Ensure you clearly communicate your expectations for students behaviour.

Do not assume that students know what you are thinking.
Regularly re-visit and clarify expectations for behaviour, especially if there is a problem.
Be clear and concrete in stating your expectations for behaviour.

Building the behaviour frame

In order to dene expectations for working together, share the big picture.
Establish the frame, which not only maintains rm expectations by setting the T I P : This behaviour
basic behaviour guidelines for students in the classroom, but it also reinforces frame is equally applicable
your established outcomes for behaviour. to the whole school.

Values and rituals

Values are central to effective behaviour and discipline management. Values are core beliefs that guide
our actions and are reected in our behaviour.

Have a class discussion about what is important to us (our values). This is an excellent starting point
for establishing ground rules for behaviour. Work to move the discussion from the personal, and from
generalities to the classroom.

Rituals establish traditions, are celebratory, sometimes ceremonial and can reinforce values and build a
sense of belonging in both school and classroom.

Establish your own classroom rituals.

Discuss the schools rituals with colleagues. Find out what they celebrate. Ask other teachers what
rituals they have in their classrooms.
8 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Rituals enable you to celebrate what is important for you and your students. For example: formal
greetings, celebrating achievements, acknowledging birthdays, world events and so on. Rituals
focus students on positive aspects of behaviour and learning, they establish classroom traditions
and build a sense of belonging through celebrating together.

Rights and responsibilities

Rights are intimately associated with responsibilities. If you have earned a vehicle drivers licence then
you have the right to drive a car. With this right you must also shoulder the responsibilities associated
with that right: to drive carefully and within the speed limits, to render assistance if you have an accident
etc. You cannot demand or claim rights you have not earned, and you cannot demand rights but decline
their associated responsibilities. Age itself conveys certain rights and responsibilities, and they enable
each other.
In most societies, at all stages of development, it is deemed morally wrong to assert ones rights at
the expense of someone elses. If you do, you are required to take responsibility for the consequences.
As children grow they are taught to take on small and appropriate responsibilities.
T I P : Consider By the time they reach adolescence they have usually realised the association and bal-
responsibilities ance between rights and responsibilitiesthat claiming rights requires the person to
rather than rights take responsibility for the actions associated with exercising those rights. A teacher can
as a possible basis educate students to understand that if they claim certain rights, they have to accept the
for classroom consequences of their actions. For example, by saying to a student who continuously
ground rules. interrupts, You have the right to speak out, but if you do not listen when others speak then
you will lose your right to speak out for today. You may try again tomorrow.

Routines and procedures

Routines enable a classroom to run smoothly. Remember, students feel secure when they know what to
do and what is expected of them. When you establish set procedures you are training students to take
on good habits. Examples include lining up before entering class, a rota system for handing out and
collecting books, a roster for cleaning the board, closing windows, cleaning the room, and so on.

Discuss the following questions with your students: What are routines? Why do we have routines?
What do they achieve? Then, if you wish, together establish simple classroom routines. Always ensure
that routines are clearly stated and understood by all.
Clarify in your own mind the difference between routines and ritualstheir respective functions and

Rules and consequences

Students need guidelines for behaviour regardless of what they are called. All guidelines state expecta-
tions for behaviour, protect peoples rights, enable people to take responsibility and support routines.
Examples of guidelines include codes of conduct, school rules, classroom rules, ground rules and norms.
Certain rules will also relate toand no doubt reinforcethe behaviours required to achieve the
desired outcomes.
However, there is a common problem that arises with rules. Rules can become optional. Being
aware of this can prevent much frustration, stress and ongoing behaviour issues.
T H E B E H AV I O U R F R A M E W O R K 9

Understanding rules
Children arent born wanting to obeyor disobeythe rules set down by parents, schools, or society.
And one of the great stumbling blocks in getting children to behave properly is the human desire to do
as one pleasessuch an essential, but so often overlooked, element of human behavior.
Gregory Bodenhamer, 1983

There are basically two kinds of behaviour rules:

1 The MANDATORY RULE is one that children must obey (Bodenhamer, 1983) and is for the safety
and protection of the social group. It is clearly stated and is consistently followed through to ensure
it is obeyed. There are known consequences that aim to teach acceptable behaviour.
2 The DISCRETIONARY RULE is one that children have adult (teacher, parent) permission to set for
themselves (Bodenhamer, 1983). As students learn to take responsibility and make choices, they are
able to exercise their discretion in certain things and this enables them to learn to make appropriate
decisions for themselves. These are rules they set for themselves under the guidance of their teacher
in ways and at times that are appropriate.

However, the problem arises when a third rule evolves.

3 The OPTIONAL RULE is one that adults (teachers, parents) want obeyed, but that children nd
ways to evade (Bodenhamer, 1983). It has evolved because the rule was not clearly stated and
consistently applied, or because it was not checked for compliance, or because consequences were
randomly applied or were absent. These rules generally result in resentment and frustration, even
anger, and commonly lead to ongoing behaviour problems.

Repeated student misbehaviours in the classroom can often be simply explained by the fact that teach-
ers believe they have a mandatory rule but unknowingly apply the optional rule, and are then surprised
when the misbehaviour continues.

TEACHER Wheres your work?

STUDENT I dont have it. T I P : There is a ne
TEACHER But the rule is all work is handed in on Friday. line between a teachers
STUDENT But Johnny didnt get his in last week and he was allowed to discretionary action
hand it in on Monday. and an optional rule. If
students believe they can
Having observed innumerable classes, I have seen time and time again the get away with it, the rule
repercussions, the frustrations, the behaviour issues and the raised stress levels has become optional.
that arise from the optional rule. Avoid it.

Rules need to be appropriate for the age group and relevant to the classroom. Some rules will be
common to all classrooms; for example, those rules relating to respect. However, what may be an
important rule in Year 3 will not necessarily be applicable in Year 8, and what may be applicable in
a language class may be very different to rules in a chemistry laboratory.

Most adults have no idea why a child misbehaves and are unaware of the purposes of the childs actions.
Children are not born with a conscience or with good manners. These have to be developed, but
10 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

acquiring them is a slow painful process. As a child struggles to learn the ways of the adult world he is
bound to make mistakes. Learning what society in general and parents and teachers in particular expect
is a difcult job.
Rudolf Dreikurs, Bernice Grunewald & Floy Pepper, 1998

The social (behaviour) agreements drawn up by all class members parallel the legal and social conven-
tions for behaviour in the adult world. Classroom consequences that deal with inappropriate behaviour
provide a vital learning experience for students when they break mandatory rules. They ensure that
each person is held accountable for their words and actions (that transgress a mandatory rule), and that
they subsequently take responsibility for putting right the situations they have chosen to create. (See
Chapter 7 for further discussion on consequential learning.)

1 Set aside time at the beginning of the year to establish classroom ground rules, along with the con-
sequent actions for when rules are broken. Involve the whole class in setting up these rules and the
Note: If this is not done in the establishment phase but results from ongoing behaviour issues,
introduce the process by describing the situation as it is: dont blame, criticise or accuse, rather
acknowledge the difculties and feelings that can arise when a group
T I P : Participation leads to owner- of people, for example a class, a community or a country, doesnt have
ship, which leads to responsibility. guidelines for behaviour or laws to protect it, and the chaos that could
occur with no laws or ground rules.
2 Everyone should be prepared for this exercise, and time should be set aside to complete it. If students
have any thought that this is an exercise in manipulation, whereby you are the only person to benet,
it will fail. It must be seen as a genuine exercise for the benet of all and one in which everyone is
involved and for which everyone takes responsibility.
3 Use the following four-step process: take a facilitating role, involving students and enabling them as
appropriate to take leadership roles in chairing and recording the results.
Discuss the need and reasons for behaviour guidelines.

T I P : Rules need to be easy to Brainstorm rules (consequences)accept and write up everyones

remember, so keep them brief, suggestions.
simple and positive; four to six basic Choose what will work best, letting students delete inappropriate
ground rules are recommended. suggestions. Finalise and prioritise a short list.
Evaluate after a set period of time, such as after a term.
4 Prioritise and focus on one or two rules at a time until these are known, understood and are being
adhered to. These can link in with the appropriate outcomes.
5 Ensure that the consequences teach rather than punish. Pure punishment creates resentment and
makes managing behaviour more difcult than it need be. Consequences require students to take
responsibility and right the wrong. (See 5Rs in Chapter 7, page 77.) Give students the opportunity to
show they can get it right.

We treat children in the present as they are capable of behaving in the future.
Haim Ginott, 1972

6 At the beginning of each term, revisit these rules and consequences with the class and re-assess and
re-focus as appropriate, remembering that:
Rules are not static; needs change and rules must change as people grow. If a rule is no longer
relevant, discard it.
T H E B E H AV I O U R F R A M E W O R K 11

If a rule isnt working, ask yourself why. It may have become

optional. If this is the case, you will probably need to rethink
T I P : When setting rules, state
it, re-shape it and re-plan for that rule, or discard it.
positive expectations for behaviour.
For example We take care of school
equipment , rather than Dont
R E M E M B E R damage school equipment .
Ensure that there are no optional rules, as these will create
frustration, resentment and increased stress levels.
Have few mandatory rules with balancing consequences that:
are clearly stated and understood by all members of the class
make sense to everyone
are consistently applied and followed through.
Discretionary rules are part of the process for teaching students self-discipline, as they allow
students, within parameters, to decide their own behaviour.

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

These conversations come from a series of informal Teacher-Friendly Behaviour Support (TFBS) discus-
sions. The rst discussion arose when Pete saw Kate, one of the new teachers, looking totally miserable.
Remembering that awful sinking feeling, Pete invited Kate to have a coffee, and they chatted about a
terrible class shed just had that day. Pete shared a few ideas that had worked for him, and they agreed
to meet the following week. Carla and Pradesh, who had been teaching only a couple of years, joined
them. They were later joined by Maria, an experienced teacher, and then Richard, whose style of teach-
ing was fairly authoritarian.

Extract from TFBS group discussion

Kate was telling Pete, Carla and Pradesh what had happened when she set some ground rules with her
difcult class.

I planned it carefully and organised a special time with the class, said Kate. As you warned me,
Pete, some were pretty sceptical and started with their chirping, but I just ignored them and we got
straight into the process. I was quite proud of myself as in planning for this I had given a great deal
of thought about whom to choose to lead the process. I chose Abdul. Hed been a real thorn in my
side, but after a bit of mumbling he took on the job and was great! He had two helpers: Ellen, who
continually chatters, and Carl, who is quiet but pretty good. I was proud of myself and the students.
They did well. There were some great ideas. I must say I did have a few disconcerting moments as
there were some pretty over-the-top rules suggested, but you had warned me, Pete, and as you said,
the process of students eliminating and choosing managed to get rid of those. I didnt have to say
anything. I was pretty nervous about it all, but I remembered my dad telling us, When youre nerv-
ous, stand tall and look them straight in the eye. So I did, and it went really well.
You must be feeling great! How are the new rules working out? asked Carla.
Quite well. Ive got a couple of hard-core ones who I think will continue to give me a tough time and
I need to work on them. There is the odd slip-up, but you know, Ive barely had to say a word this week.
I might just give a look and they acknowledge it. Abdul was a problem and he always had a coterie
12 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

around him who hung on his every word. They really got to me, but now things are much better. With
Abdul taking a leading role in a more positive way in the class, this has helped greatly.
Also, when I look back, I reckon nearly all my rules were optional. I was continually saying you
cant and then someone would. Take homework, for example. It was a mandatory ruleit had to
be in on Thursday and then when it wasnt Id let them hand it in on Friday with no consequences,
just me getting angry. The message they were getting was that the Thursday deadline was optional,
leading them to feel they could hand in the work when it suited them. Now they know whats what
and why, and Thursday is a real deadline, and they also pick each other up when they step out of
line in all sorts of situations. Its great! Kate smiled.

First steps in establishing a framework for behaviour
1 List the behaviour outcomes you wish to achieve with your class. These are your overall goals for
behaviour for the term, semester or year.
2 Work with your studentsdiscuss, consider, plan as appropriate:
a the values that are important, and establish a ritual or two to celebrate the good things that
happen in your classroom
b the importance of taking responsibility and maintaining the balance between rights and res-
ponsibilities and that these enable each other.
3 Establish the routines that will facilitate a smooth-running classroom.
4 Set classroom ground rules and establish consequences that teach and enable students to be
responsible for their behaviour, using the following strategy.

Setting behaviour guidelines for the classroom

1 DISCUSS the need for behaviour guidelines with students. Your aim is to develop student
responsibility through enabling their participation in the process from the very beginning. Ask
questions and listen. Your role is to facilitate.
2 BRAINSTORM suggestions for classroom ground rules. As appropriate, enable students to lead
the process by taking ideas, writing up and recording everyones suggestions, including your
own. Accept all suggestions. Remember, your role is to participate with them in the process.
3 SELECT the ground rules, choosing the most suitable ones from everyones suggestions by
allowing students to rst remove those that arent appropriate. Draw up a short list of ve or
six rules. Then prioritise and focus on the most important ones rst. Ensure these guidelines are
posted in the classroom as a visual reminder to all.
4 EVALUATE the rules effectiveness after a set time period, such as a month or a term. State the
date you will meet again to assess how well they have worked.

Note: Use this same process to ensure suitable consequences.

The Interactive
Management Process

The interactive management process guides teachers in the skilful management of classroom inter-
actions. Teachers learn to be aware of the impact of their responses on student behaviourthe
need for skilled responses, the importance of managing themselves and of understanding their
students and their needs.

I dont want you to tell me what to do: that I have to decide for myself. What I want is your help, to
enable me to cope with these behaviours. I need guidelines to apply, ideas to think about, skills and
strategies to try: that is what I need.
A beginning teacher

Introduction to Stage Three

With behaviour outcomes and behaviour guidelines now set (see previous chapter), the third stage of
the behaviour framework implementation is to focus on teacherstudent interactions and plan for best
management so that positive working relationships can be initiated and maintained.
This chapter introduces the Interactive Management Process as well as important concepts needed
for its practical application. The remainder of the book is devoted to the interactive skills you will need
when applying the Process.
The process is shown diagrammatically on p. 14. It is easy to follow, practical and can be used as a
guide when managing student behaviour.

Stage Three: The Interactive Management Process

This process is the third and nal stage in building a behaviour and discipline framework. It is the moving
picture inside the frame and reects teacherstudent interactions as they occur in the classroom.

The process stands on ve pillars that:

1 Prevent: This is the global purpose of the process; the prevention of behaviour problems occurring,
recurring or escalating.
2 Correct: Assertive redirection of student misbehaviours. The teacher actively manages the students
3 Support: The student manages their own behaviour, with the teachers support and encouragement.
4 Follow through: How to manage all elements when the student has gone too far, how to teach the
student not to repeat and to change their own behaviour.
5 Afrm: Building a sense of self-worth out of small successes to improve motivation, cooperation and

14 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Each area of interaction contains a number of

Interactive interpersonal skills. Correction focuses on assertive
Management Process skills, supporting focuses on empathic skills, while
afrming and follow through describe their own
sets of skills, and prevention is an all-encompass-





INTERACTION ing concept with many skills.

The process also illustrates the powerful interlinking
that occurs in teacherstudent interactions. Teachers
Interlinking Platform
can manage their interactions with students more
effectively by understanding how interactions link
Figure 2 The Interactive Management Process
and support each other; for example:

w By working in any of the four areas: correcting, supporting, afrming and following through, the
teacher is aiming to prevent further misbehaviour.
w A teacher may start correcting a student then link into afrming when the student has got it right;
for example, That was quickly completed. Well done; or the teacher may follow through if students
cant or wont change their behaviour; or the teacher may realise that there is a need to move into
supporting in order to enable students to cope and to manage their own behaviour.
w From supporting a student, a teacher may link into following through, or may link into afrming to
encourage and motivate.
w After following through, the teacher may afrm a student when their behaviour has changed. For
example, after consequences have been applied for lateness and the student is on time for class,
the teacher may in passing say, It is nice to see you on time today , or just give a welcoming nod to
afrm the students behaviour.

Interlinking also emphasises the fact that there is no right way to manage behaviour. A teacher simply
has different options depending upon the student and the context in which the behaviour occurs.
A teacher may choose a skill in one area but may need to link into a skill in another area in order to
effectively manage that behaviour.
Understanding the Interactive Management Process and being able to apply the associated skills
enables teachers to have rmer control over behaviour. This results in fewer behaviour issues, and those
that do occur can be swiftly and ably managed to maintain teaching and learning ow. The result is
increased teacher condence and improved learning.

Concepts and insights to enhance interactive management

Before working with the Interactive Management Process in the following chapters, there are a few
basic concepts to consider that are inherent in teacherstudent interactions and that are important in
classroom and student management.

Misbehaviours are far less likely to occur when students feel secure in their relationships with their teach-
ers and when they are able to cope emotionally and socially with school.
Misbehaviour is often the rst indication that a student is not coping. Behind the behaviour is
always some strong emotion like anxiety, fear, anger, unhappiness, boredom, frustration, and behind the
emotion lies its cause.
From the students point of view, when they do not feel good, they will not be able to work
effectively and will often telegraph their state of mind via misbehaviour.


Six-step Control Strategy

1 Stand back . . . take five
2 Manage feelings . . . the egg
3 Focus on the behaviour . . . not the person
4 Get perspective . . . how important is this?
5 Tune-in . . . what is really happening?
6 Ask . . . can they, or cant they, control themselves?


Student Cant Control Behaviour Student Wont Control Behaviour

Catch them doing it right
Reframe mind-sets
Supportive/Empathic Assertive/Corrective
Positive focus on behaviour
Acknowledge feelings/situation Self-talk, I-messages
Descriptive praise
Open responses and ECA, Choices
Positive I-messages
open questions Statements of expectation
Humour and acknowledging
Quick skills Quick skills
Initiating trust

Problem Solving Problem Solving

Consider choices/Consequences Apply Choices/Consequences

Follow Through

Figure 3 The Interactive Management Process

Behaviour is a message conveying how a student is feeling and coping with their world.
An essential behaviour management skill lies in being able to look for, consider and decode the
messages being conveyed through behaviour, particularly misbehaviour.
Being able to read these messages will enable you to manage student behaviour from a position of
strength, and will permit you to respond, not only to the overt behaviour but also to its message. This is
done by rst tuning-in to a students negative behaviour and then acknowledging the messages. More
often than not, this act of tuning-in can by itself take away the students need to act-out.
In addition, with this insight you can change your habitual responses to student misbehaviour and
instead elect to use a particular skilled response that is designed to achieve a specic positive outcome.
We will consider a large variety of different skilled responses in the following chapters.

Understanding what lies behind behaviour empowers teachers to give responses that enable students
to improve or change their behaviour without loss of dignity or respecton either side. Teachers need
to be one step ahead, knowing that the key to changing behaviour lies not in the telling or react-
ingshooting from the hipbut in the understanding and the responding.
16 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

As a young teacher, not many years out of college, Haim Ginott (1972) made the following

I have come to a frightening conclusion. I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal
approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess
tremendous power to make a childs life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument
of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides
whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child humanised or de-humanised. (p. 15)

It is a teachers response that decides. When teachers react to behaviour without insight or under-
standing, they can unwittingly reinforce negative behaviour, or even nd themselves in an escalating
power struggle with a student. The resulting frustration can lead to anger, even despair and dismissal
of the student, with the belief that the behaviour (and the student), is just too awful to deal with. Or
worse, an angry teacher could resort to tactics that trigger even more severe acting-out behaviour and
unwittingly set off a cycle of punishment and revenge.
When faced with misbehaviour, a teachers response sets the pattern for the interactions that follow.
Consider this common scene. A student is walking around the classroom, disturbing the class.

TEACHER Neil, stop wandering around and get back to your seat!
STUDENT I cant, I have to get a pencil.
TEACHER You should already have a pencil (getting cross and then more strongly), Just do as I
say, now!
STUDENT No, I need to get a coloured pencil, adding a muttered, Why cant I?
TEACHER Because I am telling you to.
STUDENT (Now belligerent) I dont have to do what you tell me . . .

And so the interaction continues.

Whats happening here? How would you be feeling if you were this teacher? How is the student
likely to be feeling? And the other students, what are they doing? How do they feel about this inter-
ruption? What has happened to the ow of teaching and learning in this class? What is the class now
learning, and who is in control?
What should have happened? Where did it go wrong?
This teacher wants the student to sit down but has reacted without considering the effects of that
reaction. Reacting comes from impulse, and is spontaneous and unguarded. On the other hand, respond-
ing comes from the cognitive control derived through preparation for interactions and from reading the
message behind the behaviour. In a sense, the teacher needs to be one step ahead of themselves to
respond rather than simply react.
The key to changing behaviour lies not in the reacting or the telling, but in the responding, and when
a considered response is given, the teacher is in control of the interaction and can guide its outcome.
Consider a similar scene but managed differently:

TEACHER In your seat, Neil, and gestures towards Neils chair.

STUDENT I cant, I have to get a pencil from Michelle.
TEACHER Quietly repeating, In your seat, Neil. Thank you.
STUDENT Mutters, and says, I dont see why I cant get a pencil.
TEACHER Ignores the muttering, points to the seat and quietly says, Thank you, Neil.
STUDENT Still muttering goes back to his seat. When he has stopped the mutters and pulls out his
book the teacher moves over to him.
TEACHER You okay? Here, borrow mine until you nd yours.

. . . and so the lesson continues.

For teachers, it is this rst and considered step that is the key to what follows and to who is in control
of the situation. The skill lies in knowing which step to take in order to achieve a required outcome.
In other words, taking and maintaining control and ensuring that the student is back on task with least
disruption to the lesson ow.
If teachers move in without thoughtjust reactor if they hesitate, are T I P : You will not always
uncertain of what to do, or what to say next, and their body language shows know what to do. Thats okay.
this loss of control, they are opening the door for the student to step in and Just give yourself time to
drive the process. In this sense, the student is in control of the interaction, consider your options.
not the teacher. Regaining control is far more difcult than maintaining it.

It is in our responses that we always have a choice.


Between the stimulus and the response there is a space. In that space lies the freedom and the power
to choose your response. In your response lies growth and happiness (Frankl, 1984; Covey, 1989).
How do we respond to behaviour?
Understanding that I can choose my response is the key to managing any situation. From that
considered choice will ow the students subsequent behaviour. If my choice is not the right one for that
student, their behaviour or the situation, I will soon know and have to reconsider. If it achieves a desir-
able outcome, then harmony will return.
Being able to take that space, that time, to consider your options will have an impact on your
students, the classroom ethos and ultimately on student learning. Become aware of your choices, your
pockets, and learn how to best apply them.
For those new to teaching, you may well ask, But how do I know which choices to make, which
pockets to use, and how do I get to this stage of wearing that invisible coat with all those pockets? The
response could be, It takes years of experience but that is not the case; experience builds pockets in your
coat, but the fastest way is to plan for behaviourplan prior to, during and after the event.

Planning for behaviour, using and continually adding to the pockets in your coat, will enable you to be
proactive; it facilitates prevention and positive action. Being prepared and knowing what your pockets
contain will give you condence and send your students messages about you. They will detect your self-
assurance and your ability to manage them, which will make them feel safe.
Because behaviour is an unconscious expression of feelings and attitudes, it is important that you
become aware of and sensitive to:

w students behaviour and the messages they are sending

w students own responses and the feelings, attitudes and messages these convey.
This requires, rstly, that you think about and plan for behaviour so that you are prepared for a range of
possible interactions. Then you learn to plan on the y, pausing when necessary, to prevent a reaction
and enable yourself briey to consider the response that will best achieve the outcome you require.
Finally, you need to plan after the event, reecting and asking, How can I do it better next time? or
How can I prevent that happening again? This enables you to manage more effectively, to encourage
acceptable behaviour and to prevent disruptive behaviours.
18 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

As you plan, your perspective on behaviour will govern the pockets you choose: if you work from
a positive perspective you will be choosing skills that will enable and motivate students to try again to
meet those positive expectations. Catching a student doing it right is far more likely to move them into
acceptable behaviour than a teacher who is negatively focused and always telling them or correcting
them when they do it wrong. A positive mindset is a valuable asset to any teacher when it brings with it
the appropriate skills that engage students and encourage acceptable behaviour.
The skills that go in the coat pockets will be introduced in the forthcoming chapters.

I wish we could provide every beginning teacher with a magic wand, but sadly they only exist in fairytales.
Managing a class and the multiplicity of student behaviours that arise, establishing good behaviour pat-
terns and achieving change takes time, effort and dogged persistence.
Stay with it, because some students who enter your class may have been behaving in an unacceptable
fashion for some years. Alfred Adlers observations of behaviour suggested that we behave in a certain
way because it works for us (1927). And those students who have been behaving in ways that work for
them may need to learn that what is acceptable at home or with friends is not necessarily acceptable in
the classroom.
For example, if a teacher shouts at a student in exasperation, as their parents may have been doing
for some time, the student may just switch off (as they might do at home), until the fuss goes away.
However, the student might not be able to ignore so easily a teacher who behaves differently towards
them. That difference requires that the student behave differently, too. They will have to move out of
their comfort zone, which often causes resistance. Change may take time, which is why you need to
persist in managing misbehaviour.
Students can be motivated to change their behaviour when they see good reason to do so, and when
they see sense or benet in changingnot the least reason for which is to have a good relationship with
their teacher. Many forms of misbehaviour tend to be repeated endlessly because the student concerned
sees no reason to change. As the teacher, you can be a powerful catalyst for this change to occur.

Meeting the need to teach for emotional and social competence, and for resilience, is easier when students
experience the related skills in their daily interactions with their teachers. These skills, outlined in the
ve pillars that support the Interactive Management Process, will unfold in the following chapters. Being
personally skilled in managing students and their behaviour is no longer an addendum to professional
development, but a necessity in order to teach effectively and survive in todays classrooms.

Fundamentals for effective interaction

Teaching is both a highly demanding profession and an extremely demanding job. It requires that you
continually give of yourself to others. Managing students requires that you be on the ball and fully one
step ahead of your students. Beginning and returning teachers, and even those who have been teaching
for many years, need to be very careful not to burn out. I have met young teachers whose enthusiasm
and keenness to do well and keep on top of everything has so run them down physically and emotion-
ally, that they are no longer able to cope with managing their classes effectively. Dont let this happen
to you. Be prudent with your personal resources and devote some of your time to the hidden curriculum.
You have a responsibility for your own well-beingto look after yourself. Your school needs you to be
effective and to feel good about teaching. Take care of yourself; you are top priority.

Teachers rarely leave their work behind at the ofce; they take it home with themall their
marking, planning, preparation and so on. Be sure to schedule down time and personal space,
with work-free evenings and some weekend breaks away from home. You will be a far better
teacher coming back into the classroom feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Apportion your intellectual and emotional energy so that you give adequate attention to planning
for behaviour.
Keep physically t and healthy. Children are extremely draining on energy. Exercise revitalises
and re-energises.

Your behaviour reects your thinking, attitudes and feelings. Your responses to student behaviours reect
all these aspects of yourself. Ultimately, you will have an impact on the behaviour of your students.
Bearing this in mind, consider the following.
As mentioned, teachers are guided well through the open curriculumplanning for the what and
how of teachingthese are known quantities. However, the who in teaching lies in the realm of the
unknown, and as a result can cause some anxious moments for any teacher. Whether we like it or not,
students will always arouse feelings in their teachers, and as professionals we need to manage these
feelings even though we often get caught off guard.
Dealing with misbehaving students is not easy, as they can at times be aggressive, challenging, even
threatening, and these behaviours will naturally produce strong emotional reactions in any teacher. But
reacting emotionally is not helpful when trying to manage a room full of students. Suddenly, youll nd
yourself being led a merry dance, and who do you think will be leading it?

Always be prepared for your feelings to rise in reaction to students behaviours. This is perfectly
normal and okay.
Reactive feelings are a natural response to misbehaviour, but it is impossible to deal effectively
with that behaviour if the emotional reaction is a strong one. Managing your feelings allows you
to go through and past them, and enables you to think and choose an effective response from
one of your pockets.
When managing behaviour, its not what you feel that is important, its what you do. How you
manage your feelings is critical, and determines the effectiveness of your responses. Those res-
ponses govern students subsequent behaviours and inuence all your classroom relationships as
well as your teaching effectiveness.

This book carries many strategies and skills to help you manage your own and others emotions. Use
them. This is the hidden curriculum being applied. Students learn much more from it than behaviour
dos and donts. When you react to classroom behaviour with a skilled response, you are also teaching
essential life skills. The interactive skills have enormous impact on students because they are so effective.
They impress the value of social and emotional competence, they exemplify the importance of cognitive
control and they focus attention on the importance of enhancing personal interactions and establishing
positive relationships.
20 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

You may not be remembered by your students for what you taught them, but rather for how you
taught them, and for the feelings you engendered in them.
When dealing with behaviour remember:

w There are no right or wrong responses to behaviour, but some ways of managing behaviour are far
more effective than others.
w Every student and situation is different, and what may work with one may not work with another.
w No matter how well you plan, the unexpected can happen. Reect and plan to have a pocket ready
for when you again face that misbehaviour.
w Encouragement, not admonishment, will enable you and your students to do it better next time.
w You will never succeed with all of them, but you may be succeeding far more than you realise when
applying rmness and fairness together with caring and respect.
w You can be extremely skilled and still blow it. The key is to go back and put it right; this can be a
signicant learning experience for students.
w Be kind to yourself. Mistakes are for learning, and by modelling this you will provide an important
learning experience for your students.
w No matter how skilled and knowledgeable you may be, managing students is an ongoing process of
planning and learning.
As much as you would like to, accept that you are never going to achieve 100 per cent with every student.
Some classes, like some students, are easier to manage than others. Accept your students, acknowledge
their strengths, be honest, caring and rm and your best will be pretty good.

All teachers work hard; children make demands and teachers have to respond endlessly. Some teachers,
however, work too hard. They spend time and waste energy on battles that can be avoided, on skirmishes
that can be skirted, and on wars that can be prevented. In each school there is a gigantic waste of
human resources. Time and talent are devoured by needless conicts and useless quarrels.
Haim Ginott, 1972, p. 57

It is quite natural for students to test limits and push boundaries, regardless of their age. Knowing this
enables you to choose a response that brings positive outcomes.
Adolescents in particular, following a developmental imperative to individuate, need to test the limits
and push boundaries. In the classroom, this need is expressed in challenging and questioning behaviour.
Knowing this, you will be able to engage students in a way that teaches them about setting their own
boundaries and limits.
Curiously, although adolescents need to test limits, they feel uncontained and can become anxious
when the boundaries are blurred. It can be quite disturbing if the boundaries to behaviour in the class-
room keep changing, vanish capriciously at times, or just dont exist. Students will feel safe, contained
and reassured when you consistently keep all boundaries rmly in place.
A balancing act is needed in order to do so. Teaching adolescents in an optimum learning envi-
ronment requires that classroom behaviour limits are clear, but that they are set in such a way that
they provide the safety of containment while at the same time permitting harmless, age-appropriate
However, boundaries that are too restrictive or too loose encourage misbehaviour. I have seen stu-
dents topple over the edge when the boundaries were not rm enough to hold them and Ive seen others

continuously hurt themselves by bumping up against unnecessary restrictions. The resulting injuries can
run deep and recovery can be long and difcult.

To set themselves apart as individuals, students test themselves against others and against social mores,
and teachers are right in the line of re. By pitting themselves against those around them, particularly
signicant adults, students are learning about themselves and their place in their social surroundings.


1 Older male student to young female teacher: You look cool today, Miss. I like your boots. Wanna do
coffee? Testing social norms and relationships.
2 Smart student to younger teacher: Im not doing that. It doesnt make sense. I reckon youve got it
wrong. Testing own intellect against teachers.
3 Young student to older teacher as he refuses to move: Im not going to and you cant make me. And
my Dad said hed come and beat you up if you tried anything on me. Testing extent of own power.

These kinds of behaviours may amuse, irritate, provoke or raise your ire. Knowing that it is part of
the process of students learning about themselves enables you to succinctly, and with least hurt, teach
the student that the behaviour is not acceptable.
What should a teacher do in the above situations?

Example responses

1 Light humour may be appropriate, Keep dreaming! Or a simple, No, but thanks for asking. Both
acknowledge the compliment but refuse to allow the student to step over the boundary of the
professional teacherstudent relationship.
2 Acknowledge the students statement, Maybe I have. Shall we do a double check? And if the teacher
did make a mistake they can say, Thanks for noticing. This prevents confrontation, maintains respect
and builds relationships.
3 Of course I cant make you may take the wind out of his sails and then you may continue with
offering a choice.

Manage testing behaviour briey and respectfully, and look upon it as an opportunity to build relation-
ships and teach the young about themselves.

Peer interactions form a major portion of all classroom disturbances, especially as students move into
adolescence. We are social beings, and the young need to build peer relationships and establish their
place within groups. The classroom offers a perfect venue for this. Teachers who understand the need for
peer interaction are able to prepare and plan for and manage it. The boundary in these circumstances
is easily recognisable: if the behaviour interferes with learning ow it has gone too far. Otherwise, the
behaviour can be safely disregarded. The playground is the behaviours proper venue, much as students
would like the classroom to serve this purpose.

Sometimes you may come across a student who does not acknowledge, consider or respect others. This is
harder to tackle. No matter what the problem, the necessity for acceptable behaviour is paramount. The
focus, as always, has to be on modelling and on teaching the required behaviour. It can take much longer
with some students, and will necessitate additional effort and considerable planning. You will need to:
22 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

w Understand the probable underlying causes for the behaviour.

w Create very rm boundaries.
w Work from a positive perspective.
w Consistently follow through.
w Be skilled in continually planning and being one step ahead of the students behaviour.

Enabling the student to take control of their own behaviour will require all the information and the
skills outlined in this book, plus persistence and determination on your part.
Never underestimate your own power, your innate understanding of fairness and the importance of
your professional relationship with students in enabling them to feel they
have a place in your class and are valued for who they are.
T I P : In planning for behaviour,
be solutions oriented.
Managing difcult behaviour requires planning, perseverance and working from a positive
perspectivethe ability to catch them doing it right.

Beginning teachers especially need to be aware that good interpersonal skills and positive working rela-
tionships provide for the management of all but the most obdurate behaviours. There will be times when
you will need the support of colleagues to manage behaviours that are particularly difcult. Ensure that
you build a support base for yourself for these occasions, should they occur. Those who may t the bill
for your support base include: department heads, the schools educational psychologist, the principal
and vice principal, student welfare ofcers and student counsellors.
The school is likely to have processes in place to assist intractably misbehaving students themselves.
Find out what these are and make use of them. It may also be helpful to work together with a senior
member of staff, or the school counsellor or psychologist. This does not mean that you are unable to
manage these students yourself: you can still have a positive impact, but you will have to plan carefully
and you may nd the experience and expertise of a specialist or senior teacher helpful.
All teachers occasionally face behaviour that is unacceptable and not manageable. These stu-
dents should be referred to the relevant professional for assessment.

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

Extract from TFBS group discussion
It was Petes turn to provide feedback on how his week had gone . . .

I had an incident the other day that reminded me about your question about planning for behaviour,
Kate. It left me feeling not great but let me share it. I had a slight headache but everyone was working
quietly. All, that is, except for Tony. He had been irritating me all morning: he wouldnt sit still, and
kept getting up and disturbing others. I told him to go back to his seat numerous times and he got
pretty stroppy with meI told him hed be out of there if it happened again. Then I caught him copy-
ing someone elses work to be handed in for marks at the end of the lesson. Well, Id had enough and
I just blew it. Told him to go to Mr Stretton and that I didnt want to see him for the rest of the day.
I know I shouldnt have let it get to this. I should have planned for Tony. I know hes a problem and he
gets under my skin. I should have been able to prevent this by being prepared for this type of situation.
Its easy to say that after the event, said Kate.

Yes, but I dont want this to happen again. What do you think the class thought when I lost it? And
when I sent Tony to the Deputy, what message did he get? That I couldnt manage him and needed
someone else to sort it out! I undermined my own authority. I dont want this kind of thing to happen
again. I lost control and I lost face, and Im going to have to work doubly hard now to get it back.
Well, if youre wanting to plan for behaviour, maybe something I came across and do myself might
help, said Carla. Basically, you split your planning page into two columnsone for lesson/day
plan, one for behaviour plan. On the behaviour side you list likely student behaviours with the skill or
strategy to handle the interaction. Ive got to the stage now where I focus on positive things and dont
neglect my good kids anymore. Its great.
And I keep a small exercise book on my desk, added Pradesh. When something happens that Im not
prepared for, or something has gone well, I jot it down. My kids know things go down in a book, too.
At the end of the day I check to see if I need to follow up on anything. It works for me: the kids know
Im on the ball, I dont let things slip and its a reminder for the next day.
Theyre great ideas, thanks, said Pete. Ill give them a go.
Me too, added Kate.

The Interactive Management Process stands on ve pillars:
Prevent misbehaviour.
Correct with assertive redirection.
Support enabling responsibility for behaviour.
Follow through when the student needs to learn to act differently.
Afrm for engagement and motivation.

Behaviour is a message conveying how a student is feeling and coping with their world. You must
be able to decode and acknowledge these messages appropriately.
All teachers wear an invisible coat of many pockets. In each pocket is a skill. Wearing this coat
and using the pockets enables you to condently and effectively manage student behaviour.
In all situations, it is your response that decides what happens next and who maintains control
of the situation.
You can choose your responses. This is the rst step in managing teacherstudent interactions
Testing behaviour is natural in the young. It is important that you acknowledge and deal briey
with the behaviour and get back to teaching.
Difcult behaviours need longer and require greater effort and energy to manage.
Teaching is challenging, so prepare for the emotional demands.
Plan for behaviour and go easy on yourself.
Come with a positive mindset, and communicate positive expectations for student behaviour.
Reect on your management, keep a logbook or behaviour journal on your desk and record the
moments, always aiming to manage better than you did previously.
Control in the Classroom

If you dont take control in your classroom, your students will; but trying to control students by
force or domination may result in students challenging your authority. Effective classroom control
teaches students about how to manage their own behaviour.

How can I get my class to be quiet and just to listen to me? Ive tried everything. I get so frustrated at
times and then I nd myself shouting at them and that doesnt help me or themand whats worse is
they just get noisier.
Beginning teachers list of needs

At the rst staff meeting for the year, a principal outlined expectations for behaviour, stating that,
Teachers are expected to maintain classroom control at all times.
Why dont they just behave the way I tell them to, then? muttered one of the teachers to another.
I dont see why they shouldnt behave as theyre told, thought a new, young teacher, sitting nearby.
Its easy, you just tell them. The meeting continued.
But a few weeks later that young teacher asked the same question. Why dont they just behave the
way I tell them to? They dont seem to listen, and if they do, they just ignore me!

Telling people things lies at the heart of teaching, and when telling is an instruction, directive or expla-
nation in respect of a subject or curriculum task, telling is natural. But many teachers automatically use
telling to control or affect behaviour.
When used to affect behaviour, telling is always a command and is controlling.
Telling students how to behave sends the message that the student isnt able. It is disempower-
ing, sometimes patronising and, when interpreted as such, a student is likely to feel belittled, even
demeaned. The result is feelings of resentment, or loss of self-esteem. Both can easily cause the student
to become defensive and resistant, culminating in the teacher having to tell repeatedly.
This kind of interaction between teacher and student has the effect of perpetuating the behaviour of
both student and teacher! The teacher is likely to end up viewing the student as difcult, and the student
is likely to see the teacher as dictatorial. So telling for behaviour control is self-defeating.
Telling also denies a student the chance of attempting to change their behaviour themselves, and
therefore the student is denied the opportunity of taking responsibility for it. Subsequently, the student
may lose the desire to try altogether.


Being told, with its resulting resentment and defensiveness, can produce a silent You can tell me
what to do, but you cant make me do it! In todays world, where students tend to question their teach-
ers, and to doubt their integrity, it is no surprise that they may openly refuse to behave as they are told.
However, students will comply if they see good reason and want to.
Wanting to is a crucial component to effective behaviour management. It is a reccurring theme
in effective teaching and throughout this management process. You can create the conditions in which
the student has the opportunity to personally rectify the situation. This is very empowering because
students themselves provide their own want to!
Dont tell. Give students the opportunity to alter their own behaviour. Do this by focusing them on
the situation. Briey describe the behaviour you see, or ask, What are you doing? followed by, What
should you be doing? This is a simple and easy response. Dont enter into a dialogue with the student,
just stay with the opportunity youve provided.

Punishment for control in the classroom can take many forms, not the least of which is the humiliation
of a public tongue-lashing.
In years past, the want to was often have to and forced out of fear of reprisal. The young have
always weighed up their options, and if they feel that the misbehaviour is worth the risk of punishment,
they are likely to take a chance. If subsequently punished for the behaviour, they will likely pretend they
dont care.
Little has changed down the years with regard to punishment. In some it produces fear, in others
bravado, both of which engender a sub-culture of resistance to all forms of authority. Punishing to
control behaviour is looked upon with scorn by students who consider the process to be ineffectual and
the punishing teacher inept.

If punishment succeeded at changing behaviour, we wouldnt have to keep using it. We would need
fewer prisons, fewer police, and the criminal courts could almost be shut down. It is ironic that the
people punished most often in our society are the ones most likely to keep misbehaving.
Gregory Bodenhamer, 1983

Regardless of the circumstances, punishing is a process for controlling others, especially when they
make you angry, and particularly when you dont know what else to do with them, when they continue
to misbehave. Too often, teachers punish with little thought to outcomes. Its a quick x that does not
focus the teacher on possible cause, on preventing misbehaviour next time, or from asking, What am I
teaching here, what is the student learning when I punish? Punishment easily causes resentment and
disregard for learning. It can also build anger and even hatred for the punisher and for the institution
and system the teacher represents.
Trying to control behaviour in the classroom by punishing students rarely works. How often do
students who are punished continue to be punished? How many teachers see the same students turning
up outside the principals ofce or in detention every week and labelled as a problem?
Rather than punish students, teachers should ask, Why punish when I can teach a student to do it

Control is fundamental in classroom management. Acquiring and achieving self-control is one of lifes
fundamental tasks. Effective teacher control enhances teaching, enables learning and teaches self-
control. How a teacher achieves and maintains control will determine their success both in their teach-
ing and in facilitating student learning.
26 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

If a teacher is determined to control a class, they are likely to meet difculties. The subtle difference
lies in a single word. It is not the determination to controlimplying dominance and powerbut the
need for controlimplying managing and enabling that which is important. It is in the process used to
achieve and maintain that control that a teachers strength lies.
Whether you are a beginning teacher facing your rst class, or an experienced teacher facing a really
tough class, we all have an innate fear of not being able to controlnot being able to get the students
to do what we want, so we can teach them. If you approach a class with the mindset I must control this
class, make these students do what I want, or are already feeling that you have lost control of your stu-
dents, you are likely to end up relying on telling or punishing students, both of which generally become
harsher as you try to maintain that control.
As a result, your students may either submit to your control, and learn
T I P : We are defeating ourselves if little by way of self-control or self-condence as you try and make them,
we try to control our students. It is force them, coerce them, threaten them, bribe them, or disempower them
in the very act of controlling others so they stay under your control. Alternatively, they may rebel against
that we prevent them from learning being controlled, escalating their misbehaviour and challenging you.
and acquiring self-control. On the other hand, within established boundaries, we can direct
and guide them, enable them and empower them, so our students are
able to take control and responsibility for themselves, their own actions and their learning.
How do we do this? Through planning for behaviour, honing our skills and ensuring we are as know-
ledgeable and skilled about managing behaviour as we are about our teaching subjects. Learning is a
process of growth and empowerment, and learning to manage your own behaviour is as much part of
the learning process for a student as it is being able to tackle a mathematical problem or direct their
own learning.
Classroom control emanates from self-control and planning, not from controlling others. When
students know the teacher is in control of what is happening in the classroom, they will feel safe and
ready to learn. The question you need to ask yourself is not How can I control these students? but How
can I best manage this class and these students so they learn to manage themselvestake control of
their behaviour and their work?
Returning to behaviour, consider the following questions:

w What can I do to prevent misbehaviour?

w How can I take away their need to act-out in class?
w How, in the heat of the moment, can I prevent misbehaviour escalating?
w And if it should be spiralling out of control, how can I stop it and also prevent its repetition?

Managing misbehaviour is not about telling or using punishment as a rst response to
misbehaviour. Its about being proactive and teaching students to see good reason to want to
not misbehave.

The next question is: what constitutes this good reason?

I like Ms Paterson. Shes really nice. She always listens. Year 2

Oh, Im not going to mess around in her class, shes okay! Year 9
If we dont get this work done, we have to stay behind and nish it. I dont want to miss break. Year 7

Youd better not do thatour teacher doesnt like it. Year 4.

Great! Weve got science next. I really enjoyed doing that experiment. It was cool! Mr Timms is a great
teacher! Come on, hurry up, we dont want to be late today. Year 10

The above statements imply that:

w There are positive teacherstudent relations: when students feel respected and in turn respect and
like the teacher, they want to keep it that way.
w The teacher maintains control and the student feels safe: the student knows what is expected of
them and that the teacher holds rm boundaries for behaviour, with acknowledged consequences.
w The student is focused on the learning. Each feels a sense of control and is motivated to behave in a
manner that does not impinge on learning.
w Students value teachers who can manage them, who can focus on establishing relationships that
acknowledge, who can be considerate and can respect all students equally, irrespective of their
individual abilities and personalities.

In conclusion, control is essential in teaching. Being in control, leading others and teaching them to
be in control of themselves lies at the heart of any effective teaching and learning. In order to achieve
this, you rstly need to have insight into your own and your students behaviour, then secondly to be
able to manage the multitude of interactions that occur within a class so you maintain the equilibrium
and harmony that enables and enhances student learning. It is in your management of these interac-
tions that you hold the key to unlock your students learning potential.

Beginning the interactive management process

There are 1001 daily interactions within a classroom. Whether these enable or detract from the main
task of teaching and learning is dependent upon your skill in managing these interactions.
The interactive management process (see Figure 3 on page 15) provides teachers with a simple
guide so they can cope with the myriad of interactions they face on a daily basis. Each component of
the interactive process incorporates a number of skills: these skills, while enabling effective manage-
ment, also build respect and relationships, ensure responsibility, teach self-control and self-discipline
and enhance self-esteem.
The rst and most important set of skills that teachers need to be able to manage student behaviour
focuses on taking control.

Taking effective control

What do you do when you face students who continually irritate, frustrate and annoy, and who provoke
and challenge, or whose behaviour may be rude, aggressive, mean and hurtful and against whom you
will have a natural desire to retaliate?
If you respond in kind, what will you be teaching? If you let the behaviours get to you, what will
happen to you and your control? If you dont manage the situation, what messages will the students
receive? Finally, how will you feel?
How can you take control of a situation, so you most effectively and succinctly manage the behav-
iour, maintain the ow of teaching and learning in your classroom and lower your stress levels?
Managing behaviour is a process (see Figure 3 on page 15). The rst steps in the process focus on a
strategy for taking control.
28 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Managing behaviour is similar to leading a dance. You need to know the steps of the dance, you
need to demonstrate and teach those steps. For every step you take, the student has a responding step.
The key is to be able to respond so you, the teacher, continue to lead that dance. The following strategy
provides you with the opening steps to the dance, seemingly simple in theory, but in practice not quite
so easy. So take time and practise these steps.

Strategy for taking control

In your invisible coat are a group of easily accessible pockets that together form a strategy for taking
Beginning the interactive management process
Six-step control strategy

1 Stand back . . . take ve.

2 Manage the feelings . . . the egg.
3 Focus on the behaviour . . . not the person.
4 Get perspective . . . how important is this?
5 Tune-in . . . what is really happening here?
6 Ask . . . can they, or cant they, control themselves?

When the strategy has been internalised and has become second nature, you will be able to con-
dently take control in any situation. The six-step strategy can take just a minute or two to apply, or longer
as the situation requires. However, to apply it effectively, you need to fully understand the reasoning
behind it.

S T E P O N E : S TA N D B A C K TA K E F I V E !
In order to manage a situation you need rst to be in control of yourself.


1 A scufe suddenly erupted from the back of the class; books went ying and a chair toppled over.
The teacher jumped up, Stop that! How dare you! How dare you disrupt this class! Its you again!
I thought so, said the teacher, focusing on her least favourite student. I knew it would be youyoure
always causing trouble! Get out! Go on, Get out! You can go to the principal. The student just looked
at the teacher then slowly stood up, gave her a nonchalant glance, shoved her chair back, grinned
at her buddies and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind her. Dont you slam the door
at me! shouted the teacher going after her. The rest of the class had stopped their work by now
and were just watching. Ooo! There they go again, shes in for it now, said one. Dont you believe it,
said another, she doesnt care. At that point the teacher returned to the room. What are you staring
at? she said, Get on with your work. There was unease and discomfort in some areas of the class
and silently joyous grins from the group at the back. There was Gotcha! written all over their faces.
During break the teacher said to a colleague, I dont know about this class. Some of these kids are
really bad and their home lives dont help either. Thats the third time this week Ive had to deal with
that girlshes uncontrollable! She gets to me every time. This class gives me a headache!

2 In another class, there was a sudden disruption, this time an outburst of crass language. The teacher
stood up slowly, glanced at the boy then walked unhurriedly over to him, looked him straight in the
eye and said calmly, I dont speak like that in this class and I dont expect you to, either and waited.
The students head lowered, Sorry, he said. Thank you, said the teacher and walked away. The
students around the boy relaxed and went on with their work. This teacher has learned to stand back
and take ve. She gives herself space when dealing with tough situations.

Always pause before responding to behaviour. Pausing is a powerful response for a teacher.
Pausing is the rst step in taking control, is often unexpected and allows space for the next step.

Practise standing back and taking ve: ve seconds for a misdemeanour, ve minutes for you to calm
down and plan what to say, or one or two days for a really serious breach in behaviour, when you
may need to consult with another member of staff. Having to wait for your response in a very serious
situation will greatly concern a student, and their focus is likely to be on what they have done as well
as what is going to happen. Firmly saying something like, I need time to think about this can convey
the seriousness of the situation to students.


If the feelings rise, the thinking vanishes . . . then how much control do you have?

A beginning teacher shared the following story.

I had a great lesson prepared the other day, she said. I was really looking forward to doing this with the
class and as I was about to start one of the boys who sits with his buddies at the back of the room loudly
pronounced, This stuff is really boring! I dont see why we have to do all this. Then another chirped,
Our teacher last year was much better. We didnt have to do all this kind of stuff. He let us do what we
wanted. And then another added, This is stupid. Im not doing this.
The teacher said, All the while they were watching me, one swinging, another leaning back on his chair,
the others grinning at each other and, of course the rest of the class just waiting, some pretending to work.
You can imagine how I felt, said the teacher. I was hurt. I was angry and I was getting ready to give back
as good as they gave. I was furiousthey were rude, they were pulling in students against me and they
refused to acknowledge all the effort I had put into their lesson. I hated them for that, she said.
Even as she was telling the story she had to stop for a few seconds before continuing. I really lost it, she
said. Those boys had been getting to me for weeks and Id had enough. I let y and they just sat there
looking at me, leaning back on their chairs smiling. I couldnt take it. I told Jason to get out, which he did
with a smirk on his face and I saw the sign he made to his buddies. I was so furious by this stage I could
have hit him, but I knew I mustnt. Who won? Not me. I really dont want to teach that class anymore.
I dont like those kids. I dont want to have to deal with their rudeness, and their smirking and their
undermining behaviour. That group has turned the whole class against me.

This teacher was distraught and ready at that stage to give up teaching. Those boys had been giving
her a really hard time. But what is really happening here? How come this teacher got herself into this
position? What caused this?
When teachers face annoying, provoking or challenging behaviours, as this teacher did, the immedi-
ate and natural response is to become irritated, angry and upset, and to blame, accuse, criticise, even
punish the student. When you allow emotions like these to rule your actions, control is lost.
Aristotle, in his Nicomachean Ethics (350 BCE), challenges us to manage our emotions with intel-
ligence. He said, Anyone can become angrythat is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the
right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right waysthis is not easy.
How do we do this? How do we manage our emotions, with intelligence ?
The answer lies in acknowledging feelings by stating what they are. For a simple analogy, think of
an egg and slip it into your pocket when weve nished.
30 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

The egg analogy

See Figure 4 below. Here feelings and thinking both sit comfortably and neither is overwhelming the
other. But what happens when the feelings rise?
In Figure 5, what happens to the think-
ing? In order to manage a situation, we need
Thinking to lower the intensity of those feelings and
bring the thinking backonly then will we
Thinking Thinking
regain control, as in Figure 6.
Feelings Feel i n g s Returning to the beginning teachers
Fe e l i ngs
story, there are many possible responses.
Here are some exampleseach would have
enabled the teacher to manage her feelings.
Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6 Consider these and what you might do in a
similar situation.

Example responses

1 The teacher could have responded rmly to the initial challenging statement with, I nd what you
said very hurtful. This would have taken the wind out of the students sails, because such a response
is both unexpected and non-accusatoryjust a statement of fact. Its also probable that the student
didnt intend to hurt the teacher, just wanted to have a bit of fun.
2 Or, she could have prevented the situation getting out of control by acknowledging the rst stu-
dents feelings and resisting being baited by responding with, Yes, some of this stuff can seem a bit
boring and I know it can be slow going so lets get through it fast and get to the more interesting
stuff. Okay!?, and give him a wink, or a smile, or the thumbs-up sign. When she gives this response,
she takes away any further need of his to challenge her and impress his buddies.
3 Or, she could have just quietly acknowledged her own feelings using her inner voice, These boys
really make me cross, then adding in a little self-talk, but Im the adult here and Im their teacher so
Ill make a plan.

Being in control does not mean having all the answers or having the perfect response each time.
Rather, it means being able to manage the feelings and keep their intensity in check so that the ability
to think clearly in any situation is regained and maintained.
Being in control is personally empowering and the condence experienced is unconsciously expressed
in body language. The message received by students is that this person knows what they are doing.

Dont shoot from the hip and dont panic. You dont have to know all the answers, but you do
have to maintain control. So acknowledge your feelings, breathe deeply, slow down, take ve,
take space. Now you can think before you act! And you may not be the only one whose feelings
need to be acknowledged.

Become aware of rising feelings in response to behaviour. Practise stating those feelings, either
quietly to yourself or in your head. For example, Im really angry now, frustrated, tired of this, or I feel
really fed up, cross, and so on, and feel the intensity decrease. You may need to repeat this to yourself
a couple of times. Then you can act, responding to the behaviour or situation.

Dont take the behaviour personally. Behaviour reects feelings. If a student feels angry, they
will act angrily. More often than not, the extent of the expressed anger will be far greater than is
appropriate to the situation; it will have little to do with you and is more likely to do with a recent
argument with a friend or trouble at home etc. Even if you were the catalyst for that anger, it still
will not help the situation if you allow yourself to react as though it is a personal affrontdown
that path lies loss of control.
In order to manage the situation, you need to move yourself into a neutral mode and apply both
the previous step and the next one.

S T E P T H R E E : F O C U S O N T H E B E H AV I O U R N O T T H E P E R S O N
I cannot change who I am. I can only change what I do. So dont tell me what I am, rather show me what
I can do and help me to do it differently.
The wish of a child

Teaching for behaviour change requires that you focus on the behaviour, not the student, and des-
cribe what you see and what has happened because of that behaviour.
For example, two girls are giggling and teasing each other when one inadvertently knocks over a
paint container and there is paint everywhere.
Teacher A, focusing on the person, says: Why did you do that? Youre always knocking things over.
You never think. Youre so clumsy.
The students natural response is to defend herself, by withdrawing or by retaliating, against what is
actually a personal attack. For example, the student may respond with, Well, you put the paint there! or
Why do you always pick on me? or Youre always shouting at me, and so on.
The situation begins to escalate as retorts like these generate further responses from this teacher,
who must now deal with the withdrawal or the anger within the retaliation.
When thinking vanishes and feelings take over, control is lost. Before the teacher realises whats
happening its the student leading the dance.
However, Teacher B says, Theres blue paint everywhere, all over the desk, the paper, the oor! Quick,
do something, its got to be cleaned up or itll ruin everything.
In this case, the teacher focuses the student on the result of their behaviour and provides a way for
the student to rectify the situation they caused without triggering a defensive or angry response.

Move into neutral mode by managing feelingsremember the egg, dont take confrontation
personally and focus on the behaviour and the resulting situation, not the person.

Practise describing what you see when you face misbehaviour. Make a point of focusing on the
misbehaviour and the resulting circumstances, and avoid focusing on the person.

S T E P F O U R : G E T P E R S P E C T I V E H O W I M P O R TA N T I S T H I S ?
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you suddenly stop and ask yourself, What is happen-
ing here? Why am I arguing over a pencil or a packet of crisps, or why on earth am I having a stand-up
ght with a 5-year-old? How do we so quickly lose perspective on what is and is not important?
32 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Our aim is for least intrusion into the learning ow, but when that ow is sluggish, students become
masters at creating sideshows; streams into which we slip and then nd ourselves hooked, and only
when the hook is well set do we become conscious of what is really happening.
Teachers who are alert to sideshows and the hooks that are ung out at them are able to avoid
getting caught.

Another classroom, another day

TEACHER Everyone is going to have to write . . .

STUDENT A Interrupting, Miss, why do we have to do this? We wrote all last lesson. I dont see why
we have to. My wrist is tired. Im not doing this!
TEACHER Well, tired wrist or not, you are going to have to do this. This man was very famous and
you should learn from him. And you didnt write all last lesson, what happened was. . .
etc. (hooked).
STUDENT B Hes boring! Youre always talking about him. I hate this subject. We spent all last lesson
writing about him too.
TEACHER How can you say that? Look what he did for our country. He was a very interesting man.
And I dont always talk about him, last time we . . . etc. (hooked).

By this stage the students are sitting back. The avoidance hooks are in and the students will string
the teacher along for as long as they can.
The teacher could avoid getting caught by simply acknowledging the students dislike for
the task.
Teacher: Writing can be a bit of a pain. Lets get it done quickly, okay? Give me a call if you need any
help. And the teacher moves away with the expectation for the student to do this.
The expectation is for work and the teacher has terminated the interaction without getting hooked.
She can later encourage the students by acknowledging the work that has been done thus far and by
offering more assistance.

A different class, later in the day

TEACHER Seeing a terrible mess, says, What do you think you are doing?
STUDENT A Its not my fault. I didnt do it. Why do you always blame me? You always think its me!
TEACHER Yes, you did do it. I saw you. And just remember, I dont always blame you for things, last
week when. . . (hooked)
STUDENT A Yes, you do! You remember last time when Joseph took Marys pen you blamed me!
STUDENT B Thats right you did, too.
STUDENT C I remember that!

The teacher has been caught by the blaming hook, is losing

T I P : The student hook is the oldest
control, and the incident is beginning to escalate.
time-waster of them all, and two useful The teacher could respond with, Whether you did it or not
phrases to use to avoid hooks are, is not the issue. The question is what is to be done about the
thats not the issue, and nevertheless. situation? which the teacher can then describe, opening the way
to reparation.

Build your own list of phrases that enable you to stay with the matter at hand and not get hooked
into the multitude of sideshows students can create.


This step is often taken in hindsight; that is, when a teacher realises that, regardless of what they do,
and despite all interventions, even severe consequences, the misbehaviour is repeated. When this hap-
pens, there is clearly a far more powerful force at work than the teachers demand that the misbehaviour
stops. Until the teacher discovers what that force is, they will be ineffective in implementing any positive
changes in behaviour. It is an important step in the control strategy, because it signals a message to the
teacher that something far more complex is occurring.
Lets consider Lisas class as an example.
Lisa has a difcult class and is concerned that she seems to be making little progress with some
of her students. They dont seem to listen to anything she says, some openly challenge her, others are
mean and a couple of them just sit there and do nothing. Lisa says she has tried everything with these
particular students. She is getting more and more frustrated as they seem to ignore her instructions. She
keeps asking herself, Why dont they listen? Why do they always have to question? Why cant they just
get on with their work?
w Fred is a nice enough kid, but he wont stay in his seat and Lisa is continually telling him to sit down.
Which he does, but 10 minutes later hes out of his seat again. When she questions him he always
has a plausible excuse like, Im just borrowing a book from Alison, or Im only getting the homework
questions from Will.
w Then there is Joshua, who is also irritating but in a different way. He makes jokes, calls outoften
quite puerile commentsbut the others think hes funny and he plays to their audience.
These students are continually taking up Lisas time and attention. She is getting annoyed and fed up
with both of them.
w Jared is different. He challenges Lisa at every turn. Why do we have to do that? You cant make me.
My Dad says its a waste of time, and so on. Often Jared will atly refuse, precipitating a head-on
clash with Lisa, with both vying for control. Last week Lisa got really angry and sent him to the
principal, but the next day he was back, behaving in exactly the same way.
w Then there is bossy Lucy, who is always telling everyone what they must do and how they must do
it. The other students dont like it, nor do they like her much and this often leads to unhappiness in
the class.
These are both challenging students to deal with, and Lisa often feels provoked and angry.
w There are other areas of unhappiness, such as with Sarah, whose subtle put-downs and snide com-
ments affect others. Rebeccas work has deteriorated lately and this particularly concerns Lisa as she
suspects Sarahs meanness is the reason.
w Casey, on the other hand is loud, and has a coterie of friends who trail around with her. She enjoys
playing Queen Bee, excluding some and talking about others in a superior way. This nastiness affects
the whole class.
Lisa does not enjoy these students. Their behaviour is hurtful and is creating an unhappy atmosphere
in the class.
w Jonathan and Annie are also causing problems. Lisa feels like shes banging her head against a brick
wall with Jonathan, because he doesnt do anything, regardless of what she says.
w Annie isnt much better. She just stares out the window. She is quiet, but does no work.
Whatever Lisa does to help these two, they just say they cant and dont try. Annie is apathetic and
Jonathans attitude negative. Lisa is in despair with these two students, as nothing seems to change
with them.
34 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

When students behaviour will not change no matter what you do, it is probable that there are major
forces driving their behaviour. Realising this and dealing with these behaviours is quite complex, and for
that reason has a chapter of its own, The Roots of Misbehaviour (Chapter 4).

List any students whose behaviour concerns you because it doesnt seem to change, no matter what
you say. Describe what each student does, as Lisa has above, and how they make you feel when they
act in that way. When you are ready, turn to Chapter 4 and see if there may be a root cause for each
individuals behaviour . As you work through the following chapters, set out a strategy for changing
their behaviour.

S T E P S I X : A S K C A N T H E Y, O R C A N T T H E Y, C O N T R O L T H E M S E LV E S ?
The presence of persistent, repetitious or resistant misbehaviour is an alarm bell informing the teacher
that previous interventions have not been appropriate, and they need to engage with the student to
resolve the behaviour.
The nal step in the control strategy enables you to engage the student in a way that is appropriate
to the character of the misbehaviour. The skills needed to manage the interaction itself are the subject
of Part Two, The Skills of Engagement. But rst, you need a tool with which to dene the character of
the persistent misbehaviour and then to adopt a role appropriate to that character.
The way to do this is simply to consider whether the students behaviour is driven by a need for self-
expression, or by an underlying problem.

When they wont and when they cant

Students either are able to control their behaviour but wont, or simply are unable to control it. This is
true of all misbehaviour, but is particularly relevant with repetitious, resistant behaviour.


1 Jamie leans back, swings in his chair, shouts out and disrupts others who are trying to work. His
behaviour is driven by a need for self-expression: he can control it, but wont.
w When needs for self-expression are driving the misbehaviour, as with Jamie, the student can
control their behaviour but wont. In this situation, you will need to adopt an assertive and cor-
rective approach to the student and to their behaviour so that the student takes responsibility
for their actions. This is the subject of Chapter 5, When They Wont Behave.
2 Julies test experiment has gone wrong. Her face is grim. When asked a question she replies rudely.
Her need is to resolve a personal problem: she is not fully in control.
w When unresolved problem needs are driving the misbehaviour, as with Julie, the student cannot
control their behaviour. In this situation, you will need to adopt a supportive and empathic
approach to the student and their behaviour that enables them to regain emotional control. This
is the subject of Chapter 6, When They Cant Behave.

If either of these needs is not addressed, it will persist and so will the behaviour.
These misbehaviours will only be changed by an appropriate intervention, and the intervention
will only be appropriate when directed at the need driving the behaviour.
Note that to manage the behaviour appropriately, it is unnecessary to delve into its underlying
cause; for example, personality, attitude, background or personal problem.

Fortunately, it is not difcult to distinguish between behaviour that is driven by self-expression

and behaviour driven by an unresolved problem, and it allows you to adopt an appropriate behaviour
management approach.

Clarifying your role

If the student is able to control their behaviour and wont, your role should T I P : If you nd yourself saying,
be assertive. If the student cant control their behaviour, your role should These kids just dont take any
be supportive. Choosing between these two alternatives, and applying responsibility! perhaps they
the skills relative to each, ensures that your response is efcient and were never taught how.

Return to that list of concerning behaviours and consider whether the student wont or cant control
their behaviour. If they wont, turn to Chapter 5; if they cant, turn to Chapter 6 to develop a plan to
manage the behaviour.

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

Extract from TFBS group discussion
Pete, Kate, Carla and Pradesh were enjoying a coffee together and discussing classroom behaviour when
Kate commented . . .

You know, since we talked about repeated misbehaviours and needing to prevent them, Ive become
aware of Lily. Every time were about to start work, Lily calls out I dont have my calculator, or I
cant nd my pencil, or something else she cant nd or doesnt have. I get so frustrated with her. I
tell her to borrow from Claire or Michael or someone else. I remind her every day to bring her things
for class but she always forgets something vital.
But when you keep reminding her, why doesnt she have her things? asked Carla.
Ah, said Pradesh, I think I know whats happening. When she forgets stuff Kate notices her, and I
reckon that meets a need in her, so unconsciously shes motivated to not bring her things. You see,
being noticed far outweighs any trouble she may get into. Attention-seeking sounds alive and well
with your Lily.
But maybe theres more to it than that, said Pete. Why does Lily not have her pencil, or calculator?
Every time she puts up her hand, Kate, just think . . . what do you do?
Well, I tell her what to do ... oh, said Kate, Im solving her problem for her, arent I?
Yes, said Pete, and shes learnt she doesnt have to bother to bring her things because youll sort it
out for her.
Oooh, said Carla, I do that too, quite a lot. It just seems so much easier.
Well, maybe, said Pete, but what are you teaching her? To be responsible and bring her things to
school? He looked as Kate. She shook her head.
And, added Pradesh, what are the other students learning?
That I will sort out their problems for them, said Kate.
Thats right, said Pete. I reckon we put a monkey on our back and they are quite happy to let us
carry the extra burden. They dont have the problem. We do!
36 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

So what youre saying is, nothing will change until I make the problem hers? asked Kate.

Exactly, replied Pete. but, remember to take ve; allow space for your irritation to subside and
then maybe try something like, Okay, so you dont have a pencil, Lily. What do you think you can
do about it? Take a minute, think about it and when youve decided what to do, come and tell me.
Youll nd others will soon learn that you wont solve their problems either and learn to become more
Ill try it, said Kate. I like the thought of them solving their own problems.

Taking control comes with a six-step strategy:
1 Stand back pause! Begin the process of taking control.
2 Manage those feelings ... the egg
When feelings are acknowledged they decrease in intensity. This enables a person to manage
feelings and cope with the situation. Acknowledging feelings enables thinking.
3 Focus on the behaviour not the person
It is the behaviour that needs to change, not the person. People cannot change who they are;
they can only change their behaviour and their attitudes. Move into neutral mode. Dont take
it personally. You cannot make a person do anything; you can only cause them to want to
changeby responding to the behaviour and not the person.
4 Ask how important is it really? Get perspective. Dont get hooked!
Watch for and avoid the sideshows. Avoid teacher baiting. Dont get hooked-in.
5 Tune in whats really happening here?
When facing ongoing misbehaviour, be aware of factors affecting student behaviour. Are there
forces driving this behaviour?
6 Ask Can they, or cant they, control themselves?
When engaging students, clarify your role as either assertive or supportive.
If they can control their behaviour but wont, the teachers role is assertive and corrective
(Chapter 5).
If they cant control their behaviour, the teachers role is supportive and empathic
(Chapter 6).

Achieving control
Ask students questions rather than telling them what to do. This will guide them in nding their
own way.
Teach rather than punish students when they get it wrong. This will enable self-control and open
the way to changing behaviour.
Have rm boundaries and consequential learning, and always work proactivelyplan prior to,
during and after the event.
Establish and maintain good working relationships that acknowledge and are considerate of
others, and that emphasise fairness and respect.
The Roots of Misbehaviour

Many factors affect behaviour: from the person we are, to the life we lead, from the environment
in which we live, to the needs we have. When a students behaviour does not change regardless of
what the teacher does, it is time to look beyond the behaviour to see whether there is an underlying
need driving that behaviour.

I have this student in my class and she is always doing something to drive me crazy. She loses her things,
never has her books, chats away when shes supposed to be working, answers back when I reprimand
her, and then the other day when I asked them to get out their project work she said in a loud voice, But,
I havent got my book. I just sighed. This isnt the rst time this has happened. I keep reminding her and
if Ive told her once what to do when she forgets her books, loses her pen, Ive told her a dozen times,
but it makes no difference, nothing changes. Why doesnt she listen? And shes not the only one in this
class. I despair! I dont think she will ever remember to have her books or anything else! Why dont kids
take responsibility?!
Frustrated teacher

Understanding why students misbehave

Knowing and understanding what can motivate student behaviour, and being aware that sometimes
a students need to misbehave may over-ride any teachers need for them to behave, can enable the
teacher to work with those needs and manage that behaviour effectively. This knowledge allows the
teacher to achieve acceptable classroom behaviour while enabling students to learn to manage their
own behaviour.

Factors affecting behaviour

These can be virtually anything: individual temperament, level of maturity, family lifestyle, community
culture, societal expectations, peer relationships, individual life experiences, school environment, even
the weather.
When factors outside your control adversely affect students, it is hard knowing that, as much as you
would like to, you cannot take away the discomfort, hurt or pain. But you can support your students, and
the most valuable support you can give is in teaching them coping skills so that they learn to manage
lifes challenges for themselves. At the same time, it is important not to become personally involved. If
you are a born rescuer, dont jump into the water after them, just throw them a lifebelt. This requires
applied empathy and associated skills.

38 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Consider this primary school scenario. Mary hasnt been having an easy time lately and her tendency
has been to act-out in class. As usual, she has been messing around and has just knocked over a glass
bowl, smashing it. She stands rigid with her hands pressed to her mouth and her frightened eyes as big as
saucers. You are the teacher. You have choices. You can castigate her, which she is expecting and fearing,
but you could also imagine how she is feeling and identify with her for a moment. Doing this is applying
empathy. Once you have paused and exercised applied empathy, you will have better control over your
own emotions. Then you could say to her, Dont be frightened Mary, you need to clean up the mess so go
and get a brush and pan and later I want you to tell me how you are going to prevent this sort of thing
happening to you in future. All things being equal, Marys behaviour will henceforth improve noticeably.

Focus on the teachers area of control, not concern

As Jimmys teacher, you are greatly concerned about his unhappy home life and how his mothers illness
is affecting his work and behaviour. You spend a great deal of time worrying about him and discussing
his problem with colleagues. But, would it not be a far more valuable exercise to expend your limited
energy and time on planning how you can best support Jimmy in schoolencouraging his learning,
teaching him the skills that will enable him to cope better emotionally and socially? That is, working in
the area over which you do have control.
It may seem obvious, but many teachers need to remind themselves that there are many inuences
on students behaviour, and not to be sidetracked by them. When a student is greatly troubled and when
a teacher is highly concerned for their welfare, it is important to refer the student to the appropriate staff
member or school student welfare professional. But there is a great deal you can do as a teacher to sup-
port a troubled student, just by being empathic and caring.

Students continue to misbehave because it works for them

Alfred Adler (1927) observed that children behave in a certain way because it works for them. For exam-
ple, you may nd yourself continually raising your voice at a misbehaving student, with little effect. The
reason being that the student is quite comfortable being shouted at. This is familiar, it happens at home
and the child has learned to block it out and do as they please. This behaviour works for the student.
Being aware of this enables you to change your response to their behav-
iour. In this case, select a number of different pockets from your coat; for
T I P : If you dont take control, example, moving alongside, redirecting, questioning, catching them doing
your students will. Control lies
it right, and most importantly, not shouting anymore. The student may try
within you and is revealed by
very hard to make you shout. Persist with your changed responses until they
how you choose to respond.
learn that you will no longer dance their dance.

The unconscious goals for misbehaviour

Behaviour makes sense only when we understand its purpose. To understand a child, we must understand
the childs purpose of behaviour, a purpose of which the child may be unaware.
Rudolf Dreikurs, Bernice Grunewald & Floy Pepper, 1998, p. 9

A childs rst social group is their family. When the child enters school they will have an inherent need
to nd acceptance and establish their placea sense of belonging in the new social environment; to
nd where they t in. This need to belong and to be signicant within it is a powerful and compelling
force for behaviour.
Being acknowledged by teachers, feeling encouraged and being able to participate and contribute
enables students to establish a strong and positive sense of belonging. When students feel they are
T H E R O O T S O F M I S B E H AV I O U R 39

valued members of their class they have little need to disturb, act-out or misbehave, and they tend to
abide by group expectationsthe accepted norms for behaviour for that class.
However, there are classes in which students continually disrupt, challenge, put down, and dont
participate. What is going on in these classes?
Dreikurs et al. (1998) suggest that those students who cannot achieve belonging or signicance
through acceptable behaviour will misbehave in order to achieve their goal, and this leads to a faulty
belief about belonging.
Every social group has accepted norms for behaviour and demands compliance with these norms.
This applies to all social structures: family, school, class, peer group, community or workplace. As long as
students maintain their faulty beliefs, they will tend to reject prescribed norms.
Students are unaware of their motivationtheir need for signicance, or their need to belong
instead, they just behave in a way that makes them feel good. This feeling may not even surface in their
consciousness, but it moves them to repeat their behaviour in order to continue feeling good and to feel
okay about themselves.
When a teachers response to misbehaviour inadvertently trig-
gers this feel good factor, despite even quite severe consequences T I P : Afrming students is a powerful
or punishment, students will persist with their misbehaviour. Why? preventive measure. Having a positive
Because their unconscious attachment needs can be so overwhelm- sense of belonging and signicance
ing that they will at times do anything to belong. They act, and takes away much of the need to act-out
we see misbehaviour, but in understanding that their behaviour is or misbehave.
unconsciously driven, we are able to respond differently and effect
change to that behaviour.
Dreikurs et al. (1998) also observed that when these students were able to achieve a sense of belong-
ing through positive behaviours they no longer misbehaved and their general behaviour changed, often
In their research, Dreikurs et al. (1998) observed that those students who continued to misbehave
despite all teacher intervention measures tended to fall into one of four categorieseach with a common
purpose or unconscious goal that achieved belonging and signicancethrough seeking attention, by
achieving power, by wreaking revenge, or by displaying inadequacy. Kelly and Sweeney (1979), who
focused their research on adolescents, added three more unconscious goals to the list: excitement, peer
acceptance and superiority. These were developed by Dinkmeyer et al. (1980).
In the classroom, it can be helpful to consider these unconscious goals as ags students wave to
denote their social needs. Continual ag waving is a message that your usual responses to students
behaviour are not working. In order for students misbehaviour to
stop and for their need to belong to be expressed appropriately, it is T I P : If a particular student is getting
essential that you change your responses to the misbehaviour. under your skin, its probably ag
The flags of misbehaviour
In order to conrm which unconscious goal you are dealing with, you will need to tune in to the feelings
triggered by that misbehaviour; for example, attention-seeking behaviour, the Notice Me! ag, can
trigger irritation and annoyance in you.


Unconscious intention: attention

FAULTY BELIEF: I belong and have signicance only when I am being noticed or served, when people
have to notice me or do things for me.
40 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

TEACHERS FEELINGS: Irritation, annoyance and frustration

Attention is something we all appreciate: it reinforces our sense of self, centres us within a group and
reinforces our sense of belonging. If a student cannot achieve a sense of belonging and signicance
through positive behaviour, they will do so via misbehaviour.


1 Alex is continually out of his seat, wandering around, chatting and borrowing from others, and
his teacher gets fed-up continually having to tell him to sit down. He also interrupts, calls out and
asks for instructions to be repeated. His teacher nds him highly irritating as he never seems
to listen.
2 Lily seems to enjoy telling on others. Her teacher is concerned but also nds the behaviour

This is all ag-waving. The students have a need to be noticed, to feel signicant: The cry is, Notice Me!
The teachers automatic response clashes with each students strong need for attention and, instead of
acting to change the behaviour, the teacher gets caught up in
T I P : Some seemingly normal behaviours a frustrating cycle of ongoing misbehaviour.
like being charming or solicitous can also be When the teacher realises that the students need to belong
attention-seeking behaviours. You will know is far more powerful than repeated reminders, admonishments
this when those behaviours are distracting and castigations, they are then able to respond differently; for
and bothersome. example:

1 With Alex, the teacher could:

w notice him in the class line-up with a comment such as, I see youve got your books today,
Alexthats good! or You look smart today. Nice haircut, Alex, or whatever is appropriate
w only ever notice those students who put up their hands to answer or speak in class, thus sending
a strong, unspoken message to Alex to do the same
w when irritated at having to repeat instructions, turn to Alex, having pre-warned him, and ask,
Alex, would you like to repeat what we have to do, so we are all clear? This is a positive way of
training him to listen while giving him appropriate attention. Other students may also benet
from this approach.
2 Focusing on Lily when she is not telling tales, and catching
T I P : Acknowledgement can be openly her doing it right in other ways, may be enough to change
given but often it is more effective as a quiet her behaviour.
word in passing, in a note, or as a friendly
When facing attention-seeking behaviours, you need to
gesture. Adolescents usually prefer not
to be shown up amongst their peers, but be aware of the students unconscious needs and plan your
quiet acknowledgement can be a powerful responses accordinglybuild the pockets for your coatso
motivator for both work and behaviour. that the students needs for signicance and belonging are
met in ways that afrm positive behaviours.

Change attention-seeking behaviours in your class, and practise using the following responses. Add some
responses of your own and put them in your pockets.
Tactically ignore.
Focus positively.
Catch them doing it rightat times and in ways unexpected.
T H E R O O T S O F M I S B E H AV I O U R 41

O T RY A N D M A K E M E !

Unconscious intention: control (power) T I P : Students who push for

power or who crave control can
FAULTY BELIEF: I belong and feel signicant only when I am in control,
often be managed by being given
when Im boss, when Im in charge and when I make others do as I want. small tasks and responsibilities.
TEACHERS FEELINGS: Provoked, challenged, angered This boosts their self-esteem and
satises their need for control
The need for control is what characterises these behaviours. The student and power in positive ways.
feels good when others are doing what they want. Their behaviour is unac-
ceptable when it disregards the needs of others, upsets individuals, a group
or the learning environment. Students who challenge are unaware of the purpose of their behaviour but
are reinforced in their actions when they win and when they wield power inappropriately.


1 A small group of boys surreptitiously make irritating or rude noises, then sit back and when que-
ried shrug their shoulders, roll their eyes and pass muttered, negative comments. When confronted
directly, they feign innocence and indignantly deny all knowledge of the offending behaviour. The
teachers reaction is frustration and anger, knowing but unable to prove they are the culprits. The
ringleader, John, is controlling his group, the teacher and the class.
2 Jessie is late as usual, but today she strides into class and demands that Chantal get out of her
chair and when she doesnt, tips Chantal onto the oor. Jessie then sits down and turns to look at
the teacher, waiting. The teacher knows he is being deliberately provoked, but Jessies actions just
make him see red. Jessie enjoys manipulating everyone, including the teacher.

The group of boys and Jessie, through their misbehaviour, cause their teachers to react emotionally. The
students will hold sway until the teacher takes control of those emotions and manages the behaviour
rather than reacting to it.
These students need to learn and achieve their sense of signicance and belonging through accept-
able behaviour, not through challenging and controlling behaviour.

The next time you are the target of controlling misbehaviour, like in the examples with Jessie or the group
of boys, try to manage the situation so that you teach appropriate control. Consider the following:
Do not get hooked into power struggles. Remember that attitude is a sideshowignore the side-
shows, disregard the rolling eyes, shrugging of shoulders and theatrical displays, and focus on the
behaviour you require; in this case getting the boys on task and working.
Acknowledge the feelings generated by the behaviouruse your inner voice and talk to yourself so
that you lower the intensity of those feelings and can think. For example, This student makes me so
angry, but I am the teacher here. I can deal with it.
If you wish to focus on the behaviour immediately, describe what you see or hear. For example, I hear
tapping and rude burping coming from the back of the roomlooking straight at each boy. I suggest
you get on with what you have to do. That brings them back on task with minimal intervention.
If you need time to cool down, make a statement of intent. These avoid power struggles, maintain
control and focus on the issue. For example: I do not like what I see. I am so angry that I have no wish
to speak with you now. I will speak to you when Im ready.
Students who demand inappropriate power at school are sometimes compensating for feeling a lack
of control in their everyday lives. Occasionally, you will meet a student who gets a real buzz from control-
ling others. This can result in extremely challenging and often difcult to manage behaviours.
42 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S


Unconscious intention: revenge

FAULTY BELIEF: I belong by making others feel as I feel, which is hurt. I gain signicance through hurt-
ing others. I cant defeat you but I can get you back and hurt you.
TEACHERS OR STUDENTS FEELINGS : Put down, humiliated, hurt

Revenge is the satisfying emotion resulting from giving pain to someone who has hurt you. However, it
is often misdirected; for example:

w You may receive the brunt of a students anger at another teacher.

w Students may turn to their peers and seek out whoever is most vulnerable to target, as getting back
at teachers can backre on them.

These are both examples of displaced anger.

The students are unaware of why they do this but are highly aware of feeling better when they hurt
others. Hurting others can take many forms: from refusing to work in classpassive aggressive-type
behavioursto hitting and teasingaggressive behaviour. Some
types of bullying and harassment are examples of unconscious
T I P : Some students will provoke others
into aggressive behaviour so that they revenge seeking behaviour.
are able to feel justied in retaliating; a Hurting others is unacceptable, and you need to act quickly
deliberately manufactured revenge cycle. to prevent these incidents escalating and to help students avoid
blaming or retaliating and getting into a cycle of revenge.


1 Alyshe didnt pay attention in class. Her work when done was indecipherable and her reading was
no better. She spent her time scribbling over desks and doodling in her books. When the teacher
asked the class who had drawn all over the wall, they said it was Alyshe. When asked about some-
thing shed obviously done, she would always reply, It wasnt me. Alyshes unhappiness caused her
to hit back at school because it was the place that caused her pain. Coming to school and learning
was a hurting experience.
w For Alyshe to change, she needed to experience school differently and to feel that she was able,
could learn and achieve at school, and could contribute and feel a valued member of the class.
Catching her doing things right and providing tasks that enable her to achieve in the smallest of
ways are two steps that can set her on the road to improved self-esteem and school acceptance.
2 Brian wasnt much liked by others in the class. He never smiled. He was mean and unkind. Hed
play practical jokes, tease and torment others. He told Lucy her hair looked like a birds nest and
then laughed out loud. Another time he put a mouse in Ingrids desk and chortled when she was
frightened; at other times he would purposefully spill paint or water and blame another student,
always denying any part in it. Hed hide other students school books, scribble on work to be handed
in, change locks on their lockers and tell embarrassing lies about them. Brians behaviour and the
feedback he got reinforced his belief that he was not liked and intensied his sense of relevance
and belonging. For Brian to change, the teacher needs to deal with this efciently and enable Brian
to see himself differently: the teacher can eliminate or reduce his revenge and hurting needs. For
example, saying, You look a bit down today, Brian, acknowledges his pain and can reduce any
current tendency to act-out. If he has hurt someone, the teacher could say that hed, feel better by
making reparations and that this would be appreciated by everyone, and then enable him to do so.
By focusing on positive aspects of his character, the teacher enables Brian to see himself as being
T H E R O O T S O F M I S B E H AV I O U R 43

capable of kindness and that he can be valued and accepted

for his good qualities.
T I P : Persist in looking for that posi-
These responses: reparation, positive focusing, victim empow- tive characteristic, strength or ability.
erment and catching them doing it right, are generic and can be The troublesome student tends to hide
used in most revenge-related situations. these aspects of themselves, and you
Achieving behaviour changes with these students is not may have to go searching for them.
always easy or quick. It will take time and skill to change their
perceptions of themselves and of their world.

Understand the dynamics and turn hurting behaviour aroundenable your students to belong without
hurting. Remember, they may not like the necessary sanctions, but if they feel they do not have to defend
themselves or retaliate against them, they are then able to respond differently.
Be rm in your responses but project your own caringtake away their need to hurt and hit back.
Focus on the behaviour and not the person. Sanction the behaviour.
Enable your students to realise that their choices lead to inevitable negative consequences, as in
exclusion from the groupreturning when they do not hurt othersremoval of privileges, or only
being able to use special facilities when they can show they will not damage them.
Point out positive choices they could have made. Always carry an expectation for them to get it right;
that is, to not hurt or damage.
Ensure students put right the wrong by making amends. Sorry, is often not enough, and they may
need to do a lot more.
Break the cycle of revenge. Focus on positive aspects of their character and behaviour. Positive
behaviour is reinforced when they learn to feel better and see
themselves in a more positive light, and gain signicance and
T I P : Focus on (removing) the need
a sense of belonging from caring about rather than hurting
to hurt: this is where you can make a
others. difference and this is what will help
eliminate the behaviour. It may take time
O I CANT DO IT! but it can be very rewarding.

Unconscious intention: display inadequacy

FAULTY BELIEF: I belong and have signicance by convincing others not to expect anything from me.
TEACHERS FEELINGS: Frustration, despair, wanting to give up on the student

Displaying inadequacy can, for some students, be the only way to ensure a signicant role and place in the
social structure of the classroom. They are happiest when left alone and can be highly protective of the role
they have adopted and the sense of belonging it gives them. This is the behaviours primary purpose.
There are a host of secondary benets associated with the behaviour that obscure its primary pur-
pose. The behaviours avoidant character protects against the pain of failure by steering the individual
away from challenging tasks. As a result, these students resist tackling tests, exams and competitive
sports, and they seem unable to cope with lifes demands. They fail to live up to the expectations of
others and may feel they arent good enough or able enough to
do what others do, or their expectations are so high that they are T I P : Any concerns regarding physical,
almost impossible to meet. They often refuse to attempt things emotional or health issues, or possible
on the grounds that they are going to fail anyway. This behaviour learning disabilities, need immediate
may relate to one aspect of learning or many aspects of school attention and appropriate referral.
and home life.
44 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S


1 Amy would just sit, look out the window and say nothing. She rarely nished her work and responded
reluctantly to her teachers questions.
2 I cant do this! said Elizabeth. Would you like some help? asked her teacher. No, I just cant do it,
repeated Elizabeth.

For teachers these can be the most frustrating behaviours to manage. It is vital to understand that these
students are far more powerfully motivated by their need to belong than to achieve, and that a well-
intentioned teacher can without thinking so easily reinforce these misbehaviours.
Holding attainable expectations for work and behaviour, and helping students to feel both capable
in their work and accepted as a valued member of the class go a long way to enabling these students to
achieve a positive sense of belonging in class.

In order to manage students in your class who belong through displaying inadequacy, consider the
following when planning your management strategy:
Give honest acknowledgement and quiet afrmation so students learn to trust your judgement
regarding their own abilities. Knowing a student has ability and encouraging them by saying, Youre
really bright, you can do this, when the students experience tells them differently, will make them
question your judgement, doubt your honesty, and the student may even feel manipulated. The result
is that what was supposed to motivate, has the opposite effect.
Give positive feedback, enable small steps and acknowledge small gains so students can acknowl-
edge and internalise their abilities and strengths, see themselves as capable and feel encouraged to
tackle different or harder tasks. Dont criticise, or point out mistakes and what isnt doneit is not
helpful and only reinforces inadequate behaviour.
Give your students opportunities to demonstrate their personal abilities, strengths and talents (some
of which may not be curriculum or school-related), so they and others in the class see them in a differ-
ent light. Also provide opportunities for them to assist in the classroom, do small tasks, or help oth-
ers, so they learn to feel valued for what they can do, and not for their inabilities. Remember, feeling
cared about is not enough to change their behaviour. For example, the attention Elizabeth receives
when she presents herself as unable is a secondary gain for her and reinforces her inadequate role.
Enable your students to see their perceived difculties as their problem, and to own that problem.
Only when they do this are they able to take control of their behaviour and effect change. Notice and
acknowledge their situation and feelings. Use open questions (see Chapter 6) that focus on specics
and require a student to explore options, so they can open the door to self-discovery and help replace
I cant, with I can.
Be aware that these students are highly critical of themselves and their abilities in all spheres, includ-
ing relationships. Building good communication encourages them to trust you and, in so doing, they
will gain condence that can spill over into the learning arena.
Realise that it may take a year to turn a student around. Persevere. It may be two steps forward and
one step back. Inspire. Just imagine their lives if you hadnt made that little extra effort every day.

O I T S R E A L LY D A N G E R O U S !
T I P : With changes in behaviour
Unconscious intention: excitement
come changes in attitude.
FAULTY BELIEF: I belong and feel signicant only when I create
T H E R O O T S O F M I S B E H AV I O U R 45

TEACHERS FEELINGS: Concern and anxiety for health and safety

In adolescents, the need for excitement is strong as they explore the limits of their world. It can
be a very positive experience and schools can provide opportunities that full this need in positive
ways through participation in sporting events, school productions, school camps and so on. These
activities can also build peer acceptance and provide another arena for establishing positive working
However, teachers and schools become extremely concerned when excitement is achieved by risk-
taking behaviour. Typical are: avoiding classes or missing school, diets and dieting fads, smoking, using
alcohol or other drugs, promiscuity, daredevil behaviour and breaking the law. When these occur at
school, the schools discipline policies apply and are managed by senior colleagues.

In the classroom, teachers may face

1 Students who achieve excitement by baiting teachers. This is also risk-taking behaviour, and teachers
who understand this can meet the challenge with a little light humour, or even play along if harmless,
thereby acknowledging their need for excitement. Get the lesson back on track as soon as possible
while maintaining a positive relationship, and the student will feel their needs have been met.
2 More serious risk-taking behaviour such as truancy, overt changes in behaviour, school or work
refusal, and uncharacteristic or bizarre behaviour may indicate a need for referral to a senior col-
league or the relevant professional.

Teachers of adolescents need to be aware of dangerous risk-taking. Consider the following in relation to
your teaching role:
Establishing and maintaining rm boundaries for behaviour with effective follow through when stu-
dents go too far, may prevent dangerous risk-taking but will also enable students to learn not to do
it again and to right the wrong.
Students will only act on advice and guidance from those they trust and respect. Having teachers as
positive role models can inuence and support students when facing a risk-taking situation.
Knowing all the facts and being fully informed of the probable consequences of specic risky behav-
iours allows students to make rational choices regarding their behaviour.
Students need teachers to provide opportunities for decision making so that they learn to weigh up
the pros and cons and learn to make considered decisions rather than impulsive ones.
Students who persist with risky behaviour in full knowledge of the
consequences, both to themselves and to others, are outside the prov-
ince of this book and should be referred to the relevant professional. T I P : Testing limits is normal in
adolescents. They are individu-
Students who have opportunities through school to participate in
atingpreparing to leave the nest
challenging and stimulating activities are less likely to search for
and venture out into the world.
excitement in dangerous ways.


Unconscious intention: peer acceptance, popularity

FAULTY BELIEF: I belong and am signicant only when I have widespread peer acceptance.
TEACHERS FEELINGS: Concern, unease and disquiet when peer relationships have a negative impact
on a students work and behaviour
46 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

In adolescence, group identication is an important and essential social behaviour, and students
naturally turn to those with whom they will work, play and share their lives. It is also a time of experimen-
tation, of learning about oneself and about ones relationships with others. As individuation proceeds,
peer inuence comes to predominate over adult inuence.
In the classroom, teachers may face students whose behaviour and work is negatively inuenced by
their peers.


1 Lionel sits at the back of the room, usually lounges on his chair and often puts his feet up on the
desk. He wants the teacher to challenge him so that he can put on a show and play to his admiring
audience as he crosses swords with his teacher.
w Lionels teacher needs to take away any reason to challenge or act-out. Light humour, catching
him doing it right and quietly getting him onside with little fuss, will enable Lionel to maintain
his relationship with his peers as well as a positive attitude to learning.
2 Catherine was a bright and involved A grade student until her teacher began to hear negative
comments when handing back her graded papers. Catherines work started to deteriorate, as did her
participation in class. Her teacher noticed that she was mixing with a different group of girls and
that she was sullen in class and seemed unhappy.
w This is a tricky situation because Catherines peers
are important to her and the teacher should not get
T I P : Dont force students into a corner. If a
between them. But because the peer inuence is det-
student feels their back is against the wall,
rimental to her well-being, Catherine needs support
they will have no option but to ght you.
Instead of confronting students, bring them and guidance from adults she respects and responds
alongside and walk a little way together. tonot criticism of her relationships.

Students may be unduly inuenced by their peer groups

overt attitude to school and a disproportionate amount of
energy is often invested in social activities or in other age-appropriate interests such as the latest relation-
ship, fad, style, sporting hero, lm star, pop song, computer game and so on.
Affected students lose track of whats important. In all our lives we need always to give attention to
three areas of functioning: our relationships, our education and our personal growth. The character and
degree of our efforts in each of these areas varies with age and relates to the concept of age-appropriate
tasks. When there are unwelcome, undesirable changes in a students behaviour and their work deterio-
rates because of apparent undue peer group inuence, the student can be pointed towards gaining a
more discriminating view of themselves in relation to the current three age-appropriate tasks.

When peer acceptance negatively impacts on work or behaviour, consider the following:
Managing poor performance due to excessive age-appropriate behaviour is straightforward, as long
as you remember that those students are not actually doing anything wrong; they are just not doing
enough right. Do not get between students and their friends:
T I P : The so-called bad class or tough class the focus of any intervention you make here must always be on
really doesnt exist. Group dynamics clearly the work and behaviour, not on what you perceive is the cause.
predict that a powerful coterie of students Model and teach the behaviour you want in your daily
constantly misbehaving in a class will, in the interactions with students.
absence of correcting interventions, enlarge, Keep rm boundaries. Remain rm in your expectations
and eventually alter, the whole classs for good work and good behaviour, and always follow
behaviour towards its own disturbed norms. through with appropriate consequences.
T H E R O O T S O F M I S B E H AV I O U R 47

Acknowledge the importance of peer acceptance and provide opportunities in the learning process
for students in different peer groups to get to know each other and work together on projects, assign-
ments and so on.


T I P : In order to help manage
Unconscious intention: superiority
peer issues, establish a peer
FAULTY BELIEF: I belong and feel signicant only when I am the best at support program in your school.
everything, or at least better than you.
TEACHERS or STUDENTS FEELINGS: Inadequacy, put down, made to feel inferior

Putting others down means When you feel bad it makes me feel better, and feeling better is what
I need. Although competent in some areas, these students are often weak in others. Their overbearing
behaviour is self-protective, and putting others down enables them to hide their inadequacies. Some
students may have learned this behaviour or may just be doing what has been done to them. Their low
self-esteem generally comes from a lack of feeling valued for who they are.


1 Lexie says to Felicity, You didnt know that, youre stupid! Everyone knows the answer to that.
w It is not uncommon to hear put-downs, but these must not be allowed to pass unchallenged.
A teacher may respond with, for example, Lexie, I nd comments like that hurtful and
unnecessary, then to Felicity, Felicity, thank you for attempting to answer the question, thus
afrming her.
2 Roger says to his physics teacher, Thats wrong. I looked it up in the library. Your whole experiment is
wrong. You dont seem to know much about physics!
w Behaviours that feed self-importance by putting a teacher down are not common, but new
teachers are particularly vulnerable and can be taken advantage of. So be well prepared for
the hidden curriculum and have a response in your pocket for this kind of confrontation.
For example, in this case this teacher might say, I am delighted to see how keen you are about
this subject and that you are able to guide us through this experiment. I would be most appre-
ciative if you would now explain it to the class. Thank you. This gentle challenge to Rogers
put-down takes away his need to belong through superiority (his unconscious goal) and any
further need to act-out in this manner with the teacher.
3 You cant bowl. Give it up. Youre useless! says Jim. Well, at least Im trying, responds Alex.
w Alex has actually handled this situation fairly well and teacher intervention may not be required.
All put-downs are unacceptable in any class situation.

When you come across students who put others down, consider the following to effect positive changes
in their behaviour:
Do not get hooked into put-downs. Do not retaliate.
Contain the behaviour by refusing to accept the put-down.
Provide opportunities for students to assist and help others, to work
T I P : Students who denigrate
with and acknowledge those who may have different strengths from
others may be modelling adults
their own.
who behave in a like manner. So
be careful not to put them down.
Model the behaviour you require.
48 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

When repeated intervention strategies of the type suggested for each ag above are not working, there
is another option: it may be possible to manage the behaviour by drawing the students attention to
their underlying need. This can be a useful way to enable the student to change their behaviourunder-
standing the need that is driving it.
However, a good teacherstudent relationship is essential before intervening in this way. Otherwise,
the intervention may be experienced as intrusive, the student can become defensive and the interven-
tion may come to nothing.
The following is an example. Do keep it light. Remember that you are not a therapist!

1 Choose a time when there is no conict and take the student aside. Describe what you see happen-
ing and how everyone feels. Avoid naming, blaming or shaming; just use I-statements.
a For example; I notice when I start explaining the topic to everyone in class that your hand shoots
up, and if I dont stop and listen, you interrupt me without waiting for me to nish. I also notice
that when others are working you get up and wander around, and you disturb and interrupt
them. When this happens I see them getting irritated and annoyed with you, and so do I when
Im interrupted mid-sentence.
b You can now follow this with something like, What I think is happening is that you have a strong
need to feel you have a special role and place in the class, so this is what you do, and it makes
you feel good. I am wondering if there are better ways for you to feel good in class, and which
dont make people irritated? Think about this, and well chat tomorrow.
2 In a follow-up meeting, discuss and list positive ways in which the student can achieve the same feel-
ing. Use your knowledge of the students strengths and possible latent abilities to make suggestions.
Let the student choose which to actually attempt from amongst the suggestions.

Go back to Chapter 3 (page 33) and work out what unconscious goals may have been at play in Lisas
class. Decide what you would do now, if you were Lisa, to effectively change those student behaviours.

Teachers conversations
T I P : For some students, just pointing
out the possible motivation is enough for discussing and supporting
them to change their behaviour.
Extract from TFBS group discussion
Maria had by this stage joined the group. They enjoyed her com-
pany and were glad to have her years of experience to help them. As usual, the group was discussing
what had happened when they tried out the techniques and skills they had discussed the previous week,
and Carla said . . .

I did what you suggested when Josh challenged me, Pradesh. I took a deep breath and acknowledged
him when what he said was actually right. It seemed to turn things around. He is still challenging
me but in a different way. I dont get hooked in, and its a much happier class now. Im feeling far
more in control. Thanks, she added.
When students like Josh repeatedly challenge and misbehave no matter what you do, commented
Maria, maybe this is a message to stop and take a long hard look at the whole situation, because it
would suggest theres something else going on.
I reckon Joshs challenging behaviour, added Pete, links into Adlers and Dreikurs research into
childrens misbehaviour, where they saw different types of misbehaviourseeking attention,
T H E R O O T S O F M I S B E H AV I O U R 49

challenging for power, taking revenge, displaying inadequacyall happening as a result of an

overwhelming need in children to achieve belonging and signicance. When unable to belong in
positive ways, they misbehave, thus revealing faulty beliefs about what belonging means. You know,
I reckon Josh falls into the power group, Carla.
Whoa! said Carla. That adds a whole different perspective to behaviour. I need to think about it.
He seems to be continually challenging you, from the mess on the oor, to stating that his dad knew
more than you did, added Maria. It makes you angry but seems to give him a real buzz.
Yes, it does, said Carla, and life with him has been a constant power struggle. So what do you
suggest I do now?
Youve already started doing it and that is why his behaviour is changing, said Maria. Youre refus-
ing to get angry and to get hooked into any power struggles. You wont ght him and he has no way
of taking control at the moment. But he will push you because his need for control is so great. You
have to be one step ahead and acknowledge that need for power, because it wont go away. But he
needs to learn to achieve it through positive behaviour, not in unacceptable ways.
How about some ideas? asked Maria.
Pete listed them: Give him responsibilitiesin charge of books, class pets; classroom monitor
special tasks; leading class or group activities; acknowledge when hes helpful, has a good idea;
catch him doing it right.
Thanks, said Carla. I do need to give him responsibilities, I can see that.
Yes, said Maria, but even more importantly, listen to him. From what youve said, hes a bright boy
and could be very helpful to you and his classmates when it comes to learning and working on
projects and other activities. Enable him to feel important because he has something worthwhile to
contribute in class. Give him opportunities to help others. Value him for who he is and his talents and
strengths. Then he wont need to misbehave anymore.

The students unconscious goals of misbehaviour to achieve a sense of belonging
and signicance:
O Attention when a teacher is irritated, annoyed, frustrated
O Power when a teacher feels provoked or angry
O Revenge when a teacher or other students feel hurt
O Display inadequacy when a teacher despairs or wants to give up
O Excitement when a teacher is concerned for their health or safety
O Peer acceptance when a teacher is concerned about their work and behaviour
O Superiority when a teacher or student is made to feel inferior

1 Young students tend to turn to their teacher for reassurance and to afrm their belonging and
signicance in the classroom. However, in adolescence the teacher plays a decreasing but no less
important role, and the role of peers becomes increasingly signicant and important.
50 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

2 Knowing that a students unconscious needs for acceptance, belonging and signicance can be a
compelling and far more powerful determinant for behaviour than any prohibition or punishment
imposed in order to correct it, enables you to plan and respond so students needs are met through
acceptable behaviour, not misbehaviour.
3 When misbehaviour continues despite all interventions, stop, because they arent working.
Change tack, look for a more powerful motivator than yourself and then plan your responses
use your pockets accordingly.
4 Persevere, but only if you perceive some change. Remember, the longer a student has been
misbehaving in a particular way, the longer it will take to move that student out of their comfort
zone and learn to behave differently.
5 If behaviour is not a problem for you, dont fuss or make an issue out of it. If students believe you
have a thing about a certain behaviour, they are likely to focus on it to get attention.

For those teaching and managing adolescents, the recent research of Dr Jay Giedd at the National
Institute of Mental Health in the United States, into the development of the adolescent brain could hold
some signicance. It indicates that the human brain is not fully developed until the early 20s, and the
last areas to develop are those for prioritisation, organising thoughts, weighing the consequences of
ones actions and supressing impulses (Wallis & Dell, 2004).
The skills of
We a r i n g t h e c o a t a n d
using its pockets

Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember.

Involve me and I understand.

When They Wont Behave
A sser tive pockets

When students wont behave, adopt an assertive role and manage behaviour using pockets of
assertive skills: these focus students on taking responsibility for their actions and changing their

My students are always late into class and they are very difcult to keep quiet. They talk, make all sorts of
noises, swing on their chairs, and when I try to start the lesson its so hard to get them quiet and listening
to me. When I nally get going its ne, but then when I give them work to do, off they go again, chattering
and then I always have a couple who wander around but never without a good excuse of course! I spend
my life telling them, Be quiet! Sit down!, and Get on with your work, but nothing changes. Im fed up
with these kids. The other day I caught some of the girls doing their maths in my class. I sent them to
detention. I havent seen any real change in their attitudes. They dont want to work, they dont want to
listen and they dont want to learn. Its the same with all these Year 8 classes. My other classes are ne but
these students dont really want to take another language. I hate teaching the younger classes.
Specialist language teacher

Introduction to using assertive pockets

When student misbehaviour triggers an instinctive and immediate reprimand from a teacher, the
student is relieved of having to take responsibility for their behaviour. The student has only to accept the
punishment, nothing more, and the teacher now has responsibility for controlling the behaviour.
Teachers thus unwittingly prevent students from addressing the need to take responsibility and
control their behaviour themselves.
However, students are responsible for their own actions. Teachers are not responsible for anyones
behaviour other than their own, but they are responsible for maintaining control of their classroom and
for getting students back on track.
This is often not easy to do and will require a variety of pocketsthe assertive skills that follow in
this chapter.

Only the student can change their own behaviour.

This strategy, introduced in Chapter 3, provides the rst steps in the interactive management process.
It enables you to take control. Only then are you in a position to choose how best to respond to the
W H E N T H E Y W O N T B E H AV E A S S E R T I V E P O C K E T S 53

Consider the above language teachers problems in light of the control strategy, and whether this
teacher needs to respond supportively or assertively.

Step one: Is she standing back and taking ve, or is she just reacting to their behaviours?

Step two: Is she managing feelingshers, theirs? What effect could her emotional state have on
the students and their learning?

Step three: Is she focusing on the behaviour, not the studentstating expectationsor is she
naming, blaming, criticising etc?

Step four: Does she have perspective, or is she getting caught in the sideshows? Is she wasting time
and energy on fruitless, repeated efforts to contain behaviour?

Step ve: Is she tuning-in to underlying needs and enabling students to feel able and valued mem-
bers of the class? Or is she unknowingly reinforcing misbehaviour? What is really happening here?

And now the sixth step. Did she ask,

Can they, or cant they, control their behaviour?
Are the students able to control their own behaviour but wont? Or are they simply unable to control
their own behaviour?

In this teachers class, the students and their social needs are competing (successfully) with the
teachers need to teach. The students can settle down but wont. They do not recognise that their needs
are the source of a problem. They wont wear it. That is what lies at the heart of this ongoing behav-
iour. Addressing that wont will enable the teacher to take control in the classroom and manage the


In this chapter we consider the situation, as with the language teacher above, when the student is able
to control their behaviour and wont, and where the teachers role should be assertive. In Chapter 6 we
consider what happens when the student is unable to control their behaviour.
When a student can but wont take responsibility for their behaviour, assertive skills must be used
to enable the student to take responsibility for their actions and to own and deal with the problem they
have created. If the student resists, then consequential learning needs to be applied.
For example, it is Monday morning and the bell has just gone for classes.

w Mr Robinson walks into the classroom to nd students lolling against the door, leaning out the
window, messing around, talking, some perched on their desks, others lounging back in their chairs.
w Ms Khan told a group of boys to sit down and be quiet. One rather large boy is being difcult. He
continues to turn around and talk to his buddies. Ms Khan tells him to stop talking and get on with
his work. He continues to chat with his friends.
w Ms Shaw has told her class to stop talking but they continue chattering and socialising, regardless
of what she says. Nobody is listening to her.

In each example, the students are clearly able to control their behaviour but wont. There is no sense of
the behaviour being involuntaryarising from or being driven by any strong emotion or problemand
they are not being compelled to act in this manner. The behaviour seems
to be voluntary, and this is the key to choosing between being supportive T I P : Always have a plan, and
or being assertive. with difcult classes plan your
The assertive role is obviously called for in the above examples, but how establishment phase carefully.
can you best manage these students, and get them on side and working?
54 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

There is a tendency to believe that being assertive means standing up for yourself and getting others to
do what you want. This often-claimed assertive behaviour is usually aggressive behaviour.
Whats the difference? Why is it so important in teaching?

w When a teacher is aggressive, their behaviour is egocentric. The focus is on the self and ones own
rights and needs, with forceful expressions of opinion and an over-riding need for superiority and
dominance. Behaviour is authoritarian and speech richly endowed with over-reactions, judgements,
commands, orders, threats, and sometimes put-downs, insults and even abuse. These behaviours
cause strong negative, emotional reactions in most students, usually fear and anger. Students feel
unheard, uncared about and inferior. There is little rational thought in their reaction; rather, they
tend to become defensive and resistant, or submissive and resentful. Resistance is the most common
negative reaction and can result in overall resistance to the teacher, to learning and to schooling.
There may be temporary compliance but not cooperation, and the reactions engendered become
the seeds of future conict and confrontation. Relationships are not enhanced, and the impact on
teaching and learning is often negative.
w When a teacher is being assertive, their behaviour focuses on the outcome needed, on interacting
with and relating to others, not on telling others what to do and demanding that they do it. Being
assertive arises out of the situations needs and in its application recognises the needs of others. It
focuses on taking responsibility for the choices made and enables others to do likewise. It requires
open, honest and direct communication: the expression of views and the awareness of the other
persons individual qualities, position and views. It acknowledges basic human rights and inculcates
respect. Assertiveness enables the other person to respond positively to you and to the situation, and
to maintain dignity while being guided to take responsibility for their actions and rectify the situa-
tion. The ultimate goal is to achieve an outcome that is acceptable to both parties while maintaining
a good relationship.

The teachers coatthe assertive pockets

When they wont you need to use the assertive pockets, which reside in the right-hand side of your coat.
These assertive skills, when practised and internalised so they become second nature, enable you to
skilfully and quickly sort out most of the behaviour problems that arise daily in every classroom. At the
same time, you will be enhancing relationships and building coping ability and resilience.
In short, when you manage assertively, students learn to take responsibility for their behaviour and
to acquire self-control and self-discipline skills.

Non-verbal messages
The mood and tenor for the day or lesson is established in the rst few minutes. At the outset of every
class, students and teacher both instinctively assess how they should act and respond to each other.
A teachers facial expression, eyes, voice, movement and gesture all convey condence and control, or
lack of these. As students become familiar with a teachers ways, their responses dont change unless
the teacher gives due cause. Students are quick to assess any changes in a teachers bearing or manner.
According to original research by Ray Birdwhistell (1970), 65 per cent of the meaning of a message is
communicated through facial expressions, eye contact and body language; according to Fromkin and
Rodman (1983) 90 per cent of a persons communication is non-verbal.
In planning for behaviour, you need to ask yourself, How can I enhance classroom control and man-
agement through non-verbal communication? How can I best convey condence and control?
W H E N T H E Y W O N T B E H AV E A S S E R T I V E P O C K E T S 55

While teaching, become aware of the non-verbal messages you are sending. Check yourself from the
following list:
When I enter the classroom, do I walk condently, or do I slouch or frown?
Is my attention on the students, or am I more concerned about what I have to teach?
Am I relaxedhead up and eyes scanning, making eye contact with my students, or am I telegraph-
ing nervousnesseyes darting, head down, shoulders tight, hands clenched?
Is my face relaxed, open and smiling, or am I tense, even grimacing?
When I speak, is my voice rm and clear, or do I speak too loudly or too softly? Do I enunciate clearly,
or do I swallow my words? Do I welcome students with a clear Good morning, or Good afternoon,
or do I tend to mumble or say nothing? If I have a strong accent, can my students understand me?
As I teach, do I move around? Do I smile? Do I make rm eye contact when I need a student on task
and working? Do I convey relaxed control, or tension and anxiety?
What gestures do I use? Gesturing takes away the need for teacher talk. Some students become teach-
er deaf they switch off. A repertoire of gestures for, be quiet, sit down, focus here, listen, or back
to your seat, and so on, are very effective alternatives to spoken instruc-
tions. Often, just raising a hand can prevent ongoing, challenging or
disruptive behaviour. Also, ensure you have a repertoire of positive ges- T I P : Voice training can greatly
tures; for example, thumbs up, a high ve, a wink, a nod or a smileall improve your condence. A
speech and drama teacher, a voice
can powerfully reinforce the required behaviour and afrm the student
clinic or a colleague could help
at the same time.
you. Otherwise, nd a large room
and practise projecting your voice
Every teacher, at some time, will face a student or class that arouses feel-
while speaking quietly, loudly,
ings of anxiety and uncertainty. Stand tall and have a behaviour plan; rmly, etc. Think clarity and
remember that no matter how anxious or nervous you are, taking space control as you practise.
and pausing gives you the chance to think when caught up in the moment.
It also conveys a sense of control and condence to students.
It is equally important to tune-in to your students non-verbal commu- T I P : You will not always know
nication, both the obvious and unconscious. Chapter 6 will focus on this. what to dothats okay, because
condently taking space enables
Self-talk you to nd a way to manage.
Students who ignore, or inappropriately challenge, can easily raise a teach-
ers ire, and the impulse to retaliate or defend is strong. When a teachers
reactions are controlled by their emotions, it is the student who is running the show. In this situation,
when students confront or challenge, when your feelings are aroused and are driving your responses
and actionsan emotionally charged situationuse self-talk to regain control of yourself and the
Unhelpful self-talk feeds into those rising emotions and ensures that you are hooked.
Helpful self-talk enables you to unhook, get the egg in balance and manage the emotions and then
manage the situation. Actually say the words in your head; for example:


1 A student is leaning back on his chair and saying, This is stupid . . . etc.
How dare he say that! Its rude! Ive put so Im getting angry. Stay calm. Dont get hooked
much work into this. Hes going to do it, and in. I need this student on side and working.
Im going to make him! I need to apply my skills.
56 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S


2 A student enters the class, laughing loudly and joking, then proceeds to move the furniture to
suit him, interfering with your careful desk arrangement.
How dare he move the desks? Who does he I dont like this behaviour. Im fed up with him
think he is, coming into class like that? Ill show but Im not going to take it personally. Im in
him whos boss here! I hate this kid in my class. control. Ill use my pockets to teach him to act
He ruins everything! differently.

The key is to put aside the negative thoughts that the student is triggering in your mind, and refuse to
be hooked by them. Self-talk enables you to challenge your thinking and reframe your mindset so that
you can change your reaction and maintain control.

1 Acknowledge your feelings.

2 Self-talk aloud in your head.
3 Tell yourself how you are going to handle this.

Prepare a couple of self-talk phrases that can help you through most situations. Have them ready for
when you feel the emotional hooks being cast.

I-messages and I-statements are the same thing. The difference is just phraseology. One makes an I-
statement and the other gives an I-message.
I-messages are central to assertiveness. In some cultures, notably Anglo-Saxon derived ones, the
unrestrained expression of emotion is generally taboo. This leads many people habitually to stie voic-
ing their feelings. But we are all perfectly entitled to our emotions and perfectly entitled to express them
appropriately. This is where I-messages come in.
I-messages are a means of self-expression. Use them to express how you are feeling because of
another persons behaviour. I-messages are always phrased so that the focus of the statement is ones
self. They are most effective when relationships are reasonably sound.
In the classroom, I-messages are most appropriate for very strong emotions. They allow you to take
responsibility for your own feelings and allow students to take responsibility for their behaviour. They
focus the student on their behaviour and how it affects both themselves and others.
The tendency when dealing with alarming or confronting behaviour is immediately to focus on the
person producing that behaviour. Then, because the student is the cause of the problem, we tend to
blame, accuse and criticise them, with little thought to our role in enabling the student to rectify the
situation themselves. These are You-messagesavoid them.
For example, a teacher may say in exasperation, You are late. You never hand your work in. You
waste time. And whats more, you are going to fail!
You-messages are the opposite of I-messagesthey focus on the person and they usually blame,
accuse or criticise. They result in defensiveness and ongoing avoidance of the issue. Be careful, as hostile
or angry I-messages can easily become judgemental and blaming You-messages.
I-messages do not cause students to defend or to retaliate. They enable cooperation and highlight
positive expectations for behaviour. The focus is never on the student, always on the behaviour. The
emphasis is on enabling the student to take responsibility for the situation and for rectifying it.
I-messages contain four parts, either fully stated or assumed:
W H E N T H E Y W O N T B E H AV E A S S E R T I V E P O C K E T S 57

1 They describe the behaviour or the situation that was caused.

2 They express your feelings.
3 They state the actual or probable consequences to that behaviour.
4 They give opportunity for the student to rectify, to get it right.


1 Simple format: That makes me feel very frustrated, What you just said has hurt me, Im disap-
pointed that. . . It concerns me when. . . I nd that behaviour unacceptable. In this last example, it
is understood that the feeling behind the statement is there.
2 Complex format: I will not put up with (feeling, assumed anger) cheating (the behaviour). It brings
discredit to the whole school (consequence). James, stop bullying Harry (assumed anger + the behav-
iour); its very cruel, he cant work, and its disrupting the whole lesson (consequence).

By expressing how the students behaviour makes them feel, the teacher can focus the student on the
nature and character of the behaviour. But, more importantly, the stu-
dents attention is directed away from their own needs to the broader
T I P : If students are not cooperating
consequences of the behaviour. The teacher must now add the oppor- and not listening, acknowledge their
tunity for the student to rectify the situation. Examples: What I expect feelings then repeat the I-message. For
you to do now is. . . Please think about what I said and . . . I think you example, I can see you are upset about
need to x this so. . . this, however when people hand in
This opens the door for the student to take responsibility for their messy work . . .
actions and to make reparations.

I-messages may not be easy to use at rst. Think about them, plan them and write them down. They
provide a different way to express yourself, and require an honest assessment of your feelingsthis
is important, so be sure about your feelings, dont be glib. If students sense manipulation you are
wasting your time. Practise, practise and practise your I-messages so you incorporate them into your
natural way of speaking.
Use the following as a basic guide to the four parts of I-messages:
Part 1 Describe the behaviourdont blame, just describe.
When When students hand in messy work . . .
Part 2 State your feelings about the possible consequences to the behaviour.
I feel Im pretty disappointed . . . concerned . . . It made me feel . . .
Part 3 Then describe the possible consequences to them (not you) resulting from their behaviour.
Because because marks have been lost and term reports dont look good.
Part 4 State expectations for behaviour, or how to rectifyopportunity.
So So, I expect to see really neat work on my desk tomorrow. . . So, what are you going to do about
your work now?
Part 4 can often be omitted as it is often obvious what needs to be done. It is used as a prompt if

When planning an I message, use the format BFCObehaviour, feelings, consequences,
58 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Statements of expectation
T I P : Abbreviate your I-messages: Im These are a variation on I statements. They provide clear and
so angry, my car has been damaged. rm expectations for behaviour without the need to make
The classroom project has been smashed! demands or issue orders.

w Ordering a student to change behaviour may achieve some

T I P : I-messages are equally appropriate weak, temporary and reluctant compliance, but the order
with colleagues and parents. They are non- will have to be issued repeatedlywith decreasing effect
judgemental, dont demand anything, and over time.
show trust and condence in the other w A command to change behaviour puts students on the
persons ability to respond appropriately. defensive and elicits little desire to cooperate. For adoles-
They enable responsibility, build cents, whose need to individuate is powerful, it acts as an
relationships, and enhance self-esteem. invitation to refuse.

When statements of expectation produce a positive outcome, you have achieved cooperation.
The one essential requirement in this skill is that you model the behaviour you require.


1 I always arrive on time and with all my equipment and materials, and I expect everyone to do the
w When repeated, shorten it to something like, I expect all students to be on time and prepared for
the lesson.
w Reinforce any positive responses by catching them doing it right: Maryanne, Paul, Joanna
good to see you on time and with all your things.
2 At the beginning of your rst lesson with a class, you may wish to state two or three basic expecta-
tions for behaviour.
w I expect people to work hard in this class, to listen when others are speaking, and always to have
their work in on time.
w Open your discussion for ground rules with, What are your expectations for behaviour in this
class? Lets set a few guidelines before we get going with our lesson.

Students who know what is expected of them have little need to act-out or misbehave. Clearly stating
your expectations for behaviour will go a long way to preventing behaviour problems.

Consider and list the most important behaviour requirements you deem necessary for the smooth func-
tioning of your classes. Prioritise the list and then choose the three most important for each class. What
may be important in one class may not be the case in another, so have them planned and ready in your
opening lessons.
Be sure to communicate these to your students.

E.C.A.Empathy, Content, Action

When you really need your students to listen immediately and follow your instructions promptly, instead
of telling, apply E.C.A.
The key to this skill is empathy; tuning in to them before you make your request.
Empathy is the recognition of someone elses mood state and acknowledging that to the other person.
So, when you need individual or group action immediately, rst Empathise by acknowledging their
mood or what they are doing. Follow this immediately with a Content statement, drawing attention to
the current situation, and then state the Action you require.
W H E N T H E Y W O N T B E H AV E A S S E R T I V E P O C K E T S 59

The signicant difference to a normal request is that empathy brings a person or group on side and
the person or group is more willing to follow your request promptly.
Empathising attracts concordance and cooperation.

The class is highly involved in group projects and the teacher is vainly trying to get everyone to pack up
and tidy the room before the period ends.
In this type of situation, try the following approach:
E (empathy)I can see you are all really involved and busy and working hard,
C (content)but the rooms a mess, times up, and we cant leave it like this.
A (action)So, place all books on the shelf, clear the desks and remove all paper from the oor. You
have three minutes before the bell. Thanks, everyone.

Offering choices/giving options

Offering choices is an empowering skill: it teaches students about their behaviour, about taking res-
ponsibility for their behaviour and provides them with a built-in opportunity to change their behaviour.

1 Choices enable you to re-establish the parameters for behaviour without having to remonstrate and
they allow you to pass responsibility for the behaviour back to the student and encourage them to
take control and nd a solution. Choices teach students that there are built-in limits and that one
cannot have everything. Being given choices causes the student to pause, think about their actions,
and make a considered decision about their behaviour.


w When a student is chatting and fooling around in the morning circle: Sit here quietly with the
rest of us, or you will need to sit over there by yourself. You decide.
w Or to a student who is disrupting others: Work quietly, or you will need to work alone over there.
You decide.

2 Choices give both a conditional warning and an expectation for positive behaviour.


w Very simple choices can be offered to very young children: If you sit quietly and listen, I can
continue reading the story.
w When a positive choice has been made, quietly acknowledge this, reinforcing the acceptable
behaviour: Its a pleasure to have you (all) sitting quietly and listening this morning, or to
the older student it may be a nod or a Thank you or Nice to see you working well, as you
pass by.

3 For some students, having behaviour choices can create a turning point as they learn to become the
active agent, and not merely the victim in these situations. Choices provide a mechanism to save
face and the opportunity to put right the situation.

Examples T I P : Yellow cards, as used in team

competition sports such as soccer,
w (To student with mobile phone in class) New phone. Nice are understood by all children as a
one! Quietly adding: But put it away, or Ill need to look after warning. You can use these and red
it for you. cards, as time-out, for those who dont
w Play the game according to the rules we all agreed on, or you play by the rules.
will have to leave the game. You decide.
60 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

4 If the student does not choose to change their behaviour, then follow through with the given


w Quietly and quickly remove the phone, or calmly state: I see you have decided to leave the game.
Take a seat over there. Thank you, or I see you have chosen to sit by yourself. Just move over there,
Alex, thank you.
w Then add a positive expectation for behaviour; something like: You may have it back at the end
of the day or When you are ready to follow the rules you may rejoin the game or When you show
us you can work quietly you may rejoin the group. This is equally important.
w When it looks as if the student is feeling contrary for whatever reason, and is likely to be dif-
cult, acknowledging their state of mind (feelings), can take away the need to react negatively
towards you. For example: I can see you would be unhappy having to move, and then rmly
state, However, I do need you to work quietly in this group or you will need to work by yourself
over there. You decide.
w If the student is obviously feeling irritable or resentful, and atly refuses to move, offer a second,
less-appealing alternative; for example: If you choose not to
T I P : Always stay with the main event, move or sit quietly, then you choose to see me at the break.
dont get hooked into sideshows: I have You decide. If it comes to a third choice, ensure you follow
to have it. You cant do this. My Mumll be through.
after you. The choice is the students to
make, and the learning comes in realising For both teacher and student, choices reduce conict,
that every choice they make has a resulting resentment and defensiveness. Once the student accepts that
consequencepositive or negative. they do have a choice, there are no power struggles because
they and the teacher are no longer in any sort of contest.

Applying choices
When applying choices, remember that your students are still learning to be responsible for their behav-
iour, so:

w Choices need to be fair, reasonable and logically related to the behaviour in question.
w Choices must be viable in every sense: if the choices offered are likely to result in humiliation, rejec-
tion or punishment, the student has no way to save face or to put it right, and will see the situation
as a trap.
w You will need to carefully consider and plan the choices you will be offering, because both you and
the student will have to live by the students decision.
w Choices offered must convey an attitude of respect, accept-
T I P : Choices require your mindset to ance and goodwill. The words you use and the tone of your
move from: I must control this students voice are crucial. Always offer choices rmly but respectfully,
behaviour, to This student must learn to without external pressure: you are merely pointing out that
control their own behaviour. the behaviour is unacceptable and that the student has one
of two optionsthe problem is now theirs to solve. You are
T I P : Being able to take responsibility is w When a misbehaving student chooses appropriately, you
something that is learned, and we have a have an excellent opportunity to reinforce positive behav-
duty to teach it by providing opportunities
iour by acknowledging that they got it right. This is
for students to practise.
because not only did the student make the correct choice
W H E N T H E Y W O N T B E H AV E A S S E R T I V E P O C K E T S 61

but in so doing elected to accept that they could choosea far more important event to

Choices are a natural precursor to consequential learning, which teaches responsibility, self-
control and self-discipline (see Chapter 7).
Prepare choices that re-establish limits/boundaries in your classroom and that give students
viable options, one of which is the opportunity to get it right.
Do not get hooked into side-shows, like students muttering under their breath, rolling their eyes,
shrugging their shoulders, and so on. Just stay with the main event, the choices being offered and
calmly and quietly repeat them if necessary.
If you nd yourself in a confrontation, stay calm, re-state the choices, move away and give the
student some space to sort out themselves.
Sometimes choices arent easy to make. Students are still learn-
ing to be responsible for their words and actions, so allowing
T I P : Because choices are fair, other
a little time for the response can enable a positive outcome.
students accept them, too and do not
Acknowledging this can be helpful to the student. feel impelled to rescue their friend by
adding to the disruption.

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

Extract from TFBS group discussion
A couple of them said they would present a behaviour problem to the group. Pete was rst to start and
said . . .

The other day Joe and I both had to present our research ndings to the Grants Committee for
further school funding. Joe rushed in late, took over the show, presented all our ndings and left me
with nothing to say. I covered it up, but felt I had been made to look inadequate. I was so angry
that I left without speaking to him. Its not very adult, I know, but I didnt know what to say to him
without causing a scene.
Id have given him a piece of my mind, said Kate.
Yes, but what would that have achieved? asked Pradesh. It would just have made him defensive
and the confrontation would have made working with him on further research very difcult.
Thats true, but he needs to learn not to do it, said Carla.
Youre right, Carla. So how are you going to tell him, Pete? asked Maria.
Im not sure, said Pete. Im still angry with him.
Well, thats the rst thing you need to tell him, said Maria. What else? Think back, because its
important that you tell him exactly how you felt.
Well, I was oored at what he did, embarrassed at being left with nothing to say, angry at being
made to look inadequate and worried about the funding.
Good, write that down, said Maria. Now, what did he actually do? Describe only what he didnot
what you did, or what anyone thought.
62 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

He was late, so we couldnt ensure a good presentation. He presented my work and his, which was
not our agreement, replied Pete.
Write it down, said Maria. Next, what was the result of what he did?
Our presentation was not good. It didnt reect the teamwork necessary for funding. But mostly it
affected how I feel about him and our relationshipIm not sure I trust him now.
Now put these togetherwhat you felt, what he did and the consequences of what he did. Take
your time, added Maria. Write it down. But remember, be brief because you need him to listen, she
said. Also, drop any yous; this is an I-statement. Saying, You did this and you did that, will cause
him to concentrate on defending himself with, I didnt mean to, or It wasnt my fault, instead of
responding to your statement.
Its not so easy, said Pete. How about this: After the meeting the other day, I was left feeling embar-
rassed and let down because the presentation did not reect how we work, and I felt like an idiot
when there was nothing left for me to say due to our not having had our agreed preliminary meeting
beforehand. It saddened me because Ive always enjoyed being equal partners in the project.
Thats great! exclaimed the others.
Let us know how you go, added Maria.

1 When they wont, use assertive skills pockets.
2 Checklist of assertive skills for correcting student behaviour:

a Use non-verbal messages . . . talk less, listen more.

b Apply self-talk . . . add this to your control strategy.
c Send I-messages or make I-statements when you need your students to learn about their
behaviour, take responsibility and change.
d State expectations . . . clarify needs.
e Use E.C.A. . . . for a quick response.
f Offer choices and options to enable responsibility.

3 When using assertive skills:

a Ensure that behaviour boundaries are maintained.

b Acknowledge acceptable behaviour.
c Convey to students whose behaviour is unacceptable that it needs to change.
d Provide opportunities that enable students to change and right the wrong.
e Enhance respect, responsibility and self-worth.
f Ensure that good working relationships are maintained.

Students will want you to act in the same old way because back then they knew what to do to
remain in their comfort zone. They will unconsciously try to get you to dance your old dance.
Stick with your new skills!
When They Cant Behave
Suppor tive pockets

When your students cant behave, adopt a supportive role and manage their behaviour using
pockets of empathic skills: these focus on enabling students to manage their own behaviour.

I had just begun my lesson when Alex came through the door, face like a thundercloud. He ignored me;
no apologies for being late. He shoved past other students, knocking things off desks, threw his bag
across his own desk and when it landed on the oor, swore loudly. This wasnt the rst time hed been
late but I didnt need this kind of behaviour interrupting my lesson, and I let him know in no uncertain
terms. I told him if he thought he could come into my class late and behave like that then he neednt
come at all. He said Good! grabbed his bag and walked out. I was left standing, with the students
watching me. Do I run after him? Do I pretend it didnt happen and just go on with the lesson? It was
awful. I didnt know what to do.
A beginning teachers story

Introduction to using supportive pockets

The sixth step in the control strategy (see Chapter 3, page 34) requires that you adopt a specic role in
response to recalcitrant misbehaviour. In the previous chapter, the role is assertivewhen the student is
able to deal with their own behaviour but wont. In this chapter, the students behaviour indicates that
they cant control their own behaviour and therefore you need to take on a supportive role to enable your
student to take responsibility for the behaviour and manage it themselves.
Knowing when to come in assertively and when to come in supportively is crucial to managing
behaviour effectively. How do you decide which role to adopt? Consider the behaviour and ask: Is this
student able to control their behaviour, or not? If the student is not in a situation to be able to, they
need your help and your role should be supportive. The behaviour is generally repetitive, but does not
have a voluntary character.
In the above beginning teachers classroom, she had difculty with Alexs behaviour and dealt with
it, but what happened? Was it effective? Why not?

Wayne was working on his project when he accidentally knocked it onto the oor. He swore loudly.
The teacher, Mr Smith, jumped up, admonished him for swearing and accused him of a total lack of
Wayne denied this angrily, blaming others, It wasnt my fault, he exclaimed, I was pushed! In react-
ing to Waynes language, wasnt Mr Smith just heaping fuel on the re?

64 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Considering these behaviours, both students had difculty containing themselves. One gets a sense
that the behaviour is involuntary, pushed out, impelled and seemingly driven by strong emotion.
However, there is a second dimension to these emotionally impelled behaviours (EIBs): the hidden
message. In situations like these, the student always has some problem or other and needs the teacher
to get the message.
By reacting to the behaviour, as both teachers did, they failed to pick up on any messages, the stu-
dents learnt littleleast of all not to repeat the behaviourand the teachers reactions heightened the
emotions, which continued to hold sway. If these teachers had adopted a supportive role, there would
have been a distinctly different response from these students.
EIBs always respond to this management approach: being supportive, reading the message and
containing the behaviour while guiding the student to address the need to take responsibility for their
own actions.

EIBs inform the teacher how the student is feeling or how they are coping with their world, both in school
and outside it.
Do not confuse the behaviours feeling and coping message with the cause of those feelings.
Whatever is actually bothering the student is not yours to deal with. Your primary focus is to guide the
student, help them to manage feelings and take control of their behaviour. In so doing, the student may
need to address the behaviours primary cause, and you should support them in that, but avoid getting
involved in it in any way.
In the beginning teachers classroom above, Alexs behaviour is a denite message that all is not
well in his world, but the cause of that is not the issue here, just helping him copemanaging his feel-
ings so he can take control of his behaviour and participate in the classis what is needed, with the
teacher in a supportive role.
In Mr Joness class, they have regular reading practice. Jamie loves it, always has his books, pens and
a ready smile. His friend, Davy, often complains of headaches when its his turn to read aloud, but his
mum makes sure he goes to school even though he doesnt always remember his reading book. Davy
also tends to dget or hum to himself, or turns around and talks to his friends. The students laugh when
he reads because he makes funny mistakes all the time.
Kelly also comes without her books, but unlike Davy she sits quietly, mostly gazing out the window.
She hates reading because the words are blurred and she knows that when she gets a word wrong the
other students will taunt her.
Mr Jones reacts to these behaviours by sometimes smiling, especially when Davy reads well, and
sometimes getting irritated when the others mess around, chatter or dont try. At other times he tells
them to concentrate harder, stop dgeting, stop humming, stop talking, stop staring out the window,
and so on. To Davy he typically says, Come on, Davy, hurry up. I need you to get through this. You can
do it. Youre a bright lad! and he keeps telling Kelly the words to help her get through the sentences.
Jamies behaviour reects a coping, happy student. Davy and Kellys behaviours are sending differ-
ent messages, but Mr Jones is ignoring these messages and is only trying to deal with the behavioursa
little like putting out spot res, so he can get back to the work at hand. But those behaviours, like spot
res, keep on popping up. Whats worse is that Mr Jones sometimes takes over and tries to help by telling
the students what they should be doing, instead of enabling them to learn to do it for themselves.
Mr Jones will keep repeating himself endlessly, and the misbehaviours will continue to pop up.
His students are not beneting in any way from his interventions. Mr Jones needs to understand his
supportive role, and to build his empathic skills.
W H E N T H E Y C A N T B E H AV E S U P P O R T I V E P O C K E T S 65

With empathy you can detect, read and decipher the behaviours message.
Empathy is described as The ability to recognize and understand another persons perceptions and
feelings and to accurately convey understanding through an accepting response (Haynes & Avery, 1979).
The emotional protection provided by a teachers empathy and their empathic response to a stu-
dents emotionally impelled behaviour creates an environment in which the student feels safe enough
to learn to manage the behaviour themselves.
There are important, positive spin-offs for these students. They learn what it means to take respon-
sibility and they learn to manage their own problems better. In general, they feel more able and their
sense of self-worth is enhanced. More importantly for the teacher, though, is that the students stop

An entirely different dance is required of the teacher when you apply empathy. The control strategy
helps start the process, and the assertive mode is put aside. Instead of focusing on your own needs, it
helps you focus on the students needs. However, although this may seem simple in theory, it can actu-
ally be quite difcult in practice.
Moving into this supportive role, rst pick up on the students emotional state and circumstances,
and then focus on enabling the student to cope with both. Only when the student feels safe and has a
sense of self-control will student and teacher be able to move forward and manage the situation. If you
persistently deny the students feelings, tell them what to do, or try to solve their problems, frustration
will almost certainly ensue. There will be little effective teaching or learning, and the behaviour will
likely worsen.


1 Returning to the beginning teachers situation at the start of this chapter and her refusal to accept
Alexs behaviour, this teacher was certainly within her rights not to accept such behaviour. But rather
than disregarding the students emotional state and reprimanding him, she could have come in
empathically and quietly acknowledged him with something like: You look as though youre having
a tough day, Alex. In fact you look pretty fed up and angry with the world. Take a minute, and if need
be, call me and Ill come over and explain what were doing today.
Alex would have been very relieved, realising that somebody understood. When feelings are
acknowledged, their intensity always diminishes and therefore the need to act-out also diminishes,
or even vanishes entirely. When the message has been received and acknowledged, the student can
begin to think about what to do.
This is the empathic response in the classroom, and the result is that students settle down
and everyone can begin to focus on the days lesson. This teacher now knows that Alex has a
problem and may follow-up later, particularly because Alex was late. Or she may choose to leave
it, knowing she has opened the door to further communication and Alex can come back to her if
he needs to.
2 What would have happened if Mr Smith, Waynes teacher, had tuned in to his anger or frustration
and responded to that, instead of admonishing him for swearing?
3 Mr Jones could have tuned in to the needs of his students through the messages in their behaviours,
and responded only to those afrming Jamies efforts with a quick word, noticing Davys discom-
fort and Kellys shame and acknowledging how uncomfortable they are reading in front of others.
Mr Jones would then have been in a position to enable them to begin to overcome their reading
66 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

It is interesting to note that empathy tends to bring out the best in students; they may rectify the
situation spontaneously. However, this doesnt always happen. So if you decide it is important to follow
up on the unacceptable behaviour, then empa-
thising followed by an I-message can ensure
T I P : Teachers who constantly get involved in and try
cooperation and maintain good teacherstudent
and solve a students problems can cause the student to
feel disempowered and inadequate. Such involvement also relations.
encourages dependency on the teachers interventions. Sometimes just asking, Having a bad day?
is enough.

The teachers coatthe supportive pockets

When faced with EIBs, use supportive skills to maintain learning ow and classroom equilibrium, and to
keep students on task. These skills come from the left-hand side of your coat, just above the heart.

Non-verbal messages
When working assertively, you focus on your own non-verbal messages (see Chapter 5, page 54), but
when working supportively you need to be aware of students non-verbal messages. Sometimes teach-
ers only become consciously aware of these unspoken messages when they become patently obvious,
and that may be too late. Being skilled in interpreting students non-verbal messages can often enable
teachers to pre-empt misbehaviour.


1 Dress and appearance

These can reveal a students state of mind or situation. Watch out for any changes, which can be
subtle but more often are amboyant. They can indicate an underlying difculty, but in adolescence
may simply be a statement of independent spirit; either way, tune in and remain observant.
2 Eyes
Eyes express a multitude of emotions and trigger as many responses. They convey signals that enable
us to modify our behaviour. They reect well-being, both physical and emotional. Too much or too
little eye contact from the teacher can be uncomfortable and often results in students acting-out.
3 Facial expressions
Teachers who automatically observe facial expressions prevent themselves from unconsciously react-
ing to them. They quickly learn to notice emotional changes and nd behaviour more predictable
and understandable, and are far more likely to give an appropriate empathic response if needed.
4 Body language
Students who tend towards frustration, anger, aggression or even violence, can exhibit subtle signs
in their body language prior to an explosion or attack. Teachers who tune in to a students body
language and learn what the indicators are can respond appropriately and also teach the student to
work towards preventing difcult or violent behaviours from occurring.
5 Spatial awareness
Requirements for personal space vary.
T I P : Interpretations are subjective. If yours are very
Overcrowding can quickly lead to dis-
different from other peoples, or if you have a query
ruptive behaviour. Notice how students
about a behaviour, then discuss with a colleague whose
management you respect, for their possible take on that sometimes move desks or are disruptive
particular behaviour. when sitting too close to each other. Over-
crowded classrooms can be more difcult
W H E N T H E Y C A N T B E H AV E S U P P O R T I V E P O C K E T S 67

to manage purely because people feel their personal space or space bubble is being invaded, and
young children especially tend to act-out either physically or verbally.

A teachers proximity to students, or when approaching them, can catch their attention and bring
them back on task without a word. Moving too close to a student, though, can sometimes result in an
angry or challenging reaction.

Experiment with seating and desk arrangements. Find what works best for you and your students. Desks
can be arranged in lines, rows, in U, L or H shapes, or in small groups. You could ask students to arrange
the desks for their best working arrangement and see what results. Observe other teachers classroom
arrangements and their use of space. You need to plan the
most comfortable seating arrangement for behaviour and T I P : Rows reinforce the teachers authority, side-
learning. by-side is cooperative for students and circles can
equalise. Being opposite is more formal but it can
6 Touch be also more competitive and confrontational.
Dontit can have legal consequences.
7 Cultural differences
What is considered acceptable in one culture is not necessarily so in another. For example, in France,
greeting with a kiss on both cheeks is normal, in Japan people bow in greeting, and in Australia its
the handshake. Learning and using the culturally acceptable behaviours of your students is a
sign of respect when teaching in a multicultural school. Also, it is extremely easy to offend without
knowing it. For example, looking at an older person who is addressing you is considered respectful
in some cultures. In others it is considered the height of rudeness.
In a multicultural school, discussing, learning and incorporating a diverse set of culturally
acceptable behaviours or protocols into ones classroom behaviour norms can be an enlightening
experience for both you and your students. For example, a formal greeting can be Good morning,
or Good afternoon, while bowing to each other or shaking hands may be appropriate in pre-school,
where the teacher may formally shake hands and share a warm word with students at both the
beginning and the end of the day.
Students feel secure in knowing what is expected of them, and this helps to take away the need
to act-out, or misbehave.

Make a habit of tuning in to your students non-verbal messages. They are sometimes your only indica-
tion of a problem.
Try the following approach to help you do this. Remember not to be judgemental, not to categorise
the person and not to focus solely on the persons persona. You are looking for messages only.
Look at the person and take in the general effect. Ask yourself if there is any overall message the
student is sending.
Now focus your attention on, and quickly scan in turn, the students hair, eyes, expression, general
clothing and shoes. Messages?
Consider the students body language. If they are sitting, take in the general posture and then look
at the position of their head and shoulders, followed by arms and legs. Messages? If the student is
walking, focus briey on their gait, stride and arm swing. Messages?
Finally, if you get the chance, take note of how much eye contact the student gives you and of their
personal space needs.
68 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Use the following diagram to guide your actions.




1 An individuals persona is the self they are most comfortable presenting to the outside world. Be
aware that its character is intimately related to the persons cultural norms and age. In general,
the personas intensity and protective function increase with age. A persons persona can (and
often does) portray the exact opposite of what they are feeling. For our purposes it is generally best
ignored because it obscures the messages.
2 A change in a persons usual non-verbal messages is always signicant.

Open responses versus closed responses

In order to understand open responses, rst look at closed ones.
A closed response denies the emotions and feelings of another person.
When we discover that a students behaviour is being impelled by a personal problem, the tendency
is to try and focus on it in the belief that getting rid of it will correct the students behaviour. That
well-meaning but misguided focus usually involves the teacher trying to solve the students problem or
deect them away from it, to minimise it or, worse, to deny it altogether. Our motivation for this arises
from a genuine concern, a desire for the student not to feel angry, upset or frustrated, and to allay our
own feelings of discomfort.
The constant mistake these efforts make is to ignore the importance of what the person is actu-
ally feeling. Doing so prevents the person from addressing and dealing with whatever it is that gave
rise to those feelings.
Look at these example responses, where a personal problem is driving each students behaviour.

1 Sir, Sir, someones stolen my book again! The teacher replies: Why dont you look after it? followed
by You dont need it now, so just get on with your work.
2 Alice cut a hole in my dress. The teacher replies: Im sure it can be patched up . . . Why dont you . . .
and the teacher begins a dialogue, which may take some time and which the teacher does not have,
to sort out this problem. There must be a better wayand there is.
3 Peter didnt measure the wood correctly and now it doesnt t. Our projects all messed up! The
teacher replies: That will teach you to be more careful in future. Anyway, Im sure its not that bad.

Each of these situations is likely to give rise to more negative feelings in these students because their
teachers have blamed, advised or interrogated them, along with denying their feelings. These typical
closed responses shut the door on empathy.

Open responses
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish (1996), both protges of Haim Ginott, commented on a:

. . . direct connection between how kids feel and how they

T I P : Reecting back a persons feelings is
behave. When kids feel right, theyll behave right. How do we
not always easy. Dont worry if you dont get
help them to feel right? By accepting their feelings! (p. 23)
it quite right, as the person will automatically
correct you. Just remain quiet and listen.
W H E N T H E Y C A N T B E H AV E S U P P O R T I V E P O C K E T S 69

An open response accepts the emotions and feelings of another person.

Have you ever experienced total blackness? Imagine you are in an underground car park and sud-
denly the whole place vanishes into darkness. What would be your rst reactionto reach out, touch a
car, a wall, a nearby column, reassert your reality, get your bearings, or to freeze on the spot? You begin
to feel concerned, even a little scared. Then you hear a sharp sound behind you, followed by a gentle
scraping noise. You are in total darkness. You cannot see a thing and your imagination starts working
overtime. You immediately think the worstsomeone is behind you and that slightly scared feeling
becomes an overwhelming fear. As your emotions take hold, all logic and common sense vanish. You
cannot think, you want to run but cant. Your emotions reign and you are losing control. Suddenly, there
is another noise, closer to you; you start to panic and nd you are frozen, unable to do anything.
To regain control and begin to manage this situation and nd a way out of the darkness you need
to take charge of those runaway feelings. The only way to manage and move forward is to counter the
rising emotions. But that is a learned skill and unless you have been taught and have practised the skill,
you are likely to become a mass of jelly, trembling with fear and totally unable to move.
Suddenly there is a clickyou know its a gun and someone is behind you. You are going to die. But
its a door opening and suddenly light oods in. Someone has opened the outside doors. Your relief is
immense and almost overwhelming as you turn around to see who was behind you . . . there on the oor
is a small mouse scufing in paper and wood waste.
Opening the door is enabling the person to see that their emotions are controlling them: It is
giving the person the space and condence to re-take control, cope and deal with the situation. Being
able to do this for students can have a profoundly positive impact on their behaviour and on teacher
student relationships.
Open responses are the rst skill in empathic listening, and open this door. They are seldom received
quite so dramatically, but nonetheless are often greeted with great relief and gratitude.
When the students feelings are controlling their actions, you need to focus on the person, as opposed
to the behaviour. This requires looking at the student, assessing for any non-verbal messages, and then
using you to suggest and reect a possible feeling. For example:
You sound upset.
You seem concerned.
You look sad. (angry, frustrated etc.)
T I P : Reecting very intense feelings
The students (usually relieved) response will conrm or correct
can lead to a loss of control. In the
you. Either way, they will get a sense that you understand. If emo-
classroom, Thats tough or similar
tions are running high, there may be an outpouring of feelings. Just phrases can acknowledge a student
accept and listen. Some students may need a few minutes before while enabling them to maintain dignity.
responding, and others may need to go away and think about it.


1 When you give an open response, there is a very strong temptation to follow it with an instruction or
solution. For example:

Peter didnt measure the wood correctly and now it doesnt t. Our projects all messed up! The
teacher replies: I can see youre fed up, Steve (Popen response). I think you should get another
piece and measure it carefully this time, and then you wont have a problem tting it (O giving

Or, Mary, I see youre very upset because youve spilt all your paint (Popen response). Why are
you always so careless? Clean it up and start again (O interrogating and giving instruction).
70 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Or, Billy, I see youre angry because someone pinched your ruler (Popen response). Why dont
you just borrow another one? (O giving solution)

The rst partthe open response, accepts the feelings and is helpful. But the second part is not
helpfuldo not give suggestions or instructions, or offer solutions. The solutions need to come from
them but later, because students especially need a space in which the open response can do its work.
After your response . . . pause!

Your role is to enable the student to manage their feelings, and therefore their behaviour, not to
solve the problem or cast yourself in the role of solution-provider or responsibility-taker or thera-
pist. Also, the student needs time for their feelings to subside before being able to focus on solving
the problem for themselves.
2 Do not confuse thoughts with feelings. For some people, tuning in and acknowledging feelings are
not so easy. For example, consider this question: Whats your attitude to child pornography?
If you say something like, I think they ought to lock up those perverts and throw the key away,
you are expressing feelings. If you were to say, There should be harsher sentences, you are express-
ing thoughts.
Being aware of the difference is crucial to managing your own emotions and enabling others to
do likewise. You need to be able to identify and acknowledge feelings, not facts. Only when feelings
and emotions are under control can a person think clearly and be able to take control of their own
self and behaviour, and begin to manage the situation.

Always pause after reecting a students feelings. The student must lead the interaction and
make the decisions. Your role is supportivedont tell, just listen.

Assist students to develop a feeling vocabulary. Incorporate this into lessons, with activities that use
mad, bad, sad and glad as your base words, and make it into a game for younger students or a fun
assignment for others. Not only are you enhancing their use of language but you are also teaching them
how to manage their emotions.
For example, in teams, groups or individually:
Find as many words as you can that describe how we feel.
Draw faces that show how people feel.
Add a new feeling word every day to your feeling list and make sure you use that word ve times
during the day, either speaking or writing it.

Accepting feelings does not mean accepting behaviour. For teachers it may be important to
acknowledge the feelings while limiting the behaviour. I can see you are angry, but we do not hit
others. We use words, not sts.

What happens after the open response?

When the emotions have been managed with an open response and their intensity diminishes, what
happens next?
W H E N T H E Y C A N T B E H AV E S U P P O R T I V E P O C K E T S 71

For example, a teacher sees Josie who is injured, sitting and dgeting on the bench, and says: You
must be feeling sad not being able to play with the others today. Yeah! Oh well! replies Josie, Its only
for three more weeks. The teacher cannot change the situation because Josie is under strict medical
supervision. But acknowledging that she is having a difcult timefeeling unhappyhelps her to
cope, as she indicates in her reply.
However, Mike is also sitting out a game, but for a completely different reason. The teacher says,
Mike, you look fed up!
Yeah, I am, he says, I have to wait my turn before I can join in. Its not fair.
Mmm, says the teacher.
Its really not fair, says Mike, one of us gets left out every time and this is the third time for me.
That must be very frustrating, says the teacher.
At this stage Mike needs a little more than just acknowledging how frustrated he is feeling. He has
a problem and really needs a bit of help in working out what to do about it. What Mike needs is the next
supportive skill, a teachers open questions.

Open questions versus closed questions

In order to understand open questions, lets rst look at closed ones.

Closed questions often begin with why, or a verb. For example:
Why did you do that?
Are you going to sit there all day, or are you going to so some work?
Closed questions close the door on communication.
What happens when the teacher is without empathic skills and is not applying pockets?

STUDENT Alice cut a hole in my dress.

TEACHER Dont be so upset. Im sure she didnt mean it (denying feelings).
STUDENT Dont you believe it. She meant it. And Im going to get her back.
TEACHER (turns to Alice): Alice, Why did you do that? (interrogating)
ALICE It wasnt me or I didnt do it are the likely replies.
STUDENT Yes, you did and Im going to get you for it.
TEACHER No, you are not (hooked in).
STUDENT Yes, I am and you cant stop me (and the dance continues).

Lets look at the same scene with a teachers skilled responses.

These begin with what, when, where, who, which and how, but never why when the egg is high.

STUDENT Alice cut a hole in my dress.

TEACHER You look really upset (pause). T I P : Focus on your students rst,
STUDENT Upset? Im furious! It was my new dress and . . . establish rapport, then the rest
TEACHER Youre angry, really angry! will follow. Sometimes it may be
STUDENT Yes, and not just me, wait til my mum sees it, shell slaugh- necessary to briey put aside the
ter me. I hate Alice . . . I dont know what to do. lesson until you have built the
relationship bridge, because only
Now the door is opensomeone has acknowledged and accepted her then will you be able to focus on
feelings, and because she has expressed them, their intensity has dimin- the work for the day.
ished. The student will soon be able to start thinking and the teacher can
72 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

then use open questions to support and encourage her to nd a possible solution, if there is one. If not,
she can start working out a way to cope with the situation.

TEACHER What would help you? What do you need to do? Think about it for a couple of minutes
and call me when you can tell me how youre going to handle it. What do you think would
work best?

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

Extract from TFBS group discussion
It was towards the end of their session when an opportunity arose for anyone to share an issue that had
been bothering them, hoping for some ideas and strategies to manage the situation better during the

I just wanted to ask something before we nish? said Kate. Things have been going pretty well, but this
morning one of my students suddenly turned on me saying, I dont like you. I dont like this class and
I dont like this work and Im not doing any of it. I was totally taken aback. He had no reason to
speak to me like that, and, in front of everyone.
Whew, said Pete, out of nowhere!
That was rude, added Carla.
But was it? Maria asked, Wasnt he just stating how he felt about things? Kate, how did you feel?
Well, I care a lot about my students and Id given a lot of thought to that lesson, and I was hurt and
he embarrassed me in front of the class, replied Kate.
So what did you do? asked Maria.
I feel bad now, because I gave as good as I got and told him I didnt like him much either, nor his
work for that matter, but as he was in this class he would do what he was told. I was so angry. It got
us nowhere. I know I should never have done that.
Its a wonder he didnt walk out, said Pete.
He may as well have done for all the work we got done.
Something was certainly bothering him, said Maria. He must have been really hurting and angry
to hit out at you like that. I bet it had nothing to do with you. Perhaps a problem at home? But your
reply swung into a cycle of revenge. Can you see that?
I think so. I took it personally, didnt I? I reacted by hurting him back. I should have taken a big deep
breath and stood back and realised he was in a bad place.
Its so easy to take it personally, said Maria. But youre right, I dont think you would have reacted
like that if youd taken space. How do you think he would have responded if you had stood back and
instead said, You look pretty fed up and angry this morning Alex?
Id have thought hed feel relieved, said Pradesh, that someone understands.
Yes, I see, I should have stopped and tuned in rather than get angry and hit back, said Kate,
because he had a problem. I feel terrible. Ill call him in tomorrow and apologise. What I did was
uncalled for and inexcusable.
W H E N T H E Y C A N T B E H AV E S U P P O R T I V E P O C K E T S 73

Dont beat yourself up about it, said Pete. Just go back and put it right. Hell learn a lot from
What Petes saying is important, added Maria. You are teaching him what to do when you make a
mistakeits an important lesson for everyone.

1 When they cant, use supportive skills pockets.
2 Checklist of supportive skills enabling students to take control of their behaviour:
Non-verbal messages . . . be aware, tune in, decode.
Open responses . . . reect back feelings with you or it sounds . . . it seems . . . it looks . . . When
empathising you are focusing on the person so that they are able to manage their behaviour
and the situation.
Open questions enable the student to move forward and manage whatever problem or issue
may be concerning them.
Problem solving (Chapter 7) is an appropriate follow through if further support is needed.

3 When using supportive skills:

Remember that the students behaviour is communicating a personal problem or difculty
they have to deal with. Dont take overenable and empower.
Always respond to emotions rst. You cannot change a persons feelings, but acknowledging
them reduces their intensity.
Always pause after giving an open responsereecting feelings.
Give space for the intensity of feeling to diminish and for the students thinking to return.
Remember the egg.
Do not come in with the answers: you are enabling the student to take control, make their
own decisions and nd their own answers.
Sometimes just the acknowledgement of their feeling and situation is all the student needs to
move forward and deal with what is concerning them.
For some students there may be no solution as such, but acknowledging with an open response
will enable them to move forward and begin coping.
Only use open questions if the person needs more support to sort out a problem. Open
questions focus the student on moving towards a solution. Open questions begin with . . .
What, where, when, who, which or how
But never why when the egg is high (Chapter 3, page 29).

4 What you think is not important. Your role is to enable your students to think, and to manage the
problems that beset them. From these experiences they will learn to cope and to gain condence
in managing their problems, their emotions and their behaviour.
When They Dont Behave
Consequence pockets

When students dont behave and all skilful interventions have been applied to no avail, you need to
follow through to ensure they stop their behaviour and learn to behave differently.

We are told to use consequences, but why dont they always work?
Frustrated beginning teacher

Introduction to using follow-through pockets

Teachers who are proactive, who plan for behaviour, whose mindset is positive and who practise interac-
tive management rarely need to follow through on misbehaviour.
However, no matter how successful a teacher you are, there are students who, despite skilful inter-
vention, will go too far, push limits, infringe rights and not respond positively. When this happens, you
have certain options available to you: these options come in three distinct areas of tiny pockets on your
coatconsequential learning, problem solving and punishment.
Learning about ones behaviour is as essential to a persons development as learning to read and
write. Therefore we need to carefully consider these three options, along with their outcomes, and ask:
What am I achieving?
What am I really teaching?
How does this affect relationships and learning?
Lets take a look at a classroom situation and see what happens when a teacher reacts to a student,
the situation subsequently escalates and the student then goes too far, resulting in punishment. Use this
as a reection exercise and ask yourself: What would I have done? especially with the knowledge you
now have of the interactive management process.

Classroom scenario
Ned was having a bad day. He was late for school because of things at home. He slipped into class
but hed left half his books and his project at home, and was now sitting quietly in the back of his least
favourite class. His teacher approached.
Wheres your book? asked the teacher.
I havent got it, he mumbled. Even more quietly, Its at home.
Dont you mumble at me, said the teacher.
I wasnt mumbling, said Ned and then added under his breath, I was just talking quietly.
What was that? demanded his teacher.
W H E N T H E Y D O N T B E H AV E C O N S E Q U E N C E P O C K E T S 75

Nothing, said Ned.

That was not nothing, said the teacher, Dont you come into this lesson without your books, sit there
doing nothing and then mutter under your breath at me. Who do you think you are? And while were
about it, wheres your project? Everyone else has theirs, why not you? And why were you late? I saw you
sneak in, and wheres your apology?
Ned (under his breath): I hate this ***** school and its ***** teachers!
What did you say? asked the teacher.
Nothing, said Ned.
Yes, you did, said the teacher, dont tell me you didnt. Your problem is youre just too smart for your own
good. If you . . .
Oh drop dead! said Ned, now getting angry himself.
How dare you speak to me like that! Who do you think you are! I wont have language like that in my
class! Ill see you on suspension and then well see how you fare!
The rest of the class just watched and waited. They were not too keen on this teacher and were a bit
apprehensive as to what would happen next. All thought of work vanished.
The teacher, now highly emotional, was ready to pounce on the next one who crossed her path. Not
a happy class.


In the interactive management process (see Figure 3, page 15), following through on unacceptable
behaviour comes only after you have been proactive and applied the skills that prevent, correct or sup-
port and afrm.
We all have bad days, and we all make mistakes, get pushed and lose it. When that happens,
look at the wreckage. The above incident started with a minor indiscretion and ended up with a major
confrontation. It would now take a huge investment in time and energy for this teacher to resolve the
incident to the point of regaining student cooperation and respect.


It is your job to manage, so why not prevent this sort of thing occurring in the rst place? What could
have resulted from this situation if this teacher had applied aspects of the interactive management
process, used her control strategy, moved in with interactive skills, or even been proactive and prepared
for this type of problem with a pocket called no books, aimed at getting positive outcomes? Lets take
a look at this again.
The student is sitting quietly in class, knowing he has no books and no project. His teacher asks him
where his books are. Wishing he was somewhere else, the student mutters in reply. Instead of getting
hooked into the muttering, the teacher could stay with the issue and ask him what he can do about it
because there is work to be done. She might suggest he
takes a minute to work out a plan, and he can tell her
T I P : Grade behaviours from 1 to 5, with 1 being
what his solution is when she returns.
least disruptive and 5 most disruptive. Reserve
There was no need for Neds teacher to get angry,
follow-through action for behaviours graded 5.
or to take the students behaviour personally. If she had Dont nd yourself following through with
managed the situation effectively, she wouldnt have consequences or problem solving for minor issues.
had to face an angry student at all, and the rest of the If you do, your pockets will be empty and you will
class would have continued with their work. This student have nowhere to go when the going gets tough.
would likely be grateful to his teacher for not shouting
76 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

at him or punishing him, and for giving him the opportunity to sort out his problem. If sorting it out is
difcult, then the two of them can jointly look at the students options. Good relationships would then
be maintained.
Which classroom would you rather be in?
Many follow-through, limit-setting actions, whether they be given as consequences or punish-
ment, can be avoided. Capable teachers do their very best to never get to this stage. How? By aiming
to be proactive, and because they have learned to become interactively skilled and continually to plan
for behaviour.


Plan for behaviour

prior to the eventso you are well prepared for any situation
in the momentassessing what will work best in a specic situation
in retrospectafter the event, reecting on actions taken,
while ensuring control and that your pockets are ready with skills to apply. If the skill or strategy
achieved a positive outcome, then ensure it is slipped into a pocket, ready for next time. But if not,
plan how to manage better next time.

Managing the hidden curriculum is not easy, and it

T I P : You do not have to know all the requires you to give time to planning, to becoming skilled in
answers when facing difcult behaviours. your management and to building good working relationships.
Focus on using your management skills to However, this time taken for the hidden curriculum is balanced
enable students to change their behaviour. by time gained and output achieved in teaching and learning
the open curriculum.

The teachers coatthe follow-through pockets

Following through what are your options?
When students overstep the limits, or go beyond the boundariesbreak rules, infringe rights or behave
in a manner that is detrimental to themselves or othersit is then your prerogative and responsibility to
step in and act. The key to a positive outcome lies in your choice of action.
Following through requires you to consider whether to apply consequential learning, problem solv-
ing or punishment. You also need to take into account age and maturity, developmental stage and tasks,
and moral development, along with the students capacity to learn. What is considered right and wrong
in the mind of a young child can be quite different to that of an adolescent, even though they all have
an innate sense of what is fair and just.
So, what are your options when a student needs rm handling or disciplining?

Consequences are easy for students to understand as they are based on cause and effect. From a very
young age, students have experienced cause and effect; for example, if they touch a hot stove theyll get
burnt; if they leave their favourite book out in the rain it will get ruined. Students do not normally consider
that they have choices when it comes to their own behaviour, but through having experienced cause
and effect, they have already learned about choosing, and can also learn to choose between alternative
W H E N T H E Y D O N T B E H AV E C O N S E Q U E N C E P O C K E T S 77

w Consequences focus on the behaviour, not the person.

w Consequences teach students about their behaviour through the reactions and feedback of others,
and to become sensitive to how their behaviour affects others.
w Students learn that unacceptable behaviour brings negative feedback and that this will continue as
long as their misbehaviour continues, and that consequences are a result of their own choices.


Consequential learning is the course of action taken when students go too far, or push the limits or
boundaries; it teaches students that their behaviour has resulting consequences and that these conse-
quences can change for them if they choose to act differently.
The basic message of consequential learning is that behaviour involves choices and the taking
of responsibility for ones own actions. In addition, there are in-built lessons on self-control and

w Explain, so students understand and realise fully that when they behave unacceptably, they make a
choice, even if done unthinkingly.
w This is further claried when students realise that they could have behaved differently in that
situation, but as they chose to behave in that particular way, they also chose the consequence to
that behaviour. Knowing this, students become conscious of their behaviour and more alert to its
w This is further claried for the student when you express an expectation for the student to be able
to choose to behave differently, more acceptably, next time. This does not change the present con-
sequence but enables students to see that positive, acceptable behaviour has positive outcomes. It
leads them to reconsider their behaviour and learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Negative and positive feedback through consequences continues to teach students about their behav-
iour. So next time when they do act differently and the teacher acknowledges this preferred and
responsible behaviour, the student is afrmed in their actions, a positive lesson is learned and self-worth
is enhanced.

What you consider to be consequences can be easily misconstrued as punishment by your students. This
is a major stumbling block in managing limit-setting behaviour.
The 5Rs provide a basic guideline to clarify the difference between punishment and consequences.
The example given for each R is simple, but emphasises the importance of focusing on the behav-
iournot the person (as punishment does)and on planning for behaviour so it is effectively managed
with positive outcomes.

1 RELATE : Consequences must relate the sanction to the behaviour and not the person, so that they
teach students about their own behaviour.

Example: A student is late for class without an explanation.

a O Who do you think you are coming late to my class? Ive had enough of you. You can go to
detention. Student swears. And if you carry on like that it will be double detention!
b P Students who are late to class are required to make up the time lost and work missed. I will
see you at 1 oclock, at lunch detention.

Observation: Relating a consequence to a misbehaviour is not always easy, but if it is a carefully

considered consequence and the other four Rs are in place, it has a very good chance of achieving
changes in behaviour.
78 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

2 REASONABLE : Consequences need to be reasonable; that is, fair and just and not just at the whim
of the teacher. Students do not have to like the consequence; that is not the issue. It is the result of
their choice. If they realise or see it as such, and as fair, they will accept it, albeit grudgingly so. You
just need to remain rm.

Example: A student is messing around in class, work is not being done and has to be nished.

a O Im sending you to the Principal to explain why you arent working.

b P Those who dont complete the exercises will need to stay behind at break to nish them.
Observation: Expecting a positive outcome can be a powerful motivator. For example, Get stuck in
everyone; those who nish the exercises quickly can take this opportunity to work on whatever they

3 RESPONSIBILITY : Consequences need to teach responsibility by emphasising that the choice of

behaviour was the students, and therefore they are responsible for the consequences. Nothing
is being done to the student; the subsequent consequences are the result of their own choices.
It is extremely important that you convey to students that they really do have the ability to choose to
do it differently and acceptably, and that your expectation is for them to get it right next time.

Example: A student is caught writing grafti all over his school desk.

a O You will write out 100 times I must not scribble on desks.
b P People who choose to write on desks, choose to clean desks. I will see you after school tomor-
row with some sandpaper to clean your desk. Here is a note to your parents to explain what is
happening, what you need and why you will be late tomorrow.

Observation: Although it may take an initial outlay of your time and energy to get the behaviour
right, there will be many rewards in time, reduced stress levels and reduced student misbehaviour.

4 REPARATION : The opportunity to put things right as part of the consequence is more obvious with
certain types of behaviour than others. However, the opportunity for reparation is a powerful aspect
of consequential learning, because by redeeming the situation the student learns through the expe-
rience that they can get it right and, as a result, self-esteem is enhanced.

Example: A student is mean and hurtful.

a O Thats detention for you. I do not permit anyone being mean and hurtful in this class.
b P That was a mean and hurtful thing to say. We do not speak like that in our class. You need to
put things right between you. What can you do to make her feel better?

Observation: Reparation is not just about making amends, putting things right or xing what is
broken. It enables students to experience doing it right. For example, a student who breaks a rule
can show that they can keep that rule, or if late for class, is on time the next day, or a student who
hurts another is not only able to make amends, but can also learn to care for others.

5 RESPECT : Consequences convey respect for the person and maintain their dignity. It is the behaviour
that must change, not the personthe student cannot change who they are, only what they do or
say. It helps you to remember that students act in a certain manner because they feel that way, and
not to take it personally, even if the behaviour seems to be aimed at you. It is a reection of how
the student feels. Accept the feelings but limit the behaviour. Acknowledging the students feelings
enables them to more quickly come to terms with the situation they have created.
W H E N T H E Y D O N T B E H AV E C O N S E Q U E N C E P O C K E T S 79

Example: A student is rude to you.

a O You are going to detention for being so rude!
b P I think you and I need a quiet word. Ill see you at the end of the lesson. Then later, I could
see you were angry, but I dont speak to you like that and I dont expect to be spoken to like that.
We have an agreement about respect in our room, and I expect everyone to keep to it.

It is important to plan for consequences.

w Firstly, plan so you rarely have to follow through, because you have the skills ready to prevent,
correct, support and afrm in your pockets.
w Secondly, plan to have as many consequential pockets as possible
to meet all foreseeable situations.
T I P : If your students are used to
Consequences, consequences and more consequences. Please! being punished and it suits them
A beginning teacher for various reasons, and you apply
consequential learning, they may try
To respond to the beginning teacher who asks for more consequences, to make you go back to punishing. Be
please, there is no single answer or a perfect consequence because persistent, stay rm and remember
students are all different, behaviours happen in so many different that this is a learning process.
contexts and against different school backgrounds.


When you face a situation in which you need to apply consequences:
Let the 5Rs run through your mind. You can choose where to place the emphasis you require, depend-
ing on the situation at hand.
If necessary, give yourself space, take ve before following through with consequential learning.
Far better to take time and apply a considered consequence than to rush in and later realise you are
unable to make it work. You can say something like, That is totally unacceptable and were going to
have to deal with it, so Ill speak to you at the end of the lesson/after school/when Im ready.
Keep the focus of consequences rmly on what you wish to achieve, remembering that you need
to maintain good working relationships while ensuring ongoing
teaching and learning.
T I P : Students will only change
When you have decided upon a consequence and it worked, add their behaviour if your follow-through
that pocket to all the other little pockets on that special area of actions provide reason or they see
your coat. Continue to build your consequence pockets. Share benet from doing so.
them with colleagues.

Problem solving
Problem solving (see Figure 3, page 15) is part of supportive management and is the preferred follow
through when a student has a problem that affects their behaviour and learning.
Problem solving is also a viable option when you have a problem with behaviour, whether class,
group or individual behaviour. Since problem solving calls for all parties involved in the problem to
participate in nding a solution, there tends to be a strong sense of ownership, and therefore effective
taking of responsibility.
Problem solving is an option for use when you need students to:

1 Take greater responsibility for their actions; for example, when students are continually late for
class and you need them to own the problem, take responsibility and nd a solution that will work.
80 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

2 Carefully consider their behaviour; for example, a group is in conict and you need them to understand
the issues and all work together to nd solutions to resolve the conict and get on with their work.
3 Be supportive; for example, when class library books are missing and you need each student to be
personally responsible for nding and looking after all the class library books.
4 Focus on and resolve a specic problem (class, group or individual); for example, when a student
has a full sports training program and their school work is being neglected, and you need the
student to nd a solution that is acceptable to all.
5 Establish behaviour guidelines or ground rules for the classroom (see Chapter 1).

Problem solving is a powerful follow-through option as it enables students to take responsibility for
what is rightly theirs while empowering them to do whatever is necessary to correct the situation; to put
things right.
Remember to set aside a time for this. In deferring you are also allowing time for peoples emotions
to settle, if at variance, so they are better able to work on solutions.

The simple ve-step process of problem solving requires certain skills to be applied in sequence:

1 State the problem clearly. Describe the situation and state only facts.
There must be no blaming, naming or shamingjust statements of fact. No one must feel
2 Acknowledge any feelings, difculties and needs (with whole class, small groups or one-on-one).
This keeps everyone in thinking mode and prevents anyone blocking the process because their
emotions are still running a little high or they feel unheard.
3 Brainstorm ideas and possible solutions.
w Share the roles and tasks within class or group and the group elects a spokesperson, a timekeeper
and a scribe to list peoples ideas and write them up on the board for all to see. You can merge
into the group or class and, although you have power of veto, will nd it is rarely required.
w With younger children, including those of pre-school age, you may need to take the major role
and facilitate the process, but their participation will be no less and they will be just as involved
and creative.
w Everyones contributions are welcome. An important rule for groups is that all suggestions must
be accepted, regardless of how far-fetched they may seem. The process encourages creativity;
seemingly crazy ideas can sometimes lead the way to positive change.
w It is vital that you do not go into the process with your own agenda, preconceived ideas or
solutions. If participants sense any manipulation, the exercise will not work, and you will lose
cooperation, trust and credibility. The process must be a search for what will best solve the
present dilemma.
4 Choose possible solutions from those now listed on the board.
w Students are invited to delete possible solutions they feel will not work. Trust them to use
common sense: they always do so as long as they see this as a real exercise and not a process in
w Usually you will end up with several possible solutions or ideas. If in a group you may wish to
vote for the best one to try (you also have a vote); or prioritise and take the rst one and work
with that; or you may choose two or three to try, depending on the original problem.
5 Evaluate.
w Set a future date and time when all parties meet to evaluate the outcome of the solution/s that
were tried. Decide to continue with the agreed solution if it is working for everyone, or to go back
to stages 3 and 4 and review all possible alternatives, and then make a more considered decision.
W H E N T H E Y D O N T B E H AV E C O N S E Q U E N C E P O C K E T S 81

Participation leads to ownership, which leads to taking responsibility.

Punishment is a third option. It is important that, along with the other two options, it is carefully under-
stood in relation to its outcomes before being applied.
Punishment is applied when people go too far, or step beyond the boundaries of acceptable behav-
iour. Schools reect the wider society in applying punishment.
Punishment is what a person is compelled to undergo because their behaviour has been deemed unac-
ceptable by a higher authority and they are required to pay or suffer for what they have done. The higher
authority is vested with the power to judge the person and enforce retribution, as in our judicial system.
Teachers are vested with the authority and power to judge and punish for unacceptable behaviour.
When punishment has been decreed, the student is compelled to submit to it.

For teachers, punishment is an immediate, often effective quick x; a simple and straightforward proc-
ess that is expected to teach the student not to repeat the behaviour. Punishment can be effective in the
right situation, when administered appropriately by a respected teacher, when the punishment is seen
as fair and when the reason for it is clear and unambiguous.
In reality, punishment has become somewhat of an anachronism in most (misbehaviour) situations.
Its application is still widespread, mainly because the statutory rules and regulations of all schools
necessarily provide for the mandatory administration of penalties for a range of (usually) serious (behav-
ioural) offences. Also, when teachers have a behaviour problem in the classroom and are unable or
unwilling to apply interactive behaviour management skills, they really have no alternative but to use
the school rules to punish.

w Punishment is deemed appropriate when reserved for serious misbehaviours. For example, when a
student hurts or endangers themselves or others, destroys property or infringes basic human rights.
In these cases the school steps in and the teacher is obliged to enforce school rules and follow
through with the appropriate punishment. (A statutory rule has been broken.)
w How a punishment is viewed by studentsthe message it sendsgoverns its effectiveness in teach-
ing about behaviour.

Problems with punishment

1 Punishment and authority
In education, the authoritarian fantasy is that teachers have the power to control students. This is only
true if students subscribe to the same belief. In reality, punishment doesnt always work, either as a
deterrent or to prevent repeated misbehaviour, because at the heart of punishment are the issues of
power and control.
In the classroom, the teacher holds nominal power, control and authority, while the student does
not. But the general life experiences of children inform them that they too have power and are a force to
be reckoned with. The result is that students are likely to challenge punishment as well as the teachers
authority if they see it as:

w Unfair, inappropriate or unreasonable; either the punishment doesnt t the crime, or it has little
relevance to the behaviour.
82 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

w Victimisation, whereby the student feels the teacher is taking it out on them or the punishment is
experienced as a hurt being applied indifferently.
w Arbitrarily applied or because the teacher doesnt know what else to do. This is judged as weak and
the teacher inept.

Inappropriate repeated punishment commonly results in:

w Refusal and confrontation, leading to power struggles that can escalate and even result in perpetual
conict between teacher and student.
w Resentful submission to the punishment that typically triggers passive-aggressive behaviour and
denigration of the teacher and the school.
w Becoming resigned to being unable to confront, resulting in apathy, negativity and disengagement
from the teacher, the subject and the learning process itself.

None of these is in any way constructive, and they can render students resistant to authority and difcult
to manage, even if the punishment produces some immediate (and eeting) classroom benet to the
Punishment is also experienced as aggression. Unless the student identies with the aggressor,
which is a neurotic but common response to aggression, punishment is viewed as unnecessary and in a
large number of students will produce further misbehaviour and the need for more punishmentpun-
ishment generating the need for punishment.
If you decide to punish for misbehaviour, be aware of the long-term impact this can have on stu-
dents, on yourself, on the learning process and on relationships.

2 Impact on students
Students learn from being punished that:

w the teacher has control

w the teacher takes responsibility for behaviour
w their role is passive.
Reliance on punishment alone to manage behaviour nullies the need for students to acquire inner
control and self-discipline, and the need for them to learn to be responsible for their own actions.
Students learn that if they are prepared to put up with the punishment, they can do as they please,
to the degree of believing that: If I dont get caught, its not a crime, or Anything I can get away with,
is okay.
The messages punishment sends to students about themselves and about their teacher impacts
not only on future behaviour but also on respect, on self-esteem and on all classroom and future

3 Impact on the professional teacherstudent relationship and learning

When a teacher chooses to punish, as opposed to engaging the student, the impact of such punishments
can be quite potent, but often in unexpected and unwanted ways. For example:

w Students can develop a bookkeeping approach to punishment. When payment for the misdeed has
been made in the form of punishment received, the student is no longer owing, and is therefore now
free of any constraintsand can choose to repeat the misdeed should they so wish.
w Students can move into victim mode and blame the teacher for what happened, thus avoiding the
real issue of taking responsibility for whatever behaviour got them into the situation in the rst
W H E N T H E Y D O N T B E H AV E C O N S E Q U E N C E P O C K E T S 83

w Students see power and control over others as something to be desired, valued, admired and
attained. Students often intentionally or unconsciously seek this.
w When students realise that undergoing punishment can increase their standing with their peers,
punishment is seen as something to be achieved, even desired. In adolescence, punishment can even
become a rite of passage.

Inappropriate punishment damages the professional teacherstudent relationship. The teacher loses credi-
bility and respect, and the student tends to be dismissive of the teacher and not take them seriously.

But remember Aristotles 2000-year-old advice:

Anyone can become angrythat is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at
the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right waythis is not easy.
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

4 Ongoing difculties with punishment

w When a teacher sends a student to detention or to the principal

and this solves the immediate problem, the teacher is likely to T I P : When you and your students
repeat the strategy for that and all similar offences. It is in the have a good working relationship,
word repeat that the catch lies, for if the strategy really worked, your anger can help to prevent the
there would be no need to repeat it. That the punishment is work- unacceptable behaviour happening
ing and is teaching students to stop misbehaving is often just an again; your disapproval is punishment
illusion. You only have to check the names on detention lists or in itself, or rather a consequence to
visits to the principal in a school to see this. their behaviour.
w When the same students end up being punished, we need to
be aware of getting caught up in a revenge cycle (see Chapter 4, I can hurt you! on page 42).
When the punishment generates a grievance and retaliation, you nd each successive punishment
becoming harsher because the previous one was ineffective. The irony is that repetition is always
ineffective, even when the student is in the wrong.
w Because punishment requires a teacher to be retributive, punishment contains an underlying mes-
sage that conveys moral judgement, and students tend to regard punishment as something you get
because you are bad or naughty. Sometimes these labels stick and become self-perpetuating and
self-fullling behaviours.
w Teachers who usually punish as a means of managing behaviour set themselves up for a great deal
of hardship in the long term, because maintaining their classroom persona requires that they con-
tinue to show who is the boss. This is not a comfortable basis for a long-term working relationship
in the classroom, or for teaching and learning.
w Punishment is a form of negative feedback and prevents students
from seeing themselves in a positive light; for example, as able to T I P : Punishment is self-perpetuating.
take responsibility, make reparation and behave acceptably.

Overall, being punished strongly inuences learning, attitudes to

school and to teachers themselves. It can have short-term gains, but always long-term losses. Therefore,
you need to fully appreciate what can happen as a result of applying punishment in the classroom.

New teachers and the option of punishment

Teachers who are establishing relationships and building respect are vulnerable and students know this,
particularly adolescents who are naturally going to challenge, anyway.
84 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

If you are a new teacher and you decide to punish, what do you do if your authority is called into
question? You will need to be sufciently skilled so that when confronted and challenged, you can
maintain a balance of power so neither you nor the student loses face.
The ultimate test of whether punishment is effective comes from the answers to the following
Has the behaviour changed?
Has the relationship remained in good standing?
Has mutual respect been maintained?
The solution to the problem of whether to punish or not lies in preventing yourself from reaching the
position where your authority is called into question. However, this can happen to any of us as we learn
about managing our students, so we need to give careful consideration to all possible options when
students go too far, always keeping in mind the behaviour outcomes we wish to achieve.
Perhaps a more effective teaching option comes with consequential learning or problem solving.
You decide.

Always ask yourself this question when following through on behaviour: Do I need to punish when
I can teach them to do it differently?
Then follow up with the question: Could I have avoided this situation in the rst place?
Plan to manage differently next time.

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

Extract from TFBS group discussion
They had been discussing together the problems they had with students who really pushed the bounda-
ries and why it seemed to be the same ones who always got into trouble. Richard had just recently joined
the group. He felt strongly that students have to learn to do as they are told and boundaries must be
maintained. Pradesh agreed but was concerned about how it was done . . .

Id like to look at consequences, said Pradesh, and why my consequences dont work, and why Carla
says theyre punishment.
Consequences arent punishment, said Kate. They are a strategy for teaching students to change
their unacceptable behaviour. They really work, but they arent easy. You have to plan for them.
Okay, Pradesh, said Maria. Lets role-play. Im the teacher and youre the student. Your mobile phone
is on your desk. The rule is, no mobile phones in classif found they are conscated. So I come by,
take your phone and tell you that youve lost it for the rest of the week. Now thats a consequence in
my mind, but how do you feel about what I did? How would you respond?
Pradesh replied, Id be furious with you. Id tell you, You cant take it away from me, cos I have to
call my mum to pick me up after sports practice, and thats exactly what a student said to me when
I took his mobile away, he added.
Hows our relationship now? asked Maria.
Not good, replied Pradesh. Its, I dont like you and Im going to make things difcult for you in
Thats why I say its punishment, said Carla.
W H E N T H E Y D O N T B E H AV E C O N S E Q U E N C E P O C K E T S 85

Okay, but if I had come up to you and said something like, Thats not a phone I see, is it? or In
your bag or on my desk, thank you, what might have happened then? Maria asked.
Id have got rid of it quick, replied Pradesh, and Id have appreciated the warning.
Now, as the student, that warning reminded you of the choice you were making and its conse-
quence, said Maria. Thats consequential learning. In punishment there are no choices, you just
have to take whats meted out. Thats where the difference lies, Pradesh. Consequential learning
requires students to understand that they have choices when it comes to behaviour; and if they have
already misbehaved they learn in retrospect that they could have chosen to behave because, Maria
added, you convey a positive expectation for future behaviour.
I get it, said Pete, in your role-play, the consequence would have stood if Pradesh hadnt put the
phone away, and you would have been perfectly within your rights to conscate it, Maria. Its all
about control, isnt it?
Im beginning to see, said Carla. When you took away the phone you took away any control he had.
He couldnt do anything about it, except get angry. But when you reminded him, you were enabling
him to take control and put it right. If he didnt, the consequence would be that he would lose it. And
youve also taught him that he always has choices when it comes to his own behaviour.
Thats it, said Pete. From the teachers perspective, its all about disempowering and empowering,
and from the students perspective its about having control over your own behaviour or giving it
Yes, said Kate, and by reminding Pradesh of his choice, instead of instantly removing the phone,
Maria maintained a positive working relationship.

1 When student behaviour is of great concern to you because it negatively impacts on student
learning and the classroom ethos, you need to turn to your follow-through pockets.
2 Checklist of follow-through pockets:
a Consequential learning is the process of applying consequences and is far more appropriate
than punishment because it is a teaching tool; teaching students about making choices, about
their behaviour and its impact on themselves and on others. It teaches taking responsibility
for ones own actions. When applying consequences, run through the 5Rs and ask whether the
consequence is:
i Relatedto the behaviour and not the person? Does it make sense and does it teach the
student about their behaviour?
ii Reasonablefair and just? They do not have to like it; that is not the issue; but if it is fair,
they are more likely to accept the learning experience.
iii Does it teach Responsibilitydo students learn that we always have a choice to behave
acceptably or unacceptably with resulting consequences?
iv Does it incorporate Reparationso that students continue learning to right the wrong
and make amends? Self-esteem is enhanced when they are able to do this.
v Does it inculcate Respectno humiliation or hurt? Students learn that it is their behaviour
that is unacceptable, not their person.
86 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

b Problem solving involves all parties on an equable basis. It invites participation, enables
ownership and ensures responsibility. It acknowledges contributions and afrms self-worth.
The critical aspects are to:
i put time aside for the process
ii ensure equability and that there are no hidden agendas
iii enable and encourage through facilitating the process.

Participation leads to ownership, which leads to taking responsibility.

c Punishment is a penalty or payment for wrong doing, and should be kept as a last resort,
preferably applied by senior staff for major infractions of rules or infringements of rights.

3 When following through on student behaviour remember:

Your role in applying consequences is not to take responsibility for student behaviour but to
ensure that students understand that their actions result from the choices they make, each
with resulting consequences.
Punishment requires the student to be a passive recipient of whatever is deemed appropriate
retribution by the authority gure, who takes full responsibility.
Clarifying the difference between consequential learning and punishment enables you to
choose the most effective follow through for unacceptable and testing student behaviour.
You should always convey an expectation for students to get it right next time, for positive
changes in behaviour.
When students do get it right, acknowledging their changed behaviour encourages that
positive behaviour and enhances self-esteemthey feel both valued and capable.
So They Want to Behave
Affir ming pockets

When students are involved in their learning and are happy in themselves, there is little need to
misbehave. As teachers this is our denitive goal. We achieve this through enabling mastery and
enhancing value, through skilful acknowledgement and genuine appreciation.

We have been told about the importance of self-esteem and I believe it. I reward my students when
they do well. I praise my students and tell them how good they are. I make a special point of doing this
particularly with those students who dont do well or whose behaviour is a problem, but I am beginning
to wonder about what I am doing, as it doesnt always seem to make that much difference to their
behaviour or their work. It does sometimes, but then it is usually for a short while. After a bit I nd they
slip back into their old ways. What am I doing wrong?
A beginning teacher

Introduction to using affirming pockets

Over the past few decades, self-esteem has been the theme of innumerable conferences and the subject
of many books. The topic has had massive exposure, and parents and teachers have been endlessly
instructed about how important it is to build a childs self-esteem. In good faith, we have taken that mes-
sage to heart and worked hard at making children feel good about themselves. However, this feel good
is the crux of a problem. When ensuring that children feel good, parents and teachers have tended to
focus on the sugar coating instead of building a strong, rm and resilient internal core that gives depth,
shape and form to the way that children feel about themselves.
Many do not understand that it is the process itself that is important. It is how you get to feeling
good about yourself that lies at the heart of self-esteem, and this process requires skills that afrm,
acknowledge and enable students to build their own, reality-based sense of positive self-worth and
personal value.

Children value themselves to the degree that they have been valued.
D. Corkille-Briggs, 1975, p. 15

More recently, self-esteem has become a subject of some academic debate, with strong feelings being
expressed regarding the requirements for, and the resulting effects of, building self-esteem in students.
According to Kohn (1994) Even Robert Reasoner, a long time champion of self-esteem programs, speaks
about efforts limited to making students feel good are apt to have little lasting effect because they fail
to strengthen the internal sources of self-esteem related to integrity, responsibility, and achievement.
Research has been inconclusive, due to the difculty in assessing self-esteem (Kohn, 1994). Despite all
this debate, high self-esteem is considered to be an innate characteristic in all successful students.
88 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S


Teachers, like parents, are an important signicant other in childrens lives, and their feedback to stu-
dents can make or break the education process. A teachers feedback needs to be relentlessly honest,
positive and encouraging in order to maximise the educational outcome and avoid withdrawal and a
negative self-image.
Make the most of opportunities for feedback that can enhance self-worth and encourage learning,
whatever the students natural skills, abilities and talents. But it is not as simple as it may rst seem.
For example, praising a student for their behaviour or for work well done seems pretty easy, but the
question you must continually ask is: What is this student learning from what I am saying or doing? If
you are dishing out sugar coating, you are not being helpful and you are wasting your energy.


Students are continually learning about themselves in relation to, and in comparison with, others in the
classroom. They need clear, honest, unbiased reections of themselves, so that they can become aware
of their strengths and be able to face and accept their limitations.

If Shauns teacher says to him, You are really good at this, and he then sees that Lucy is doing the same
thing but better, he will realise that he isnt nearly as good as he has been told. The result is that Shaun
will feel he has been lied to and will, by extension, begin to mistrust all his teachers positive comments.
So next time the teacher gives an encouraging word, he shrugs it off as of little consequence.

T H E N E E D F O R S E L F - M A S T E RY
Having a sense of mastery does not mean actually mastering something; it means having a sense of
being able to manage it.
When writing about depression and the need for optimism in children, Martin Seligman et al. (1995)
expressed concern regarding how teachers and parents bolster childrens self-esteem but in fact erode
their sense of self-worth, as the emphasis seems to be on how a child feels at the expense of what
the child doesmastery, persistence, overcoming frustration and boredom, and meeting challenge
(Seligman et al., 1995). This concept of mastery lies at the heart of a childs self-image.

Casey wasnt very good at maths. Her teacher told her in Year 4 that she would never be a mathemati-
cian. It was lightly said and everyone laughed, but Casey never forgot that remark, and by the time
she was in Year 9 she had pretty well given up on maths. Then came Mr Johnson, who always noticed
when Casey got something right. He explained the difculties and acknowledged her improvements. Mr
Johnson never told Casey she had got it wrong; rather, he would ask her, Do you think theres another
way you could do this? or I know you havent had time to check this yet or Let me know when you would
like some help. She didnt feel a failure any more and began to listen and
T I P : Focus on what a student even to understand, and suddenly maths became interesting. Casey began
can do and can achieve, not on to work harder and enjoy maths, and her marks improved. Everyone was
what they cannot do. surprised, not least Casey herself. The Casey who couldnt do maths and
messed around at the back of the class had vanished.

A students sense of worth is enhanced and they feel valued as a person when a teacher acknowledges
their abilities and strengths, and when the students participation and contributions are welcomed and
acknowledged by both teacher and class members.
S O T H E Y W A N T T O B E H AV E A F F I R M I N G P O C K E T S 89


1 The teacher says: Thank you for reading that passage in the story. You managed to pronounce some
difcult words. You read it clearly and with expression, making it easy for us to understand. The read-
ing may have been far from perfect, but the teacher has commended that which really was good.
2 I appreciated your assistance, everyone, in sorting out the mess we had made nishing our projects.
Thank you.
3 Sam really appreciated your help with his work, especially as I wasnt able to assist him this lesson.

The students growing self-imagethe mirrors

How do students know whether they can do those new sums, read that sentence aloud successfully, write
a real story, nish a project, solve a problem, hit a ball or help a friend? Children learn through experi-
ence. But their experiences are greatly affected by the responses of signicant others in their lives.


Learning about ourselves is a little like standing in the centre of a stage with all the important people
in our life around usour parents, siblings, grandparents, family and friends. Each, like a mirror, reects
important information about who we are. These images merge into the personality and become part of
a childs growing self-image.
Some mirrors are constantly there, while others come and go. At school there is one constant source
of these reections: the students current teacher. The teacher continually reects information about the
students abilities and strengths, and is able to regularly afrm the students value and place of belong-
ing in the classroom and school.
Children see these images of themselves and, guided by their maturity and life experience, either
assimilate them into their self-image or reject them. Young students who have not yet built up a strong
concept of self are most vulnerable as they tend to take mirrors at face value. When you convey to a
young child that they are unable to do something, you will be believed because the student has no way
of refuting the information and because you are the adult and should know.
However, when older students receive negative feedback, their experience enables them to refuse to
accept it, or turn it around and make it work for them, or blame others or circumstances as a protective
mechanism, or they may take it on board and become apathetic and negative.
When students move into high school, the mirrors multiply as many teachers move across their eld
of experience. But these teachers impact can be no less potent, especially as students search for role
models beyond the family to guide them into adulthood. As teachers we are all role models, willing or
not. This is an opportunity to provide a positive counterbalance to other, more transient inuences that
impact on students lives. We can enable students to see aspects of themselves that no other signicant
other can, and we can create a safe environment for them in which to make the most of their abilities.


For the teacher, it takes effort, energy and skills to remain positive, especially when students continually
misbehave. It is so easy to become negative and hear yourself saying: Dont do that! You never . . . You
cant. . . and so on. When students hear only negative words and see negative body language, it impacts
on their self-image, their attitude to school, their ability to learn and ultimately on their behaviour.
How we see our students is not dissimilar to walking through a photographic gallery in which each
photograph we see captures an aspect of the persons life. In the classroom it is easy to make a similarly
snap judgement about a student based on one or two incidents.
The portrait artist, on the other hand, aims to capture and convey those characteristics of the person
that are unique, valued and memorable. The best teachers, like the best portrait artists, enable their
90 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

students to reveal those aspects of their character that enable them to be appreciated and valued for
How, as teachers, do we capture students curiosity, inspire learning, enable responsibility, develop
integrity, ensure competency, encourage cooperation, build a sense of belonging and enable well-
being? The answer lies in establishing a good working relationship
T I P : Focusing on positive aspects
between teacher and students, ensuring learning that is relevant,
of character does not remove the challenging and, even more importantly, enabling, so that students
negative traits, but it lessens their feel both competent and actively involved in their learning. Along with
impact and enables students to see this you need skilful management and congruent communication. No
themselves in a different light. small order, but there is also something else which needs to be taken
into account.

How a students ability to learn impacts on behaviour

When faced with learning, how a student views their ability to learn affects how they respond to the
teacher and how they act in class. Each day, when a student walks into a classroom they are putting
themselves on the linethe student continually risks not being able do things, and some will risk the
pain and humiliation of failure. For example, the student may read aloud only to be corrected, give an
answer that is deemed wrong, put forward an idea that is ridiculed, or create a piece of work that is
rejected. Students continually run the gauntlet of being evaluated, judged and criticised.
Taking risks calls for courage. Most students are happy to take risks, but its hard to step forward
again if you continually get knocked back. Students will be reluctant to take risks if they are only
afrmed when they succeed. For some students, this is the learning environment with which they are
most familiar.
As teachers we need to make learning safe enough and the classroom friendly enough for students
to be willing to risk.

In a classroom in which mistakes are viewed as opportunities to learn and students are active partici-
pants in their learning, they are far more willing to give it a go, even risk failure. But if mistakes result in
what students view as punishment, as when having to write lines or being otherwise reprimanded for
a mistake, they will say to themselves: Why try? If I dont try I cant make a mistake, and they will have
established negative subconscious defences against school, which typically produce misbehaviours such
as coming late to class, not having books and equipment, fooling around, chatting, or just not working.
Characteristically, the behaviours they display are educationally self-defeating in nature and can range
from withdrawal and non-participation to major acting-out and having to be removed from class.
Understand that much of the rebellious, confronting, objectionable, avoiding and withdrawing
behaviours you see in your non-achieving or under-achieving students is merely protecting them against
criticism and feeling bad. This does not mean that these behaviours are excused; they are not. Students
will continue to need clearly stated expectations for work and behaviour, and to experience the conse-
quences of their actions.
But to lure them into learning (Ginott, 1972) you may need to change perspectives, attitudes
and students negative self-image. That image and their behaviour will not change until they feel safe
enough to risk learning, see themselves as able, and feel accepted and valued.

Example 1
Giles is doodling, not doing his writing.
Teacher A says encouragingly: Come on, Giles, youre a bright boy. Come on, give it a go. Youre good
at telling stories.
S O T H E Y W A N T T O B E H AV E A F F I R M I N G P O C K E T S 91

Giles may be thinking: I can tell stories but I cant write them down. If I was bright I could. This
teacher doesnt know what shes talking about, or Youre just going to get cross if I make mistakes. He
switches off, stops listening and his teacher gets frustrated because he wont even try. She continues to
tell him how easy it is and how easily he can do it. Giles becomes belligerent.
Example 2
Teacher B focuses on the issue, asking (and pausing between questions): Is having to write frustrating
you, Giles? Its not easy to get a story down on paper. What can I do to help you? What would you like to
do rst? Do you want to tell me your ideas for the story? How about joining Alec and Janie? They want
to sort out their ideas too.
So the three of them share their ideas and the teacher helps them make an outline for their stories.
This teacher also takes into account Giles need to build better peer relationships and offers him the
opportunity to do so by discussing the difculties of story writing with others in his class.
When students are able to say to themselves, Yes, I can do that, when
their achievementsregardless of how smallare acknowledged and T I P : When planning for
appreciated honestly, the need to learn will predominate and the need to behaviour, the need for peer
misbehave will fade. acceptance can be made to work
The key is making your classroom safe enough for a positive self-image for you if you enable students to
to develop. Learning will follow naturally, especially with a teacher wear- teach and support each other.
ing their coat of many pockets.

Students who are encouraged to focus on their abilityor lack of ittypically become preoccupied
with their performance. By contrast, those who explain their success or failure in terms of how hard they
tried are more likely to become absorbed in the task itself. This, in turn, means that they are less likely
to be thrown by failure and more likely to be intrinsically motivated and to keep working at something
until they get it.
A. Kohn, 1994

The teachers coatthe affirming pockets

We now move to the last area of pockets in your teaching coat. Having focused on preventing misbehav-
iour through continual planning, correcting and supporting to minimise students need to act-out, and
following through when they need to learn responsibility and to put things right, we now focus on what
is a seemingly simple set of skillsthe skills of afrmation.
These accepting, acknowledging and enabling skills, plus a strong belief that students need to be
active participants in their learning and that mistakes enable positive learning experiences, combine to
form a powerful force for student motivation, engagement, learning and
achievement. The skills in these pockets reinforce all the others. T I P : Encouragement is free.
Everyone deserves it.
Perceptions, labels and behaviour
It is a natural human tendency to classify and judge people. Within a few days of taking on a new class
you will have classied most of the students. However, it is not this process itself that need concern us,
but how we manage our perceptions and their associated feelings.
Teaching, like all professions, has a code of ethics. Like the medical profession, the teaching profes-
sions code of ethics places great emphasis on caring. However, the professional relationship between
teacher and student is a little dissimilar to that of doctor and patient, in that if the patient does not
like their doctor they can nd another, whereas students generally dont have that option. Teachers,
therefore, may nd themselves managing difcult, uncooperative students who are hard to like. But how
would you feel if your doctor treated you according to how much they liked you?
92 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

We need to put aside the liking, and focus on the managing. Teacher and student are locked into
the professional teacherstudent relationship for the time they are together. Professional ethics demand
that the teacher take responsibility for that relationship. It is not up to the student to manage this under-
taking. Trust and mutual regard lie at the heart of all productive teacherstudent relationships, and its
up to the teacher to get both parties to this table and to take full advantage of and maximise the huge
potential of this temporary partnership.
The difculties in this undertaking lie with individual perceptions. We come into our classrooms with
a certain mindset, based on our life experiences. If students do not t into our expectations for work and
behaviour, we tend to view them negatively and our actions and words can, even unconsciously, convey
this negativity.
Sensitivities vary enormously, but feeling that a teacher does not like them or that nobody likes
them can be reason enough for some students to become demotivated and to under-perform constantly
at school. Such students see not being liked, as justication enough for not working and for poor results.
They may even blame the teacher and try to make their behaviour
T I P : Be aware of labels and someone elses responsibility.
labellingin word or gesture. Change In order to change their behaviour and student perceptions, a
negative labels by enabling students to teacher can refuse to accept the blame and rather place responsibil-
see themselves and others differently. ity with the student and enable them to see the situation differently;
for example, the teacher could say:
Look, I get the impression that you think Ive got something
T I P : Positive attitudes convey against you. If thats the case, youre wrong, but the issue is actually
positive expectations, which lead to that youve chosen not to work. Whatever the reason, I just want you
positive behaviours. to know that Id welcome a change here, and that Id be delighted to
see you working and doing your best.
What might be the students response? How might the student view their teacher now?

Write down the names of any students who you nd difcult or uncooperative. Next to their names write
something positive about each student and over the next week, at an appropriate moment, quietly com-
municate that positive to that student. Record any changes in behaviour.

Reframing mind-sets
How we view the world and the people in it reects the sum total of all our experiences, overlaid on our
innate tendencies. It ows from our worldview. I may look at a painting and see only the starkness of
the landscape, while my friend comments on the symbolism, and another sees mainly how colour and
light have been applied. If I make a conscious effort to look at it differently, I too will be able to see the
use of colour and light, and the symbolism. It is the same with our students. A fundamental principle of
teaching is to enable every student to develop her or his potential. However, if in our minds eye we see
only the negative aspects of a student, then our focus will naturally be on those and the student will
receive little encouragement from us, and likewise little opportunity to shine.
Reframing ones mindset may require a conscious effort to see a student in a more positive light.
Consider the following examples.

Example 1
Teacher A comes into the staff room bemoaning the fact that he has a student who never nishes
her work, who is so fussy she takes twice as long as anyone else and then holds up everyone else. This
teacher has a large curriculum to cover, and getting work nished is a priority.
S O T H E Y W A N T T O B E H AV E A F F I R M I N G P O C K E T S 93

In this teachers class, the student becomes anxious as she is always feeling hurried, cant nish her
work in the time allocated, and begins to feel inadequate. Her work deteriorates and she eventually
gives up and starts messing around in class, chatting and disturbing others. For her, not trying means not
having to face failure, and subconsciously her behaviour is protecting her from the associated humili-
ation. Additionally, her previous behaviourholding everyone upmay have been attention seeking
and a cry for help.
As the students work deteriorates and the behaviour becomes a problem, the teacher begins to feel
that the student has become a nuisance, and starts telling or warning the student that if she doesnt
settle down and work, she is going to fail. The teacher may send her out of class when she starts disrupt-
ing others, or keep her in to nish the work, all the while telling her that she needs to settle down and
work. The student begins to hate this subject and her behaviour does not improve, regardless of what the
teacher does. The student becomes labelled as having a behaviour problem in this teachers mind.

Example 2
The same student is also in Teacher Bs class, where she behaves similarly. This teacher, however, has
valued the students ability not to rush, but to take care and ensure her work is correctly done. This
teacher focuses on the positive aspect of the students behaviour. In this teachers class, the student
does well, she feels acknowledged and valued. She ends up achieving pleasing results and continues to
enjoy the subject and being in this teachers class. There are no behaviour
problems. T I P : Offer the use of a small
What should Teacher A do? If Teacher A acknowledges the positive clock or egg timer to students
aspects of the students work, such as her neatness and accuracy, and fol- who nd it difcult to complete
lows this with a question regarding the problem of work completion, the tasks. They are then able to take
student would be empowered to change. For example, the teacher might control of their problem and sort
say: Miranda, it is such a pleasure to read and mark your work. Then, after it out.
a pause, say: Miranda, I would so like to see you get the results you deserve.
What do you think would help you to complete your work within the given time? Would you like to think
about this and let me know what youve decided? This places the problem with Miranda who, in nding
a solution, will feel in control of the situation and able to manage her workmastery and competency,
with increased self-worth, particularly when acknowledged for the progress she is making.
In taking over a class you may inherit a problem that has developed as with Teacher A in the above
example. A student may have learnt to behave in a certain way in your subject or class due to past
experiences, or because it works for them. So what can you do?

Consider the following behaviour descriptions, which come from negative mindsets:
stubborn, aggressive, pernickety, lazy, dgety, dreamy, weird.
Think of alternative descriptions that could reframe a persons mindset and enable them to look
upon a student more positively.
Observe misbehaving, bothering students. Search for positive characteristics or traits in these stu-
dents. Acknowledge or afrm those behaviours. Continue to do this over a period of time, not obvi-
ously but as the opportunity arises. Record any behaviour changes.
Search for possibly useful aspects of the bothering behaviour. Acknowledge and afrm those aspects
and continue as in the point above.
Find one positive thing you can say about a difcult class, and communicate this from time to
time and when appropriate, using either an I-statement or praise (see following skills). Record any
changes in behaviour.
94 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Catch them doing it right

T I P : Students need to be able to Why, when a teacher walks into a classroom, is their focus immedi-
acknowledge themselves and not rely ately on those students who are misbehaving? Or, when one looks
on the external acclaim of others. up, why is it we tend to notice those who are not working? Try to do it
If they rely on others to make them
differently. Polish your mirrors and reect what students can do.
feel good rather than internally
Catching students doing it right is a powerful and easy pocket
acknowledging their strengths or
skill to apply. It often results in a quick turn-around in behaviour.
limitations, they will not develop a
quiet comfort about being who they Why? Because it acknowledges capabilities, and afrms and enables
are (Corkille-Briggs, 1975). students to see themselves in a positive light.
For example, a teacher may emphasise a positive aspect:

w To a student who never completes their work, by saying: That answer is correct, well done. Thats
three sentences completed. You are doing well. Instead of: Youd better hurry up, youre never going
to nish at this rate and you still have ve sentences to do.
w Or catch a normally uncooperative student helping some others, and say: Nice to see you helping
Mark and Sherry get their experiment working. They seem glad to have your help.
A teacher may reafrm positive behaviour by saying:
w Its a pleasure to see this group working so quietly. And theres
another group over there doing the same. Thank you.
T I P : Dont neglect your well- w I like the way you organise your book. Youve given it some
behaved and achieving students.
thought and planned it well.
They are just as appreciative when
w I see you sorted out your problem. Everyone is happy. Youve done
acknowledged and afrmed.

When you have a difcult class:

Take the class list and write down something positive about each student. Over the next week com-
municate this to each one, either quietly aside, in writing or as appropriate.
Plan to focus only positivelytry and catch them doing it right at every opportunity, both individu-
ally and as a class.
Write up positives on the board as you see them happening during the day, instead of giving black
marks or detention slips for bad behaviour.
Each week, choose a couple of positive behaviours you would like to see become the norm in the class,
and focus specically on those and again, catch them when they are doing it right. For example:
a When everyone is settled and ready to work or working quietly, instead of chatting, socialising.
b Whenever someone is considerate, polite or shows good manners.
Record any behaviour changes.
Every fortnight, assess their behaviour and your feelings about this class.

. . . success, persistence, and interest tend to follow when children are helped to think about what they
are doing
A. Kohn, 1994

T I P : Your acknowledgement can

be a quiet nod, or thank you to Descriptive praise
individuals or the class, or you can
If students are to feel valued and enabled, they need to know what
write little Post-It notes and stick
it is they are being valued for and what it is they are able to do. Only
them on their desks.
then can their talents, skills or abilities become internalised and part
S O T H E Y W A N T T O B E H AV E A F F I R M I N G P O C K E T S 95

of their self-image. Not everyone is gifted, and we cannot help compare ourselves with others, but one
positive can outweigh many negatives in our self-image.
So often, when we praise we do it through comparing, judging and evaluating students, because we
tend to focus on the person rather than the action.
Descriptive praise focuses on the action, can reinforce good habits, acceptable behaviours and
values. It enables students to learn about who they are and what they can do. It has a positive impact
on their lives and on the lives of others.
Remember, state what it is the student has done in positive terms, and thereby enable them to
acknowledge their strength, talent, skill or ability. Do not evaluate, judge, or lavish with praise. This
should not affect your spontaneity; that is something apart: this is a skill.

Descriptive praisesimple format

1 Describe with appreciation what the students have done: T I P : Comparisons are odious. Proverbs 141
a How nice to see a clean and tidy classroom. I see that
not only did you put all the scraps of paper in the bin and clean the board, but every desk is neat
and tidy. Thanks, everyone.
b Janine, I was pleased to see that you stood up for Clare when the others were giving her a hard
time. It is important that we stand up for what we think is right.
2 The students are then able to acknowledge what they have done and afrm themselves (internali-
a Students acknowledge with their inner voice, We are
pretty good at tidying up and cleaning the classroom. T I P : Your 100 per cent is not their
With further thought: I like this class. We have a great 100 per cent. Pointing out that they did not
teacher. There are smiles around the room. reach (your) expectations leaves a feeling
b Student acknowledges to self, It was tough standing up of not being good enoughavoid this.
for Clare. I nearly didnt because I was afraid theyd have Acknowledging what they have achieved
a go at me, but they were being really unfair. I did that encourages them towards that 100 per cent.
pretty well.

Positive I-messages
I-statements are not only powerful in communicating a need and enabling others to meet that need, but
are equally powerful when used to acknowledge positive behaviours and afrm students.


1 When I see this class working so well, I am delighted as we will nish early and you will be able to
work on your favourite project for the rest of the lesson.
2 After she had been ill all week I saw how grateful Eliza was when you remembered to organise her
scenery for the play.
3 I greatly appreciated your help with clearing and putting away all the sports equipment. Thank you.

Using humour T I P : Sharing small things about yourself,

The judicious use of humour can change a class in an instant about your everyday life, is a powerful
and can turn a difcult situation around. Laughter, sharing a bridge builder and improves teacher
moment, laughing togethernever at, but with otherscrack- student communication and trust.
ing a smile, all release class tension, relaxes individuals and also
energises and re-focuses students. It can bring pleasure, replace pain, defuse a difcult situation and
warm a cold heart. Like catching them doing it right, it is a pocket skill to be used often. It provides
96 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

a special moment shared between teacher and students, and moments of laughter can strengthen
Humour provides emotional relief in an acceptable manner. This is particularly true for boys and for
students with behavioural problems for whom the release of tension can stop and prevent acting-out
behaviour like kicking, hitting, swearing etc. A shared moment afrms people and relationships, espe-
cially when the message received is: Taking the time to joke with me means that Im important to you.
Humour plays an important role in the classroom and can be a powerful management skill for teach-
ers. Claudia Cornett (1986) notes that:

w Young children respond to incongruities, exaggerations, funny noises, slapstick and simple riddles.
w At around 7 or 8 years of age, all children love practical jokes, word play, riddles and jokes. This is
elephant joke time.
w 912 years: puns, jokes, word play, stunts, anything that deviates from the norm. Humour is increas-
ingly less practical and more verbal. (I opened the window and inuenza. Marmalade a ducks egg
and half a pound of cheese).
w 13+ years: good-natured humour, kidding, joking, social satire, irony, verbal wit. Humour is used to
save face. May parody (but no sarcasm).

When students become capable of empathy, they tend only to laugh

T I P : The golden rule for classroom
at jokes at the expense of other people if they perceive them as not
humour is never to hurt or humiliate.
being hurtful. Others feelings begin to affect them.

Any of the ideas listed below (add your own to the list) can lighten mood, raise energy levels, release
tensions and create a positive atmosphere in your classroom and take away the need to act-out or
misbehave (Cornett, 1986):
Keep a book or two of humorous tales and anecdotes on your desk. Share these at appropriate
moments with your students.
If what you are teaching reminds you of an amusing incident, sharing it will help focus waning
Build up a collection of teacher laugh lines: Did you hear about the teacher who. . . These can get
you through embarrassing moments.
Make mistakes and let students pick them uplaughing with them at yourself enables them to
laugh at themselves too. Howlers are great fun and educational at the same time, providing they do
not humiliate a student.
Teach students about smiles and laughter. Start a collection of humorous quotations, pictures, funny
words or phrases, or faceshave them on a bulletin board in the classroom, and refer to them from
time to time.
Start a joke box or joke book collectionhave one a day/week;

T I P : What some students nd everyone contributing and then rating them.

funny may not be so for others. For Put a humorous item in their tests or have the occasional humor-
example, adjectives like nerd, sissy, ous question in amongst the work exercises, or have something
fatty, stupid, clumsy and goofy. incongruous or humorous in the classroom that students have to
Counteract this kind of negativity nd every week. Start every Monday with something fun.
by providing opportunities for these
students to experience and see Being taken seriously
themselves, and be seen by others, in
There is nothing quite so afrming as a teacher who really listens, who
a different, positive light.
acknowledges a students ideas, enables them to express thoughts
S O T H E Y W A N T T O B E H AV E A F F I R M I N G P O C K E T S 97

and welcomes their contributions, no matter how small. It is very afrming when encouraged to partici-
pate and being asked for an opinion. All of these encourage students and tell them that they are valued!
(The mirror is really shining.)
T I P : Focus on what a student
Initiating trust is doing, not on how well the
We treat a child as if he already is what we would like him to become.
student is doing. It is a subtle but
absolutely vital difference when
Haim Ginott cited by
it comes to enabling self-worth.
Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish, 1990, p. 69

Teach your students about trust by enabling them to feel trusted. Five key components to measure trust
offered by Bryk and Schneider (2002) are:

1 Benevolencehaving a persons best interests at heart and protecting these.

2 Reliabilitybeing able to depend on another person being there for you, always.
3 Competencebelief that the other person will full their role.
4 Honestythe other persons integrity, character and authenticity can be counted on to represent
situations fairly.
5 Opennesswillingness to share information.

Listen to your students, especially when there is a problem. Dont speak rst, listen rst. Be honest in
your dealings with them. State your expectation for honesty from them and acknowledge honesty. Trust
them to be able to do things right, and when things go wrong to correct them. Trust them until they show
you otherwise, and even then come in with the expectation that they can get it right next time. Believe in
your students. Give them opportunities to show they can be trusted. Trust them, and theyll trust you.

At the beginning of every year, give each student 35 minutes of your undivided attention, where
you just listen to them. Tell the student its an opportunity to talk about themselves, or school or just
anything. Just listen.
Dont be tempted to use the session to advise the student, or tell them anything at all. Its the stu-
dents time, a gift from you to them. If the student asks a question, put it back to them. For example,
the student might ask: What do you think. . .? to which you may reply: I am considering, concerned
. . . but what is more important is what are your thoughts about this?
Let the student outline their plan for what they are going to achieve this coming year. Enable the
student to express their concerns and worries, and how they think they will be able to cope.
Just listen.

Children can be lured into learning. They can be tempted and hooked on it; but they cannot be shamed
into it. When forced to study, children use their ingenuity to avoid learning and get through school
without learning.
Haim Ginott, 1972, p. 240

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

Extract from TFBS group discussion
Their theme for this weeks discussion was being positive and Kate, who was facilitating this week, had
asked everyone to come with some techniques, strategies, skills or stories about being positive to share
in their discussion. It was Petes turn.
98 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Pete said, At the beginning of this term we had a new student join our class. He turned out to be a
large boy who was sloppy, loud-mouthed and with few social graces; he sprawled all over his chair,
and his desk and surrounds became like a pigsty. His behaviour was really awfulhe enjoyed burp-
ing and making other rude noises, he slurped his drinks loudly and his shirt was always unbuttoned
and skew, and sometimes I dont think he washed himself because he smelt some days.
And it wasnt just me who didnt like him; none of the other kids wanted to sit near him or be friends
with him. He was very slack and I found myself saying, Sit up, dont be so rude, tidy your desk, do up
your shirt all the time. Some days I even avoided going near him and just shouted at him from across
the room. His behaviour was awful and getting worse, and he was becoming extremely disruptive, and
sometimes he would even shout back at me. I really felt he needed help. I thought Id ask his mother
for assistance but she was also in despair. I took a long hard look at this youngster. It would have been
easy to turn him over to the school counsellor, but Im the one who has to deal with him every day, so
I reckoned I was the one who needed to nd some solutions for his behaviour. I decided that I had to
start with something that would help me feel more charitable towards him.
It took me a week to discover that he was never late for school. I made a point of acknowledging
this and then asked, as he came early, if he might like to open the windows every morning. Then I
asked if he would like to help prepare the classroom, take down the chairs, clean the board and so
on. I found I could always rely on him and acknowledged that, too. He became quite good at setting
things out for different lessons, and I found he began to listen and learn. As he became focused on
organising the classroom for the day, I noticed he started tidying up around his desk. I commented
how much nicer the classroom was looking and how he must be enjoying working at a tidy desk. His
face lit up and he smiled. It totally changed his face. He never did that before and it was a warm,
happy smile.
Pete paused, I dont know if thats what you wanted, Kate? Searching for something positive really
helped us both because then I could enable him to be helpful and feel useful and to feel better about
himself. His work and general demeanour improved and the other kids became more accepting
of him.

1 Mistakes are opportunities for learning. Enable students to learn from their mistakes. Take away
their fear of criticism, embarrassment, ridicule, failure. Make it safe for students to learn to make
mistakes, to risk failure and to accept challenges and learn from them.
2 Checklist of afrmation skills:
Reframing mindsets
Changing labels
Catching them doing it right
Descriptive praise
Positive I-messages
Using humour
Being taken seriously
Initiating trust
S O T H E Y W A N T T O B E H AV E A F F I R M I N G P O C K E T S 99

3 Afrmation is a teachers most powerful communication tool for engagement. Be aware of the
messages you sendthe spoken and unspoken, the reections in the mirrors. In sending these,
remember the following:
Always be honest, otherwise you cannot establish trustthe foundation and cornerstone of
all relationships.
Value individual students for who they are.
Acknowledge students for what they do.
Always use positives to describe what it is they can do.
Dont just say it, write it down. Writing things down can be a good
T I P : Be very aware of your
non-verbal messagesthey may
way to communicate.
contradict what you are saying.
Give opportunities for students to show competency.
Sending double messages only
Give opportunities for students to take responsibility.
confuses and usually results in
Dont let meanness, nastiness or hurtfulness pass by. students acting-out, trying to
Be rm, and say no when it needs to be said. nd clarication.
Catch them doing it right at any and every opportunity.
Remember laughter, and incorporate humour into your lessons.
Teacher Support Teams
and Zippy Pockets

Beyond the classroom there is a need to build a whole-school approach to student engagement and
teacher management, with teachers supporting teachers, empowering each other and all wearing
their coat of many pockets.

The thing that bothers me most, really gets to me, is not the really difcult children because I know
I have to plan for these but the persistent low-grade behaviours that interrupt, disrupt, disturb and
which highly irritate me and others so they escalate into a full-blown problem. And it isnt just in my
class, it happens across the school. Classes get labelled.
A beginning teacher

Teacher support teams

One of the most successful ways to enable effective behaviour management and provide ongoing col-
legiate support is for teachers to take ve and join a few colleagues for reection, discussion and
planning for behaviour on a regular basis.
These teacher-friendly behaviour support (TFBS) groups do not have to be yet another meeting; they
can be informal, relaxed gatherings with a few colleagues, to chat about behaviour issues and share
strategies. They do not have to be long discussions: teachers are all extremely pressed for time, but
2030 minutes once a week or every couple of weeks is usually possible.
The meetings should be informal, innovative groups, and can be set up by any member of staff. You
can start with two or three people, if you wish. Others may become curious and want to get involved. The
ideal group size is between ve and seven teachers. For beginning teachers, sharing ideas is invaluable;
for experienced teachers it is refreshing.
Whether informal, non-timetabled sessions, or optional time-tabled sessions, the following are simple
guidelines for those wanting to discuss and share ideas on managing behaviour:

1 Find somewhere comfortable to meetsitting around in a loose circle puts everyone on an equal
2 Choose someone to facilitate discussion, to watch the time and wind up the session.
3 In order to take most advantage of limited time, one teacher could present a behaviour issue as a
case study, then ideas could be shared, noted down and support given.
4 Rotate the roles of facilitator, case study presenter and ideas recorder.

The aim is to share ideas, strategies, skills and techniques, and for teachers to continue to add pockets
to their coats.

T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 101

There are no right ways to manage behaviour, but some ways are more effective than others.
Sometimes it requires persistence: especially when some students may be resistant to moving out
of their comfort zone; others may just take longer to learn to behave differently; or when facing
more difcult or entrenched behaviours, you may need ongoing support from colleagues.
The effectiveness of a skill or strategy is dependent on the teacher, the student, the situation and
on the behaviour concerned. What may well work for one teacher may not necessarily work for
The atmosphere in the sessions ought not to be one where the more experienced tell others how
it should be done. Rather, by sharing ideas, each teacher is then able to decide what to take and
what they feel will work best for them in a particular situation.

Feedback is important in these groups. At the beginning of each session, take turns to briey share
how your week has been. All that is needed is a short feedback session on strategies tried, or how ideas
worked out. This afrms the group.
An example of a teacher-friendly behaviour support discussion is provided at the end of this

The teachers coatthe zippy pockets

In the midst of classroom crises, all the books in all the libraries are of no help. All the lectures and all
the courses are of little value. At the moment of truth, only skill saves.
Haim Ginott, 1972, p. 37

In the classroom, some skills can slip out of your pocket and back in so quickly it seems as though noth-
ing has happened, but in fact you have prevented a power struggle, sidestepped a challenge, forestalled
a disruption, countered a crisis or avoided a catastrophe because you worked proactively, planned and
took positive action.
These are typical examples of minor but potentially explosive behaviours that can be quickly man-
aged with a zippy skill:

w Girls who chat and giggle, who exclude others, socialise and dont work.
w Boys who enjoy each others company, fool around and sometimes get physical.
w Students who disrupt and distract others or their teacher at any opportunity.
w Those who dont accept what you say and always question and challenge you.
w Those who have various and differing learning difculties.
w The student who dgets, cant sit still and nds it difcult to concentrate.
w Students who are always out of their seat, borrowing, lending and chatting.
w Students who can never wait and who dont listen.
w Students who use unacceptable language and who are rude and inconsiderate.
w Those who dont participate, just sit, maybe daydream, and dont work.

Because situations are different and students are different, if one pocket does not have the desired
effect, remember to try another. Your aim is to maintain the learning ow despite disruptions, and your
assertive, supportive and afrming skills along with your zippy skills need to be practised so that your
102 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

responses become second nature and automatic. Some zippy skills are a shortened form of an assertive,
supportive or afrming skill and can be most appropriate with minor misdemeanours. While practising
and perfecting these skills, sharing behaviour issues and management solutions with colleagues will
continually add pockets to your coat.
Add your own pockets to the list below.

Gaining cooperation with least intrusion

N O N - V E R B A L M E S S A G E S T H AT A C K N O W L E D G E A N D A F F I R M
There are many unspoken messages that afrm students. Add your own to this list.

w Nod
w High ve
w Smile
w Wink
w Thumbs up

Whenever the opportunity arises, notice them when they get it right.
For example:
I noticed you picked up those papers off the oor. Thank you. The room looks tidier now.
I saw you helping Amy with her maths. She seems happier now.
Your work is neat and tidy. That makes it easy to read and mark.
Three sums complete and correct. Thats a good start to the day.

To strategically ignore is a teachers conscious choice not to notice misbehaviour. By so doing, the teacher
is refusing to be a target for the students misbehaviour, or refusing to be hooked into the behaviour.
Much classroom behaviour can be quite safely ignored, or just acknowledged momentarily with a glance
or movement that signies that there will be no rejoinder. It is a silent message of indifference. If there
is no audience then there is no reason for the attention-seeking behaviour to continue. For example,
tantrums rarely happen without an audience.
Not responding may require an element of self-control, but when the message is received, it can
be most effective in some situations. For example: Sir, sir, Peter pulled a face at me, shouts Mary. The
teacher ignores this call and carries on with the lesson. Please, Miss, John wont give me back my ruler.
The teacher raises an eyebrow at the student and carries on with the lesson.
But strategically ignoring can also be used to encourage better participation. For example, Ryan
refused to join the morning circle. His teacher ignored him as he sat at his desk each morning. Towards
the end of the third week Ryan had edged forward to the middle rows, and by the fth week he was
sitting in the front row. A week later he was sitting on the oor by the teacher.

Strategically ignoring can be most effective when followed by positive focusing that sends the message,
I will only notice you when you behave acceptably. This is an excellent skill to deal with attention-
seeking behaviours, because the students unconscious need for attention is only met when the
behaviour is acceptable or appropriate. It also acknowledges and afrms those who are behaving well.
For example, Jason is shouting out: I know! I know! but his teacher turns to Kate, saying: I see your
hand up, Kate. Thank you for not shouting out. Would you like to answer the question?
T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 103

Focus on what students can do, not what they cannot. Use do messages, not dont messages. Give brief
statements of expectation; for example:
Do handle it with care, instead of Dont hold it like that. Youll break it.
Put your hand up, instead of Dont shout out!
Walk down the corridor. Thank you, instead of Dont run!

Avoiding the sideshows, staying with the main event

With some students you may choose to distract or divert, rather than correct their behaviour. For exam-
ple, Simon is tapping his pencil. It is irritating and attention-seeking, and if one of the other students
says something a small disagreement may occur, which feeds into and reinforces the attention-seeking
Instead of saying: Simon, stop tapping that pencil, to which his response is likely to be continued
tapping or a sideshow such as: I wasnt tapping, or It doesnt annoy anyone, or I dont see why I cant
tap if I want to. This meets his need for attention. Rather, you can avoid these student hooks and pre-
vent sideshows by distracting or diverting: Simon, what do you think about . . .? or Simon, what answer
would you give? Simon, wont you collect the books? or Lets stand up and stretch everyone. All of which
cause the tapping to stop as Simon has to stop and think, or get up and do something. Diverting or
distracting can work well with a student like Simon.

A conscious decision to respond but not to rise to the challenge also avoids hooks and stays with the
issue at hand. Examples:
It wasnt me sir, or He did it too, Miss, or I dont see why we cant, or Other teachers let us.
Stay with the main event by using phrases like: That is not the issue, or Nevertheless . . . followed by
a restatement: I saw you scribble on her book, or In this class we dont . . .

Describe the behaviour you want to see. The tendency is to react to misbehaviour with: Stop that, or
I told you not to do that, or Dont you put your feet on the desk, or Stop that knocking noise. Any of
which may result in: It wasnt me, and similar responses. Rather, describe the behaviour you want to see:
Feet on the oor, please, or Desks are for working on, or Put the ruler down. . . followed by: Thank you.
These describing responses convey a positive expectation for student behaviour. Doing this in passing
and as an aside does not make an issue out of the behaviour and conveys an expectation for coopera-
tion, which enables the student to comply without losing face.

For example: Either work quietly, or you will need to work alone; you decide. This can be balanced
with a positive reinforcement by using when with then, and if with when. For example, When a
person puts up their hand, then Ill respond to them, or If you need help then raise your hand and Ill
come to you.

Taking control with least intrusion

These are powerful, non-threatening and effective ways to communicate with students. They are often
far more effective than words. For example:
104 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

w The stop commanduse your arm directed at the student, with your open palm facing the front.
w Put both hands in the air, with open palms facing the class, also to indicate stop. (Also indicates
surrender, and often used by teachers in a convivial class.)
w With very young students, quietly clap or sing until all students are doing it with you.
w Use a stern expression, with your arms folded and direct eye contact.
w Pause, just standing quietly and observing the behaviour until the student realises they are being
watched. (Usually nudged by a nearby student.)
w Looking at your watch, indicate that you are counting out debit time that will be owed by the
student or class.
w Use the wide range of body languagemoving, standing, sitting, gesturesto indicate up, down,
open, closed arms/hands etc.


Keep it short and simple:

w Establish eye contact, speak clearly, rmly and briey.

w Repeat if necessary . . . expect compliance.
w Be rm, be positive, be clear!
Paul, put that ruler (tapping) down now. Thanks.
Gail, hands off the clay pots, theyre not dry yet.


When speaking, use a normal, clear, easy to listen to voice. This makes it easier to vary your voice and
be more effective when you need to gain attention. Ask colleagues for feedback regarding your voices
loudness, timbre etc.

w Dont shout.
w Save your loud voice for emergency controlthen use it sparingly, very loudly, rmly and clearly.
w Alternatively, speak in a very quiet, controlled and rm manner when you need students to know
that their behaviour is totally unacceptable or how angry or upset you are with their behaviour.


To maintain control and focus without the need to talk, move around the classroom, teach from the back
or side of the room for a short time, or stand near a particular student or a group you wish to bring back
on task. Moving around the room also gives opportunity for brief communications, afrming, acknowl-
edging with a look, a gesture, a word of encouragement and communicating that you are interested in
what they are doing.

Bringing back on task, redirecting with least intrusion

These can be strong transmitters of disapproval without a word being spoken, and can enable students
to slip back into acceptable behaviour:

w raised eyebrow
w direct and disapproving eye contact while saying nothing and just looking until they get the
w pointing with hand or nger to the task at hand, saying nothing and just waiting.
T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 105

Do not waste energy on asking: Why? as in: Why did you do that? It dwells on the past and is an
opportunity to be side tracked. All you are likely to get is: I dont know, or It wasnt me. Rather, ignore
the behaviour and use open questions (see Chapter 6) or a casual statement to bring them back to the
task at hand; for example:
Rasheed, where are you up to now?
What seems to be the problem, John? Need a hand?
Thats interesting, Jasmine, but hows the maths going?
Where are you going to start, Lucy? What would be best to tackle rst?
Lets have a look at how your work is getting on, Bill.

Students, like the rest of us, dont always remember the rules, especially when caught up in the moment.
A timely reminder can bring them back on task.
You know the rule about respect! Lets see it applied. In this class we . . .
Remember our safety rule when working with scissors, gas etc.
Whats our rule about calling out?


This is a technique that does not tell the student what to do, but rather uses an open question that does
not require an answer; this refocuses students and enables them to take control, change their behaviour
and get back to their task.
For example: Whats happening here? followed by: What should be happening? What are you
doing? followed by: What should you be doing?

This requires that you state your instruction, direction or correction and quietly repeat it until it is obeyed.
Become quieter rather than louder as you repeat.
Lauren, please put that magazine away, to which Lauren replies: But I wasnt looking at it. And the
teacher may respond with Maybe you werent (acknowledgement in passing) and then rmly repeats:
Just put the magazine away, Lauren and continues to repeat this latter phrase as many times as neces-
sary until done. Then says, Thank you!
Ed, go back to your seat.
But I was just getting a pencil.
Ok, but back to your seat, please.
Youre always picking on me!
Back to your seat, Ed. (ignoring the hook) Back to your seat now . This is repeated very quietly until
he sits down. Ignore the fuss as he sitsthats a sideshow.

Defusing with least intrusion

Empathising with: You look pretty fed-up/frustrated/angry enables the student to feel understood. They
are then far more open to listening and cooperating because you have taken away the need to act-out.
The students message has been received and acknowledged. They can now move forward and tackle the
task at hand.
This is usually all a student needs to enable them to cope. Dont get hooked into asking questionsit
is neither necessary nor appropriate at this stage, when you simply need to maintain the learning ow.
106 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Students statements or responses in a challenging situation are often perfectly appropriate. For exam-
ple, you have been complaining about their language and someone says: It all lies in the ear of the
beholder! Instead of reacting with some put-down: Dont be a smart Alec! try acknowledging with
something like, Yes, youre right, good one and you will have defused the confrontation, maintained
self-esteem and avoided a power struggle.
A C K N O W L E D G I N G T H E I R D I F F I C U LT Y / D I S L I K E
Students may not like what is required of them, but by acknowledging this you enable them to go past
it into acceptance and get on with the task at hand.
Look, I know you dont enjoy this but it has to be done, so lets get through it as quickly as we can.
Humour (see Chapter 8) can turn behaviour around as it often serves as an unexpected response to
misbehaviour. Used judiciously it can defuse tense situations and confrontations.
Students need a little time to adjust after being publicly admonished or corrected. For example, if a stu-
dent walks into your classroom bouncing a ball and you tell him to Stop it, put it away, right now! there
will always be that inevitable last one or two bounces. The tendency is to get irritated. Dont. Remember,
it takes time to adjust and always allow for that nal bounce as students change their behaviour.
Students often mutter under their breath or say something to a friend after being pulled up for an
infraction. This is inconsequential, face-saving behaviour and should be ignored. Picking up on these
behaviours is a mistake that could lead to entirely unnecessary escalation.
Rolling eyes, shrugging shoulders, pulling faces, negative and smart comments all convey attitude. This
undermining and confronting behaviour is not usually accompanied by any particular sentiment, and
is simply a direct challenge to the teacher. It is limit-testing behaviour and in adolescents is part of the
normal process of individuation.
Teachers who understand this dont get hooked in.
But when a student goes too far and needs pulling up, the golden rule is never deal with attitude
in a group. When there are peers around, even though the student knows the teacher may be right,
they have to maintain face with their peers and be seen to be in control. To avoid getting hooked into
the power struggle, dont step into the ring. Take the peers out of the equation by taking the student
out of the situation. Talk to the student alone. Your most appropriate skill here is an I-statement (see
Chapter 5).
Make sure that time-out procedures are properly understood and correctly used. The technique is far
more than getting the student out of the group or classroom. Used correctly, time-out is an important
tool for turning behaviour around.
The key to using time-out is sensing when a student needs time to cool off, when their emotions are
running away with them.
Time-out must occur in a quiet place, away from the group; a special place in the classroom, a side
room, or with the teacher next door. Time-out is not punishment, it is teaching self-control. Students
are given the instruction that they can return when they have regained control and are able to behave
Done this way it maintains dignity, sets behaviour limits and teaches students to be accountable and
responsible for their behaviour.
T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 107

If time-out is used as a punishment rather than for cooling-off, its dubious value is only to put the
problem somewhere else for a while. This is a waste of time. The difculty, issue, or cause of the behav-
iour will still have to be dealt with. Also, punishing in this way enables students
to avoid work and can be self-defeating, as evidenced by its repeated use for T I P : If the strategy doesnt
the same students. work, try a different one.

Managing restlessness, pacing lessons, renewing energy

Physical restlessness is a major cause of classroom disruption. Some students can sit quietly for long
stretches, while others nd it impossible, and between these two extremes lie all shades of grey. The
need for physical activity can be intense, especially in the very young and in boys generally.
Regardless of the causes of restlessness and, or agitation (and these are legion), be aware of indi-
vidual differences and help students cope with their physical needs. If ignored, physical needs and
restlessness can easily become major behaviour issues.

w For young students, Simon says can be used often. As a two-minute exercise it gives a short physical
break and can incorporate stretching and breathing exercises to help students settle down to work
w Some students, especially boys, benet from a quick run outside or some physical movementbrief
w Short rhymes or songs incorporating physical movement are very useful for use with younger, restless


w Stopping the class and having a one-minute talkfest can help settle a chatty class. Giving them
permission to do what you so often tell them not to do takes away the need to chatter all the time.
Just let them all talk for one minutemake sure you ofcially time them.


w Drink water. Allow each student to have a small plastic bottle of water in class, which can be placed
on their desk and from which they can sip at will. Keep a couple of ground rules, like no extra toilet
w Ensure ventilation is good and that students are not tiring because of poor ventilation or an over-
heated classroom, or that they are unable to concentrate because they are too cold.
w When needed, use energisers to wake up and invigorate students. These are short exercises that
stimulate and revitalise; for example: Mirroring Faces, Chinese Whispers, Statues, Freeze. There are
lists of energisers on the Internet, but check that they are quick and short and suitable for the
w Brain gym is a program of physical movement that enhances learning and performance. These
movements are fairly gentle, and it is easy to incorporate some of them into your teaching. For
further information refer to the Bibliography for the website address.


When students come in from having had a break, entering a quiet relaxing environment can settle them
down quickly.
108 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

w Play musicquiet background music can be useful.

w Classical music can be calming, soothing and relaxing. According to some research on music and
learning, music by Mozart enhances learning in general, while Vivaldi, Bach and Beethoven enhance
the study of mathematics. Classroom music for all situations and needs can be found on the Internet
(see Bibliography).
w Teaching students simple relaxation techniques can also be very benecial in some circumstances,
but are outside the scope of this handbook.

Observe student behaviour, keeping in mind physical needs. Keep notes and plan how to best
manage these.
Organise lessons to best suit daily physical highs and lows.
Give short physical breaks when they begin to tire or get restless.
Have a pocket full of energisers and another of calmers, and use when needed.
Play music, and use it to enhance learning, relaxing and creativity.
Share ideas with other teachers for keeping learning at optimum levels.

There is no right way to manage behaviour. Every situation, every student and every teacher
is different. Teachers who manage their students well are insightful and caring, highly skilled
and knowledgeable about behaviour, but, more importantly, their coat is lled with many, many
pockets and they fully understand how to lead the dance for the benet and enjoyment of all, as
they learn and work together.

Teachers conversationsdiscussing and supporting

TFBS group discussion
This was their last session for the term, and while waiting for the others, Kate realised that she was feel-
ing more relaxed about her teaching. She was really beginning to feel condent going into her classes.
She would really miss these discussions, and even though they only had half an hour it was so nice to
ofoadshare how she was feeling about things and then be able to focus on something important.

Hi, said Richard. Quietly taking space, Kate?

Yes. I was just thinking how much happier Im feeling about my teaching now. I was so unhappy
at the beginning of this term. But now Ive got some skills and strategies, and I know to plan for
Ive been teaching a while, Kate, said Richard, and I never thought about planning for behaviour.
I suppose I did it to a degree, but never consciously. You young ones have made me realise that
I also need to re-think some of the things I do. I wouldnt mind a few more ideas for some of these
youngsters, either. Listening to you lot, I know I have a tendency to be autocratic because I believe
that students need rm control these daysthey need rm boundaries; and along with that
I believed strongly that what mattered most was being organised and knowing my subject well. But
now, as you point out, if I give as much thought to my students as I do to my subject; if I ensure
the boundaries are set and the relationships are right, then teaching becomes easier, well, mostly
anyway. Thinking about that boy I was so angry with a few weeks back, sometimes other things in
T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 109

their lives make it that much harder and I hadnt been giving a great deal of thought to that, either.
I just expected them to do what I told them when they were in my class.
I know Im new at it, said Kate, but those difcult students and classes are what make teaching
really interesting for me. I tell my friends who brag about being in the business world that Im in
business too, people business.
Whats that? asked Pete, coffee in hand. People business? Thats us. We spend so much time on
curriculum and what were teaching. If we spent more time in understanding the kids we teach, wed
do a much better job. Its self-defeating not to do so.
Richard was just saying the same thing, said Kate, but he was also saying it can be quite tough at
times, managing those really difcult students.
Yes, but when you get somewhere with a really difcult student it really feels good! said Pete.
Kate and Richard nodded as Maria walked in.
Hi! said Maria. Whats that about feeling good? Im denitely not. Ive had a tough day.
Then you must be feeling pretty exhausted, said Kate with a smile.
Yes, youre right. Thanks, Kate. Ill tell you about it when the others get here.
As they arrived with their various teas and coffees, Maria explained what had happened.
She said, Ive been working with a young girl from a very difcult and deprived background. Shes in
another school and Ive been helping the counsellor who was working with her. Anyway, this girl is not
in a good place and shed been giving everyone a hard time at school. However, with planning and
much thought and effort and a desire to get it right on her part, we were beginning to make headway
and she was beginning to not only hand in some work, but also to really try in all her classes. She was
still on suspension notice for aggression and bad language, and we were working extremely closely
with her. However, she had an English class yesterday morning and things apparently didnt start
well, with the teacher calling her out for various small incidents. The girl kept her head down, but just
couldnt work out what she was supposed to do. Listening to the story later I soon understood that the
teacher, who has been teaching English for years, didnt like being interrupted. Well, the girl put up
her hand to ask a question and the teacher just rounded on her saying, Oh no, not you again! You
never listen and I bet now you have the audacity to ask me to repeat what I said for the third time.
I never asked you before, the girl said.
Dont you tell me you never asked me before, said the teacher. You not only dont listen but you
lie as well. I dont know why you even try; youre going to fail, anyway. You never hand your work in
and Ive had enough of your excuses. Im fed up with youyoure a waste of time. I dont know why
youre in this class. Why dont you leave now, before I really get angry?
With that, the student, who had been known for having a pretty foul mouth but had been taking
extra control of it, said, ***** you!
Thats it, said the teacher. You are out of this class, and Im going to see that you are out of this
school. You go to the principal and tell him I say that you must leave this school NOW!
The teacher followed this up by triumphantly telling the story of how shed got the better of the
student, to all who were listening in the staff room. I was devastated and so was the student when
I saw her later.
From what I gleaned, that teacher, continued Maria, had obviously been having difculty with
the girl for some time, and this realisation made me give thought to the question of who really had
110 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

that difculty? I suspect, at least in this English class, that it was mainly the teacher who had the
difculty and not the student.
Anyway, today the counsellor phoned to say that the student has left school. I feel desperate for her
as she really has nowhere to go and that teacher never really gave her a chance.
Oh, thats horrible, said Carla.
Why didnt the English teacher focus on catching the girl doing it right? asked Kate. That would
have changed everything in that class. When I think about it, the teachers behaviour really makes
me angry. She had no right to act in that way.
Neither did the girl, said Richard.
Youre right, said Carla, but the teacher is supposed to be in control of these kinds of situations,
she wasnt, and thats what led to the girls swearing. The teacher didnt manage the student or the
situation. She could have helped this girl cope; its just not fair.
You are both right, said Maria. However, we cant change the past, but we can make sure we dont
repeat others mistakes.
What could the teacher have done? asked Pete. Kate, you said she should have focused on catch-
ing her doing it right. What else?
She should have taken ve and managed her own feelings, then none of this would have hap-
pened, said Pradesh.
And if she had managed her own feelings, she might have been in a position to help this girl, added
Carla. All the girl needed was some empathy. When she put up her hand, the teacher should have
said, Youre having a bad day? How can I help? That student would have done anything for a
speck of kindness.
That poor kid, said Richard, I feel for you, Maria, and desperately so for that girl. Carla, something
you said a moment ago about who is having the difculty, the student or the teacher, made me
realise that all the times someone says, that kids a real problem, or hes always getting under my
skin, and that sort of thing, that what the teacher is really saying is that they themselves have the
difculty; theyre not managing.
Very true, said Maria and added, but it can happen to any of us.
The others glanced at one another, nodding.
But Id like to pick up on that girl of yours, Maria, continued Richard, she reminds me of a boy Ive
wanted to ask you all about. But before we go on, does anyone have anything else to share from
the week?
Yes, said Pete, turning to Pradesh. What happened with your student who was driving you crazy
with all his questions? he asked.
It was terric! said Pradesh. I did as you suggested, Pete. I acknowledged his rst good question
the next day, and said it was an interesting one and that Id like to give it some serious thought and
would get back to him in a few minutes, which I did, and I didnt have a peep out of him for the rest
of the day. We had a great lesson.
Carla? asked Richard.
Ive just one quick question, Carla replied. It follows on the type of thing Maria was talking about,
but Im happy to bring it up at the end.
T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 111

Sure, said Richard, Pete? Kate? he asked.

Fine, they both replied. Lets carry on. Wed all really like to hear your story, said Kate.
Well, I guess you could call it a case study, really, said Richard as he turned to look at everyone,
because Id like your thoughts on what to do. I had an incident with a student today and was going
to tell you about it, then as you were speaking, Maria, your story made me realise what a web he and
I have been spinning, with him leading the way most of the time. The truth is, this youngster drives
me to drink, well almost, he smiled.
I dont know if youve met Bill, but his name is not important. Well, he landed up in my classroom
this year. Last year his teachers sent him to countless detentions; he was always being given lines to
write out, mostly the school rules, and I saw him at least once a week outside the principals ofce.
One of his teachers last year ended up throwing him out of the class, telling him he was never to
come back. Shed had enough of his behaviour and never wanted to see him again!
He was a good kid during the rst year he was here; apparently, a bit loud and a bit rude, but he
was okay. But he seems to have got worse each year and this year he seemed to set out to annoy
everyone in sight.
Every lesson, he would start by asking what he had to do and it was always just after I had carefully
explained everything. Then I noticed that he would interrupt not only me but the other kids as well,
with really silly comments, often totally unconnected. He also started shouting out rude things in
class, some of which I have no wish to repeatsome were pretty crude. Sometimes when I asked him
to do something he was quite amenable, but other times he would atly refuse and end up being
quite abusive.
Bill rarely has anything he needs for his lessons. When he does his work, its sloppy and messy. He
makes as if hes chewing something and when I ask him to get rid of it he laughs and shows hes got
nothing in his mouth. He enjoys that. Also, hes often mean to other students, particularly anyone
smaller, and he plays cruel practical jokes on others and then roars with laughter. To cap it all, hes
very devious and enjoys getting others into trouble all the time.
The other students dont like him and, quite honestly, neither do I. I dont think his other teachers do,
either. Today he went too far. I caught him scribbling over another students work and when I told
him to stop, he tore the book up and swore at me.
I told him to go and sit by himself until he cooled off. He was in no place to do anything, let alone be
spoken to. I gave him some paper and suggested he draw how he felt, or just write it all down when
he felt able. He sat there for a while and nally picked up his pen. This gave me an opportunity to
study him. I hadnt done this before as he was always the nuisance in a busy class and I was only
ever telling him to stop, dont do that, put it away and so on. I began to realise that my communi-
cations with him were always negative. And as I sat there I realised that all I ever did with him was
repeat myself over and over, and that his behaviour was getting worse, not better, from all my efforts.
Why was I letting this happen? Then your story, Maria, made me think that what happened to that
girl could easily happen to Bill if nobody stepped in. We get so caught up in the daily grind that we
dont stop. We end up naming and blaming kids, and look where some of them end up. So thats my
case study for you today. What should we do about Bill?
Well, said Pradesh, Im not sure what we can do, but I think this sort of thing can be prevented.
Recently, and especially after last week, Ive been mentally standing back and observing myself in
my classes, and Ive realised that jumping in too fast is one of my difculties. I think that your two
112 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

stories just emphasise the importance for me of nipping misbehaviour in the bud. Were so busy and
get so stressed by some students that we dont manage common minor behaviours properly. If we
did, wed prevent an awful lot of this ever happening.
Well, said Pete, lets look at some of these behaviours.
Good idea, said Richard, and then we can look at some ideas for handling them. Heres a copy of
my description of Bills behaviour for each of you, have a quick look.
As Kate read through the others listened: having to repeat instructions, silly, inappropriate com-
ments, rudeness, shouting out and foul language, abusive behaviour, sloppy, messy work, mimics
chewing gum, name calling, mean tricks, gets others into trouble, scribbled on and tore up anothers
book, then swore at the teacher.
Wow! said Carla, thats a heavy list. Thats one unhappy student. What are we going to do about
Lets go around and each give a suggestion, said Maria.
Catch him doing it right, and only doing it right, suggested Kate.
Thats your theme song, Kate, said Pete, grinning.
Yes, and I think its the most powerful of all skills for turning behaviour around, added Kate.
In class, before giving instructions for the day, said Pradesh, I go around the class, focusing on
one or two students who dont hear instructions and say, Now, I need you to listen carefully and
remember this because later Im going to ask one of you what I have just said. It helps them to focus
and remember.
I wonder about his need to hurt others, said Pete. His behaviour suggests a very hurt person behind
all that acting-out. I would follow that up and look for possible unconscious goals and plan to help
him cope and take away the need to hurt others. Let him know you care about him. I think you
started that already, Richard, by letting him draw. I really like the condential diary for troubled
youngsters. They write or draw in it whenever they need to take space, usually only a few minutes,
then put it back on your desk and go back to what they were doing. You maybe need to discuss this
with him and establish a routine and then after a while he can just do it when he needs to, instead
of acting-out.
I would add to that, said Maria. He needs to learn how to take control of his silly, inappropriate
comments and his losing it. These indicate to me that both he and his teachers need to become
aware of and then recognise the signs when hes heading into trouble. His teachers can help him
take responsibility for his behaviour by quietly letting him knoweven non-verballyso that he
can eventually learn to control and manage by himself. Maybe using his condential diary is the
answer, but he needs to decide what will best help him take control. Let him tell you.
Yes, I can ask him, said Richard. We can discuss it.
Carla? he asked, turning towards her.
I think I must passeveryone has said it all. But I really think he needs to look at what he can do
to take control, as Maria said. If I think of anything else may I come back to you?
Sure, thats ne, replied Richard. Thanks, everyone. This is great. Ill use these but whats even better,
youve all given me an idea. Im not his homeroom teacher but Im going to see him and see if we
cant get all his teachers together and do what we have just done and share some ideas for Bill. Then
T E A C H E R S U P P O RT T E A M S A N D Z I P P Y P O C K E T S 113

one of us can sit down with him and go through and problem-solve, get his thoughts and then let
him plan what he can do to help himself.
That will help those teachers to ofoad, said Maria, but, Richard, make sure that you focus them on
being constructive like we have done here. There are a couple that arent so easy.
I know, said Richard. Ill watch for that. Thanks, Maria.
Now, Carla, said Richard turning to her. Its your turn.
Well, what has been concerning me really links into what you have all been saying. I was in the staff
room earlier this week and I heard one of the other teachers complaining about a certain student
she had, and how stubborn he was. He wouldnt do as he was told and that day totally refused to
hand in his work, as he hadnt nished it. She got really angry and apparently just grabbed the work
from him. He was so mad he walked out and there was a real fraas. He ended up in the principals
ofce, and the teacher is still seething. But I teach that boy, his names Patrick, and I dont nd him a
hassle. But she was really going on about him. I know how he likes to check things, hes a perfection-
ist, and Ive learnt to give him 5 minutes grace. I felt too new to say anything and I dont know that
its my place to, but I dont think it was fair on that student. How do we deal with colleagues who
put students down? Its wrong, it upsets me and I dont feel we should let it pass. But Im a newbie
here and shes been at this school a long time.
Its almost the nal act to my story, isnt it? said Maria. What are our options?
Well, said Pradesh, we can continue doing what we are doing next term and maybe split our group
and work in pairs, and invite others to join our discussion groups. This has helped me so much that
Id like to do the same for others.
Richard and Maria nodded.
Yes, but what about this teacher and this student? asked Carla.
Well, said Pete, you could always use an I message, as I did with a colleague.
This teacher is pretty upset, said Maria, what about coming in empathically rst, acknowledging
how difcult the student is, then asking (using an open question) what has worked for her with this
student and if she says nothing you could share something youve found works for you, suggested
Maria. That might start her thinking in the right direction.
Good one, said Pete.
So I could say something like: I heard about Patrick. I have him in my class and he can be so frus-
trating when you need him to work quickly.
Yes, and let her ofoad, said Maria.
What will I say next? asked Carla.
Maybe thats enough for a day or two, said Kate. But youll need to have something ready if you
feel you need to say more.
I think, said Pradesh, that I would continue when the opportunity arises with an open question like
Maria has suggested: Ive been thinking about Patrick and what was concerning you the other day.
What has worked for you with him? What do you think would help us to help him speed up? Hes
quite a perfectionist and he hates not nishing his work.
And then, chimed in Pete, say: Weve been discussing another student like Patrick. Why dont
you join us for coffee on Thursday? Wed love to have your ideas. Do come, and take it from there.
114 C O AT O F M A N Y P O C K E T S

Pradeshs idea is a good one.

Do remember, said Maria you can only do your best. Its like your students, you wont win with them
all, but if she joins our discussions you can be justly proud of yourself and I reckon that Patrick will
benet greatly.
We dont realise how much impact we have on the lives and futures of our students, said Maria.
Every so often you come across a student who has had the most appalling life, and you really
wonder how they have survived. If any one of us can make a difference to their lives, we must do so.
Sadly, we dont see the results of all our work but we need to remember that every time you enable a
student, acknowledge or encourage, that stays with them. I can think of no greater job than teach-
ing, said Maria and sighed, but I am tired!
Youre waxing lyrical, Maria, but I must say, thats why Im still here, said Richard and smiled.
At this, Kate looked at Richard and thought it amazing how different he seemed to the person she
saw when she rst met him. Well, this is a great way to end the term, she said. These sessions all
started with Petes kindness to me when he saw me sitting miserably in a corner of the staff room,
and she turned to him and said, Thank you, Pete, and thank you, everyone.
Thank you, said the others, its been great.
Please, can we pick up again next term? asked Kate.
Done! said Richard and Maria together.

1 When facing minor, irritating, frustrating behaviours that interrupt the ow of teaching and
learning, use your zippy pocketspull out a quick skill.
2 Your aim is to maintain and facilitate that ow, so your responses should be as unobtrusive and
as succinct as possible.
3 When planning for minor misbehaviours, always ask yourself the following questions:
a What can I do to prevent these?
b Which students are likely to give me most bother in this way?
c What assertive responses should I have ready?
d Are my supportive responses ready?
e Where can I give afrmation and who might be needy of this?

4 As you run these questions through your mind, make a couple of notes in your behaviour
notebookplan ahead for the week. At the end of each day, remember to do a brief review and
plan for the next day.
5 Keep your coat on and your pockets ready, and be prepared to manage lesser misbehaviours
succinctly. If not managed, they can so easily escalate and hijack your lesson.

Regardless of the level you are teachingpre-primary, primary or secondary, tertiary, normal class or
specialist groupyou need to plan for behaviour. Zippy skills can nip most frustrating, irritating behav-
iours in the bud. Good luck!
How each teacher manages springs from a unique blend of personality, education and life experi-
ences. This uniqueness is painted on the tapestry of each students life.

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acknowledgement 3, 21, 40, 48, 49 behaviour

for encouragement 32, 38, 44, 77 aggressive 19, 42, 54, 66
for self worth 87, 88, 98 attention-seeking behaviour (see also ags
value and belonging 38, 88 of misbehaviour) 33, 35, 3940, 42, 93,
adolescence 39, 40, 4548, 50 102103
individuation 58, 66, 106 avoiding power struggles 16, 41, 49
limit-testing behaviour 2021, 45, 84, 106 behaviour is a message 23, 1517, 49,
managing adolescents 45, 84, 106 6465, 81
afrmation (see also pockets) 3, 14, 15, 39, 44, 55, challenging (see also authority; ags of
77 misbehaviour) 19, 20, 26, 27, 30, 33, 41, 46,
anger (see also emotions; feelings; ags of 4849, 55, 103, 106
misbehaviour) 25, 29, 56 changing (see also motivation; relationships;
displaced 42 responses) 18
managing 41, 49, 55, 65, 71, 83, 104 reason and benet 18, 35, 39, 40, 48,
students xiii, 14, 54, 63, 75 78, 91
teachers 16, 29, 33, 41, 113 confronting 41, 54, 56, 61, 67, 7475, 90
apathy xiii, xvii, 33, 82, 89 managing 47, 55, 61, 106
assertive (see also pockets) xv, 14, 15, 3436, preventing 21, 46
5262, 63, 65, 102 punishment 82
attitude xiii, 36, 84 defensive 25, 31, 55, 56, 60, 6162, 90
and behaviour 17, 45, 92 removing need to defend 43, 48, 56, 60
managing 2, 5, 46, 8990, 92, 106 describing 4, 7, 25, 31, 41, 61, 103
and punishment 84 difcult behaviour 22, 33, 34, 35
students 41, 52 factors affecting 36, 37
teachers 19, 20 framework (see also planning for behaviour)
authority 23, 67, 81, 82 2, 45, 14
authoritarian teaching xvi, 54 limiting 20, 59, 70, 79, 106
challenging xv, xvi, 24, 82, 84 limit setting 2, 20, 61, 76, 77
and punishment 25, 81, 84 limit testing xvi, 20, 45, 74, 76, 77, 106
resisting 25, 82 not getting hooked in 32, 61, 103
not taking it personally 36, 37, 56, 72, 75, 79
beginning teachers 18, 22, 47 outcomes 56, 1517, 54, 74, 76, 84, 88
coat of many pockets xv, 17 passive-aggressive 42, 82
experiences xiii, 2, 5, 13, 24, 29, 63, 74, 87, 100 power-seeking, controlling 16, 21, 39, 41, 42,
managing behaviour xvii, 1718, 30, 6465 49, 60, 83, 106
punishment 84 behaviour journal/logbook 4, 6


belonging (see also ags of misbehaviour) 38, 39, school discipline policies and procedures xvi,
49, 50 45, 81
impact of teacher on 89, 90 discussions (see also TFBS group discussion)
in class 2, 7, 8, 10, 58, 67
catch them doing it right 6, 18, 40, 42, 46, 58, 94 with colleagues 66
choices (see also consequences) 17, 52, 77, 8283, 85 with students 48, 91
consequential learning 43, 60, 61, 76, 77, 85
offering 59, 60, 61 E.C.A. (Empathy, Content, Action) 5859
students xv, 910, 45, 7677, 78 egg analogy 15, 28, 2930, 55, 71, 73
teachers xviixviii, 56, 1718, 38, 53, 76, 102 EIB (Emotionally Impelled Behaviour) 64, 65
classroom management 8, 67, 80, 94, 96 managing emotions (see also I-messages;
communication (see also messages; responses) responses, open and closed; self-talk) 19, 34,
xv, 44, 54, 65, 71, 95, 111 38, 41, 69, 70, 96
non-verbal 5455, 112 emotions (see also feelings) 42, 43, 53
students 66, 67, 69 and behaviour 6, 15, 54, 96
teachers 54, 99, 102, 103104 emotional competency 15, 18, 19
competency 3, 18, 19, 90, 97 emotional needs xiv, xvii, 18
student 47, 90, 93 empathy xv, 59, 96
condence 3, 30, 58, 69 need for 2, 34, 38, 65
students 3, 44, 73 skills 15, 38, 63, 64, 6671, 105, 110
teachers 3, 15, 17, 28, 5455, 108 empowering xvi, 43, 77, 85
consequences (see also reparation; respect; disempowering 24, 26, 66, 85
responsibility) 9, 15, 47, 74, 7677, 8485, 90 students 25, 26, 42, 59, 80, 93
afrming behaviour change 14 teachers xvi, 15, 30, 100
applying 62, 7779 encouragement see acknowledgement; empowering;
and choices 43, 60, 77 motivation; pockets
consequential learning 10, 43, 45, 53, 61, 76, engagement 20, 23, 34, 36, 82, 91, 100
77, 78 disengaged see apathy; negativity
and I-messages 57, 62 skills xviii, 15, 18, 99
ineffective 33, 39 expectations 2, 4, 5, 24, 90, 103, 109
planning and building 79 positive xvii, 18, 44, 60, 78, 85, 103
and responsibility 8, 10, 77, 78 statements of 7, 8, 57, 58, 77, 79, 97
and rules 9, 10 students 27, 38, 44, 67, 95
control (see also behaviour, challenging; ags of
misbehaviour; self-control) failure 56, 91, 109
in classroom x, 3, 1617, 26, 6364, 85, fear and pain of 4344, 88
103104 managing failing students 88, 90, 91, 93
IMP 15 risking 90
lack of 6, 23, 55 fairness 71, 76, 95, 97, 110, 113
punishing xv, 1516, 18, 24, 25, 26, 8183 consequences 78
strategies to 15, 2835, 5253, 6365, 75 offering choices 60, 61
cooperation (see also acknowledgement; pockets) punishment 81, 82
4, 46, 5658, 59, 67, 90, 94, 102105 in teachers xvii, 23, 20, 22
correction (see also pockets) 14, 47, 68, 79, 103, feelings (see also emotions; pockets) 1516, 17, 38,
105, 106 82, 90, 94, 98
cultural differences and behaviour 37, 56, 67, 68 acknowledging 3, 2930, 32, 36, 41, 70, 71
curriculum, hidden xiiixviii, 4, 5, 18, 19, 47, 76 denying 9, 54, 68, 71
feel good factor 15, 22, 27, 39, 49, 65, 90
discipline management (see also behaviour, managing (see also responses, open and
framework; pockets) 7, 1415, 2728, 76 closed) 15, 28, 2930, 53, 65, 68, 105

students 2, 67, 15, 20, 24, 26, 65 assertive (see also assertive) 5261
teachers (see also ags of misbehaviour) consequence 7484
3, 1819, 26, 3334, 5556, 72 control strategy 28
ags of misbehaviour 38, 3949 supportive (see also supporting) 6372
zippy 101108
humour 15, 16, 21, 45, 9596, 106 positive focusing 15, 23, 43, 91, 93, 94, 102103
positive mindset 18, 26, 56, 60, 74, 92, 93
I-messages 15f, 5658, 95 praise 15, 87, 93, 9495
IMP (Interactive Management Process) xivxvii, 5, problem ownership 3435, 44, 65, 68, 72, 76
1323, 2728, 7476 problem solving 15, 71, 74, 7980, 113
punishment 10, 7475, 77, 8184, 8485
messages (see also behaviour; communication, for control 25, 52
non-verbal; ags of misbehaviour; I-messages) cycle of revenge 16, 90
1416, 24, 27, 40, 6465, 81, 96 put downs see revenge
students 3, 33, 49, 64, 105
teachers 2, 17, 23, 30, 102, 103 questions
mirror analogy 89, 94, 97 closed 71
misbehaviour 20, 25, 5253, 6364, 66, 7475, 103 open 15, 44, 7172, 105
managing xvxvi, xvii, xviii, 4, 9, 1415, 16
motivation (see also acknowledgement; behaviour, reframing mindset 15, 56, 9293
changing) 14, 27, 37, 44, 68 relationships (see also peer interactions) xivxv,
demotivated (see also apathy; negativity) 92 xviixviii, 7, 15, 21, 27, 46
planning 1718, 50 establishing 23, 4, 5
positive working 19, 22, 27, 45, 54, 90
negativity (see also misbehaviour) 15, 16, 54, 83, teacherstudent 69, 71, 79, 83, 85, 92, 96
90, 111 between teachers 66, 100, 107, 108
student 33, 46, 60, 68, 82, 88 reparation 10, 32, 57, 78, 83, 86
teacher 18, 56, 89, 92 putting right 4243, 59
restorative practice 43, 78
on-task resistance (see also persistence) xvii, 18, 34, 534
keeping students 3, 41, 66, 67, 104, 105 respect 15, 21, 27, 54, 67, 82, 84
and consequences 7879
parents xviii, 9, 10, 18, 87, 88, 89 lack of 21
relating to parents 58 and students 27, 45, 83
peer interactions (see also ags of misbehaviour) teachers conveying 2, 20, 27
21, 40, 42, 106 responses (see also communication; IMP; pockets)
attitude and inuence 46, 106 xvxvi, xvii, 13, 1516, 18, 101102
peer acceptance 21, 4547, 83, 91 open and closed 15, 6871
peer groups 47 student 31, 39, 68
peer relationships 21, 45, 46, 91 teacher (see also ags of misbehaviour)
peer support 47, 91 4, 1517, 1921, 2930, 38, 63
persistence xvii, 22, 43, 44, 50, 79, 88, 94 responsibility (see also pockets) xvii, 10, 27, 70, 87,
students 34, 39, 45, 100 91, 106
teachers 18, 38 with consequences, punishment, problem solving
planning for behaviour (see also behaviour, framework; 77, 78, 7980, 83
IMP) 411, 1315, 17, 36, 66, 76 and rights 8
being proactive x, xvii, 36, 74, 75, 101 students taking 9, 10, 36, 49, 52, 65, 112
working preventively xvi, 8, 14, 1718, 22 teachers to self 18
pockets teachers to students 26, 35, 52, 60, 63, 76, 92
afrming (see also afrmation) 8797 revenge 29, 39, 4243, 49, 78, 112

revenge (cont.) supporting (see also pockets) 15, 53, 75, 79, 101102
bullying, harassment 42 peer support 47, 91
cycle of 16, 27, 42, 72, 83 students 37, 38, 45, 46, 6372, 101
hurt xiii, 20, 30, 4243, 47, 78, 112 teacher support see TFBS group discussion
put downs 39, 42, 47
risk-taking 25, 45, 50, 90, 98 take ve strategy 15, 28
rules 2, 89, 10 teachers (see also curriculum, hidden; responses;
establishing ground rules 7, 8, 10 supporting; TFBS group discussion) xiii, xv, 22
problem of optional rules 9 changes and challenges xvxvii, 18, 33, 37,
45, 56
safety (see also ags of misbehaviour) 6, 9, 89, 90, as classroom managers xivxviii, 2, 5, 1315,
91, 102 27, 89
school xvi leaders and role models xvxvii, 3, 16, 20,
students feeling safe 3, 17, 20, 27, 65 2122, 2627, 58
teacher feeling safe xvi professional role xii, xiv, 18
saving face 59, 60, 96, 103, 106 relieving 4
self-control (see also emotions; self-talk) 19, 25, 26, skills see pockets
27, 54, 60, 77 students expectations of 27
student (see also choices, offering; consequences) voice 3, 38, 54, 55, 60, 104
6, 2122, 65, 93, 105, 106, 112 TFBS (Teacher-Friendly Behaviour Support) group
teacher 54, 55 discussion xi, xvii, 100101
self-discipline xvii, 5, 11, 54, 61, 82 extracts 11, 22, 35, 48, 61, 72, 84, 97, 108
self-esteem (see also acknowledgement; afrmation; time-out 59, 106107
pockets; valuing and behaviour) 27, 58, 8797, trust 2, 45, 92, 97
106 enabling 15, 44, 58, 80, 95, 97
self-worth 14, 65, 77, 87, 88, 93, 97 mistrust 62, 80, 88
students 47, 78, 88
teachers impact on students 24, 42, 87, 8890 valuing and behaviour (see also pockets) xvii, 49, 83,
self-talk 5556t 87, 8891, 93, 94
acknowledging feelings 3, 41, 56 enabling students to feel valued 22, 3839,
signicance (see also belonging; ags of misbehaviour) 4244, 47, 53, 87, 97
38, 39 values 5, 7
students (see also adolescence; belonging; failure; peer valuing teachers 18, 27
interactions; relationships; safety) victimisation (see also ags of misbehaviour) 83
referral xvi, 22, 38, 43, 45 feeling victimised 82
todays xvii victim empowerment 43, 59