This is a review of ‘100 + Ideas for Managing Behaviour’ by Johnnie Young; Section 01: Getting to know your learners
by Josh Lack, Mechanical Engineering Lecturer, Lincoln College.
Johnnie starts by mentioning that he came into teaching after leaving a management position he had a local bank for 16 years however he states that his true passion always lied in teaching and that he wanted to inspire a whole new generation of students.
He describes his lessons as a “battleground” where:
He has bored students
He has to raise his voice on multiple occasions
He has to instigate disciplinary procedures
He has considered other lines of work due to managing bad behaviour
Johnnie mentions that he has noticed with regret “that a lot of staff in education have given up the ghost and left the profession feeling disillusioned”.
Johnnie’s book is therefore an extract of the best 120 ideas from his personal notebooks for dealing with students with challenging behaviour and that the beauty of these ideas are that they all tried and tested in a classroom environment. Some examples within this book include vocabulary a teacher may use in a particular situation and these comments are designed to make teachers aware of the risks and how best to implement strategies as to overcome this challenging behaviour.
In getting to know his learners, Johnnie uses 9 different ideas, ranging from idea 01 through to idea 09, in that order, in building up a profile of students interests. Now although as you can appreciate getting to know your learners through 9 different means will take time, patience and perseverance however the investment into student lives pays huge dividends here note only for Johnnie’s students but also all our individual learners as a whole.
One example Johnnie uses which I would like to make special note of is, if for example, you ask your learners to write a story, students will often complain they can’t think what to write about. Johnnie’s response in this section is that many teachers in this scenario may suggest several options, none of which inspire the learners; however in getting to know the student, if for instance you know this particular learner loves ‘football’, you may say that:
“Imagine you’re playing football and you score a crucial goal. When the game restarts, you find all of the ascendancy is now with your team, what may happen next? And how may this affect the atmosphere of the game?”
Now although this is only a generic example, it is much more effective than a ‘blanket’ ‘write about anything’ approach.
Following on from this, Johnnie then uses these first 2 ideas in “knowing their names and interests” as to build a profile which uses their life targets as to motivate and elevate the importance of their work as to provide a meaningful way for the student to learn.
He then goes onto mention a section I am particular fond of in looking at student value and the worth of their work.
It is important to remember that students with challenging behavioural characteristics will often have low self – esteem and little regard for their learning, self – worth or quality of their work.
Johnnie targets this by highlighting that when a student produces a piece of work it is important to be honest and specific about how this can be improved. However I believe that we should all always remember to value our learners’ efforts and make note of the things they have done well. After all you may be the only person in that student’s life who has the chance to provide positive feedback.
Other ideas include using humour, having the correct attitude and becoming a shining example however in using these ideas it is important to remember that humour shouldn’t be used until full control has been achieved and that a comment made in jest against a learner could have disastrous consequences. Safe ground is to stick to the subject matter or simply just make fun of yourself.
One last idea I would like to make note is Johnnie’s idea of using ‘friend or foe’, he mentions that there is a tendency, especially with new teachers to be too friendly with students. Perhaps something I am honest enough to admit, I have fallen foul of.
However it is important to remember you are not a friend to the learner, you are their teacher. It is both your job and my job to lead and organise their learning environment.
I therefore believe there is happy medium here to ensure that a) you are not too strict as this will cause confrontation however b) you should ensure that you are not too friendly as students may see you as a ‘soft touch’.
In conclusion to this review, it is therefore best to work out your own rules of engagement. Develop your own classroom personality and try to pitch it towards the 9 ideas set out in Johnnie’s book of getting to know your learners. The student will prefer this because like my learners they clearly know where they stand with you and what to expect.
J Lack – 25/10/2018