h1

RELOADED: FAQs for NQTs

February 23, 2008

This is a rewritten version of an entry that has appeared previously but is no longer available. Apologies if you have read it before.

I’ve noticed that I read a lot of the same questions being asked, often by NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers), on teacher forums on the internet. So I have decided to answer those questions here.

Are there any good books about dealing with behaviour?

Yes. For ordinary schools read “The Craft of the Classroom” by Michael Marland. It’s an excellent description of basic classroom management, and recommends unfashionable but effective methods such as sitting at the front of the class and asking students to come to you. For “challenging schools”, i.e. schools where the discipline system has broken down, read “Surviving and Succeeding in Difficult Classrooms” by Paul Blum. It tells you how to cope in the battlefield that many of our schools have become and is worthwhile just for the effort it takes to remind you it is not your fault. Bill (William) Rogers has also written many useful books.

A well known but unhelpful book is “Getting the Buggers to Behave” by Sue Cowley. Avoid it, as it would be better named “Letting the Buggers Misbehave”. It makes suggestions such as letting older children swear, chew gum and keep their coats on. It even suggests pretending to eat dog food as a way to win the students over, which is, quite frankly, as demeaning a suggestion as you are ever likely to hear.

Update (August 2012): Since I wrote this a couple of other excellent books have come out. I would also recommend “The Behaviour Guru” by Tom Bennett and “Teach Like A Champion” by Doug Lemov. Both offer excellent advice.

What can I do about low level disruption?

Firstly, make sure you have the students in a seating plan. This means you will have everyone’s name to hand, half the battle with low level disruption with a new class is just knowing the names of students that are talking. Then use a system of warnings (either noted down on a paper register or written on the board) for each interruption with escalating sanctions such as detentions and removal from the room for any student who gets too many warnings. Do not tolerate shouted answers (or questions), insist on hands up and waiting for quiet.

If the problem is not deliberate disruption, merely an excess of noise, then getting the students to stand up and wait for quiet often works and can be a good way to start the lesson. This is more effective with younger classes that actually want to learn than with hardcore troublesome classes where individuals may be looking for a confrontation.

One of my classes hates me, what can I do?

Stop caring. It’s probably their fault not yours. In particular, if it’s year 10 it’s to be expected and you should worry more if they don’t hate you.

I have been verbally abused/assaulted and nothing’s happened, what can I do?

Something should have happened. You have to chase this up immediately. Make sure you have a written account of the incident. There is a hierarchy of steps you can take to follow up. You take each step in order until something is done. The more steps you take the more you will be seen as a troublemaker, however, it is better to be seen as a troublemaker by SMT than a walkover by the kids.

  1. Talk to the Head (or Deputy Head, according to availability) and give him/her your written report.
  2. Talk to your union rep and get them to talk to the head.
  3. Ask to fill in an “accident/assault form”. (This is a report for the LEA that schools must provide but rarely tell staff about). Keep a copy.
  4. Contact the police (for assaults or the very worst forms of verbal abuse)
  5. Go to your doctor and see how long you can get off with stress.
  6. Contact the press.

Alternatively, if you actually do want to be seen as a troublemaker start at the bottom of the list and work your way up.

I’m not enjoying my job because of behaviour, does it get any better?

Yes. But it takes time. In my experience it takes a couple of years at a school to have real authority around the site. With classes I find year 8 improve after Christmas, Year 9 take slightly longer, Year 10 take a couple of terms minimum and Year 11 classes only improve if you’re lucky and the worst kids start truanting (which happens quite often for bottom sets or in tough schools).

About these ads

53 comments

  1. “It even suggests pretending to eat dog food as a way to win the students over, which is, quite frankly, as demeaning a suggestion as you are ever likely to hear.”

    When I first read this I was dubious, as I did not believe that anyone, no matter how brain damaged, would rate and pass around a book with such a suggestion.
    Have checked google for ‘getting the bugger to behave dog food’ I found this page on BBC Woman’s Hour:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/womanshour/2001_37_thu_01.shtml

    “Sue Cowley is the author of a teaching manual with a difference. She says the key to capturing a class’s attention is to surprise them with stunts such as:
    * eating from a can of dog food to teach the power of marketing
    * ripping up a five pound note to question the value of money.
    She talks to Jenni about the methods she suggests to keep pupils engaged.”

    This does not seem demeaning. It seems more about demonstrating something that is hard to show practically. I would hope that you would agree that, as distasteful as this is, linking knowledge to practical actions is a good way of teaching. Bruner argued that learning in school is predominantly decontextualised, and that learning used to be far easier as it was linked to the activities themselves (e.g. learning how to be a shepherd). Contextualising more is surely very beneficial?


  2. Please explain precisely what they are learning by watching a teacher eat dog food.


  3. The point is not what is being learnt. Your original point of contention was that this activity was a “way of winning the students over”, when it is not apparently presented by the author in this way. If you could therefore amend your post it would be more truthful.

    In order to engage with your new point, however, please explain what students learn by:
    watching a video
    being shouted at
    seeing another student being shouted at
    being asked to go outside and wait to be disciplined

    …and so on. I can think of all sorts of standard teacher activities that do not themselves lead to learning. The point is that they may increase learning at some point in the future.

    What I have quoted above is about “engagement”. Engagement is not necessarily the same as learning. Engagement, however, has as its aim to increase future learning by motivating the students through intrinsic interest in what is going on.


  4. You have now resorted to pedantry. Is “winning the students over” really so distinct from “capturing their attention [with stunts]“? The line between teacher and children’s entertainer has been crossed regardless of how you justify it.

    Oh, by the way, it was you who talked about this being contextualised learning not me, so I suggest you point your rhetorical question at yourself.


  5. It has been really interesting to read this comments as a struggling NQT, thank you for time to write them.


  6. “You have now resorted to pedantry. Is “winning the students over” really so distinct from “capturing their attention [with stunts]”? The line between teacher and children’s entertainer has been crossed regardless of how you justify it.”

    So now your problem is not that eating from a dog food can is “as demeaning a suggestion as you are ever likely to hear” (and I can imagine worse, to be fair) but that capturing the students’ attention is like being an entertainer.

    I would imagine, then, that shouting is like being an entertainer?


  7. Is “winning the students over” really so distinct from “capturing their attention [with stunts]”?

    Yes, as appeasement is not the same as being interesting.


  8. Telling teachers to act as children’s entertainers is not a separate issue from telling them to eat dog food. Eating dog food was an attempt to entertain rather than teach. Using stunts to get their attention is quite clearly about providing entertainment.

    I don’t know why you keep going on about shouting. The only place I mentioned shouting was where I said children shouldn’t be allowed to shout.


  9. “Eating dog food was an attempt to entertain rather than teach. Using stunts to get their attention is quite clearly about providing entertainment.”

    One of my colleagues has a video of himself dressed up in period garb to present a news programme from the 50s. He also comes in once a year dressed in Tudor garb.

    Are these just entertaining stunts? I imagine that when this behaviour is stopped by an effective SMT the History students who complain that it helped them learn are lying.


  10. News is Good, there is a difference between dressing in role for relevant historical or dramatic effect and eating from a can of dog food to jack up the level of interest via disgust. The fact that you can’t see it makes me think I have you to thank for being expected to entertain to the lowest common denominator in an effort to “engage”.


  11. “News is Good, there is a difference between dressing in role for relevant historical or dramatic effect and eating from a can of dog food to jack up the level of interest via disgust. The fact that you can’t see it makes me think I have you to thank for being expected to entertain to the lowest common denominator in an effort to “engage”.”

    Sure. Let’s extend your argument – dressing up for “relevent historical effect” is good, dressing up to shock the students is bad (e.g. in some sort of PVC catsuit). Is there a similar difference between “eating from a can of dog food to jack up the level of interest via disgust” and “eating from a can of dog food to teach the power of marketing”?

    If the latter is about the “relevant educational effect” then surely, by your argument, it is OK?

    We only differ in regarding whether eating from what looks to be can of dog food might ever be educational.


  12. You seem to have forgotten that you were completely unable to identify any actual learning that would result from pretending to eat dogfood.


  13. I did not think it was a real question because it seems to me absolutely obvious to see what is learned from this situation.

    Consider that what is being eaten is LABELLED dogfood but not ACTUALLY dogfood.
    Consider that the objective is about the POWER OF MARKETING.

    It seems to me the same sort of teaching technique as, say, showing a video of schizophrenic behaviour to teach the characteristics of schizophrenia – e.g. teaching by giving an example.


  14. Far from being absolutely obvious I am still lost as to what has been learned.

    That labels tell you what is in a tin?

    That people generally believe labels?

    That if the freak show isn’t recruiting then teaching is the next best thing?

    Please enlighten us.


  15. “That people generally believe labels?”

    I’m afraid that we are still asked to teach students facts that we think should be patently obvious.


  16. With respect, Old Andrew, there are two clear alternate learning outcomes from the “dog food” trick.

    (1) The class do not realise it is a trick

    “The teacher is a completely sad sicko”

    (2) The class realise it is a trick

    “The teacher is a complete d*ckhead”

    I am not, however, aware of either being in the National Curriculum.


  17. Any good teacher will be aware of the sudden reverse and the grab to get the attention of a group of children, which is presumably what this means.

    My concern is not about the basic concept but the degree. If you cut your leg off with a saw it would gain their attention as well, but it’s not a good way of doing it. The “dog food” is in this sort of category.

    Ripping up the fiver is not quite so asinine, but I’m not sure quite what you achieve by it ? Money isn’t everything, it’s just paper ? I can see a possible use for it for good money management – one could show the cost of cigarettes by rolling up a fiver and setting light to it, maybe. Not saying it’s a great idea, and unless you’re good at sleight of hand it’s expensive, but it’s not totally moronic.

    I’d be concerned that an inexperienced reader of the book would think that this is the sort of level you need to “go to” to teach effectively.


  18. This takes on a new aspect in light of this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7450552.stm

    How far are teachers meant to go in order to entertain?


  19. You can discuss what’s appropriate and what’s not until you’re blue in the face (fingertips?), but at the end of the day you have to tailor your teaching style depending on the class.

    No, you’re not an ‘entertainer’, but why strive for the ‘disciplinarian’ end of the spectrum? Your job as a teacher is to engage pupils and invoke a joy for learning. Being a boring old fart and shouting your mouth off to ‘teach them a lesson’ doesn’t teach them much at all, aside from contempt for learning.

    Eating out of a can labeled as dogfood might not be something that works for you, but it seems to for Sue Cowley. Unless you’ve seen the technique used in class and the way she executes it, how can you say that nothing is learned from it? That’s a totally uninformed conjecture, and to be honest I find it quite closed-minded. Drilling work into kids’ heads might get them through their exams, but will it make them excited about their next English or History lesson? Most certainly not.

    The best classrooms I’ve ever been in and taught in are the ones in which the teacher has a laugh and enjoys themselves, and brings the class along with them. Of course you have to keep a firm grip and punish when necessary, but there’s absolutely no wrong in having fun.


  20. “Unless you’ve seen the technique used in class and the way she executes it, how can you say that nothing is learned from it? That’s a totally uninformed conjecture, and to be honest I find it quite closed-minded.”

    Are you seriously suggesting that it is up to me to prove something isn’t educational?

    Surely it is up to the dog food eaters and the stripping teachers to prove that their behaviour is educational?


  21. I never asked you to prove anything. I’m just saying that unless you’ve seen the technique used in class you can’t tell me it’s useless; at least not with any authority. Our ‘fun’ lesson at Easter involved dancing like Kylie Minogue for a prize… You might say that’s equally pointless, but it was a great laugh and actually had some economics behind it.

    Also, bundling in the dog food eaters (who, might I add, aren’t eating ACTUAL dog food) and the stripping teachers together is ridiculous. They’re worlds apart in terms of conduct, and I’d consider the latter completely unacceptable.


  22. I’m sorry but I really don’t have to be in a classroom where the teacher is pretending to eat dogfood to know that it is not of educational value and that it is an insult to the profession to suggest we do such things. As for classing it with the stripping teacher, please explain why demeaning yourself by pretending to eat dogfood is any better than demeaning yourself in any other way? Either way you are trying to win kids over by entertaining them in an undignified manner rather than teaching them. It’s still a freakshow.


  23. In my limited experience I’ve found that well behaved and motivated classes do not need any such entertainment. I’m lucky enough to teach a few classes of this type and dog food nor stripping is required to keep them engaged and motivated.
    Poorly behaved classes have no respect for the teacher nor lesson (if they did they would not behaved badly) so it is here where you reach for the can. My questions are these…
    1. Why would eating a can of dog food encourage children who already have nothing but contempt for teachers and school to improve their behaviour?
    2. What would happen once the ‘dog food’ moment expires and children have to get on with the more normal tasks associated with learning?


  24. [...] writers and advisers out there who give genuinely useful advice about classroom management (see this post for some book suggestions). They focus on concrete ideas about routines, classroom organisation, or [...]


  25. Benny: “I’m just saying that unless you’ve seen the technique used in class you can’t tell me it’s useless; at least not with any authority.”

    oldandrew: “…please explain why demeaning yourself by pretending to eat dogfood is any better than demeaning yourself in any other way? Either way you are trying to win kids over by entertaining them in an undignified manner rather than teaching them.”

    I’m sure Benny doesn’t feel that his or her point has been addressed.


  26. New is Good,

    You appear to be selecting unconnected (possibly random) quotations and then complaining that one quotation doesn’t adequately answer the other.

    Can you stop that, please?


  27. Well, this is quite an old thread, but I think it’s worth adding a comment.

    1. Sue Cowley’s book Getting the Buggers to Behave is an excellent book on behaviour management, well worth reading and full of good sense.

    2. It does not “suggest pretending to eat dog food as a way of winning the students over.” What it does is outline and explain a wide range of sound behaviour management techniques, one of which – and not the main one – is to use exciting props or gimmicks to grab attention at the onset of a lesson. An example – one example, to illustrate the general technique, not an instruction to reproduce this particular ideas and use it widely yourself – of such a gimmick involves a fake can of dog food. See http://www.suecowley.co.uk/lessons-i-love.html for an explanation of how this lesson works.


    • 1. No, it’s not a good book. As well as the infamous dog food section, it also has some examples of the worst sort of teacher blaming advice: http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/the-bisected-teacher/

      2. The gimmick in question is a demeaning stunt. Entertaining students by doing disgusting things is not behaviour management. It’s not educational in any way, it is pure entertainment. It relies on the message “forget about learning, be a clown”. Would you actually want to be a teacher for that class in the following lesson, trying to get them to pay attention to verb endings or equations?


      • You seem to be doing the same thing in the other article that you did in this one – taking short quotes and making your own interpretation of them. When Cowley says “Do try to make your students feel that you like them, and that you are interested in the things that interest them” I imagine she means that you shouldn’t go in to a new classroom and try to ingratiate yourself with the children by being cool and funny and trying to pretend you are like them. Which sounds like very good advice.

        As for the “infamous” dog food “stunt” – well, I get the impression that you’re determined not to change your mind on this, and it’s not worth my time trying. Well, perhaps it wouldn’t suit your teaching style to use a gimmick to get the class’ attention, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad teaching practice. I doubt that Sue Cowley would agree with the message that you should forget about the learning and just be a clown, which is why she talked about the learning objectives that such an opening could be used to support.


        • Is there a mistake in your first paragraph? It doesn’t seem to make sense (unless you are just inventing things you think Sue Cowley might have wanted to say).

          In the second one, it isn’t about me. It’s a general point that demeaning yourself as a teacher won’t improve behaviour. Good lessons start with a learning objective, then you plan the activities.

          You don’t invent an activity (on the basis of entertainment value) then try to attach a learning objective to justify it.


          • If we’re going to carry on with this, would you mind giving me the chapters and page numbers you’re using so I can go and check them? So far I’ve just been going on the quotes you used and my memory of the book.


          • It’s searchable on Amazon.


          • Goodness me. So it is. Thank you.


          • If, by saying “she talked about the learning objectives that such an opening could be used to support” I implied that Sue Cowley wanted to play a joke on her kids and then looked around for a way that this could be used to support learning, then I misspoke. I’m sure that wasn’t what she was thinking. My point was, this is an educational tool for educational purposes.
            I think you’re putting your own interpretation on it and misrepresenting Cowley’s recommendations. The point wasn’t that you should spend your time making pretend dog food; the point was that interesting lessons engage children and lead to improved behaviour and better education.
            What did you think of the other examples of interesting lessons Sue Cowley gave?


          • You get that repeatedly telling me I’ve misinterpreted something, then just suggesting a completely different point, is not an argument?

            One doesn’t learn anything worth knowing from watching a teacher (pretend to) eat dog food. Therefore, any attached learning objective is always going to be contrived. From what I briefly skimmed of the other lessons, they were all gimmicks to entertain rather than to teach.


          • Taking quotes out of context is misleading. If I hadn’t read the original book, I would have got the impression from your article that Sue Cowley recommends you act like a clown – perhaps take along your pretend can of dog food and say to the kids, “Hey, look at the funny things I do!”

            When you read the book in context, you can see that what Sue Cowley is actually saying is:
            1. A good behaviour management technique is to teach interesting and engaging lessons.
            2. Here is an example. It can be used for teaching lessons in D&T, Science, Art or Media.
            3. This is how you do it.
            4. These are some of the activities it can be used to inspire.

            Now, on reading Rob’s comment about how ineffective he thinks it would be…maybe he has a point. I’ll not argue that with him. But my point is that to say:

            “It makes suggestions such as letting older children swear, chew gum and keep their coats on. It even suggests pretending to eat dog food as a way to win the students over, which is, quite frankly, as demeaning a suggestion as you are ever likely to hear.”

            is completely misleading and misrepresentative, and gives a bad impression of an excellent book.


      • The other quote from Sue Cowley you mentined:
        “If the students see you becoming tense and angry, you are giving them an incentive to misbehave in future. An explosive reaction might be just what they want to get from you!”

        I don’t disagree with what you said, but I think you misinterpreted what Cowley was saying. I think she meant that you should try to avoid showing anger, and especially to avoid expressing it by shouting and ranting, as this will let the students see that they can press your buttons, and cause them to lose respect for you and to try to manipulate you more in the future. It may be true, as you say, that children do not misbehave because their teacher is upset; but seeing the teacher lose control certainly reduces the teacher’s authority.


        • I think you need to look at what she said, rather than what you want her to have said. She didn’t condemn “shouting and ranting” she condemned becoming “tense and angry”. She didn’t give advice for staying in control of your actions when under emotional pressure, she warned against having the emotions. That’s not “interpretation”, that is the direct implication of what she wrote.


        • Waiguoren,

          Would you be happy to let pupils swear too?
          And wear their coats in class?
          Perhaps enjoy their iPods in lessons?

          ….whilst you tuck into a delicious tin of “Pedigree Chum”?

          (apologies for the product placement- Im on a retainer)


          • I certainly wouldn’t be happy to let my pupils do those things. And, as a well known and well-respected expert on behaviour management I’d be very surprised to hear that Sue Cowley is as well. Can you tell me where, (the chapter will be fine) in her book she says anything like “I don’t mind if students swear in class” or “it really doesn’t matter whether they wear coats and use iPods in lessons or not?”

            I have read other behaviour management experts – like Bill Rogers – say that there is such a thing as tactical ignoring of secondary behaviours – if, for example, you order a student out of your classroom and he says, “Alright, I’m f____ing gong, aren’t I?” *as he moves to do what you told him to and leaves the class.*
            In a situation like that you might, for the moment, overlook his use of bad language – not forgetting it, but targetting it as a later date; getting into an argument with him about his use of bad language in that particular situation might be a tactical mistake.

            Perhaps that’s what Cowley meant? If you can quote her and tell me the chapter so I can look it up for myself? I have her book, Getting the Buggers to Behave, 2nd edition.


          • I don’t have the book and am not particularly motivated to obtain it if I’m honest. I was trusting OA’s recollection on this issue- so if you have the book perhaps you will stumble upon the comments in time.

            I do understand your point about ‘tactical ignoring’- I have have been reduced to doing it myself from time to time over the years – in a weak school with lax discipline or in an ok school with a surly y11 class and I was an incoming teacher.

            I may have overlooked gum with a kid I knew would blow up and cause masses of paperwork but I would never have allowed coats or swearing- thats too big a clear mark of open defiance.

            However, ultimately its always a failure of the school if teachers feel they have to shy away from applying basic school rules.

            Things like swearing, coats and yes, even gum should not be ignored by teachers, even if they are NQTs- so her advice, if accurately recalled, is poor.

            The only time it would be advisable would be in very extreme situations and/or with the toughest y11 class that relishes confrontation and welcomes exclusion.


          • Well, I think we’d have to leave that until we can see what she actually did say. If I come across it, I’ll let you know. But you make good points.


          • I also meant to say that I clicked on the link to see some of her other ideas- really not impressed. I don’t mind too much teachers now and again doing something at the start of a lesson to ignite interest- particularly if its a hot thursday afternoon with a class of less motivated kids.

            But if you decide to so this its imperative its not demeaning. If you eat ‘pretend’ dog food in a class, in a rough school, expect to get a reputation as the saddo who eats dog food.

            This could really back fire. Rumours will be that you ate actual dog food so you may hear dog whistles in the corridor from afar.

            I can’t emphasise enough to new teachers to steer clear of this example.


          • Well, Rob, I won’t disagree with your professional opinion, and you may well be right. My argument is just with the way this part of the book has been pulled out of context and misrepresented in the OP, which I feel doesn’t do Sue Cowley or her book justice.


  28. “She didn’t condemn “shouting and ranting” she condemned becoming “tense and angry”. She didn’t give advice for staying in control of your actions when under emotional pressure, she warned against having the emotions. That’s not “interpretation”, that is the direct implication of what she wrote.”

    I found this passage in her book – my comments in brackets:
    “React from the head.
    It is very easy, when faced with a rude and aggressive student, to react emotionally, taking the treatment to heart. In fact, this is the natural thing to do: you’re a human being and not a machine, after all!
    (This doesn’t sound like Cowley is saying we should suppress your emotions).
    But what you have to remember is, if you do become emotional, not only will you be stressing yourself – you will also be allowing the student to win the challenge. What many difficult students want to do is to “wind up” the teacher, and if you allow yourself to react emoctionally, they will have succeeded.
    (This sounds like a warning against shouting or displays of excessive temper).
    This success gives them the added incentive to repeat the poor behaviour in the future. Maintaining a rational, intellectual response will also help you to decide on the appropriate steps to take to deal with the situation in a calm and considered way.”
    (What sounds so bad about that? Is Cowley saying that we should crush our emotions and become Vulcans? It seems to me that, based on what she wrote, she is saying that we should keep our heads in a crisis. This is borne out by an example of what she means on the next page:

    “The disruptive student
    Matthew is wandering around the room, disturbing the rest of the class and refusing to sit back down, despite being warned about possible sanctions.
    Your heart says: “Why won’t he do what I say? The rest of the class must think I’ve got no control over him. I feel so helpless. Now I’m getting angry. WHY WON’T YOU DO WHAT I SAY, MATTHEW!”
    Your head says: “Okay, this student is refusing to do what I say, but its not my fault, it’s his own choice. Now, what am I going to do about it? Well, first of all I’ll stay calm, that’s important. Then I’ll warn him, and if that doesn’t work, impose the sanctions that I’ve told the class about.”

    (I don’t want to discuss whether or not you agree with the example she wrote; the point I want to make is that (a) she is warning teachers that shouting and ranting is counterproductive and (b) she is not telling the teachers they need to suppress their emotions, but rather that they need to keep a cool head, stay calm and try to act as rationally as possible in a crisis).


    • You appear to be doing that thing fundamentalist Christians do when it turns out the Bible doesn’t agree with them. You are claiming to look at the context but what you are doing is focusing mainly on bits which don’t noticeably disagree with you, and then glossing over the bits that do.

      You might wish that she had never condemned becoming “tense and angry” and warned against the consequences of becoming “emotional” and “allow[ing] yourself to react emotionally” as if it was simply a matter of choice, but she did and no matter how many other bits of texts you look at, she still said it and the meaning is no different when read in context or out.

      Oh, and did you even read through the bit where you said:

      “she is not telling the teachers they need to suppress their emotions, but rather that they need to keep a cool head, stay calm and try to act as rationally as possible in a crisis).”

      How incoherent is that?


  29. “Taking quotes out of context is misleading.”

    I’m getting increasingly fed up with you efforts to condemn all opposing opinions as somehow dishonest.

    “If I hadn’t read the original book, I would have got the impression from your article that Sue Cowley recommends you act like a clown – perhaps take along your pretend can of dog food and say to the kids, “Hey, look at the funny things I do!””

    That is exactly the message the stunt will pass on. You appear to be arguing that as Sue Cowley’s book doesn’t admit this, then it is a misrepresentation for me to point it out.

    Just to be clear, criticism is not misrepresentation even if the person being criticised would not agree with it.

    “When you read the book in context, you can see that what Sue Cowley is actually saying is:
    1. A good behaviour management technique is to teach interesting and engaging lessons.”
    2. Here is an example. It can be used for teaching lessons in D&T, Science, Art or Media.
    3. This is how you do it.
    4. These are some of the activities it can be used to inspire.”

    This isn’t “context” it is mitigation.

    None of the facts have changed because she attempts to justify her ridiculous advice. I could have spent longer criticising her justifications as well as her advice, but the point still stands: if you don’t want to demean yourself in order to “engage and interest” kids (and my advice is that you shouldn’t) then the book is not for you. That there are (spectacularly) weak arguments for demeaning yourself is not denied, I just didn’t feel the need to explore them in this post because most of my readers do not need me to explain why these arguments are so weak.


    • Well, I think the best thing I can do here is withdraw. As far as I’m concerned I’ve done what I needed to – provided the context that I felt was missing from your article. This is the last time I will comment here.
      It hasn’t been a happy experience for me which I regret, as I have enjoyed reading other articles on this website, and I apologise if I have given offence in disagreeing with you. I assure you that, even if I don’t agree with you, I didn’t mean to insult you.


  30. It’s the authors job to ensure she is actually helping her core readers, inexperienced NQTs. Therefore when she says one should not show anger she will make conscientious NQTs feel they were wrong to ever feel anger. Its her job to assure them that the feelings a class provokes them to feel are not unnatural and not due to their failure. This omission is pretty bad to my mind.


    • Well, Heather, that’s a good point, and I won’t say you’re wrong. I don’t think, in my personal opinion, that someone reading her book would take away the message that you should feel bad or self-hating if you do feel angry, but rather that expressing your anger in certain ways is counterproductive and that you should avoid it if you can. Also, I think in the examples she gives of ways you can talk to yourself she seems to be modelling compassion towards oneself.

      But I won’t say that you don’t have a good point, and you might be right.


  31. I think someone asked earlier about Sue Cowley’s advice on gum, swearing, coats etc.

    From the second edition of the Buggers book, a section on KS4 students:

    Be willing to stretch the boundaries: Some of the rules and boundaries that are set in a school can seem pretty meaningless to students of this age. After all, why shouldn’t they wear a coat if they are cold or chew gum if they wish? Your priority at this stage must be their learning, and you should avoid the apllication of petty rules if at all possible, especially if these are likely to lead to serious friction. similarly, these young adults see swearing all around them – on the television, in their social life, from their families and friends. Ignoring the odd swear word will make you seem more human. and will also help you avoid pointless conflict with your classes.”.


    • I must say that last Cowley quote is toxic and is the chief problem with 50% of uk schools.

      Letting the ‘little issues’ go ALWAYS leads to the erosion of ethos. If not in the class of the teacher that has relaxed the rules for their own selfish/lazy purposes then for other teachers now and/or later.

      No effective headteacher should allow their staff to do this. The rules are not negotiable- one shouldn’t give a stuff if the kids or parents think they are petty, old fashioned, etc

      You either follow them or shove off (parents, kids AND teachers)

      The temptation to relax rules in the face of aggressive parents or students is great- I understand that, but they simply shift to push other boundaries until they are in charge.

      Then you end up in a school where teachers cannot hold a civilised discussion with most classes for even 2 mins.


  32. […] FAQs for NQTs […]



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,494 other followers

%d bloggers like this: