‘Setting an example’ can set yourself up as the sucker

Many of the ways in which we seek to direct pupils’ behaviour can lead to public shaming – but it’s counterproductive for teachers and pupils alike

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In the early days of my teaching life, I taught science in a comprehensive. One of the main foundations of our behaviour policy was a warning system: if a child reached a certain number of warnings, they were collected by whoever was on duty, and isolated.

I remember at the time thinking that it was helpful to me as a teacher, but I now realise that its fundamental weakness was that it simply expedited the end of lessons for children who found school a difficult place to be.

My biggest mistake was issuing warnings publicly so the rest of the class could hear, in an effort to set an example to ...

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