Gold stars for your efforts

7th March 2008 at 00:00
Behaviour management is all about finding practical strategies that work. I came away from this course brimming with ideas and they've nearly all proved their worth back at school.

At the start of the day we were given a few sentences of complete nonsense and asked to finish the paragraph. We sat there trying to figure out what it was all about. The idea was to give us an insight into how frustrating life can be for a child who doesn't grasp what's being taught.

The key message of the course was the need to balance sanctions and rewards. Paul Dix, the course leader, suggested getting parents involved by giving pupils who have done something good a card to take home. It tells parents that they might want to give their child a treat, which need only be something small such as a packet of sweets. Parents respond to that and children enjoy getting praise from their mum or dad.

There were dozens of great tips about how to communicate with pupils and parents. When talking to a pupil, approach from the front and address them at eye level. It's much less confrontational. And if you phone parents to tell them their child has been in trouble, try to start with some positives - don't just dive in with the bad news.

Overall, this was one of the best courses I have been on. The atmosphere was relaxed and productive, the venue was excellent and we had lunch in a restaurant instead of eating the usual soggy sandwich. Above all, the strategies we learnt have genuinely made a difference in the classroom.

Stuart Abbott is pastoral support manager at Aylesford School, a specialist sports college in Kent. He was talking to Steven Hastings.


Managing Extreme Behaviour: Advanced Strategies is run by Pivotal Education. The next course is on April 22 in Birmingham. Cost pound;195 plus VAT.


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