Moaners rule the chat in staffroom

24th October 2003 at 01:00
Successful teachers are often reluctant to share tips for improving pupils'

behaviour because they are frightened of appearing big-headed in the staffroom.

A study by Nottingham university has found that teachers who discovered ways of handling troublesome children were unlikely to discuss them because of a staffroom culture that encourages moaning but stifles constructive discussion.

Researchers studied a group of 24 primary and secondary teachers who had helped transform the behaviour of some of the most difficult students they had ever taught.

They found that most teachers were reticent about discussing their methods with others.

The findings are reported in a new book by Professor Andrew Miller, to be published next week.

Professor Miller said that teachers might be reluctant to share information because they were worried about being given yet more difficult students to handle. But they were also concerned about appearing arrogant.

One teacher quoted in the study said: "I can't come into the staff-room and say, 'Aren't I good?' It's very big-headed isn't it?"

Other teachers suggested that the staffroom was a better environment for complaining about problems than sharing solutions.

One teacher said: "Sometimes you just get into the staffroom and you don't want to talk. Really you just want to moan about your children - you don't want anyone to tell you anything because you don't want to listen. You just want to get it out of your system."

Professor Miller said that when he had presented the findings in lectures it had provoked a strong reaction from teachers, with some accusing him of denigrating their profession.

However, he said one of the main messages of his book was that the blame culture surrounding problem behaviour should be ended - whether it was parents blaming teachers or vice-versa.

Teachers, parents and classroom behaviour: a psychosocial approach is published by Open University Press, pound;17.99

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