What keeps me awake at night - Miracle Man meets his match

24th June 2011 at 01:00
Anonymous views from education's front line

This week: an English teacher in the north of England

If an easy fix existed for poor behaviour in the classroom, every teacher would use it. But there isn't. So behavioural management consultants carry on making a living by boring teachers senseless.

You can imagine the aggravation felt by me and my colleagues at having to attend yet another "managing behaviour" session with a behavioural consultant.

Wow! We were going to be sitting through hours of advice, theoretical techniques for dealing with poor behaviour, and embarrassing role-plays. I scanned the programme for the most important events - tea and biscuits at 11, lunch at one.

Upon entry to our hired conference room, instantly a classroom-like seating arrangement formed. Taking the back seats were the knackered ones who didn't want to be there - most of the teaching staff. In the middle zone sat the ambivalent ones - mainly made up of newer teachers, especially NQTs. The front was helmed by the school swots - senior management.

Our consultant asked our names, one by one, as we entered. Ominous. By the time we were all in, he had floated to the front and was demonstrating how he'd remembered all our names, as well as turning them into alliterative titles: "The lovely Linda is going to answer this one for us ... aren't you, love?" Are we supposed to use this technique in class, I wonder? If so, I'd end up in trouble for addressing "Neil the Nob-head" about his lack of class work.

Miracle Man's tone then turned slightly sinister as he brought up how staff were either "radiators" or "drainers". He described how he visited a school which had improved dramatically. He had asked the head what his secret was and was told: 'We got rid of the drainers.' As if it were a simple DIY job. There was an undertone here which said: "Be positive or you'll lose your job to a radiator." The indignity of it! But radiators are cheap, being fresh out of training.

To prove himself, the consultant later took up the challenge of putting his techniques on video - he was going to take a lesson with the worst class in school, 9MK. Brave soul. The majority of the class seem set to join the "drugs and thugs" club when they leave school. But Miracle Man could change things ... couldn't he?

When we reassembled after school to watch his wonderful performance, he admitted that he'd turned the camera off halfway through. He didn't want us to watch the kids jumping out of windows and throwing paper aeroplanes at him. So the session did have a positive outcome: by now the pupils' footage of him is probably up on YouTube, which will give us something to watch at the weekend with a glass of wine.

To tell us what terrifies you or to share the unscripted events that have happened in your classroom, email michael.shaw@tes.co.uk.

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