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Window on behaviour

Two student teachers on the post-graduate certificate course speak of their experiences.

May Hughes

Home-link worker, primary schools

"I didn't know much about emotional literacy and thought a day's training would probably cover it. I was amazed to find you could do a one-year postgraduate course.

"It has been really useful. I like how it links neuroscience with people's thinking, then how they feel and behave.

"Every behaviour is related to a feeling. So if kids get in touch with their emotions, it's bound to affect their behaviour. Children with behaviour problems won't stop just because you tell them to. They have to feel it. They have to learn ways of managing their emotions.

"It works with kids of all ages. I have a group of difficult Primary 3s, who can knock lumps out of each other over a crayon. They're finally getting the message and it's lovely to see. We got them to make coloured compliment cards, so if somebody notices something nice they get a card, and we all pay attention.

"It sounds touchy-feely but it's very practical. Kids who do well are emotionally literate because of how they've been brought up. They know how to speak to people.

"A lot of our kids are disadvantaged in that way. They can't deal with feelings. So they were embarrassed at first. But now they are buying into it."

Margaret McManus

Home-link worker, primary and secondary schools

"For my project, I am working with a Primary 6 teacher, whose pupils are nice as individuals but not working well as a class.

"We got them to complete a class emotional literacy indicator, a resource from the School of Emotional Literacy. They sent us back a lovely graph highlighting the areas to work on.

"It showed that the kids needed help with relationships, building trust and handling conflict. They studied it, too, and agreed that they wanted to tackle these things.

"So we have begun a class programme. We've looked at awareness of feelings, body language and how our own behaviour affects other people.

"We've got them counting positive strokes, catching themselves saying things that make others feel good.

"We've introduced rituals, like a feelings check-in using a rainbow on the door, with each colour a different feeling, which they stick their photos on to show how they feel that morning.

"We're going to get parents in, so they can explain what it's all about.

"I had some knowledge of all this, but it has brought me up to date. Lots of resources have appeared and we've been hearing about good practice around the country.

"The course has increased my confidence and has given me lots of new ideas."

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