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Monday, February 22 2021

The 'Gas-Lighting' Gambit

In recent months the term ‘gas-lighting’ has come back into use thanks to the behaviour of ex-president Trump.  His continual claims of a rigged election, and his ‘overwhelming victory’ has resulted in a fatal attack at the very heart of America’s democracy.  Despite repeated denials, the presentation of overwhelming evidence to the contrary and the failed courtroom appeals, numerous people have chosen to believe his lies and still refuse to accept that this whole outrageous event is based on a lie!  The question is how does this tactic of lying apply to dealing with dysfunctional students?


The purpose of these Newsletters is to help teachers deal with student’s dysfunctional and destructive behaviour.  The use of gas-lighting is not obvious but if you haven’t already experienced a version of this practice to avoid responsibility, sooner or later you will. 


The name ‘gas-lighting’ came from a 1938 play of Patrick Hamilton called Gas Light which told the story of a husband who manipulated his wife though lies and deception until she was convinced she was going mad.  This is a form of coercive, psychological manipulation to undermine another’s perception of truth allowing them to be deceived.  Kids often use this technique when they are caught doing something inappropriate and their ‘defence’ goes something like ‘No I didn’t’, ‘It wasn’t me’; even when you have personally witnessed their behaviour they will continue to deny it was them.  I remember working with conduct disordered adolescent students who were frequently in trouble with the police.  Their advice to each other was always the same - ‘just deny it, never own-up’ and unfortunately this often worked.


So, why does this tactic work?  First, they project an air of confidence, being certain about their story.  Then, when you protest they may attack you both personally implying you don’t know what you’re talking about or they will accuse you of picking on them.  They will stick to their story rarely conceding the validity of any evidence you present.  On those rare occasions they do concede they will acknowledge a part of your evidence but this is rarely decisive, it never alters the basis of their lie.  However, when they do this, they will use their concession as proof they are telling the truth – ‘see I’ll admit when I’m wrong’!  Their whole motivation is to get you to doubt your version of events!


This doubt is a natural response when we are challenged; it works because healthy adults understand that everyone sees the world through our own eyes.  We appreciate we all focus on different things in the environment so we must interpret events differently.  It is well known that, if you ask four different people to describe a road accident you will get four different stories, in fact if the stories are identical the statements will be suspected as being colluded. 


Not only do we perceive things differently we indorse what we see with our memories of similar events confirming our truth.  But these memories are as personal, just as what we perceive is personal, both sides of the perception of an event is highly influenced by our history.  You need to realise that everyone’s judgement about any event takes place in their brain and it is impossible to verify what you see any other way.  The result is we should have some doubt about our point of view and be prepared to change it when faced with evidence!  This is what mentally healthy people do.  This mature approach to life is exactly why ‘gas-lighting’ works!


The student’s use of this deceitful form of ‘gas-lighting’ is primarily to avoid the consequences of their behaviour.  If students realise you are vulnerable to self-doubt they will keep on using this tactic.  This continued doubting leads to a fall in your confidence you can become isolated, confused and depressed.  The other kids in your class can see what is going on and your status as leader in the room will be threatened.  You need to take control of the situation.


First of all, trust yourself, if you are reading this I am confident you are the sort of person that wants the best for all the kids, particularly those we focus on in our work, those abused and neglected kids who have never had a real chance until they get to a good school. Counter their monopoly on the conversation and control over what is the truth.  Be like a broken record (for those younger readers, a record is a plastic disc that has grooves and a needle that move around to produce music – a broken record gets caught in one track and repeats the line of music over and over until you stop the record) just keep repeating what you know and what is going to happen.  When they complain acknowledge their complaint, maybe say we will talk about that later and repeat what you know and what is going to happen.


One tip is to trust your emotions, even if you have good intentions and a clear understanding of what happened when the students attack you, you will feel threatened.  Take this as a sign that you need to put on your psychological boundaries (see Newsletters Boundary Considerations - 22nd October 2018 and Respecting Other’s Boundaries – 26th November 2018) to protect yourself.  Ask the ‘boundary questions’:

  • What is really going on?
  • Who is responsible?
  • What do you want to happen in the future?

Addressing these questions helps you keep grounded.


The ‘boundary questions’ will also make you confront the evidence and unless there is a very strong case stick with your beliefs.  You may be wrong on rare occasions but what you lose by making a mistake is not as significant as the loss of authority if you change just to avoid a difficult situation.  Another thing about evidence, it will never convince another when emotions run high – you will be wasting your time.  At these times the importance of your relationship is paramount because it will be this that will allow you both to move on.


Until recently, kids learned to use the technique of ‘gas-lighting’ from their parents.  They watch their mother or father lie to get their way and if it works of course they will do it.  Other kids turn to lying as a survival mechanism.  If their parents dish out severe punishments, physically or psychologically children will lie to protect themselves.  Unfortunately, lying has become part of our daily life almost celebrated in newspapers and television.  Why would we expect our children to respect truth when we see lack of consequences for poor behaviour on a daily basis.



This is why your work is so important, not only will you teach the importance of truth you will teach them to recognise ‘gas-lighting’ when that technique is used against them.

Posted by: AT 08:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, February 08 2021

Structure in a Crisis

It won’t take long in any teacher’s career before they have a student or a class that behaves in such a dysfunctional way it can be called a crisis.  For the unprepared, this is a time that will really test your character and, in some instances the resulting trauma can leave you and many of the students with long term psychological or even physical damage.


A crisis rarely, if ever is a single-time event there is a beginning, climax and an end.  The illustration below charts the progress of such an emergency.


It starts with a trigger, something that sets the event into motion.  It is not always easy to see what is the cause but on investigation there will be something.  The next phase is the escalation where things ‘heat-up’ until we reach a crisis that can be a single event or as illustrated come in waves.  Eventually things will calm down but everyone involved is left in need of repair.  So, what to do about this?  I was recently alerted to a procedure called the Haddon Matrix that deals with crisis management which provides a useful scaffold that can be applied. 


William Haddon was a graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health and in 1960 was the lead author of the book ‘Accident Research: Methods and Approaches and later became Supervisor of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  In 1970 was faced with the problem of reducing the number of traffic accidents in his state. He approached this multifaceted problem by organising all the statistics in a matrix that sequenced the data based on personal attributes, vector or agent attributes and environmental attributes; before, during and after an injury or death.   By utilizing this framework, one can then think about evaluating the relative importance of different factors and design interventions.


The Matrix has been originally organised along two dimensions, the first based on the sequence of an incident, pre-event, event and post event based against the factors that are likely to initiate an incident, things that will influence the event and finally what conditions shape the final outcome of the event.  When applied to the analysis of a classroom crisis the following elements must be considered:

  1. Pre-Event

What is it?

This is hard to really know.  Each of us come to any situation already in a state of expectations, this is natural.  However, for some students they can arrive with an already heightened level of emotions.  I would have confidence in that the real explosive events the students are highly charged and perceive a threat to their wellbeing.   This may or may not be observable but possible signs are the student may be emotional on arrival at school or after recess/lunch break. They can be restless or argumentative. Their body language indicates heightened levels of stress, tense muscles, tight fists etc.

What to do?

Early reassurance or distraction may prevent any escalation

  • Acknowledge their feelings and ask what’s wrong “I can see you’re angry, what’s up?”
  • Listen and let them get it off their chest
  • Discuss solutions where possible
  • Be supportive, calm and friendly
  • Respect their personal space
  • Encourage them saying you know they’ll do the right thing even though they’re upset.  “You were angry but I can see you’re working hard at calming yourself …. Good for you!”
  • Remind them of expected school rules
  • Direct them to an activity to engage their thoughts or discharge energy build-up.  For example get them to complete some school work you know they enjoy, carrying things for you, send them on a message to another teacher
  • Don’t react in the early stages to minor challenges such as dirty looks or a mumbled comment under the breath.


  1. Escalation

What is it?

They are preparing for the fight/flight/flee response and you can see evidence for this in their body language which reflects escalating stress:

  • Face – eyes narrow or wide, tight mouth, menacing look, red or paling skin, jaw or head thrust forward
  • Breathing becomes more rapid, shallower or deeper
  • Their behaviour changes, they become:
    • Body language becomes threatening – fists clenched, tapping feet or fingers, chest and shoulders puffing up, hands on hips
    • Louder, challenging, threatening, swearing, argumentative
    • Defiant, disobedient, use insulting comments (these can usually be about weight, age, parentage or sexuality of another student or the teacher)

What to do?

At this point avoid antagonising them:

  • Don’t stand too close or touch them
  • Model non-hostile body language, hands off hips, fists unclenched, no finger wagging
  • Remind them of previous success they have had in gaining self-control; acknowledge their strong emotions but show confidence
  • Consider physical activity e.g. a supervised run


  1. Crisis

What is it?

At this stage the child is incapable of rational thinking.  You will observe the following:

  • They may spit, push, kick, choke, head-butt, bite, pull hair, pinch, punch etc.
  • They may flee from room or grounds
  • They may use objects as weapons to smash, break or throw
  • The child has lost self-control and may harm self or others

What to do?

At this time there is not a lot you can do except keep everyone as safe as possible. 

  • In a firm, low voice, use their name and give a short clear instruction and repeat it several times if needed (broken record).  Keep tone and volume of voice consistent
  • At times you may need to stand back and let a tantrum run its course.  It may be necessary to remove other students/audience
  • Don’t attempt to intervene in a playground fight without back-up.  Say STOP and send for help
  • After outburst get child to time-out ASAP
  • Be aware of your own reactions, take some slow deep breaths.


  1. Recovery

What is it?

At this time everyone is calming down, returning to some states of equilibrium. This involves:

  • The student’s body chemistry is returning to normal
  • With the battle over the muscles become progressively more relaxed
  • Ritual behaviours become less frequent
  • It is important to note that the student is not yet at baseline and is vulnerable to re-escalation
  • Child should be in a quiet place with no audience

What to do?

Allow calming down time for the child and for yourself. It is a time when you can show concern and support.  You will be understandably upset but avoid anything that could be seen as being hostile don’t lecture, reprimand or even rescue the child.


  1. Post Crisis

What is it?

The level of exertion required during the crisis phase now exacts its toll.  The student may:

  • Go through a stage of emotional withdrawal, crying, exhaustion, fatigue, depression, muscles relax and they may slump forward
  • Be thirsty, hungry or need to urinate
  • Feel remorse/regret and worry about consequences

What to do?

This is the time to engage with the child using the following techniques:

  • Use open ended questions with a long wait time and LISTEN.  You don’t need to fill the silences
  • Discuss with the child what they could do differently next time.  Let the ideas come from the child … don’t give them the answers
  • Have the child be specific about what they will do next time, telling you how that will look and sound.  This helps them move towards change and growth and avoids “parrot responses”
  • Be sure you don’t reward the student for the outburst.  This is tempting by giving too much TLC, special activity, food afterwards but for some this is seen as positive feedback for the behaviour which is not appropriate!
  • Now is the time to talk about what happened but not why.  Stick with what you saw and heard and focus on how the child calmed down … what was helpful?


The advice given applies to the crisis as it unfolds but the point of Haddon’s Matrix is to plan for the possibility for that same or similar crisis to occur again.  In the first instance you should look after yourself:

  • Write a report stating who, when, where, what happened, injuries, follow-up ASAP.  This can be quite cathartic!  Date and sign it
  • Don’t take it personally.  The child has complex problems … it’s not about you
  • Look after yourself at home too … exercise, relaxation, music etc.
  • Revisit your crisis plan with a support person and make any necessary adjustments.


Then review what happened using a matrix to facilitate a plan for future events.  It is always good to devise your own way of making such accounts.  I would use something like the following:




What Happened

How I Responded

What to do Next Time





















Post Crisis






Posted by: AT 07:41 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, January 26 2021

Starting Off on the Right Foot

At the beginning of each year it is time to ‘start again’ with new or new combinations of students.  It is time to establish the qualities of your classroom and I advocate these are:

  1. Define your Pedagogy

From the outset let the student know what they will learn in your classroom.  Even for those in early education there are ways to tell them what school is about and for those in their final years outline the curriculum they need to take on board and how they will be assessed.


  1. Explain the Classroom Structure

As you should be aware I advocate a well-defined discipline and welfare plan however the use of formal rules (see Newsletter Creating Structure 8th - December 2019) occurs to address existing problems.  I won’t make a rule for something that is not a problem – I won’t make a fuss over students who come with appropriate behaviour, it should be expected however, especially for those kids we focus on, those with dysfunctional behaviours rules are just a teaching aid.  One part of the structure is the establishment of the rituals of the classroom (see Rituals – 12th November 2018) things like being on time for class, lining up outside the room, whatever you want!  This initial structure reflects the next quality, expectations!


  1. Spell Out Your Expectations

My basic rule for the classes I taught and the schools I supervised was to act appropriately!  For most students, appropriate behaviour is understood but for some this has to be spelled out.  The best way to do this is through modelling.  If you want your students to be on time for class make sure you’re the first there, greet them at the door!  At least reinforce those behaviours you expect and extinguish those you don’t.


  1. Relationships

The teacher/student relationship is the most important feature of a quality classroom and that relies on how the students feel about each other and you their teacher.  Of course, the opposite applies.  It is important that you present yourself to the class as a caring teacher.  You can’t fake this but there has always been a belief that if you start in hard with the students they will comply and when they do you can relax.  If ‘starting hard’ means staying aloof and delivering consequences with gusto then you are not ‘hard’ you are lazy.  I will accept the notion of ‘starting hard’ in that you have to be vigilant of all the things you have to establish simultaneously.  Later, when expectations are understood and applied the ‘hard’ work will have paid off and the focus can be on the pedagogy of the classroom while you maintain the other arms of the complete learning environment.


These are the characteristics of a complete learning environment (see illustration below).  At the beginning of the year you need to focus on all the features to get them established but as you succeed then the only one that requires continual attention is the pedagogy, the content of the lessons!  The others continue on as a maintenance requirement – you have to continually service the total environment!



Of course, you hold the leadership role in this so you must apply the qualities of the complete learning environment.  Make sure you:

  1. Know you Lesson Content

Sometimes you will be asked to introduce material you are unsure of and that requires you to research to be prepared just as you need to understand the best way to present that material.  This is well covered in so many places in the education literature and this has never been the focus of our work.  That is not to imply we don’t think it is important – it is.  Our work is to help teachers successfully manage the other qualities so the focus for every lesson is on content!


  1. Understand How to Produce Structure

Be aware of the process of making rules to address disruptive behaviours.  This is covered in depth in a previous Newsletter (see Creating Structure 12th August 2019).  It is preferable that you have the students design the rules but if they are too young or too disengaged you need to impose the rule on them so be prepared to do this.


  1. Establish Your Expectations

Some school leaders expect all teachers to have the same expectations of the level of behaviour required of the students.  This assumes all the teachers are the same, have the same personality types.  If we require everyone to be the same then no teacher will be true to their own set of values.  There was a time when attention to ‘personality types’ was in vogue, principals and teachers attended workshops and were sorted into groups based on the degree of their particular qualities.  You were assigned a ‘type’ and told how to deal with those ‘other types’ and those ‘other types’ are the children.  The thing is, no type is ‘best’ for the individual students.  What is important is that you are true to your personality.  If you try to be a type of teacher that you’re not then you may succeed while things are going along smoothly however, when things go wrong and you get stressed you will revert back to your true self; this will confuse the students.  Remember, consistency is the key to establishing trust and trust is at the heart of the last and final characteristic!

  1. Build Relationships

This is covered above however there is a distinction, you are the teacher!  You are the adult in the room, we should be able to assume you are fully functional.  You are qualified, you’re the only one with a Degree in teaching.  And, you are responsible to ensure all the above are in place.  The thing is your relationship with every child in your class is critical but yours is a professional relationship and I believe this is the essential quality that every teacher should possess.


So, get ready for the next chapter in your brilliant career!

Posted by: AT 06:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 30 2020

Communicating with Difficult Kids in Difficult Times

In a recent Newsletter Personal Action in the Time of Crisis (7th September 2020) I outlined actions that should be taken to navigate this difficult time.  In this Newsletter I want to focus more closely on the direct communication between the teacher and the student.  This is the personal point of connection and influences what happens next. 

In the first instance you need to check your own emotional state.  It takes a special talent to withstand the force of a child’s aggressive attack when they don’t get what they want.  You need to be aware you will be vulnerable so:

  • Check your own emotional condition.  You may already be stressed from the day to day demands of the classroom
  • Calm yourself down and check you have your boundaries in place

(see Newsletters Boundary Considerations - 22nd October 2018 and Respecting Other’s Boundaries - 26th November 2018 for detailed descriptions of boundaries)

You need to remember that you are the leader in the classroom, you are the only adult and you are qualified to do this work – everyone else is a child doing the best they can at this time.  You need to act professionally, that is you have to control the situation to ensure everyone is safe and you can get on with teaching. 

The child who is acting ‘out of control’ will not be waiting to hear what you have to say but you do need to be heard.  You need to get their attention in the appropriate manner, you need to portray authority.  In the first instance your posture will be important:

  • Hold yourself in an upright, confident position, hold your hands on a non-threatening but non-submissive manner. but contained in your space.  Don’t lean towards the student, that suggests aggression or away that indicates capitulation.
  • Hold a steady gaze on the student.   Don’t glare aggressively nor avoid eye contact which can be seen as a weakness) and be sensitive to cultural differences regarding eye contact.  Be guided by how they react.  When you are speaking you should maintain contact about 70% of the time.  This indicates that what you are saying is for them.  The same should happen if they do reply to your communication.  However, a good rule of thumb is about five seconds.

Once you have regained control (see Newsletters Dealing with the Exploding Kid – 7th September 2020 and The Crisis Response – 14th September 2020) you need inform the student:

  • Why their behaviour is an issue, this should relate to the needs of themselves and all others.
  • What are the consequences, on one scale the behaviour may violate the classroom rules and consequences should be clear however, the consequence might be more individualised, it may be that you need to explain how their behaviour impacts on other’s well-being.  This is a time to use:
    • ‘When you’ …  this is when you describe their behaviour
    • ‘I feel’ … tell them how their behaviour affects you and the other student
    • ‘Because’ … let them know why it has that affect

These steps are fitting if the student has regained some self-restraint.  If the situation is still unresolved and you have to get the message to the child then use:

  • ‘If you’ … describe the behaviour(s) that will get them into trouble
  • ‘I will’ … indicate the consequences that will definitely follow that behaviour

These are the steps that usually take place in the classroom and they should be taken with a 100% refusal to accept the inappropriate behaviour but most importantly a 100% acceptance of the value of the child.  However, you can be sure the child will find it difficult to make the same differentiation between what they did and how they think you feel about them and you don’t take their anger personally.  You need to take further steps to maintain the relationship.  It is a tactic to have them stay back at the end of the lesson.

It is essential you give them a chance to explain their behaviour.  You need to really listen to them, let them know you’re listening in a non-aggressive manner:

  • Let them tell their story without interruption.  Make sure you really understand the issue and that they know you do.  You can do this by making a summary of their main points and repeat this back to them.  If they disagree on your interpretation seek clarification of what them mean.  If possible, you need to reach an agreed understanding of the dispute.
  • Validate their emotions, you understand they are angry but explain that the anger may have triggered the behaviour it will not avert the consequence.
  • Take the complaint seriously.

You will get better at communicating at these difficult times if you follow these steps however, there are many mistakes you can avoid.  The following are some of the traps you can fall into:

  • Don’t interrupt them as they are explaining their behaviour, they will only start again
  • Don’t jump to conclusions, really listen to them.
  • Don’t make excuses for what you have done.  Your actions should deal exclusively with the behaviour.
  • Never use sarcasm or communicate from a position of ‘authority’, that is you are both equal in examining the situation but you do have different responsibilities.
  • Never fail to follow up if you have committed to do that.  If at the end of this conversation you agree about what will happen in the future make sure it does happen.  Your integrity is always being tested particularly in these cases.


Changes in behaviour for these kids takes time but it is these moments that combine to provide the pathway to a more successful way of behaving at school.

Posted by: AT 07:23 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 16 2020

Dealing with Touching and Restraint

Every teacher will one day be confronted with a student, or students whose behaviour is so uncontrolled it will pose a threat to themselves, others around them or the school equipment.  In some cases, physical intervention becomes the only response open to the teacher.  This professional obligation to keep everyone safe has always raised deep concerns for teachers.  These concerns are based on the fear of being accused of assaulting the child both physically and sexually.  The latter category, sexual assault is particularly problematic and is often cited as the reason for such a shortage of male teachers in the infant and primary aged schools.


Of course, this abuse does exist and is not to be tolerated on any level but the fear of a false or malicious allegation is difficult to defend and many teachers, especially males refuse to touch students for any reason.  This fear should not be taken lightly but there are times when it is appropriate to touch a student.  Remember it is not illegal to touch a pupil and there are occasions when physical contact, including reasonable force, with a pupil is proper and necessary.  Examples of where touching a pupil might be proper or necessary:

      • Holding the hand of the child at the front/back of the line when going to assembly or when walking together around the school;
      • When comforting a distressed pupil;
      • When a pupil is being congratulated or praised;
      • To demonstrate how to use a musical instrument;
      • To demonstrate exercises or techniques during PE lessons or sports coaching; and
      • To give first aid.

Physical Restraint
Physical restraint means the use of physical force to prevent, restrict or subdue movement of a student’s body or part of their body. Students are not free to move away when they are being physically restrained.  Physical restraint should only be used when it is immediately required to protect the safety of the student or any other person. In some limited circumstances, it may also be necessary to restrain a student from imminent dangerous behaviours by secluding them in an area where such action is immediately required to protect the safety of the student or any other person.

The use of restraint should only ever used as a ‘last resort’ intervention when all other techniques have failed or the situation is immediate and dangerous and is necessary to keep everyone safe.

Situations that may require physical intervention include:

  • students threatening other students or staff
  • students putting their own safety at risk
  • fights between students
  • students attempting to leave the school premises without authorisation and in circumstances that put their safety at risk
  • students attempting to leave the premises in a heightened state of anxiety, where they may be unable to recognise risks to their safety.

There needs to be a ‘age appropriate’ consideration to be applied.  Fights between late secondary age students may pose a very real danger for the teacher.  Every attempt should be made to defuse the altercation without direct physical intervention but the only course of action is to make sure other students are safe. 

Restraint should not be used as a routine behaviour management technique, to punish or discipline a student or to respond to:

  • a student’s refusal to comply with a direction, unless that refusal to comply creates an imminent risk to the safety of the student or another person
  • a student leaving the classroom/school without permission, unless that conduct causes an imminent risk to the safety of the student or another person
  • verbal threats of harm from a student, except where there is a reasonable belief that the threat will be immediately enacted
  • property destruction caused by the student unless that destruction is placing any person at immediate risk of harm

Types of physical restraint which must not be used include:

  • any restraint which covers the student's mouth or nose, and in any way restricts breathing
  • the application of pressure to a student's neck, chest, abdomen, joints or pressure points to cause pain or which involves the hyperextension of joints
  • holding a student's head forward, headlocks, choke holds
  • take-downs which allow students to free-fall to the ground whether or not in a prone or supine position or otherwise
  • wrestling holds (including 'full or half nelsons'), using a hog-tied position or straddling any part of a student's body
  • basket holds, bear hugs, 'therapeutic holding'

When applying physical restraint in the limited circumstances set out above, staff must:

  • use the minimum force required to avoid the dangerous behaviour or risk of harm
  • only restrain the student for the minimum duration required and stop restraining the student once the danger has passed
  • The decision about whether to use physical restraint or seclusion rests with the professional judgment of the staff member/s involved, who will need to take-into-account both their duty of care to their students, their right to protect themselves from harm and obligations under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.  

Staff should ensure the type of restraint used is consistent with a student’s individual needs and circumstances, including:

  • the age/size of the student
  • gender of the student
  • any impairment of the student e.g. physical, intellectual, neurological, behavioural, sensory (visual or hearing), or communication
  • any mental or psychological conditions of the student, including any experience of trauma
  • any other medical conditions of the student
  • the likely response of the student
  • the environment in which the restraint is taking place

At all times the staff should monitor the student for any indicators or distress. Staff should talk to the student throughout the incident, making it clear to the student why the physical restraint is being applied.  Staff should also calmly explain that the physical restraint will stop once it is no longer necessary to protect the student and/or others. 

The staff member(s) involved in the incident must immediately notify the principal of the incident.

A written record of the incident should be kept and should include:

  • the name of the student/s and staff member/s involved
  • date, time and location of the incident
  • names of witnesses (staff and other students)
  • what exactly happened, for example, a brief factual account
  • any action taken to de-escalate the situation
  • why physical intervention was used (if applicable)
  • the nature of any physical intervention used
  • how long the physical intervention lasted
  • names of witnesses (staff and other students)
  •  the student’s response and the outcome of the incident
  • any injuries or damage to property
  • immediate post incident actions, such as first aid or contact with emergency services
  • details of contact with the student’s parent/carer
  • details of any post-incident support provided or organised.

Staff Training

  • Schools need to take their own decisions about staff training. The headteacher should consider whether members of staff require any additional training to enable them to carry out their responsibilities and should consider the needs of the pupils when doing so.
  • Some local authorities provide advice and guidance to help schools to develop an appropriate training program.

Much of the content of this Newsletter has been taken from school systems across the western world in order to provide a common-sense approach to physical touching particularly restraint.  However, it is important that that all schools know the formal policies of the Departments who employ them.  These guidelines define the limits of the intervention and the responsibilities all members of the organisation.

Posted by: AT 08:07 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Monday, November 09 2020


Designing a Correction Plan

In the previous Newsletter (3rd November 2020) we discussed the need to teach in a calm environment.  There are four fundamental components in our model of a Learning Environment and these are pedagogy, structure, expectations and of course, relationships.  These have been discussed extensively in previous Newsletters and underpin all our work. 


The critical component for the child is the expectations presumed for the lesson and the assumed behaviour the teacher expects.  The expectation covers all aspects required including explicit demands of the child, the contents of the lesson, the equipment, time considerations and the like.  These are the ‘learning instructions’ if you like.  They also cover those implicit expectations, the social interactions in the classroom.  As pointed out last week, this is where teachers can spend their time managing rather than teaching.


There are two ways to address any situation that is not meeting the expectations of the lesson and these are acknowledging when the child is meeting the objectives set or correcting their behaviour when they are not. 



It is probably impossible to maintain a balance between expectations, acknowledging and correcting strategies all of the time; it is a moving point.  However, when there is a prolonged imbalance between expectations, acknowledgement and correction and one begins to dominate your management style you lose your effectiveness.  The following are three typical imbalances which increase the likelihood of teachers spending too much time managing and too little time teaching.


Unclear Expectations

This is when the teacher gives inadequate information about his or her expectations (as indicated by the broken line around the triangle). This is problematic because students will be unsure about the limits and boundaries of the classroom and what tasks they need to be doing.




Too Much Acknowledgement

This is problematic because students are not being corrected appropriately.  This is often the result of teachers trying to manage through friendliness.  They believe “If I am nice to the students they will like me and behave themselves”.  This imbalance may also arise when the teacher lacks assertiveness.


Too Much Correction