Category Archives: Behaviour

A Reflection on: Internet trolls and the School Playground

I read this piece earlier this evening and could not help but feel it was loaded with truth and reflected scenarios that I have seen and dealt with almost on a daily basis in school.

As I find myself drawn deeper and deeper into the ‘rabbit-hole’ that is Social Media, you find it more and more often. One only needs to read the comments on a Sky Sports news story, or a comedy photograph on Facebook and it begin almost immediately. Yet rather than leave these people to it and leave them to their opinions, we fight back and ‘Feed the Trolls’. That’s when the trouble usually starts…

I like many others have 2 Twitter identities and as time has passed there is less and less link between my personal and professional accounts, to the point where I rarely use the personal one. Using Twitter professionally has meant that the majority of the people I communicate with are like minded education professionals, which means that there isn’t that much ‘Trolling’, perhaps a light hearted jibe from someone seeking debate or as a way of instigating reasonable discussion, I have never seen it get ‘nasty’. I am sure others might have other stories.

To quote:

“The blogosphere is a very big playground. Most people in the playground know how to play nicely. But in every playground, there are highly-skilled, expert name-calling wind-up merchants. Their influence relies on people taking notice of them.”

I wonder if this is just another facet of the old fashioned playground bully?
The one who whispers in another child’s ear: “Hey, guess what I heard Barney just say! True Story!” And then having ilt the blue touch paper, retires to a safe distance.

The difference is that as teachers, we always knew who that kid was and kept an eye out accordingly!

The ‘troll’ can be nameless and faceless and cowardly. Hiding under their appointed bridge.

They can hide behind a false online identity, which they do for the sole purpose that the ‘man in the mask’ is harder to find. I honestly feel sorry for those people who have nothing better to do than insult, offend, falsely accuse or otherwise incite others, just to sit back and watch the chaos that follows.

Should any accusation be based in truth, then there is a proper way to make those allegations, and I’m not entirely sure that Social Media is the right place to do it.

I suspect that Trolling will never become professional nor will it become an Olympic sport, and unless in some peculiar parallel universe that comes to fruition, I shall stick to my opinion that:

I Pity the Troll!


They clearly have a very empty life!



As a child, if ever I came home from school complaining of people calling me names, my mother would say: “Ignore them. Otherwise they’ll do it even more. Don’t play with people who call you names.

If I ever protested, she would get visibly irritated: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.  Say that and walk away.”

Sometimes I found her advice very difficult to take. It always seemed inadequate and it never satisfied my inflamed need for retribution against the perpetrators or more perversely, for my desire for their acceptance and inclusion of me in their group.

Sometimes if I could not resist the temptation to retaliate, my mother would say: “If – and when – you come off worse… don’t come crying to me!”

By the time I became a teacher, I had graduated to dishing out the same advice.

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OfSted and NQTs – Who watches the Watchmen?

Checklist? - Check Looking over your shoulder? - Check Clean shoes? - Check

Checklist? – Check
Looking over your shoulder? – Check
Clean shoes? – Check

The following for those who haven’t already read the article is from The Guardian 04-06-14:

Posted by Michael Allen and Lucy Ward Wednesday 4 June 2014 15.56

From Monday, Ofsted will send inspectors to inspect trainees’ teaching in the autumn term as they start work as newly-qualified teachers.

Previously, Ofsted only inspected trainees in the summer of their training year. But the aim of the new plan is to ensure that new teachers implement what they have learnt while training in the classroom, particularly in managing behaviour and instilling discipline.

In a further change, inspectors will also judge whether teachers are dressed professionally and demonstrate professional conduct. While the inspectorate says it is not laying down a prescriptive uniform – ties will not be compulsory, it insists – it argues teachers should be dressed “in a way that befits their professional status”. Training providers who do not ensure trainees dress appropriately will be marked down.

Some teacher training providers have not prepared trainees adequately for their induction year, according to Ofsted. In a speech in January, chief inspector of schools in England, Michael Wilshaw, said Ofsted had “not been as demanding as it should have been with training providers who have sent newly-qualified teachers (NQTs) out into schools unprepared for the rigours of the classroom.”

Ofsted is particularly concerned that 40% of new teachers leave the profession within five years, with poor pupil behaviour cited as a key reason. The figure is a “national scandal”, Mr Wilshaw has said.

Sean Harford, Ofsted national director for initial teacher education, said the new two-stage inspection process would help raise standards, with further visits scheduled for those teachers needing support to improve. “Teaching is a tough yet very rewarding job. So it is important that the training new teachers receive is the best it can be. Trainees should learn how to promote good behaviour in the classroom so they can focus on teaching, and children and young adults can focus on learning.

“Through our new two-step inspection process we will make sure that teachers are putting into practice in the autumn what they learned in their training. I expect this new way of inspecting will help to raise standards. When we judge providers to require improvement or are inadequate we will support and challenge them to improve; we then will re-inspect them the following year.”

When judging teacher training providers, inspectors will now also have to evaluate how far they have tried to engage schools and colleges in challenging circumstances, including those deemed to require improvement, in training partnerships. They will examine whether teacher supply has increased as a result, particularly in areas of the country where recruitment is difficult.


So, in September OfSted will be specifically inspecting Newly Qualified Teachers to ‘ensure that they are applying their classroom learning of behaviour management and instilling discipline’. This will include professional dress and conduct.

Here’s an idea:

Let’s inspect and scrutinize some of the most vulnerable teachers, NQTs, you know the ones who need help and support to succeed in an incredibly challenging job.

Just as you start and before you can really secure your place – we will come in and check you are dressed right, speak right and can ‘deal with the pressures’ – that we have imposed.

I suspect there might even be a check that fingernails are clean and clipped and that hair is regulation length.


OK, so perhaps gold spangled hot pants are not quite right, but who is deciding? This has the potential to promote some very shallow values. Teachers should wear dress that ‘befits professional status’. This is incredibly subjective.

Where will they stand on tattoos and piercings?

Are ear-rings OK? For men and women?

What about a nose stud? Will that make someone an ineffective teacher?


I have tattoos, not visible and very small, but I know someone with a large tattoo on their arm.

They cover it, but it has been seen.

Is that ‘Inadequate’, Grade 4 dress or conduct? I think not.


This guy does a remarkable job promoting anti-bullying and anti-prejudice in schools – Michael Wilshaw would faint!?

Promoting anti-bullying and non-prejudice

The Scary Guy – Promoting anti-bullying and non-prejudice


I know another teacher who wears their PE kit, every day, whether or not they are teaching PE, does that mean they are not dressed in a way which befits their professional status?


As a recently qualified teacher some years ago, I experienced my first inspection. The Lead Inspector toured the school with the Head Teacher and commented to her something I have always remembered and admired:

“You have sure a wonderful range of individual teachers in your school. From the very experienced lady in Nursery to the young man with all the jewellery and bracelets (that was me by the way), it is lovely that your children get to see a variety of personalities.”

So, my wearing of 7 rings and 5 bracelets didn’t concern him, he liked it. Would this new regimen perhaps have frowned on it and ‘marked my training provider down’ for not teaching me what to put on in the morning?

I’m not sure that my College Tutor would’ve had the inclination to scrutinise my wardrobe.


I struggle to begin to express how terrifying this whole process is becoming.

In what sense does it help?


Mr Wilshaw tells us that:

‘…training providers have sent NQTs out into schools unprepared for the rigours of the classroom…’

We all know this.

NQTs know this.

Having your own class for the 1st time is terrifying. It is the first time that YOU are responsible for setting the climate for learning and not just adapting yourself into one that is already set by a teacher/school during your placements. It takes a little time. It is tough. We learn and we are taught by experienced colleagues, it is what we do and the vast overwhelming majority get it right.

Trainee teachers are not taught a great deal about behaviour management. That is why so many cite it when they choose to leave. I never found that learning about the work of child psychologists helped me very much – I know my Maslow, but have never really felt it was a tool for my practice.

Teachers don’t learn to be good at classroom and behaviour management in a tutorial or lecture. They do it through experience. If they are lucky they learn from good and outstanding teacher mentors during placements and from their colleagues in school. But it often takes a little time to find a way that works for the individual and develop a range of strategies which suit a range of different pupils.

We encourage children to make mistakes and build resiliency from it – but teachers don’t seem to be permitted to do it.

We take risks in being innovative with teaching methods and with new technologies and all is well, but if something doesn’t work there is the risk that if you are seen to go wrong – you have a problem and this absolutely should not be the case.

Sean Harford says that ‘…this will help raise standards…’.

Is this because OfSted is held in such high regard and that the teaching profession has so much faith in it?

If we want new innovative teachers to stick around – let’s support them. Let’s teach them, not scrutinize every move. That is why they leave!

Imagine if you will… it is Week 2 in September… OfSted are coming to inspect, not your school, but you.

Are you excited and looking forward to the prospect?


Are you filled with self-doubt, because now, it isn’t just about you, but your school, your job, your colleagues…?


Seems a little harsh to me.


If ‘poor pupil behaviour’ is cited as the primary reason – is this being addressed in ITT? And not just through relentless Ofsted edict.

Let us not say the pie tastes bad, when we haven’t carefully judged what the cook put in.

If the recipe is wrong, the food will taste bad.

Improve training on understanding pupil behaviour and managing it, then we can perhaps alleviate the pressure put on new teachers by preparing them for the real world inside their own classroom.

I have written about this before:

I worry that this design will not stem the tide of new teacher leaving within 5 years, it might make it 5 months!

What the teaching profession needs is a regular influx of new minds, fresh ideas and innovation.

While this is not provided solely by newly qualified teachers, they are a source of it and the NQTs of today are the Headteachers and School Leaders of tomorrow. They have enormous value. Why do we seek to undermine, under value and over scrutinise before they have had chance to show what they are capable of?


I would really like to know what are other peoples opinions on this.



I know WWI was 100 years ago but…

I said that I would only knock out a blog post if something really felt worth it… well I have come up with something.


I like behaviour management, I am a teacher of course I do, but I am not a dictator.

I am not a rager or a shouter (I have been, I confess that, but it isn’t my default setting.)

Yet, as I have used Twitter more and more over the past 2 months (@WatsEd), I have found what I consider a trend that makes me slightly uncomfortable.

It is the fact that behaviour management seems to be shared as a battleground. I don’t like that. I have taught some children from very tough and unforgiving backgrounds, as well as some ‘privileged’ children so I speak from experience of the full range. My classroom isn’t and never has been a war zone, even at it’s worst.


My classroom is not like this!

I have watched my Twitter feed deliver statements on Behaviour Management like:

“Lay down the law with this guide to how your classroom should work.” – Judge Dredd anyone?

“Get them thinking about why they are in the cooler with this sheet.” – I have no pupils played by Steve McQueen

“Talk Tough if you want to win hearts and minds” – Is this not the US Army policy?

Can those sharing consider the implications of the vocabulary?

Behaviour management is not about power and control.

Behaviour advice should not be about drawing up battle lines. Children are not an enemy to be conquered and made to submit to the teachers will. We all know that there will be children who try us, often, and we learn how to deal with it. We are consistent, we are clear, we share with the children what we want, and what we expect and then we ask them the same question. We create set of guidelines that are drawn up together, so that they are enforced by everyone not just the teacher.

We negotiate (to a point) and make it clear to them what are the ‘non-negotiables’.

Whatever they might be in the context: No Put downs or Be honest – then no matter what, no matter how tired we have become, or how busy we might be, we stick to it. Children very quickly learn that negative actions have consequences, they learn even quicker when those actions don’t have any.

I believe that children are a partners in a learning journey – just not all of them realize it yet! It is our responsibility to let them develop the understanding of respect. That thing which is earned and not handed out for free. Not just respect for their peers or authority, but self respect and how it lets them become more than they might’ve thought possible.

What we shouldn’t do are the two extremes:

i) Be a dictator and allow no opportunity for the children to have a say – all challenge and no praise.


ii) Be a marshmallow and try to be everyone best friend – all praise and no challenge.

I know from experience that the way to resolve behaviour issues is to find out why.

Now if you expect me to get all psychological now and quote Vygotsky, Piaget and Bruner – I’m not going to. Ever. Nor will I talk about children’s pyramid hierarchy of need. We as teachers and educators try to help.

Don’t we?

Hands up those who have ‘dealt’ with behaviour and made it worse? **Puts hand up**

Behaviour is the child’s way of telling us what’s inside. We need to work out if it is a cry for help, a way of hiding another feeling or if it is just that they didn’t have breakfast or that someone was unkind to them on the bus that morning.

To quote a tweet from Steve Russell @BeyondBehaviour:

“Take a step back and see student behaviour as a form of communication. What’s the message? How can I best respond?”

That’s how to make you class work – not ‘Lay down the Law’, like Judge Dredd, not use a ‘cooler’, our schools are not Prison Camps, and we will win hearts and minds, not by talking tough, but by showing children the way. If we help them deal with what is causing the behaviour, then there is a better chance of resolving recurrent issues. Having a good shout and pointing at the class rules poster probably won’t help. There are some children who seem to do it, ‘just because’, they are often the ones who need help most. How does that Motivational Quote go again? “The child who is hardest to love, is the one who needs it most.”

I am no expert, I profess no great specialism, but I do know that if we frog march the unruly child to the ‘cooler’, then we best give them a tennis ball to bounce off the wall because they are going to be there for a very long time.

Is this the message?

Is this the message?

Forgive the rambling nature, but rather than draft and redraft, I have composed on screen.

You might consider this post along the lines of: In Other News ‘Fire is Hot!’ – but when the same messages come across my Twitter feed, I worry that if a new teacher, someone in ITT or a struggling teacher was looking for help with a problem, they might decide that those messages are right, good or helpful.

They aren’t.