adhd afl aggressive anger angry child articles assessment assessment for learning attention behaivour behavior behavior. paul dix behaviour behaviour management behaviour management course behaviour tips bill gribble business development careers certainty christmas classroom management colleges confrontation consequences consistency curriculum detention dfe differentiation discipline drama education education policy education select committee emotional control english erica russell watson exams exclusion extreme behaviour fe fe behaviour functional skills gender girls' behaviour governement gtp habits holidays home inclusion itt learning legal issues lsas managing parents managing your own behaviour mutual trust negotiated assessment nick gibb nqt nqts nursery obesity school behaviour objectives off-site behaviour ofsted online behaviour course outstanding teaching pakistan parents paul dix pgce phonics physical intervention pivotal team poetry poetry by rote policy politics primary questions. reading reasonable force relationships reparation responsibilities restorative justice restraint rights routines rude safeguarding sanctions schools select committee sen site staff speaking and listening special needs teachers teacher training teaching teaching assistants teach nursery teach primary tes tolerance violent behaviour whole school approach wolverhampton
Browse by Date
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- January 2009
Blog » Managing Change for Children who don’t like it
Managing Change for Children who don’t like it
Steadying Wobbly Transitions
Teachers who change direction without warning, indication or even hand signals find some children travelling in the wrong direction. Ask children to stop working and stack the chairs and some change direction with the guile of a pro basketball player. Others with change direction like a cruise liner, very, very slowly with lots of tricky negotiation. Even fully mature adults who otherwise appear to be entirely rational, fear change. They actively organise their lives to avoid it. It is hardly surprising that some children find it difficult.
At home the link between change and behaviour is clear. I turn off the TV without warning and a look of shock, upset and mild revenge scrunches the face of my 8 yr old. In the classroom where learning is dynamic, flexible and open to change the connection is not immediately obvious. Preparing children for change reduces low-level disruption and instant protest behaviour. It is the beat before you give instructions that are most important. The pause to remind children of the routine. In our heads we hold the fine detail of the routines and behaviours that we expect. We have a secret and detailed filing system of rules, routines and rituals. The problem is that we don't communicate this in fine detail. It is usually when the child transgresses that we remind them of responsibilities that they were previously unaware of!
Prevent poor behaviour by preparing yourself and most importantly preparing the children to anticipate change. Children who dislike change are trying to cope in an environment where change is the whole raison d'être. They need support so that the day is spent learning and not worrying about what is going to happen next. An efficient routine that prepares children for change is an essential part of a teacher's banter; be it signs, symbols, non verbal cues, countdowns, timers on the screen, warning flags or whistles.
I have a collection of animal call whistles that are excellent for building transition routines around. The owl whistle for ‘still and silent', the duck call for ‘1 minute peer assessment,' the crow call for changing activity and quail call for lining up (see www.acmewhistles.co.uk). The children enjoy the challenge of remembering actions that relate to the different sounds and you appear to be a modern day Mary Poppins to the amazement of colleagues. Of course if your routines are relayed non-verbally you spend less time nagging children and more time teaching. You also save your voice for more important conversations. In time the children will be able to create their own routines and can be left in charge of signalling change to their peers. Everything becomes a little more predictable. Routine but never dull.
For some children the outline of the lesson or day is important. As a quick overview it helps everyone predict the types of activities, groupings and environments that they will experience. Display your outline of the day as a set of photographs (of children doing the activity) or agreed symbols. They are a map of the day's activities that children can use to remind themselves throughout the day. Of course the more secure you feel, the more information and control you have, the easier it is to cope with change. Some children thrive off change, whilst others would prefer to sit in the same place with the same people around them and the same bit of wall behind them. I had the privilege to work with a specialist teacher of children with Asperger's at Littlegreen School in West Sussex who saw the effect that an unpredictable environment was having on the behaviour of the children. To cocoon the children from each others' behaviour she had screens around built around every desk. The behaviour in the classroom was transformed. In their own predictable, controllable space they became a completely different class to teach. For this particular group the environment was critical. The screens protected the children from the threat of sudden, unpredictable change. I am not suggesting that you do the same in a class of 30 but the environment that is unpredictable and not constant can be unsettling, threatening even. There are many children who have no diagnosis for ASD who display many of the traits with regard to change. You know them. They become fractious if they can't use the same pencil, unsettled if they cannot fulfil their morning routine and find group work socially impossible.
Changes in groupings can quickly cause children (and adults) some anxiety. It is a teacher's best judgement as to whether the children should stay with the same groups or work randomly with anyone. Each class is different. If your preference is the latter then random group generator there is a good one here www.brendenisteaching.com/tools/sortinghat/ . If you have time to spare then a more analogue solution can be enjoyed by drawing names from a hat! Random group selectors stop most of the arguments and make change more exciting for most. The children still feel the disappointment of having to work up close with whiffy Darren but at least the process engages and prepares.
Often a small piece from one environment can smooth change. For younger children a cushion moves as the activity changes, older children might be given control of the egg timer. Fear of change is often fear of losing control. With a small concession the control is retained by the child and transitions are eased. It is often in the transitions that the best preventative work is done. The world seems wobbliest during the move between activities. Cushion the change here and you will save time later in the lesson. When negotiating change it is important to show some understanding, to show that you are prepared to listen:
‘I understand that you would rather not….’
‘Yes, you may prefer to spend the day lying down…’
‘I know that the library is a good place to spend the day’
‘The underside of the table is fascinating, I agree, yet….’
Persuading some children of the need for change is tricky. Instant acknowledgement and reinforcement is a useful lever as the child considers your proposal for change. ‘Thank you for putting (…er throwing…) the paintbrush down (we will deal with the multi-coloured splash-back on Charlene’s shirt later), good decision. I know that you can move quickly to our next job’.
The sharp change in direction that some teachers initiate when castigating children for their behaviour often provokes an emotional response. As a mild rebuke this can be useful but go to far and the shock of the shout can create the tears that cloud the issue. It is easy to waste a great deal of time waiting for the tantrum to subside. As children get older they start recognise your anger and can feel resentment for the attack rather than responsibility for the behaviour. If you are prone to moments of ‘Brian Blessed Booming’ it is worth considering the effect of your behaviour on the children who are sitting quietly and getting on. They thrive in a safe and predictable environment. A five second shout for one child comes and goes. For other children it can disturb for longer and leave them working with ‘one eye open’.
If everything else is in the child’s life is inconsistent then the consistency you provide every day is vital. For many children having a ‘normal’ day at school is abnormally important. It provides the counter balance for an unpredictable home life. There will be children who you need to be given more time to accept change. Children who need to be warned early. Children who need to start braking and turning well before the others. Subtle agreed signals mean that you can do this privately and selectively. You differentiate your support in behaviour just as you differentiate support for learning. Taking care over transitions does not mean everyone will suddenly welcome change. It does mean that children can adjust to a new activity feeling safer, better prepared and more in control.
Consistently predictable change!
Use a visual timetable to map the main activities of the day with all children
Run through the routine before each change of activity, ask the children to repeat back the expectations
Give regular time checks or use a mechanism for the children to take responsibility for deadlines/changes in task
Make transition times (first thing in the morning, after break, returning from assembly etc) utterly predictable and routine “We cannot deal with breaktime problems in learning time, you know the routine for silent reading etc’
Cushion those who resist change with small compromises over groupings, seat, partner etc/
Deal with poor behaviour in the same unemotional, almost mechanical response. Be predictably over enthusiastic about good behaviour!