Best Practice

Am I bothered? Showing students you care

Are you bothered about your students? Do your students know that you’re bothered about them? Jo McShane rejects zero-tolerance behaviour management and urges all teachers, especially those new to the chalkface, to show young people that they care
Image: Adobe Stock

Picture the scene. It is 1996, I am a trainee teacher, keenly equipped with newly de-cellophaned Moleskine and retractable pencil, waiting eagerly for my cross-subject lesson observation to begin.

I have been told that the head of English is a decorated behaviour maestro, the pivotal figure from whom I can etch the blueprint for a lifetime of Spartan disciplinary skills I will need in order to survive the next 30 years at the chalkface.

That was literally how the observation exercise was described to me: watch him, take note, learn and re-enact. Learn to take no prisoners.

He was the teacher renowned for “dragging a grade C out of the barely animate, the feckless and the feral”. I am not choosing my vocabulary here; this dialogue was the norm at the time.

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