Best Practice

Inclusive practice: Keeping the faith

We all remember our most challenging students – the most difficult, demanding, and stressful to teach. But remember too that their behaviour at school does not define them and we cannot give up on them, says Dr Nick Smith

If you ask a teacher to name the most challenging pupils they have ever taught, they will have no trouble reeling off a list of names. This is because the students who cause us sleepless nights tend to remain etched in our memories forever.

During my very first year of teaching at a south London comprehensive during the 1990s, I met a couple of good contenders for my own most-challenging list.

The antics of these two students caused me considerable stress. I diligently applied all the techniques I had learned from my training to transform them into better students. I was optimistic that I could make a difference, but gradually the attrition wore me down.

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