I know I haven’t been very prolific on here for a few months, but I do aim to chnage that.
This week at work I witnessed something I found quite disturbing. It is not the first time I have witnessed this, and not the first time I have challenged it, yet it seems to continue. I am unsure as to the reason for the behaviour, is it a clash of personalities, a form of singling one person out, or is it learnt behaviour that is seen as acceptable?
Let me explain. I work in a nurturing unit for 14-16 yr old who have been excluded from school. Although there is an overall aim to reintegrate the students back into school we all accept that it is not likely, this does not mean that we do not try though. One of the teaching staff in the centre has just joined us. He talks about the other schools he has worked in and has a good background in working with difficult students. The incident I have witnessed concerns one particular student, he has autism and delayed social development which means he is very immature, his reading and numeracy levels are low for his age. Due to his diagnosis he can be volatile and his temper changes from mild to extreme very quickly, but if you leave him alone for a few minutes he will calm down just as quickly. I know this form both working with him and reading his notes. Earlier this week I was working ion the office and heard an arguement so I went to see what it was all about. The teacher was arguing with this particular student, although the teacher was calm he was antagonising the student, which just made his temper and anger worse, it got so bad that the student punched the wall (putting a hole it) and threw a chair at the teacher. The student was taken to another room to calm down, and the teacher returned to teaching the rest of the class as if nothing had happened.
Later that same day I approached the teacher and tried to explain the difficulties the student has, and that if he is wound up then allow him time to go somewhere to calm down, at which point he will return to continue his work. The teacher responded by saying that this is how he handles the behaviour, take no nonsense and push the learners until they break at which point they will accept your authority. He also told me that he had not read any of the notes, but thought he should.
I can understand his approach, although I do not agree with it, and I can see how it could work for some students, but in the case of the students we work with this approach is not good. I can see little benefit for the students and as we are trying to nurture them back into mainstream and society confrontation and forcing respect are not the way.
All of this has reinforced my resolve to push forward with my training as I believe there are more teachers like the one described working in secondary schools who are actually forcing children into exclusion due their misunderstanding of the students.
I have spoken to the head of the centre about this, and made other people aware if they have not witnessed it. I have also offered training, but feel that for this teacher there will never be any change.