There is no such thing as an unintentionally good teacher.


Before a teacher can have good control of a classroom they must have control of themselves. 

If you are in control of yourself the students can be confident about allowing you to be in control of them. Teachers who constantly yell, make threats and respond in an aggressive manner will elicit a negative response from the students.


Children learn from example. 

Are you who you want them to be? This is why it is so important that you are in control of yourself, especially when under pressure. You are the adult, they are the child.

Develop a range of techniques and skills that you can use when the children are not behaving in an appropriate way. 

When developing these techniques you need to keep in mind that these children need to be treated differently to others. Therefore you will need to talk with other teachers who have developed some successful techniques and you will need to think a bit outside the education square.

Be aware that these children may have difficulty with non-verbal communication so tapping your foot, hands on hips with firm eye contact may not work for them. Punishing them rarely, if ever works. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If what you are doing is not working then try something different. This may even mean talking to the child’s parents to ask for some advice.
If you haven’t developed a range of techniques then there is every chance that when the pressure is on you will be out of control and be reactive instead of proactive. 

Gain an understanding of the condition that the child has. 

If you understand how and why they behave the way they do you will be in a better position to understand them and develop appropriate techniques to manage their behaviour. The flow-on effect of this will result in you being more able to help them educationally. The fact is that most of these children will only learn if they are in a safe environment with low tension levels. We accept that adults have performance anxiety but we generally don’t give the same recognition to students. If the children are constantly in a heightened state of tension/anxiety they will not be able to think clearly and their behaviour will be “off” as well as having a reduced ability to learn.



You really need to develop a ‘whole school’ approach to discipline. 

A ‘whole school’ approach means that the students, parents and teachers all have a say in the development of your school policy. It has been well documented that schools that do this have more compliance with the policy. When I was a principal I had other schools contact me for a copy of our Behaviour Management Policy. I would only give it to them if they promised not to use it. If they followed the process of having students, parents and teachers sitting around the table and all having input and ended up with a policy the same as ours it would be very surprising, but if it happened then they could use it. The important thing is the process. Your school’s Discipline/Behaviour Management Policy needs to be flexible enough to allow these children to be handled in a different manner to others. Some may say that this is ‘unfair’ and that all children should be treated the same. This belief shows a lack of understanding of the condition that the child has. If a child has a vision impairment we give them glasses, we don’t insist that they be treated the same as the others and refuse to allow them to wear glasses in our class. This is generally the sad way in which we treat children with learning or behavioural difficulties. Fairness is not treating everyone the same but giving each person what they need to achieve to their maximum potential.

Develop a Philosophy of Education that includes the statement “First do no harm”.

You need to refer back to your philosophy when developing your techniques. Check everything you do back to your philosophy and then change whatever needs to be changed. Unfortunately some of the techniques we use do cause harm to these children. I don’t believe that this is intentional but the result of teachers generally not being given the appropriate training so that they can understand these children and develop techniques to help change their behaviour.

Have a plan for everything e.g. You need a plan for

  • Students entering the classroom
  • The lesson
  • Handing back work/grades in a manner that maintains confidentiality and dignity
  • Behaviour (proactive and reactive)
  • Moving from one activity to another
  • Interruptions

Ask your school to contact us to come to your school to give a whole school presentation.

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The impact of Stress

When a child is stressed they have the same hormones and chemicals surging through their body that an adult does, and these are very toxic to the child’s brain. These are the chemicals that elicit the “Fight or Flight” response. The demand of the child to either stay and fight like they have never fought before or run like they have never run before. Either way they insist that the child move while at the same time we tell them to stay still.

When an adult is under stress we accept that they will not perform as well and that their ability to concentrate will be reduced. When we know about the stress we tend to give them some leeway and might even suggest they have some time off. However, we don’t allow this for children.

When I realised that nearly all of my students with learning difficulties were exhibiting stress symptoms I began treating their behaviour from a health and stress management paradigm and their behaviour improved as did their accademics.

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