I did not expect this
It is the first training I have done in England since we moved here.
'Are you up for a group of 12 children?'
The head mistress of the school asks me.
Most of them have challenging behaviour. ‘No problem’ I reply slightly braggingly.
I’m not letting this opportunity pass me by.
The children enter the classroom at the end of the school day.
Some are frustrated and throw their bags in a corner.
They have just finished their SATS exams.
Here we go…
'I would like to start with'…
and then I was going to explain about talents and personal qualities everybody has and how important it is to find your own.…etc etc
They don’t sit still
Pick fights with each other
Haul chairs around the classroom
and shout in an accent I don’t get!
I worked at a special needs school for years so am used to challenges.
I know I have to act fast.
Sitting still is to difficult for them. Listening too .
I stay calm (ish).
Raising your voice looks quite desperate.
They’ve had lectures on their behaviour so many times before.
So that’s not going to do the trick.
Luckily I know that all children that have difficulty sitting still LOVE to move!
I’ve come across it so many times before.
They can drive you up the wall if we are really honest.
Continually trying to get attention from classmates or you.
And finding every excuse they can to get up from their seats.
For these children the 7 life skills lessons work particularly well.
They don’t have to think or sit still.
They can learn by doing, experiencing and …MOVING!!!
You see a change in them when this happens. More sure of themselves.…
The pupils help their peers, they take charge and help others and love it whilst having fun.
I find a 4,3 second gap.
Just enough to explain a simple exercise.
You can choose between 2 things for instance:
1 I love to move
2 I love to sit still
If you choose ‘moving’ then you stand on the left side of the room.
If you choose ‘sitting’ then you stand on the other side of the room.
In high tempo I keep asking them to choose between 2 possibilities
'Drawing or maths?'
'Listening or talking?'
'Playing on you x-box or working in the garden.'
It’s noisy in the classroom. Heavy debating goes on.
Wildly moving bodies running across the classroom.
BUT… I have their attention, somewhat.
I plan the next move in my head. An exercise to heighten their attention span.
Leading and following!
I ask the most active boy if he wants to come
and demonstrate the exercise to the class with me.
'I am the leader and will walk around the classroom. You have to try and follow me.”
I keep making it more difficult by going faster and changing direction.
He wants to succeed so he has to focus and that makes him calmer.
'Walk to the other side of the room
with your eyes closed.'
The other children that are already standing there
will make sure you get there safe and don’t bump into anything”.
At the end of this lesson they are already able to work more concentratedly.
Second lesson one week later.
The pupils are very noisy and boisterous when they come into the classroom,
just like last week.
Right from the start I introduce more structure to the lesson.
Sitting on your chair in a ' normal' way. That means straight, not backwards or slouched.
Sit on the chair until we start with the exercise.
That actually goes very well.
To my own surprise!
First we do some physical wrestling games to get ride of excess energy and possible frustrations of the day.
During a slightly altered version of a blindfold game something peculiar happens.
All of a sudden the pupils become much calmer.
From that point on they are focused.
The difference in the children is very noticeable.
They show what they are truly made off, help each other,
are friendly and full of humour.
The pupils don’t have any problem sitting still when the exercise is explained because they know they are allowed to move after that’s done.
2 teachers that had passed the window at the end of the lesson saw this concentrated group at work. Afterwards they asked what had made them so calm.
For the last exercise of the day
The pupils pretend to be statues.
'You are not allowed to move or laugh'!
I sing out of tune
Pull my silliest face
and pull a John Cleese imitation out of my sleeve.
Nobody is able to keep a straight face.
'Do it again sir'!!!
Next time I reply. “Always end the lesson on a high note’ my first mentor said.
‘That makes them want to come back’.
'Did you learn something today', was my question to the pupils that attended.
The loudest and smallest of the group says: “ I only really trust my family but now I feel I can trust other people more too’.