Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Before I went to Caterbury I wrote a post with basic notions of Attachment theory. I haven't applied it to school situation yet, but I think it's time I do so. And I'll start with the notion of "secure base".

A "secure base" is the emotional and physical refuge in which uncertainties are processed into thoughts and the base from which exploration can take place (Geddes, 134).  One of the reasons for all the anger and sadness coming out of some students during class is because school with its predictable routines and rules is a secure base for them. I'll touch upon it in one of my next posts, but right now I'd like to write about those within the school who might not feel so safe because of all uncontained emotions coming out - the teachers.

In the face of a student shouting abuse at everyone and everything around them, kicking, screaming, crying and/or running out in an unknown direction, every and each one of us will ask the question: "I'm supposed to be the expert, so....what do I do now?" One easily gets worked up trying to answer it especially if a colleague comes by and makes one of those "They never do things like that to me" comments.

"They never do things like that to me" just might be one of the meanest, heartless sentences I've ever heard. In 6 years I've been working I haven't witnessed it helping anyone and I'm certain I'll be able to say the same thing 30 years from now. Think it, go home and gloat on your own, just don't say it to someone who's in distress - it's not just unhelpful, it says nothing nice about you, especially if you use it on a rookie teacher.

Our work is such that we can easily get swamped and lost in it. We receive little if no training for working with kids with social and emotional issues. And if we cannot turn to our colleagues for help...

In schools where there is least collaborative thinking about challenge and distress, the most likely is that strong feelings are being constantly projected into the school community. There can be a sense of uncontained fear running about the school, "as if anything can happen." (Geddes, 132.)

So what should we do when a situation arises? Listen to what we teach our kids. (This is something I picked up from a poster made for the Paths/Rastem project at my school.)

Take a step back. Breathe.

Think. Make a plan.


Sometimes the yellow step needs a little more time to become truly effective. Find someone you can trust will help you and sit down with them. When thinking or talking about a pupil's behaviour, try not to make judgments. There's a big difference in between:

He's not listening to me. He thinks I'm incompetent - he wants to decide what's going to be done in class.


He's either reading something else in class or looking through the window. He always asks me to do something else during the class and not what I planned. 

The second set of sentences helps us wonder about the child's motivation, because his behaviour isn't clouded with the teacher's presumptions about the child's motivation. It may be easier said than done - it's definitely something to be practiced, but it's worth it. Sometimes sharing information like this with other teachers who work with the same child helps notice patterns in it's behaviour, or see it from a completely different angle and those can help us understand it. And if we understand it, we can become more consistent and constructive in dealing with it.

That's it from me for now.
Hopefully I've helped,
All my love,

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