Strategies For Engaging Pupils With Behaviour And SEMH Needs with Adele Bates

Strategies For Engaging Pupils With Behaviour And SEMH Needs with Adele Bates

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There's been a worrying increase in children struggling with their SEMH needs within schools. But - as teachers and educators - what's the best way of empathising and engaging with them. and forming mutually trusting relationships?

In this podcast episode, we interview Adele Bates, SEMH behaviour specialist and author of 'Miss, I Don't Give a Sh*t! - engaging with Challenging Behaviour in Schools.' In the interview, Adele gives her top insights into dealing with challenging behaviour directly linked to SEMH needs in schools.

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Get Adele's book, "Miss I don't give a s**t!"

Adele Bates's website

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Show notes / transcription

Adele Bates  0:00  

I think this way of looking at it is really, really useful when it comes to our planning in terms of behaviour. If we can start our approach to supporting behaviour as an additional need or a barrier that we get to remove for our young people so they can access education, it can be so fruitful.

Simon Currigan  0:17  

Hi there. My name is Simon Currigan and welcome to episode 54 of school behaviour secrets. We're broadcasting exclusively from behaviour towers where and I want to make this absolutely clear for any lawyers listening. We are absolutely not responsible for that odd smell in the back that coincided with all those squirrels dying in our neighbour's garden. It's an absolute mystery that remains unsolved. I'm joined here by my favourite co host, Emma Shackleton. Hi, Emma

Emma Shackleton  1:24  

Hi, Simon.

Simon Currigan  1:25  

Emma, I'd like to kick off this week's show by asking you a question. What is your least favourite film of all time?

Emma Shackleton  1:33  

That's quite a hard question. I think because I'm really bad at remembering movies, especially the bad ones. I don't really enjoy horror movies very much things like Nightmare on Elm Street. And I think that's really because the characters are often far fetched and not very believable. So it feels like a really unrealistic situation. And I think I'm a bit of a cynic to be honest. What about you? What's your worst movie of all time?

Simon Currigan  1:58  

Okay, well, this is another movie with night in the title actually thinking about it. We watched a movie I think was called A Night in the Woods, or something like that. That was a musical. 

Emma Shackleton  2:06  

Sounds terrible. 

Simon Currigan  2:08  

Don't even get me started on it. I just couldn't believe it was a 90 minutes that felt like 10 hours.

Emma Shackleton  2:13  

You'll never get that back. Okay, so why are we chatting about movies? What's the tenuous link this week?

Simon Currigan  2:19  

Well, this week we speak to Adele Bates, who's author of the book 'Miss, I don't give a shit'. And if you've got any little ones listening, don't worry. We'll continue to bleep that out throughout the podcast. And our conversation is all about how to make a connection with pupils who are resistant to relationships, so we can influence their behaviour positively.

Emma Shackleton  2:40  

And the relevance to the movie?

Simon Currigan  2:42  

.. is tenuous.

That was a story that failed to make a connection with you. Like it's hard to make a connection with some of the more challenging pupil's we teach in school. 

Emma Shackleton  2:51  

Okay, yeah

Simon Currigan  2:52  

 I'm sorry. I need to go to have a restorative conversation with myself in the Make It Better cupboard. But wow, my segway was poor Adele strategies are golden. And my interview with her is full of nuggets of excellent, actionable advice, you can take and start using immediately with your class.

Emma Shackleton  3:09  

And I know that supporting hard to reach kids is a topic that comes up again and again and again. But before we get to that, I've got one quick favour to ask our listeners. If you're listening to this podcast right now, please, could you open your podcast app, and use the Share button to share this episode with three friends or colleagues who you think would find this information useful. That means they and the children in their care, get the help and support they need to make progress in their classrooms, too. And now, here's Simon's interview with Adele Bates.

Simon Currigan  3:45  

Today, I'm excited to welcome Adele Bates to the show. Adele is a behaviour and educational specialist and her goal is to empower school leaders and teachers to help pupils with behavioural and SMH needs to thrive. She's the author of the book, Miss I don't give a shit,  engaging with challenging behaviour in schools. And she's been featured on radio for as an expert on teenagers and behaviour is a writer for TES and an international speaker, including for TEDx 2020. Adele, welcome to the show it's great to have you here.

Adele Bates  4:14  

Thank you so much. I just had a little goose pimples as you were reading that, you know, sometimes you forget to stop and think what you've done. And I just listened to that. Almost like from outside of myself. I was like, ah, that's awesome. I have to be really honest, TEDx 20, hasn't happened yet, because it got postponed. So we're crossing our fingers. I've heard, I can't say much, but this could be the year

Simon Currigan  4:37  

And you are right. When you're so busy. It's easy not to take stock and look at where you've been and what you've achieved. It's the deluge of things around you and teachers will be able to recognise that because it's just nonstop.

Adele Bates  4:48  

Yeah, and let's bring that in as our first top tip with behaviour because I think sometimes we can get really bogged down let's say the class or a pupil about you know what they're not achieving, or 8F3  are doing better. Whatever it is, it's like actually bring in those progress checkpoints not for data not for monitoring for Ofsted, but for yourself,  going, Oh, hang on, though, when they came in September, they were on the ceiling. And now they sit in their seats. You know, that could be...

Simon Currigan  5:13  

Yeah, massive progress. And I want to say as well, I love the title of your book, because it sums up so well, you know, the, the barriers, the difficulties many of us face when we're trying to engage with kids with SMH needs in our class, I am going to be really interested in unpacking your approach to how we form connections with those kids and relationships, because that's so important. So first question, as teachers, we tend to assume that the kids know that we the adults are safe, that we're there to look after them, and they're not in any danger from us. But for some kids, especially kids with challenging behaviour, you say that assumption might not be correct. So can you tell us what that might be? And how does that affect the way that children might act in class?

Adele Bates  5:53  

Absolutely. So this is something that I think mainstream teaching staff are becoming increasingly aware of, and I'm really happy about that. Because if you work in a AP alternative provision, or PRU pupil referral unit, or a special school for semh young people with social, emotional, mental health issues, then you will come across this a lot. In fact, this is one of those points of good practice that I see in AP, that I want more mainstream teachers to know about. So the kinds of kids I work with, unfortunately, think of the worst thing a human being could do to another human being, whether that's physically, violently, emotionally sexually neglect, sometimes the kids I work with, that's happened to them before the age of five. And guess what, it makes your behaviour up a little bit as it would anybody's. So that's kind of the most extreme end we've got. But then we've also got young people who maybe it's not that extreme, but maybe they've been brought up in an environment where, for example, the adults weren't able to care for the children. And that could be for a myriad of reasons, it could be that the parents or carers are ill. And so they physically cannot help young people, it could be the adults have mental health issues, all sorts of like, there's so many reasons that it could possibly be. And what this comes down to is, I'm going to briefly introduce some theory around attachment theory. So attachment theory teaches us that what happens in those first roughly seven years of a child's life creates the pattern of how they form relationships. And the first most integral relationship that any human being has is with the primary caregiver. So often, that's a parent, not always, but that kind of role. And if this relationship is fractured, in some way, remember, the child doesn't know, Child's growing up and just kind of going with what's happening in their world. 

Simon Currigan  5:54  

This is just their normal 

Adele Bates  7:40  

Exactly, yeah, really good way of putting it. And yet, what it does is it forms a pattern. And if there is a strain in that relationship, for whatever reason, from some of the really extreme things I've said, it forms a pattern so that when that child grows up, and now start thinking of your children in your classroom, as they go through that pattern is repeated. And so if they have not learned how to form a healthy, loving relationship with that primary caregiver, that will be played out, I mean, into adulthood. And what is exciting from my point of view is if the right kind of intervention or therapy is accessed by person, it is totally possible to change those patterns. And I'm reading more and more about the plasticity of the brain. From my point of view, who works with kids who've experienced adverse childhood conditions, this is really exciting, because this shows us that you know, they're not a lost cause. So anyway, by the time they get into your classroom, I'll give you an example. I walked into a classroom once in a special school to meet a new pupil. And the first thing he did to me was tell me to eff off. And I went, Okay, that I'm your teachers, I'm going to stay, I really want to teach you blah, blah, blah, He then threw his pen at me. So I was like, Oh, dear, no, we don't need to be doing that. That letter. He then threw his book at me, at which point I did something completely unhelpful. I reacted. And I tried to pull rank on him. And I said, Look, I'm your teacher, and you should not be throwing the book at your teacher. At that point. He went to grab the desk and the teaching assistant, I was so lucky at the teaching assistant, who I trusted, and I knew really well, she just came up to me. She said, Adele leave now. You know, there's all sorts of weird things in there. It could be like, Why is the TA teach what to do? I'm leaving the classroom where I should eat all these things. But what she told me afterwards was that this young person had been sexually abused by a woman in his biological family. And so every time he met a woman, his survival mechanism, the pattern that he has learned is this person could harm me. And so what's the best way to keep away people who might harm you? Well be aggressive towards them, then they don't want to be around you. And it turns out in that school, I should have been told that I was working there part time and the communication hadn't gone through and you know, the joys of communication in schools, and I should have been prepped on that before I met him and there's all that kind of stuff. But that's an example of why if a young person hasn't experienced safe adults, they don't understand boundaries in terms of personal boundaries, relationship boundaries, I work with many young people who don't know, and I'm talking secondary here, don't know how to make friends, I am often teaching the type of voice, we might use, the kind of language we might use, the kind of body language we might use to make friends. And I'm talking about 12 year olds, 13 year olds, because they haven't had those role models, they haven't had that initial attachment style that has taught them that and then, you know, on the less extreme end of things in your mainstream classroom, you might see young people struggling with authority, maybe that could be a sign that they struggled with those relationships, that they can't trust the adults. Another big one that I'll finish with on this is, are those moments that absolutely break your heart when a young person is doing so well. And they've absolutely achieved something brilliant for the first time with you. And you say to them, that is excellent, and they can't take the compliment, they cannot trust it. They can't believe it, they can't believe you. And this is something I go into in the book in a bit more detail. This is often wrapped around the concept of shame, because when we, as a young person learn that we can't have people around us, often that turns inside and says, Therefore, there must be something wrong with me. And so that is another pattern that we might see.

Simon Currigan  11:27  

And as an adult in the classroom. I guess what you're saying there is we're taking for granted, the child has all sorts of skills and abilities and traits that might just be missing. So we're interpreting their behaviour as aggressive, but actually, it's kind of protective. 

Adele Bates  11:41  

Yes, absolutely. So a few years ago, fantastic child's therapist, Frédérique Hadad Lamparyk who I interviewed in the book, she explained this to me really, really well. She said, so let's say for example, a young person who can't queue up in the canteen are pushing and shoving and they are running to the queue. They're trying to grab food from other kids, etc. Now, if we just look at that behaviour, we could label it maladaptive behaviour, they are not behaving appropriately for the context. And yeah, if we know a little bit about that child, and I've seen this a lot, particularly with young people who've been through the care system, if you have ever experienced a time where food was not available to you, the adults around you didn't provide that food, or they did but it was very sporadic, you didn't know where your next meal was coming from. There's a young person I worked with, they were a young carer for their sibling, because they were unfortunately neglected by biological parents at the age of four. At four years old, this young person was the main carer for himself and his younger sibling. And what that meant was he was providing the food at four years old. And so then put that kid into a lunchtime canteen in a mainstream school, then, of course, they are going to grab that food now going back to the maladaptive and well adaptive behaviour. When we looked at in the canteen, we call it maladaptive. But if you think about the environment that that young person has grown up in, actually, the ability to grab food, whenever it's available, is bloomin well adaptive, because that has physically kept that child alive. It's a really well adaptive behaviour, when you are in an unfortunate survival situation. And all of this happens, the context has changed. And nobody has taught and given time and built a trust for that child to know that at school, there will always be a lunch provided for you. They can't believe that because that's not the pattern they've grown up with. And just having them once isn't necessarily going to work either. Okay. There's a gorgeous quote, I love it. I mentioned in the book, there's a brilliant TEDx talk by Dr. Rosemarie Allen. And that's Allan spelt A, L, L, E, N. And she says when a child can't read, we teach them when a child can't write we teach them when a child can't behave, do we teach them? Or do we punish them? Oh, it makes so much sense to me that quote, because then when I see these young people, when I'm supporting schools, when I'm working with children, that twist of oh, there's a young people who we need to teach who may need scaffolding. I often talk about differentiation for semh pupils and for pupils with behaviour needs, and semh. As an SEND as in, if you had a kid coming into your class who had dyslexia, you would scaffold so that they could access the learning. Well for my kid who can't sit still, because the doors unlocked and that makes them feel unsafe, because unfortunately, they've been in a scenario where they don't know who's coming through that door and they could be a threat, then I might have to do some differentiation in my classroom for them to be able to access Romeo and Juliet and I think this way of looking at it is really really useful when it comes to our planning in terms of behaviour if we can start our approach to supporting behaviour as an additional need or a barrier that we get to remove for young people so they can access education, it can be so fruitful.

It's a skills gap. 


Simon Currigan  14:55  

We need to fill in that gap and help them learn the specific step by step ways of forming friendships or using the right kind of voice or managing, you know, those emotions.

Adele Bates  15:18  

Yeah. I'm also wondering, does that involve emotional skills, because I think another area that young people with particular behaviour needs can struggle with is their emotions, how to access them, how to manage them, how to communicate them. And often this is one of the big issues, we have a child who's incredibly sad, but what they're actually doing is punching the lights out of their mate. 

Simon Currigan  15:42  


Adele Bates  15:43  

And so we react to the punching. And we put the consequences in. And I have to say, at this point, none of the stuff I'm talking about is suggesting that we go against a behaviour policy, that there aren't consequences. Absolutely, there needs to be young people with behaviour needs, need boundaries, they need to know what's acceptable, and what's not in the context that they're working in. And consequences might happen if you punch your friend. And yes, that all needs to happen. And what I'm saying is, and let's work out how we can support them long term and make it a sustainable approach. So that this young person is getting the additional needs support that they need, as well as Yeah, they might have to do some restoration work around the fight. Or they might have to do a detention or you know, whatever it is, I'm not saying this as either, or I'm saying And.

Simon Currigan  16:29  

And so often, you'll see kids at secondary, they'll get into a fight, punch their mates, whatever. And then they'll spend like a day in isolation, when nothing happens, they just spend the time on their own. And then they get reinserted into the teaching group with all of the same problems with none of the reparation work with none of the work on the skills and barriers. And it's almost we expect that day on your own to have made some magical difference when it was actually the perfect opportunity while you've got them on their own or in a small group to help address those needs.

Adele Bates  16:57  

Absolutely. And I kind of think about this in adults, sometimes I think we expect more of our children than we do ourselves. So let's say you've had an argie bargie. With one of your colleagues, let's say that happens on Friday, and nothing is done about it. It just happened and you go away feeling really annoyed or undermined or whatever it is. And then you go away Saturday and Sunday. And you come back on Monday morning is the issue resolved just because time passed? No. And when you see them, you feel that flutter in your heart or you get annoyed or you feel your hands getting sweaty, and you need to deal with it. There's gold here, Simon, because I'm gonna give you an example, I had a beautiful year 11 young person who was on paper low ability not going to achieve I'm an English teacher by trade. So it's GCSE final year, and he was kind of getting along enough as you can, but very much on the kind of level two, level three, was he going to make it kind of thing and yet he always tried. And he sometimes got a bit disruptive, but not really, you know, nothing major. And then one lesson I looked over at one point he had taken and this is going to hurt your soul in any teacher listening, he taken my stapler.

Simon Currigan  18:04  


Adele Bates  18:06  

 Now, there are very few staplers in an English Department. And there are even fewer staplers that have the right staples with them. He taken my stapler and destroyed it

Simon Currigan  18:21  

Crossed the line.

Adele Bates  18:23  

Yeah, And he just very carefully very delicately, just completely pulled the whole thing apart just like bit by bit by bit. And of course, I was irrationally upset about this. I was like, Do you realise there's only like one stapler in the Department of 20 teachers. But what I saw in that was hang on a minute, this kid doesn't usually do that. That's not usual behaviour. And because I've been working with him for two years, I had to say to him, Look, you know, the consequence for destroying school property was X amount of behaviour points and situps or whatever it was supposed to be. I don't know. Anyway, I did it. And then I said, You're staying in a break with me. So in his mind, he's being punished for it. What I got him to do was sharpen my pencils, as they're kind of vaguely punishment fit the crime, but also what I really wanted to do was go you know, what, Sam? What's that about? What's that going on? You don't usually do that. Let me find out. Turned out he was incredibly anxious about his exams. He was one of those young people who had just all you just wanted to tutor and adopt, because he he didn't have much academic support at home. He was Pupil Premium. He just didn't have many kind of positive academic role models in his life. And he was really struggling at studying at revising, he had no one to help him do a revision timetable, you know, all those kinds of things that may be some carers or parents might do. And he was stressed. He was really, really upset because he knew how important exams were. He was also aware that he was low ability. I mean, I know we're not supposed to and he was probably put on the caterpillar table in year five, but they know, so that's what came out of it. And so then he voluntarily stayed after school with me and I helped him with revision time. table. I helped him with how to revise all that kind of stuff. I didn't have any more broken staplers.

Simon Currigan  20:04  

That brings us really neatly. Actually, you talk about Kim Goldings idea of connection before correction, can you start to talk through what this idea is and why it's so important with these high needs kids?

Adele Bates  20:14  

Yes. So to begin with, very simply, it's the concept that if we connect with someone, before we try and correct their behaviour, we're way more likely to be successful. And we know that because we know the manager who keeps calling you Sara, when your name's Sarah, you just have a little less respect for that manager, because they haven't taken the time to get your name right. For those managers who don't connect with you who don't take the time to learn your name, you're not quite as easy to form a relationship with and that's a tiny example. So with the pupils, it's that idea that if we want to correct someone's behaviour, we need to connect with them as humans first. Now, there is an argument that an in some schools this works, that you go in, and you are completely zero tolerance, and very disciplined, and they all just have to have high expectations around behaviour and get on with it. And it works. It works, I would argue for compliance. And what always worries me about that approach is there is a difference between compliance and learning, we can have an entire class, silent, working, inverted commas. And then at the end of their lesson, you find how many pictures of penises have been drawn. So the idea between connecting first is that you start to build that relationship, which evolves Trust, which evolves into things like I can support you to do things that you never thought you could dream that you could do, I can create a safe space for you to try and fail to try reading in front of the class and fail and it doesn't matter because you're safe emotionally. And then the next question I usually get asked is, yeah, but we haven't got time to find out everybody's favourite football team, we haven't, we've got 33 in a class, I'm an art teacher, I teach 20 year seven classes a week, for 42 minutes. And there's often this idea that this approach of connection for correction has to be this massive, be the child's best friend, that is not the case at all. And I have the best example to show. So I was on the way back from a training in London, and I was on the train. And it was during a point during the pandemic, it was at a point where masks were mandatory on public transport. And there were these two lads standing there about 15, 16, about a foot taller than me, and they had their masks around their chins, really usefully. And I sat there, and I thought, Okay, I want to correct that, essentially. But I didn't know these teenagers, they weren't even from the school that I just been in. So I had a choice in that second, I could have gone in and done what a lot of people do, I must say to teenagers in our society, that's a whole other issue. But teenagers are very discriminated against, I write about in the book, I could have gone in hard, or you should be doing this. You need to follow the rules, yada, yada, yada. But I didn't know them. And they were a foot taller than me. And I was on a train. There was no support network, there was no staff, there was no detention. So I mean, they could have actually just told me where to go quite easily. And so what I did instead is that I connected with them first. And so I knew this wasn't the case. But I it was my best opener. I said, Oh, are you from that school that I've just been in I've just been working in and they said, ah, no miss. We're from this other school. And it was hilarious. They called me Miss. They didn't know I was a teacher, I must have like a whole teacher persona. And I said, Oh, what's that school like? What's it like compared to the school I've been in? What's the, you know, what's the local gossip between the postcodes and they kind of entertained me in this kind of small talk conversation. And listeners, as I was talking, this doesn't really work in a podcast. So I'm going to describe it. All I had to do was mime bringing the mask up from their chin and putting it on their nose. That's all I had to do. I did not even mention the masks at all. And as we were talking, they saw me do that little movement. And they both quickly put their masks up. And of course, the best thing I was excited about was like, oh my goodness, that's an example of connection before correction. But it's so beautiful because I didn't know those kids. I didn't have a relationship with them. I didn't know which football team they supported or who their Auntie Joan was, or I didn't know anything, but I connected with them first. And so then me correcting their behaviour. They knew they were supposed to be wearing their masks. Of course they did. Because they were on their chin. They'de forgotten, theyre human. Lots of us did. So actually, it worked. And then on the other side of this a quick example of where I totally got this wrong was that we'd had run those classic meetings, SLT, telling teachers, we need to get stricter on the uniform policy. And the issue was surprise, surprise, the length of the girls skirts. It was one of those meetings where we were going to come down hard on length of girls skirts, etc, etc, etc. Right? Okay, fine. So I came out all rallied up about this issue. And it was almost like we've been told it is the most important thing you know. And I bumped into a young person who I think I taught a couple of times in a cover lesson or something. But I didn't have a relationship with them. They weren't someone I knew. And I came straight out of this meeting, and I saw her and her skirt was short, she rolled it up. And so the first thing I did was I went in and I said, you shouldn't have your blady blah you need to roll your skirt down. blahdy blahdy blah. She scoffed at me with disdain. And this is the first and only time I've experienced this actually. She said, I know you're bisexual Miss, why are you saying that? why are you perving at my legs? why you looking at my legs? Miss. 

Simon Currigan  25:38  


Adele Bates  25:39  

And I have to say in that moment, I had a lot more empathy for male teachers in this scenario, because I never experienced that before. It kind of took the wind out of me because I hadn't, and I didn't want to do and I thought, well hang on a minute, whatever I say is going to be wrong now. And I kind of got my knickers in a twist about it. And I realised afterwards when I reflected on it. I didn't even say hello, I just went in. And I told about the length discuss. What right have I as an adult teacher? I mean, regardless of my sexual orientation, or gender or anything, but what right have I to tell a young girl? Yeah, and it was so out of character for me to do it as well. It's not my usual approach. But I realised that I'd got fired up in this meeting. And it been presented like the most important thing in the world, and I've come out and going, you know, I need to do my job properly. This is obviously what we need to do right now. And it completely backfired. And I think I just mumbled something really inane, and really, really ineffective. And I probably turned around, she probably rolled her skirt even higher, I don't know, but I'd hadn't connected with her. And yet, I was trying to correct her. It is not my place to stop going around in that way correcting people if I haven't built up a trust. And of course, she retaliated and got me where she thought it would hurt. And she did really well. I hope she goes into politics.

Simon Currigan  26:57  

I just like to take a pause for a moment and say that if you're finding this podcast useful, then you're going to love what we've got waiting for you in our Inner Circle programme. The Inner Circle is your one stop shop for all things behaviour. It's a comprehensive platform filled with videos resources on behaviour inspiration to get you unstuck with classroom behaviour. We've got training resources on de escalation, supporting kids with anxiety, support strategies for conditions like autism, ADHD, and PDA. practical ways of helping pupils deal with strong emotions, assertive behaviour management techniques for managing the whole classroom, setting out your classroom environment for success, resetting behaviour with tricky classes, and more. Our online videos walk you through practical solutions, step by step, just like Netflix, you can turn an Inner Circle subscription on or off whenever you need to, with no minimum contract Plus, you can now get your first seven days of Inner Circle for just one pound. Get the behaviour answers. And you've been looking forward today with Inner Circle visit to and click on the Inner Circle picture near the top of the homepage for more information. 

There will be teachers and school leaders listening to this saying, I'm teaching a child right now who doesn't want me to take an interest and that they're actively pushing me away. So what are the practical things that we can do? What are the tips and tricks that you've got about forming those connections with resistant kids, because as we've discussed, they don't consider the adult safe. And they're deliberately pushing us away as a protective behaviour.

Adele Bates  28:35  

Absolutely. Often I refer to this as 'The Blank' because sometimes having that non response is harder than having an outwardly aggressive, conflicting response, because at least then you've got something to play with. But when they shut down, I think, which is what you're talking about, it can be really challenging. And for some staff, it can be the most triggering thing for them. Personally, we all have this, and I talk about this a lot in the book, we all have our behaviours that for one reason or another, just get under our skin. For me working with secondary children, sometimes I see behaviour when they regress, and they become kind of toddler like, for some reason, whatever reason, in my psychology, I really struggled with that. And when a child is like pretending to be a cat, or doing the like googoo gaga language, I just I have to pass on to a colleague if I can, because for some reason I react really badly.

Simon Currigan  29:24  

And isn't it important to recognise that that is something that pushes your buttons and to be conscious about it? 

Adele Bates  29:29  


Simon Currigan  29:29  

Because then you can take effective action about it.

Adele Bates  29:31  

Exactly. And actually, school therapist wants to talk to me about this, and explained that if a young person has been through trauma, abuse, neglect, they are more sensitive, and this is subconsciously but to the emotions and reactions and trigger points of adults because they have to because they need to keep themselves safe. They almost have this like fine tuned skill to know if an adult is going to be dangerous. And so what that means And as I said, this is all subconsciously, but there's a pattern in it, they will work out what the thing is that winds you up. And they will use that as a defence mechanism. And so once a kid knows that, that's your Achilles heel, ha ha, they'll start picking at it as any supply teacher will tell you. Going back to what we're talking about the blank. So the first thing, the first kind of tip is read chapter six of my book, which is don't take it personally. And this is a toughy. But the truth is 99% of the time, especially when we're talking about, as you said, young people who struggle to form relationships with adults, it isn't personal. When that child went to throw a desk at me, he wasn't throwing it at Adele Bates, he was defending himself against something that he thought could cause him harm. It just happened to look like me. And knowing that can help us so much. So number one, knowing that it's 99.9% of the time, not personal. There's a great story in the book that I share about when I was doing some supply teaching, and how I had this yucky experience with this lad. And it was awful. And I kind of went away thinking, Oh, I'm a terrible teacher, and all this. And then I taught him again, a couple of months later, it's like nothing had happened. Again, it's this lesson, it's not personal. So that's the first bit. The second thing is, if a child has had difficulty forming relationships in their history, then it will take them longer to do so. And that kind of makes sense. If I've never done shotput is going to take me longer to learn how to shotput as I go through my life, if I was shot putting as a toddler, then it'd be easier for me to do it later on. Like that makes sense in my head, so it will take them longer. And also, we never really I mean, this is glorious, isn't it, and infuriating all at the same time. We never really know what each other are thinking. And we never know what's going in what's soaking in, we can guess. And I think that's the other point. And we know this really don't we, if we've been in the profession a while we know that the kid here you've been banging your head against the wall for the entire time you've been teaching will be the kid who comes up to you two years later in the street gives you a big hug and goes, "oh my god miss. I loved your lessons". And you're like, really? Why did you not tell me at the time that would have been really useful. And then on top of that, there are some real practical strategies and approaches I share in the book of how to form relationships, without any planning without any extra marking and within the lessons that you're already doing. So this one I know has been shared across quite a few schools now. And they're really seeing the benefits of it, is using the register. So I'm in a mainstream classroom, I've got 33 kids, and let's say I teach them once a fortnight, and I haven't got chance to build up these relationships. Because there's not enough time, it's quite possible that maybe even a third of those children just kind of comply, get on, but I can't get to them. I can't kind of connect with them. So this is really easy one when I'm taking the register, I do not need to hear Yes Miss times 33. In fact, it's quite boring. And so what I do instead, is I invite the young people to give me one word to describe how their day is going. If you're working with teenagers, it will start with Alright, Alright, okay, boring. That's how it starts, fine. If you're working in primary or early years, or in schools with different needs, you can adapt this so it could be what colour are you today? What animal are you today, whatever works for your setting. If you've got nonverbal pupils, you can also do this visually, or there's all kinds of ways you can do it, then it gets exciting. So you do it initially. At first, it's something you've got to kind of set up. And I would say if you're teaching them surface secondary, you're teaching them two or three times a week, you do this for at least two weeks. And it has to be every you know, same with any routine every single time to get it consistent. And then once the young people understand the system, and they start to relax, and they start to realise it is safe within this community, this micro community of the classroom to share a little bit of how I actually feel then you start getting a lot more depth to your answers. You also start noticing patterns. So there was a year 10 Year 11 class that I taught across the two years and at the start of year 10. I kind of got into the swing of okay, well to usually answers that kind of thing. Matt usually answers that kind of thing. Jahed, he usually answers this kind of thing. And then it was so interesting as we got it was towards the end of the first term of year 11. Certainly the majority of the answers were changing. It was stressed. It was anxious, it was frustrated. This is what I love about this Simon is that with in the first two minutes of my lesson, I've done some formative assessment of how ready these young people are to learn. I have done what I call a litmus test so that I can then work out how I might need to differentiate the learning to support their behaviour to support their emotions, their mental health. to support their engagement, and of course, once I started hearing this stressed, frustrated, blanked out, whatever, like, however they say it, then I realised, okay, we need to have a conversation because there's stuff going on here, I need to find out what's at the bottom of this. And I actually did circle time. And I found out that these young people were really, really anxious and stressed about exams. And they really didn't need another motivational assembly about an inspirational sports person. That was not helping. So what I was able to do was then adapt and support them through that way so that I could help them be able to focus back on the learning that we needed to do

Simon Currigan  35:37  

Adele. I think we've only just scratched the surface today. So if you're a teacher, or a parent listening to this podcast, what's the first step you can take today to start developing that effective approach to working with students with semh needs in your classroom?

Adele Bates  35:48  

Okay, so there's obviously many books worth of answers there. But I would say the first step with any of it is get curious, get curious. I wonder why that's happening? I wonder why I'm experiencing this behaviour? And you can be curious for yourself, you can in an appropriate time and place with them when they are calm, get curious about out loud with them. I was wondering why you did that behaviour at lunchtime? You can also get curious with other adults who work with them or who have worked with them. I'm working with so and so he seems to always need to bash his head on the table and wondering why that might be? Because once you start getting curious, it puts you in this gorgeous mindset that says I'm open to learning so that I can adapt and differentiate for your needs to help you access the education that you deserve.

Simon Currigan  36:38  

And you know, your book, Miss I don't give a shit is full of practical advice, things you can take away and start using what's the best way to get hold of that?

Adele Bates  36:46  

Oh, okay, really good question. Because it's available everywhere. I really advocate to my readers to buy the book from a place that pays its taxes and treats its staff ethically can be ordered from your local independent bookshop, it takes a couple of days if they haven't got it in. And also, there's a few online places, one of them being hive. And they're great because they give a percentage of the sales to your local independent bookshop. So if you're able to do that, that's great, too.

Simon Currigan  37:14  

And we'll drop a direct link to that on hive in the show notes. If you're listening, all you got to do is open up the show description, and you'll see the direct link there. Adele, thank you for coming on the podcast. I've really enjoyed it. I hope you have to. We've learned loads today. So thank you very much.

Adele Bates  37:27  

Thank you. And there's one other thing I'd like to invite your listeners to. So the book came out in September 2020. And since then, it's been really fun. I've had so many people get in contact and the community has been building around wanting to have these types of conversations. So in November, I created the we give a shit behaviour membership, which is an on line community group that I facilitate. And essentially, this came from the fact that I work in schools, I work with local authorities up and down the country, I might go for a day or I might go for a short term project. And often the feedback I was getting from staff was this is great. This is the first day of your training I've ever had. It's really inspirational and getting to understand why things are happening and what I can do about it with behaviour, but now you're gone. And so I created this community so that it's ongoing support. So we have in there we have a monthly workshop. In fact, my next one is tonight, we have guest speakers, we have behaviour challenges that have no extra marking or planning. We have a community of other supportive practitioners who are having these conversations sharing practice. If you're interested in that, then you can jump onto my website, and you'll see the membership button over there. Come and join us.

Simon Currigan  38:47  

Now that sounds brilliant. Thank you very much.

Emma Shackleton  38:50  

Wow, you were right. Adele covered so much practical information about supporting challenging kids and just managing student behaviour in general in that interview.

Simon Currigan  39:02  

If you're interested in her book, Miss I don't give a shit you can find a direct link in the show notes.

Emma Shackleton  39:08  

Of course, if you're experiencing difficulties with behaviour during lesson time, there may be some simple tweaks that you could make to the way that you've organised the environment or the format of your lessons that just might improve behaviour in the whole class.

Simon Currigan  39:23  

If that sounds interesting to you, we've got a completely free download that goes with this episode called the classroom management score sheet. Inside the score sheets, you'll find a list of 37 factors that have an impact on classroom behaviour.

Emma Shackleton  39:36  

So the score sheet has a list of things that you are clearly either doing or not doing. Think of it as a roadmap to improve your presence in the classroom. It's based on 1000's of observations that Simon and I have conducted between us. So you know, it's grounded on sound classroom practice.

Simon Currigan  39:55  

And if you're supporting a colleague with their classroom management, it can help make your feedback and action points even more clear and objective. 

Emma Shackleton  40:03  

Get it now by going to clicking on the free resources option in the menu, and you'll find it near the top of the page. It's completely free. Get it today, we've also put a direct link to the score sheet in the episode description.

Simon Currigan  40:19  

If you've enjoyed the show today, make sure you subscribe so you don't miss future episodes. All you have to do is open up your podcast app and tap the subscribe button or follow as it's now called in Apple podcasts. And your app will automatically download each and every episode and to celebrate your mastery over the technology. Why not try but a trout tickling? It's a real thing. Google it, and both you and the trout are sure to have the time of your lives. After all, wasn't it Shakespeare who said nothing bonds man and trout like a little tickle and a lot of laughter unless I've massively misread this and then something bad happens to the trout afterwards.

Emma Shackleton  40:57  

If you find this episode with Adele Bates useful, not the trout tickling obviously, then remember to share this episode with three friends or colleagues who would find it useful as well. All you've got to do is open up your podcast app, hit the share button, and you'll be able to send them a direct link. And the good news is it takes less than 30 seconds to share the love. So that's it for today. We hope you have a brilliant week and we'll see you next time on school behaviour secrets. Bye

Simon Currigan  41:26  


(This automated transcript may not be 100% accurate.)