11 Strategies to Manage Extreme of Behaviour in our classroom

niño malcomportamiento.001Have you ever wondered how to handle challenging behaviour that our students sometimes display in our classroom? I’ve done. That’s why I thought it might be interesting to share this post with some information about what I learned on the course “Managing Extremes of Behavior”,  which I recently completed.

From my experience, working in a secondary school, I realized how difficult it can be dealing with challenges students.  I am beginning to become more aware of how common it is, at this level and working with this age.  There are some disobedient, foul-mouthed students, wanting to challenge you, looking to get attention, insulting each other, who don’t pay attention or who are quiet but just won’t do the job you are asking them.  They are just not interested.

I don’t want to discourage anyone. Teaching can be exciting, but the reality is that it’s not always easy. Therefore, the best way is to accept things how they are but also to try and improve and remedy them. If you really like teaching, don’t worry, but obviously learning how to deal with undesirable situations will help us to develop more effective and rewarding  lessons.

However, I would like to emphasize, I don’t believe in magic formulas that convert chaos into perfection, but I believe that having some educational strategies can achieve greater control of the situation.

So what can we do to deal with these unpredictable situations? What can we do to make a difference in our classroom?

  1. Difficult doesn’t mean impossible. The first advise we need to implement is to believe in ourselves and in the possibility of change. If we don’t change our attitude, the situation won’t change neither. Attitude is everything.
  2. Types of bad behaviour in the classroom. What are these behaviours? Recognizing what may be causing the child’s behavior will help us to know how to deal with it. Naming helps us, for instance, to search for information online and guide us. The most common behaviours are: Attention Seeker, Power Broker, Bully, Clown, Aggressive, Uncooperative and Abusive. For example, if we know our student is an Attention Seeker, we’ll know that in these cases we should ignore the inappropriate behavior of the child, then the child’s tendency will be to stop using that resource and it will become ineffective. Imagine, if the child is kicking in the supermarket because he wants an ice-cream and you buy it, he will repeat that behavior. You just teach him that’s the way to get the things he wants when you don’t want to buy them.
  3. Don’t take for granted or assume that they are bad children. If a child is told he is bad and believes “I’m bad”, he’s going to behave that way. Therefore, you should not say “you’re bad” or things like that. Usually, they often behave worse with supply teachers. They’ll test teachers that they don’t know yet.
  4. Good behaviour can be learned. Teach children how to behave better by showing the way and manners with patience. You are an important role mode for them. How you act will have an impact on their behaviour. In order to solve it, you should ask yourself 4 key Questions:
    • Where does their behavior come from?
    • Where do they lead?
    • What assumptions do we make?
    • How do we respond to behaviors?

    Be tolerant, smile and emphatize, but remember that you’re the teacher, not them.

  5. Enhance their self-esteem! It seems contradictory, right? However, misbehavior is not always due to selfishness. There are other reason why they’re looking for attention. Sometimes, these children feel frustration because school seems difficult for them, they have low-esteem or feel isolated. Therefore, they often think “I will never be good, so I’ll try to stand out because I’m bad”. That’s why when we highlight their progress and success their behaviour improves too.
  6. Don’t say please but say thank you. It is important not to appear as though you are pleading for their behaviour to change by saying ‘please’. But you still want to sound respectful so you should say “thank you” after they have done what you asked them to do.
  7. Reduce the use of the imperative. Make it personal. Use “I” to convert it to a personal matter. For example, “I don’t speak to you like that. Then I don’t expect you to do it to me” instead of “do that”.
  8. Control is just an illusion. It’s about influence! We must influence. If you establish a control struggle with your students, it’s quite posible you won’t be able to win. An alternative to constantly controlling them and focussing on their bad behaviour is to focus in the good.  Effective teachers get their students to become “addicted” to positive reinforcement. For instance, “I really like the topic you’ve chosen to write, it’s very original “ or ” What a good question. I think it’s an excellent contribution”. Remember to sound natural otherwise they’ll know that you want something else from these comments.
  9. Positive Language. This will be the structure: make it personal, use positive language and descriptive phrases. Such as “I really like the way you worked today”.
  10. They’re responsible for their behaviour, not you. Make sure they know they are responsible for their behaviour when they do something wrong and they knew the rules and the consequences. Make it clear that it was their choice to receive that penalty, not yours, because they knew the consequences and they decided to do it anyway.
  11. You need to have your own rules, be a rule giver to get authority:
    • For example, 10 rules are too much. Try not to give more than 4 rules.
    • Bring rules to each classroom.
    • Try to write them with a positive language.
    • In connection to the consequences it is better to speak about rewards rather than sanctions.


    TIP! If you’re looking for extra information, maybe you’ll like reading  “Creating winning classrooms” by Peter Hook and Andy Vass. This book offers teachers important insights into the emotional classroom climate necessary for successful and effective learning. Following from the first book, Confident Classroom Leadership, the authors present a range of ideas and understandings to support teachers in proactively building and sustaining an emotionally empowering classroom.

Ainoa Cano




the national curriculum.001The basicschool curriculum includes the National Curriculum, as well as religious education and sex education. The National Curriculum is a set of subjects and standards used by primary and secondary schools so that all children learn the same things. It covers which subjects are taught and the standards children should reach in each subject.

Other types of schools like academies and private schools dont have to follow the National Curriculum. Academies must teach a broad and balanced curriculum including English, maths and science. They must also teach religious education. (gov.uk)

In September 2014 the New Curriculum was introduced, we must know numerous educational changes in order to provide quality education to our students, as well as follow government guidelines. It’s introduction had an exception, children from Year 2 and 6 were allow to remain on the original National Curriculum, because it seemed quite unfair that children did their last exams of their Key Stage when they had been studying so many years with previous one. But this exception is now gone. From September 2015 all, from year 1 to year 6, are on the new curriculum.

The National Curriculum is organised into blocks of years called ‘key stages’ (KS). At the end of each key stage, the teacher will formally assess his/her students performance to measure a child’s progress.

With the new National Curriculum Key Stage levels are no longer part of the educational landscape, so we dont have levelling any more. Children in years 2 and 6 will be the last to receive an end-of-key-stage ‘level’, in summer 2015”. Instead, students will start sitting the new national primary curriculum tests in 2016. From 2016  at the end of year exams (key stage 2 and 3) children will have what are called scaled scores instead of levelling.

I have tried to summarise the most important features of the new National Curriculum in order to make it easier to understand and to instill confidence in foreign teachers in the English education field, so that we can be as competent as native teachers.

  1. The government wants to pull together a whole school curriculum, from the age of 5 to 14.
  2. Heavy emphasis on the non-academic side of education, such as every child should be taught to swim or to take part in volunteer organizations in Secondary Education.
  3. Music. The government wants every child to play an instrument.
  4. Learning a Modern Foreign Language has become compulsory in Key Stage 2.That is why primary schools are now looking for MFL teachers. So if you are a modern foreign language teacher, you are lucky.
  5. The Program of Study that teachers used to have which helped them define how and what to teach, have been drastically cut.  There is no document telling teachers how they have to do their job. You now have to know what the school does or what the expectations are, but the government doesn’t tell you how do it. Great for freedom.
  6. There are some restrictions on the implementation on the management. For example, schools in special measures will not be allowed to decide themselves what they are going to do. Their autonomy is removed from them and they will be told what they will have to do.
  7. Key Skills (conversation, listening or writing skills) age-appropriate. This point is a good resource for supply teachers because sometimes we don’t feel confident enough with the subject you are covering. Perhaps, you are an MFL teacher and have to cover a geography teacher and you don’t have the necessary knowledge here. What they are saying is it isn’t now just about score curriculum, so you can focus on key skill in this lesson.
  8. Emphasis on spoken language is something the government is determined to make. They will be producing guidelines for spoken language.
  9. It is also about writing and reading in every subject. There should be an element of writing and reading included.
  10. Developing fluency in every relevant subject. Emphasis on the uses of specific subject vocabulary and understanding in the real world.
  11. What they don’t want to see is mixing up physics, chemistry and biology. In this instance they don’t want a cross curriculum.
  12. Schools have autonomy in assessment attainment. In terms of assessment the government’s position is very clear, there is no national assessments model and no national strategy. So schools can keep their previous model or create their own assessment.So you as a teacher won’t be sure about what a school is doing until you ask them their assessment method system and policy and your role within it. By the end of each Key Stage you are expected to know,  apply and understand, skill and processes.
  13. In terms of inclusion it is about participation and achievement for all learners and recognising barriers to learning. Schools must ensure challenging and high quality teaching. For supply, schools should give you necessary information (planning, resources, etc) allowing you to deliver your lesson. However, it is quite possible that if you are there anything longer than a couple of days, you have to plan and be aware of inclusion and SEN.
  14. Core subjects: mathematics, sciences and English. There is a requirement with objetives for each year and Key Stage.
  15. Extra-curricular activities (ECA) are activities that take place outside regular class teaching and yet are related to student learning. As such, they fall within the scope of the school curriculum.  The government expects that schools and teachers provide additional support. For example, through after school club or lunch time club.

TIP 1! If you are a specialist teacher looking for a job in a primary school, now is your moment. Primary school are clamouring for people with specialist subject knowledge because the requirement in primary schools has been increased enormously.

TIP 2! Joining a teaching union will be very helpful as they provide support. I know this two NASUWT and  NUT.

TIP 3! Have a look in the New curriculum and find out the Key Skills. It can help when you are a supply, you don’t control the subject and the planning isn’t there. Don’t panic, focus on Key skills.

TIP 4! Find out the specific curriculum of your subject. In the following link you will find all programs of study by subject.

Teachers are now the ones transforming schools and transforming education in this country. You are part of that. Feel it and you will do a fantastic job.

Ainoa Cano

A chart to assist teachers to compare easily each level of English and Spanish Educational Systems

In the recent years, there has beeneducationspain a flood of young people moving from their places of origin to countries offering better alternatives of life. The goal of this migration is basically due to three major topics: educational, work and/or language reasons. Included in all of these aspects is experience, which comes out of all three factors. Of course, there are always very enterprising people wanting to see the world, but I dare say that for most of us, it is the lack of opportunities and the low value placed on us in our countries, which pushes us to go out. A kind of feeling of accumulating certificates that seem to have lost any validity. However, you dare to get out and people are amazed with your training, they respect it.

Nevertheless, Let’s not fool ourselves, it is not as easy as to pull something off at the first attempt. Progress requires effort, hard work and more hard work. Some of this work begins to enhance your professional knowledge of where you have migrated to. Although it is true that it seems that here they recognize your training and give you the corresponding validation for your certificates, let’s be honest, you do not feel competent at first. And I’m not just referring to the language, a real barrier, but I won’t talk about it on this post.

The thing about our profession, being teachers, is that we can have a deep understanding of education from our country. You may have a great mastery of your National Curriculum and the Spanish legislation, but when you come to England…What do you know of their curriculum? What do you know of their priorities? What are their objetives? What are the concerns in school and what worries them here? and What about the law? Perhaps, all these questions overwhelm you, make you feel small. You have to start from zero. However, it isn’t like that, trust me. We are competent and capable. We have valuable experience, although we still need to research in order to clarify some of our ideas. But how do I know what I need to research? Well, because I am of theses teachers who have decided to have a try in England, I will use my experience to advise you what I consider important, as I would have appreciated someone explaining to me before arriving.

One of the first things we need to know are the names of any stages of education in England in comparison with Spain. Why? because get confuse in a interview denotes ignorance of the topic, ignorance is associated with a lack of proficiency and no boss likes hiring incompetent staff. In other words, imagine you are in an interview for a position as a teacher in Year 2. The interviewer ask you what will you do. As a teacher, we know how important is to know our student ages to adapt our content, objetives and activities. Well, Year 2 is known as 1º de Primaria in Spain. It is clear now, right?

The next chart assists in comparing easily English and Spanish Educational Systems. Its shows the journey from kindergarten to high school. The English system is shown on the left and the Spanish on the right. Each colors correspond to a similar level.

Chart Stage Eng-Spa

I would like to emphasize some points and provide more data in order to complement the information:

First of all, Compulsory Education begins at 5 years old in England, although it is possible to homeschool. In Spain it is at 6, but the reality is that almost all children are in school at the age of 3. On the other hand, compulsory education ends at age of 16 in both. In England it is required to continue taking some type os studies until 18, although the teenager can be working.

Reception, also known as Foundation, is the educational stage with the least resemblance. The biggest difference to me is Foundation 1 (pre-school), which corresponds to Educación Infantil 3 años. The reason is because in England it is frequently taught by non teaching staff, when in Spain must be taught by qualified teachers.

Primary Education expands itself a year in Spain, reducing in one academic year the time spent  by Spanish students in high school.

At the end of Secondary School there are important exams in order to graduate in both countries . Those exams are known as GCSE in England.

The Sixth Form and Bachillerato occupy two academic years with important exams at the end. In England these tests are known as A Levels (Advance Levels). There is a big difference in the educational structure at this level. In Spain are two full-time academic courses in high school and with an average of 8 subjects. However, in England it is a specialization of a 3 subjects in line with the university career that they will take and are part time self-study.

In the case of opting for vocational training or formación profesional, students will be referred to other centers in the same manner as in England, where are called FE College.

NOTE: a bachelor and bachiller are not the same. The first one means that you have a degree at University!

Ainoa Cano.

PEDIATRIC FIRST AID. How to deal with poisoning of the digestive tract.

first aid(1)

When we decided to be teachers and we entered for the first time into the dogmatized world of the university, we discovered that the well-respected university also has its shortcomings. On one hand there are subjects that may not be required and on the other, there are imperative subjects missing.

How can these old-fashioned subjects still remain on the syllabus? these are subjects with little use in our daily reality. I am almost certain that many of us do not remember the subject-matter or even the subject name. But nevertheless, at the same time, we find a brutal lack of some basic knowledge that should be there in our training period. Pediatric First Aid is the perfect example.

Families leave us their most valuable asset, their children, and teachers are responsible for a whole school full of those precious lives. Additionally, these children are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves, but at the precise moment in life where they have less sense of risk. Those who understand this educational stage in depth, be it teacher or be it parent, can bear witness to the great need of investigating the world that children have at this age. Definitely it is a healthy need, but at the same time, it can bring dangers or frights.

Of course, addressing it properly is a task for professionals, our intervention does not replace that of a healthcare professional. However, our intervention of caring for the child until medical help arrives can be crucial.

So complaining is of little use. Let’s be smart. We will focus on what we can change for sure to improve the situation: to inform ourselves.
What should I know after read this post?
As a rule we do NOT induce vomiting. Specially in cases of unconscious people, when we have doubts about what to do or when we do not know what the child swallowed.poisoning

With First Aid knowledge we can take the right action. For guidance, I will tell you five types of poisoning of the digestive tract most frequent according to the pediatric first aid course I took in Murcia (Spain):

1. SPOILED FOOD. Children are more sensitive to this type of intoxication. If it happens, we should rinse the mouth with water and wash with soap the hands or any other parts of the body that have been in contact with the food. If the child has diarrhea and vomiting, it is very important re-hydrate him/her to replenish lost fluids and minerals.

2. INGESTION OF A FOREIGN BODY. Treatment will be different depending on the size of the object. Small harmless objects will naturally pass through the digestive track on their own. Otherwise seek medical help. Meanwhile, we can put an ice pack on the abdomen, but never hot water. In the case of ingesting batteries, we induce vomiting when it comes to button cells, but never when it is alkaline battery.


A) Caustics. We understand caustic as something that burns. For example ammonia, depilatory creams or nail polish remover products are caustic. In this case it is advisable not to give anything to eat or drink to the child. Likewise, do NOT induce vomiting as this can cause burning of the esophagus twice.

B) No caustics. These are generally less toxic but can cause burning of the mouth, vomiting and abdominal pain. The most common are soaps, detergents, fabric softeners, mothballs or toilet flushing tablets. In most of these cases we can induce vomiting or give water.

C) Non-toxic substances. These are those substances with are not toxic in small amounts, but are toxic in large amounts. For example, modern bleaches or toothpaste. In schools we can find some non-toxic some water-based paints, modeling clay, white glue, pencil, erasers or ink pen (except the green and red because are highly toxic). In the event that a small amount has been ingested, it will be enough to allow the subtence to pass naturally. Other hand, if it has been ingested in large amounts, you must follow the same procedure as in the case of ingestion of caustic products.

4. POISONING ASSOCIATED WITH ALCOCHOL. If a child has swallowed alcohol you have several options. Inducing vomiting unless than two hours have passed after ingestion, because alcohol is not found in the stomach once this time has elapsed. It is also advisable to drink sugary fluids.

5. MEDICINE POISONING. Children tend to put everything in their mouth. As well as this, they may mistake tablets for delicious sweats. Of course, It is best not to leave any drug within reach of children, if they do take any, with this type of intoxication we must consider inducing vomiting.

TIP 1! It can be very helpful to take the label or container that has been ingested so health professionals know how to treat.

TIP 2! keep handy the NHS Direct number (111) or website to ask them what to do in an incident when you know for certain the product that has been ingested, or call emergency (999).

Ainoa Cano

5 EDUCATIONAL STRATEGIES for working with a child with AUTISM

imagesIncreasingly, teachers seem to be more sensitive to the importance of proper care of children with Special Educational Needs. The problem of SEN it is more visible today, increased awareness of the problem means we can address it. Being aware is the first step, which is a good thing, but do we know how to take action? Do we know how to deal with teaching a child with autism in our classroom?

First of all, we are not doctors, we are teachers, and as such, we should not agonize pretending to dominate the theory about each disorder showed for a student. Either with autism. However, we should become experts in our own right setting by embracing as many teaching strategies as we can to enhance learning. When children feel safe and happy they learn better.

I am not suggesting we do not further our knowledge on the subject. I invite you to look for it and professionalize yourselves as much as you can. A good base of previous knowledge about autism could help us when we get down to work and being prepared for certain behaviors. But I am saying we should not lose focus on the teaching.

Therefore, I will just clarify briefly some of the characteristics of autism in order to focus on the 5 educational strategies.

What is Autism? Autism is a complex neurological disorder that impairs the ability of individuals to communicate and interact with others. This predisposes the person to routines and repetitive behaviors, such as strange obsessions with some objects or following very specific routines without any possibility of variability. Symptoms can range from mild to very severe.curioso incidente.001

It is often teachers who notice unusual behaviors in their students. Hence the importance of  being aware that teachers are also observers. Once it is diagnosed, early intervention is crucial. As soon as autism is diagnosed, the intervention should start with focus on developing communication skills, socialization and cognitive programme.

The following five strategies are some of the best known. Both, teachers and support staff, maximize the chances of improving behaviour, language and communication skills of children with autism when they apply these strategies:

1.VISUAL CALENDARS. Visual aids play an important role as these children find it easier to understand and communicate through images. Working with visual aids will help them
achieve structure, reduce stress and improve understanding.  A visual calendar provides pictures of the day’s activities. This helps students to know exactly what to do an when, or predict what is happening.

2. COMIC STRIP CONVERSATIONS. Creating conversations through comics allows the child to better understand what is happening, join in a conversation or understand feeling and intentions of others.

3. THE PICTURE COMMUNICATION EXCHANGE SYSTEM (PECS) Teachers use pictures as symbols to teach children the names of different objects. Gradually the child is taught to exchange a picture for the object he or she wants, to construct simple sentences using te pictures, and indicate choices between various objects.

4. SOCIAL STORIES. Stories with pictures and simple words (for children who can read) help them to deal with specific situations, such as riding a bus, hiking or hearing the fire alarm during a drill.

5. ROLE-PLAYING. Thought theater and role playing games we have an excellent opportunity to teach social norms, such as greetings or classroom skills.

TIP 1! Use computer software packages to write out stories, descriptions and instructions in both words and symbols simultaneously. In addition, there are many APPS for autism. You will find a summary in a book called An essential guide to over 200 effective Apps! (available in Amazon).

TIP 2! Read a book to understand their behavior and way of thinking, such as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Ainoa Cano