A Corridor Encounter

A few good stories came through from the previous edition, Thank you, many laughs and some tears. All good training material.

There was one about a secondary pastoral leader who screamed at Mark Congram and Stuart Hunt to be quiet in assembly but disastrously combined the surnames in his haste.

There was another who video recorded her yr 4 lesson then discovered that evening that tiny Marco had climbed into an under-the-surface side cupboard during a group activity for 12 full minutes (and discovered on further investigation that he’s cleared a little spot in there, and that it was the third time he’d done it!).

However, I thought this one might sound a bit more familiar: Scenario (embellished slightly and names changed):

Secondary school corridor encounter during change of classes. A fairly experienced subject teacher, Mr. Farrely, stops a 15 year old, Jaidon, in the corridor. Jaidon has a mild version of Autism with some evidence of ADHD and is on his way to a lesson in the SEND department.

He was focused on getting there on time. A slowly passing audience has formed. The teacher means well but is probing the boy from very close range about his behaviour in the previous lesson: “I’m worried about you. You don’t seem yourself today. What’s wrong with you”? No reply. “Look at me when I’m talking to you. Don’t try to be clever with me, Jaidon. I’ve been doing this job too long”. Jaidon wouldn’t make eye contact – frustrating for Mr. Farrely. Jaidon wasn’t trying to be clever at all of course but he was trying to understand why Mr Farrely had been doing a job too long and even what job he was doing.

The audience were hovering and waiting for a response but Jaidon was well known – one of the watching students explained to Mr. Farrely, “Jaidon’s got autism sir, he probably doesn’t understand what you’re saying”. This stung Mr. Farrely – he got annoyed with the slow moving group of teens, “get to your lesson, c’mon, c’mon. Hurry up”. “Is there something you need to talk to me about?”. Jaidon didn’t answer. He’d never ‘talked’ to Mr Farrely about his autism. Jaidon was a stickler for time and knew he needed to get a move on.

He was becoming anxious but Mr. Farrely wanted answers. Jaidon didn’t know the answers but he did know the time – and he was going to be late. The teacher was determined though and became more ‘assertive’. “This is more important than your next lesson. I want to know why you wouldn’t do any work in my lesson”? Jaidon doesn’t, probably can’t, process the question. Just in time a passing TA who was known and trusted by Jaidon intervened, “It’s alright Mr. Farrely I’ll have a chat with Jaidon. Come on Jaidon let’s get you along to Mrs. Minelli – she’ll be wondering where you are”. “Thank you Miss Eaton, I can handle this, I’m trying to find out what’s going on with Jaidon”. Mr. Farrely probably felt a bit irritated that he’d had to take advice from first a student, then a young TA, but was beginning, thankfully, to realise that he was out of his depth. Miss Eaton was a confident, well trained pro who knew what she was doing, “No you can’t (handle it) I’m afraid Mr. Farrely” as she led Jaidon away, “I’ll explain later….”

This story – I’ve made a few assumptions about some of the emotions I’ve described – highlights a number of things we can improve with some short ‘bites’ of training. 1. When meeting with students outside class always have a plan (ask about our series 2 BLIPlet 3), 2.

We all need to understand common SENDs and be aware of strategies and skills for managing them in our classrooms (ask about Behaviour with Bayley Series 2 and 3).

Clearly, Mr. Farrely had a genuine concern, but should he have handled it better? How?

What training have you had in understanding and managing challenging behaviour? Keep telling us about your cringy, or comedic, scenarios.

By Eddie Gardner

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