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How to manage behaviour at the end of term – PP15

The topic of the week is Behaviour at Christmas.


starIt’s getting near Christmas…and this week Paul focuses on children for whom this is a difficult time of year; those who do not look forward to the Christmas break from school.

How can we manage the end of term most appropriately for all children, including those who have a challenging time at home, and therefore at school as well?

If you have worked effectively all term with some tricky children, things can get even more difficult towards the end, particularly as routines start to disintegrate. Low level disruption can start to creep in again and some more angry outbursts can start to erupt which mirrors their levels of anxiety about the end of term.

School or college is the place where these kinds of children receive consistency, security and calm.

Paul refers to the Bridge Academy in London where they don’t put baubles on the tree because they know it will be toppled over at least twice in the festive season by children who take out their frustrations and anxiety on this visible symbol of Christmas.

As teachers, our experiences of Christmas are not necessarily the same as the students’. If we as teachers see ourselves as the ‘Christmas Cheerleader’, we can’t be the calming influence that a significant number of students need. Paul recommends tending towards retaining as much of the classroom routine as possible up until the Christmas break.

It’s essential to think about the pupils who don’t have anyone at home to make Christmas cards for, or who are dreading the break.

Paul shares his worry about teachers who use numerous DVDs around Christmas instead of sticking to the well-established teaching routines they have developed over the term. Many children rely on these routines – very quickly everything can begin to feel unsteady and uncertain. Consequently, it’s not a surprise when children’s behaviour begins to deteriorate.

Put the DVDs away – of course we are excited, of course we are tired, but that does not mean we can’t learn.

Make it OK not to be excited – after all, children who are not looking forward to Christmas are in very good company:

  • Remind children that Christmas is a religious festival that plenty of people in the world do not celebrate
  • Put a board up showing what’s happening at the beginning of next term so those who are anxious about Christmas know there’s some stability to look forward to on their return
  • Give children the option of doing some take-home projects so they can feel connected with the classroom over the break which can be completed in time when friends are not around
Paul then goes on to relate the chilling tale of being told that one pupil was not going to have a Christmas dinner because the takeaways were all shut on Christmas Day. This kind of story is a great reality check for all teachers.
If you don’t have happy experiences or memories of Christmas, music, sounds, and smells can trigger very negative emotions. Christmas can be tainted by previous experiences for many.
Here is a video from RSA which fits in very well with the themes Paul and Kevin explored this week.

What would you like to hear covered in forthcoming episodes? Let us know by emailing or by leaving a comment below this post.

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Creative Commons image by Anosmia

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