Monday, 1 September 2014


Tell me someone that doesn't like to be encouraged for what they've done.

It works like magic.

So why is punishment used so much?

Doesn't it just lead to resentment and hostility?

If you want a student to arrive early for school, I found that when I was teaching, encouragement worked extremely well.

I reasoned. Why not help the student want to come to school?

So, rather than scold them for being late, I welcomed them when they arrived with a big smile.

 I was able to do this because we had a very caring Head who also was very positive ( he was the reason I chose the school in the first place). We started school with a form period of twenty minutes before assembly. This enabled me to check over  each of the form members, visually, one by one each morning to see how they were emotionally and spot any potential problems for instance from bullying. We would discuss form outings. (We were doing this during an Ofsted inspection: a trip to see the Musical , Grease in central London. The Ofsted report stated that one of the forms was discussing their trip to Greece in their form period: It just shows how reliable these reports really are!)

Chioma Anyanwu was one of these.  She was highly intelligent but cause endless problems in her classes when I took the for over in year 8. She was good at sport and went to a netball club after school and was a natural leader. so I went along to this and praised her for all her efforts there. Very soon she started arriving at school on time. Encouragement really worked.

When she was given an after school  detention  given by another teacher of picking up litter :she refused. So I was able to get the Head to immediately talk to her and we reached a compromise: she would pick up litter with me  doing it as well but with her wearing rubber gloves to keep her hands clean. It worked.

Chioma went on to do well in her studies, going to our six form and on to University - one of the few from this particular school  then ( Hainault  Forest High School in North East London now the Forest Academy). She was a capable young woman with a supportive but overworked single mother, a nurse, with several other somewhat resentful children.

Giving children merit stickers at the beginning a class to all these who were settled for the lesson with equipment ready and sitting quietly and attentively within thirty seconds of being admitted to the class, worked beautifully for the younger classes, Thus setting a good habit for the rest of their lessons later on in future years.

Now I will make a point of congratulating a train conductor as I leave the train if he has been helpful and friendly as he does his job. His response:

"Thank you , you made my day"

It is so sad that our society chooses by contrast to use punishment as a way of changing people's behaviour and rarely encourages on the spur of the moment with a "Thank you". Most of the time negative attitudes don't work but lead to resentment and hostility in the future. Focusing on groups of  individuals, listening to them  and being encouraging , does.

1 comment:

Gladys said...