In my other life, when not writing or tweeting about whole school issues and behaviour, I am a Head of Media & English teacher (@mediaradarguru). Hence the title of this post and reference to a reasonably ok-ish vampire film – The Daywalkers. The premise, kinda given away by the title, is that Vampires have started ‘daywalking’ (you got it) and are no longer fearful of the things that once struck fear into their hearts – sunlight, garlic, stakes and the like.
I loved Tabula Rasa’s post ( http://tabularasaeducation.wordpress.com/ ) by @TessaLMatthews ‘Why does Luke always get sent out of lessons?’ It struck a chord with me and reminded me of the many ‘Daywalkers’ that are out there – students in corridors, stairwells, toilets, no longer fearful of the things that should make them fearful – sunlight, garlic…..no, sorry – detentions, consequences, phone calls home and the like.
As Tessa so rightly says ‘Luke always gets sent out of lessons because we let him…We don’t seem to care, so why should he?’ The thing is, I think it’s in the word ‘seem’ – because, we DO care, otherwise why would so many teachers, like Tessa be writing about it in blogs, on Twitter, concerned about other Daywalkers like Luke. The problem is in the word ‘seem’ – that we don’t behave, as institutions, in a way that shows Luke that his walking out the door, 2-3 times a day is a problem, a big problem.
So why do we do it – ‘seem’ not to care? I think it comes down to a number of factors. When faced with classes of 29-32, one possibly two Daywalkers do not, for the class teacher, usually take priority over the majority. When Luke goes, the teacher rightly resumes teaching. Luke then becomes someone else’s problem. Of course, the teacher will follow up after the lesson, aiming to conclude and restore the problem, but the consequence and restoration are very dependent of the wider mechanisms of the school – what are the consequence options? How are they enforced? What chain reaction is set in motion if Luke ignores the consequence? What opportunities for restoration of student-teacher relationship are in place? Is the emphasis placed on Luke’s response to individual teachers (Well, he’s never been a problem for me…!) or is there a rigid, non-judgemental structure in place?
Challenging pupils in school will always, always have one (maybe more) teacher they like to be with, they do not walk out of their lesson. There is often something quite random (and not necessarily ‘magical’) about that teacher – it could be as simple as strongly reminding the student of an Aunt who they always really loved being around. We can’t all BE ‘the Aunt’. And it is this delusion that I think sometimes stunts the growth of grown-up behaviour policies.
So, we HAVE to deal with the behaviour, face up to it, take responsibility for it, give firm boundaries that show Luke that we do care about his education, because we may be the only clear boundaries he has.
Why does Luke always walk out of lessons? Because we can’t all be ‘the Aunt’.