Behaviour and You: #1- Behaviour and Teaching Assistants that used to be Teachers

by | Nov 27, 2020 | Behaviour, Behaviour and YOU! Project, Classroom Practice, Leadership | 0 comments

Photo by  Mona Khaleghi on Unsplash

Welcome to the beginning of our conversation about Behaviour and YOU!

This blog post is the very first contribution from my community in what I hope becomes a wide conversation around behaviour – exactly who deals with it and how in our schools…

For more information about the project, and to find out how YOU can contribute then take a look at the blog post here for more info.

For each contribution I ask the participants a series of questions around behaviour, they are invited to answer as many or as few as they like, and share with us what works for educators like YOU  in our schools….

In this very first post, I am delighted to introduce you to Ryan, a Teaching assistant who used to be a teacher.


Over the past couple of years it has come to my attention that there are many approaches to behaviour that are taught as if they are off-the-shelf and will work for everyone – that is not the case.

Behaviour strategies need to work for you first in order to work in the classroom.

Over the coming months I would like to share what ‘behaviour’ is like for you.

What are the challenges that you feel you face that other colleagues don’t?

What strategies work for you wonderfully and yet no one else seems to be able to Master?

I am inviting you to get in touch.


Q. Behaviour and YOU! – Who?!

Behaviour and Teaching Assistants that used to be Teachers

Q. How would you describe yourself as a teaching assistant? 

As a softly spoken late middle-aged white male gay former teacher with two adopted boys, who is attempting to get the balance right.

Q. What do you think/have you experienced as barriers around successfully supporting distressing behaviour for you in schools (from pupils, colleagues or parents and carers)?

Being thrown in at the deep end without sufficient mentoring or modelling of what can be done when faced with quite extreme behaviours.

The clash between behaviourist based whole school reward and consequences style systems versus deeper level therapeutic based approaches to behaviour management.

Having sufficient energy levels to deal in a positive manner with challenges at work whilst also knowing you will be going home and facing many similar behaviours.

Q. How have you (or are trying to!) overcome these barriers?

Reaching out to colleagues.  Simply stating “I’m really not sure what to do here..”  Learning from colleagues, watching them in action and building relationships with them.

Prioritising self-care and recognising and naming vicarious/secondary trauma leading to a change in role when needed without any shame attached. Having sanity breaks from work and boy-raising by finishing work early two days a week and having a blissful 1hour 40 mins to myself before school pick-up.

What is a key behaviour strategy for you?

Always trying to think about what may be driving a child’s behaviour, whilst also acknowledging that it may be bloody annoying.

Q. What makes your particular characteristics and/or experience an asset to supporting behaviour?

Range of teaching experiences from EYFS to end of KS2 as well as good knowledge of attachment and sensory processing difficulties via first-hand experience in my own children. Having had the opportunity to build relationships with the children and their wider families as they morph from very cute 4yr olds to loud and proud Year6s.

Q. What are some key behaviour strategies that work for you (that aren’t necessarily talked about)?

Building relationships but also recognising when it just ain’t going to work out.

Always trying to think about what may be driving a child’s behaviour, whilst also acknowledging that it may be bloody annoying.

Asking the child a variant of “why?” based along the lines of ‘what is it that we are getting wrong for you/ what’s going on today/ what can we do to get it right?’

Q. What has been your biggest or most surprising success around behaviour?

To focus on what a child is doing rather than what they are saying.  I know this is a simple one but it took ages for the penny to drop for me on this one. I was definitely getting distracted and worn down by the snarling and bad attitude rather than the outcome of the book actually being open and the date and WALT written and (strike me down dead) actually underlined WITH a ruler – that was kind of getting lost under the snarl-battle!

Q. What is your no 1 Behaviour top tip for teachers like you?

Build relationships up from the small stuff -remember the quirky stuff kids tell you and use that as material.

Q. Any other notes you want to share around your unique experience with behaviour?

That the jump from teacher to TA is very unsettling, Kids sniff out hierarchy and you begin to lose faith in your magical (probably fear based ) teaching powers and some of them respond to you very differently (and not in a good way)   as a result.

Q. Any other questions you think I should be asking all the contributors?

What peer (adult-to-adult) support opportunities have worked best in your setting?

As a thank you for Ryan’s contribution to the project a small donation has been made to the charity of his choice.


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