Behaviour and YOU: #4 Behaviour and being a female gay (maverick) teacher

by | May 10, 2021 | Behaviour, Behaviour and YOU! Project, Inclusion, Leadership | 0 comments

Photo by  Mona Khaleghi on Unsplash

Our 4th Conversation for the Behaviour and YOU! Project, PSHE Teacher @boospurgeon demonstrates the clear importance of role modelling through behaviour – her pupils’ comments are a treat! Also find out what she does with her little bell…

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This blog post is the fourth contribution from an Inspiring Educator in my community, in what is becoming a wide conversation around behaviour – exactly who deals with it and how in our schools…

 

For more information about the project have a read here.

 

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….

 

Fill in the form here to contribute

 

In this post, I am delighted to introduce you to Boo Spurgeon @boospurgeon who shares not only her view of teaching and raising the profile of PSHE, but also shares some of her pupils’ views.

 

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How would you describe yourself as a teacher/teaching assistant?

Maverick perhaps? Creative? Loved making creative innovative high impact lessons that sent the kids to their next lesson discussing it, and sometimes teachers would come and find me, going, what on earth were you doing….. the lessons where they go ten years later, oh Boo, do you remember….. I think I was kind, fair and firm, with clear boundaries, and integrity.

What do you think/have you experienced as barriers around successfully supporting distressing behaviour for you in schools?

Lack of experience of good PSHE previously….seen as doss subject. I came in to set up new and specialist dept. So, I had to get buy in. Took a while with some classes/kids.

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

Well planned/structured lessons, different pedagogy, interesting subject.

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

Oh I’m a maverick! And I had clear ground rules that I modelled. Everyone knew them, thought they were fair, and policed each other if needed. And if kids arrived out of sorts for whatever reason, I’d often have a quiet word and ask if they were ok, did they need a few mins to decompress, or need a word after lesson etc.

Also, a great story I remember in regards to being The Gay Teacher: I had one y10 at the beginning of the year who peered through the door and shouted “ooh we’ve got the lesbian one”. I stomped over, threw the door open, the corridors were very crowded and shouted back, “yes I’m a lesbian. What of it? Have you got a problem with that?”

He shrank to about a foot high, and all the other kids on the corridor laughed at him…oddly enough, he behaved brilliantly …. and confessed his misdemeanour to his form teacher later…. we both smiled.

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

I have a small bell! I trained all the kids that the bell meant I needed them to look my way/pause for next bit, and they needed to listen, as I didn’t like to, and wouldn’t shout. I use it when training adults too. Not wrecking my voice! Also, ground rules critical especially for PSHE. Also, see below –

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

I’m going to paste the comments from some of my former students here….

“Just talk to us like actual people without being degrading I remember you spoke to me about anything and that helped like an adult speaking to me like an adult and I dont think that gets enough credit sometimes we dont have a reason for being the way we are or sometimes we do and we just dont want to tall about it we want distraction sometimes”

“Just being you! You was interested you had time if I came.to see you after class u would always talk you didnt send me out of class report me to head of year or send a letter home ect and you were funny about it u werent serious or strict”

“You never hardly shouted but instead talked on a level that made us feel respected but knew we was wrong if we was wrong (like failing at slamming doors!) always made everyone feel comfortable with how comfortable you was with the stuff you was teaching even if it was something kids found embarrassing (I’ll never forget the class where you passed out pictures of different penis’ and vaginas to show us everyone’s looked different and went through all different words for them even if they was ‘swear words’). You was always really welcoming no subject was off limits with you and I felt I could always come to you if I needed over the other teachers and be able to speak about whatever I needed.”

“I feel in the lessons you allowed everyone to be equal to yourself. Which was very different from other lessons. You allowed a safe and open space for people to express themselves and their opinions. feel most students respected you for that.”

“You being a gay female teacher, put me at ease. I will always remember when I got the confidence to disclose my most kept secret. This has always been a defining point in my life. I do not recall seeing in the lessons of people challenging you due to this.”

 

What is your number 1 Behaviour top tip for teachers like you?

Firm but fair. And be real. Model it. Don’t shout. Ground rules.

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As a thank you contribution to Boo, a donation has been made to the charity of her choice – National Autistic Society

Want to share your unique experiences with behaviour? Fill in the form here to contribute

To read the other posts from Inspiring Educators in my community, in the Behaviour and YOU! Project, check out:

#1 – Behaviour and Teaching Assistants that used to be Teachers

#2 – Behaviour and Supply Teachers

#3 – Behaviour and Parents of Children with Complex Needs

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