Cesar Milan – Dog Whisperer

If you have read my teaching philosophy page, you will know how Monty Roberts has influenced my teaching style. Horses aren’t the only animal that influences elements of my teaching.

This years cohort of Bath Spa Teachers observed my Year 10 Volleyball lesson this week as an opportunity to observe and raise for discussion behaviour management strategies. I managed to dip in and out of conversation with the BST’s to give them scenarios to consider and perhaps point out subtle things that they may not have noticed.

One of the pupils in my group has a statement for ‘oppositinoal defiance disorder’ or ODD. It’s taken a while to get the measure of him, but I now feel I have got there.

My advice for dealing with all pupils (not just pupils with ODD) was similar to that of Cesar Milan’s dog training techniques. Calm assertion (as opposed to aggression) underpins all of Cesar’s work. My justification for remaining calm, even when faced with poor, dangerous, disrespctful, disruptive behaviours include:

  • Remaining calm allows you to model the appropriate behaviour you are expecting from your pupils.
  • Increased adrenaline (if shouting) often results in increased adrenaline from the pupil, making the situation worse, not better.
  • If the pupils behaviour is in part an effort to wind you up, they realise it isn’t going to happen, they can feel a little silly that they didn’t elicit the desired response, and are less likley to try to ‘push your buttons’ next time.
  • Remaining calm allows you to retain a positive atmosphere in the class, essential for the learning of the other pupils in the class (ironic if you are frustrated that a pupil is disrupting the learning of others, when actually your shouting is even more disruptive).
  • You still need to assert your authority in the class, by enforcing the school/classroom rules, but this can be done in an appropriate manner.

Other behaviour management points of discussion included:

  • get pupils active and engaged early
  • catch the pupils being good as early as possible, to build a positive environment
  • rotate groups around if pupils could spark off being in the same group for too long (especially in a competitive conext).
  • nip small, undesired behaviours in the bud by reinforcing the desired behaviours, before it gets out of hand. 
  • Use pupils with short attention spans in demos to limit possible disruption during task breaks.
  • Promote / reward sportsmanship and fair play, to encourage all pupils to follow suit.

There are so many more strategies to consider. The skill is picking the right strategy for the right group / pupil.


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