Graham Chatterley has kindly provided this guest post for the Axcis blog. Graham is an ex-special school leader, father, SEND consultant and trainer. In this blog he tells us all about his involvement with Teacher Hug Radio and his involvement in “That Behaviour Show”.
I’m not gonna lie, the 15 months since leaving my senior leadership post has not been what I expected. I was hoping to pay my bills with training and consultancy work and grow my company Changing Perceptions. I love training people and I love working with schools to help understand behaviour better. Just as this was starting to happen, COVID pulled the rug in spectacular fashion and the time has been more stop than start. It has however, led me on some paths I otherwise may not have walked.
Partly due to time, partly due to networking opportunities but mostly due to isolation, 2020 was a big year for my social media presence. Advice I had received multiple time was that Twitter is a way to get yourself known. I’d been on Twitter for a while but didn’t really understand it and didn’t really like it. I preferred LinkedIn as it was more professional and lacked the nastiness. I’d found “edutwitter” quite challenging initially and had nearly given up altogether. Then as I persisted, I started to build a network of really great people. There was still unpleasantness on there but it was outweighed by positive interactions. I found many brilliant and like-minded individuals who saw the importance of trauma-informed practice, neuroscience, behaviour as communication and other areas vital to helping our children.
However, it also showed me another side of education I had been less aware of. Traditional approaches to discipline and behaviour weren’t new to me and I’d worked with schools to shift them in the past, but zero tolerance, flattening the grass and using isolation booths as punishment was new to me. Many of the early interactions that had nearly put me off Twitter had been with advocators of these practices.
Before lockdown I’d attended the LosetheBooths event in Sheffield. So many brilliant voices in one building – it was a truly wonderful event with a very clear message. That message wasn’t just that isolation booths being used as punishment is wrong, inhumane, very damaging and monumentally flawed as a behaviour strategy, but also agreement that there is another way. I sat in that school hall listening to Paul Dix, Mark Finnis, Steven Baker and Chris Dyson. I did workshops with Laura Allen, Mary Meredith and Jules Daulby and developed some pretty bad impostor syndrome about the work I was doing!
However, the strangest thing that happened that day was when Paul Dix (author of ‘When the Adult changes, everything changes’) recognised me. We’d been involved in some of the same Twitter conversations and he liked my ethos, ideas and willingness to stand up for my beliefs. Following that event I wrote the blog ‘What about the forgotten children’ for Axcis but I also gave a copy to Paul which he used for LosetheBooths. And now I am going to be part of the next event! (When that next event happens I don’t know but I highly recommend people go!) I’ve never seen an event with more than 3 speakers of that level for less than £100’s, this was £30 a ticket and had dozens of great speakers!
Sadly, just a few weeks following the event, the first lockdown was upon us. Then came ‘Rebooting behaviour after Lockdown’. I felt that this was a really unpleasant document. It told schools what behaviour needed to be cracked down on and that it shouldn’t be assumed that children had suffered loss. It worried me because to assume that all children would be fine meant the opposite for those that aren’t! Not knowing the difference between bereavement and loss also doesn’t help. Children may not have lost a person but they have lost routines, friendships and trusted adults. Banking on them being thrilled to be back and hoping they are fine is not a strategy you would expect from the government behaviour advisor. I questioned the document and its authoritarian nature but was promptly blocked on Twitter. I felt if I was going to be critical of that approach, I should devise my own. I put together the “Sequential Approach”, that evolved from a poster, to an 8 minute video, to a webinar, to a resource pack and ended up being a book called ‘Building Positive Behaviour’.
This now has it’s own training course to go alongside and I have a few schools using it to scaffold a change in behaviour policy. The year continued to be stop start but there are lots of interesting projects on the horizon. Possibly the most exciting of which was when Paul Dix offered me the opportunity to co-host That Behaviour Show on the brand new Teacher Hug Radio. Our show is simply a chat about behaviour, we usually answer 4 questions, either sent in to us or that we have seen on social media. We have covered some challenging topics like the use of rewards and sanctions, exclusions and frameworks to name but a few. Sometime the content can get a little heavy so we will have a little joke, tell stories or some little questions to lighten the mood. More recently we have had some guests to join us and over the next month we will have Mark Finnis – who has probably forgotten more about restorative practice than most of us will ever know, Rachel Tomlinson – who leads a school without rewards and sanctions and is the best school I have ever visited, Jamie Hallett- nominated for Welsh headteacher of the year and someone who was a massive influence on my relational practice and Lisa Cherry – A leading voice and practitioner on trauma informed practice. If you would like to check us out, we are on every Sunday at 7pm.
Our show is just a tiny part of the station though. Just as the LosetheBooths event had an incredible collection of education voices. Teacher Hug Radio takes that to another level. With shows for everyone; lots of fun, music and incredible content. It’s been a really tough 12 months for teachers and this station that runs from 8am to 10pm Saturday and Sunday is there to give some positivity, love and entertainment to educators. I’m honoured and thrilled to be involved, but if I wasn’t I’d be listening.
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