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Perception

‘Love at first sight.’ ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’ ‘To assume makes an Ass of u and me.’

Mostly, we just can’t help ourselves, we look, we judge, we perceive or assume.

Some teachers/lecturers/trainers standing in front of a class of pupils/students/trainees will make the assumption that the words of wisdom flowing from their tongue are unique, inspiring and meaningful. That these words alone will impart a sense of respect and motivation from their class and once received is a question of ‘job done’.

For those who have invested the required effort and energy required to ascertain previous experience, to consult effectively with previous reports renders positive results and will ensure that their captive audience will indeed be inspired to succeed – always a reflection on the ‘teacher’.

Years ago I supported a secondary maths class. The teacher had a job on his hands, no question. Three times a week he was faced with a disparate group who would find any excuse not to participate. One pupil in particular became the bane of Mr. X’s life and he would mutter disdainfully under his breath: ‘Here we go again, every Thursday, after lunch, and I have to face him. Just wait, there will be trouble.’

Having heard this for three successive weeks as I was getting to know the class, I replied, ‘So what are you going to do about it?’ To which Mr. X replied, ‘Oh, the usual, put him on detention, send him to his Guidance teacher.’

I stood my ground and explained: ‘I mean, what are you going to do about it? What are you going to do differently to break this cycle of negativity?’ He looked genuinely askance. ‘You’re the teacher,’ I continued, ‘its up to you to change things.’ He eventually asked ‘How?’ and we discussed various strategies including a mix of Assessment for Learning techniques, Time Out, and added responsibility for the pupil. Things did change – for as long as I was in the classroom. A few months later, I moved to another class requiring support and within 2 weeks the old patterns in the other class had re-emerged. Eventually the young person was moved to a different class and thrived.

On another occasion, one of our amazing team of support workers was faced with a very angry pupil whose home life was, to say the least, challenging. He had shouted at the teacher, walked out of a class, slammed a few doors and was in dire need of positive intervention to be calmed so that restorative work could begin.

He was eventually tracked down by the wonderful and highly experienced support worker, and when he saw her shouted, ‘F**k off, you fat old ugly c**t’. She stood her ground, smiled and calmly replied, ‘Don’t – ever – call – me – fat’. He smiled, immediatley relaxed and was able to participate in support work.

Who are we to judge what state young people are in? The fact they have turned up at school at all is an indication of their willingness to engage at some level and have an education. In spite of all the challenges that life throws at them, they have identified a few adults who they can trust.

We owe it to them to develop their enthusiasm and energy.

Perception – a poem

You appeared in front of me, a moth to the flame

how was I to know I’d not be the same?

A friend set us up, she thought it might work,

and then when I met you, I just had to smirk.

Your black glossy hair and deep brown eyes,

your healthy physique was quite a surprise.

You seemed quite at home, but loved being out –

walking close next to me, love was never in doubt.

We quickly become one, it was clear to see,

that with you in my life, I’d never be free.

Not that I wanted to be without you,

quite the reverse, and I know that you too,

look forward to seeing me day after day,

my wonderful dog, Jack, long may you stay.

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