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Welcome to Monday Email #17

This opening paragraph is becoming a real issue. I wrote out two different stories that have nothing to do with behaviour and inclusion to try to give a bit more context to who I am and inject a bit of personality into these weekly emails. I deleted them both though because I just wasn't happy with them after spending about 30 minutes on the least important part of this whole e-mail. This story about the stories is probably the biggest insight into my personality I could give you!

One Strategy for Behaviour

Some children have to be taught how to lose.

Losing can be a trigger for major meltdowns or tantrums. It can be a very frustrating trigger as you may feel that they are behaving that way because they are spoilt or used to getting their own way all the time. Maybe, you want to take the tough love approach and just allow them to lose so they "get used to it".

Regardless of the reason, the behaviour and trigger need to be dealt with if it is a barrier to their learning and development or if it's hindering the learning and development of others.

The strategy here is to teach the skill. Teach them how to lose. Repeatedly teach it. Teach it explicitly and constantly remind them of it BEFORE they have lost or the opportunity is there to lose.

Begin by playing a game with the child and allowing them to win.

Exaggerate your behaviour and talk. Tell them you are disappointed you lost but you had fun and you're happy for them. Ask them to play again. Repeat this a number of times. Ask them what did you do when you lost. Ensure they know the key behaviours you performed and the feelings you felt. 

Challenge them to do the same. Explain that you want them to lose on purpose and see if they can do it too.

After some time, you can start to play a quick board game or any playground game. The winner is awarded 2 points but a gracious loser is awarded 3 points. Either way, they are winning.

Overcoming this will take time and be a gradual process. Do not expect it to generalise from the specific game to every situation straight away. Teaching the skill and constantly reminding them what to do when they lose will help them overcome the trigger and slowly reduce the intensity and frequency of their meltdowns.

One Strategy for Inclusion

During my undergrad, I was lucky enough to be sent to Denmark to attend two weeks of lectures from a wide range of international lecturers. One of the lectures I attended was around intercultural education. 

I remember being struck by the pitfalls to avoid when attempting to embrace the different cultures you have in the classroom. The pitfalls included:
  • The teacher focuses only on knowledge education.
  • They only focus on anti-racism, respect and tolerance.
  • They only focus on differences.
  • They only focus on folklore.
  • The idea that intercultural education is only for classes with different cultures.
  • They reduce it to doing just projects.
These pitfalls are easy to fall into. They also could lead to that analysis paralysis where you just ignore it for fear of doing the wrong thing. 

Thankfully, the lecturer provided one simple and actionable strategy for embracing culture. They suggested setting up a table in the room where children can put objects that they want to talk about, things that are important to them. The things that are important to them are their culture. 

I like this strategy as its child-centred. They are bringing in the items that they consider important and educating the class about them. They are not bringing in the things that the teacher considers important and it is not agenda-driven. When there are a couple of spare minutes in the day, the teacher can pick up an item and ask about it and the child can explain what it is and why it's important. Some objects may be different from what other children may bring in, some may be the same. The children will organically spot where cultures overlap and differ. 

It's something simple worth considering as a small step in the right direction for promoting inclusivity.

One Thought

I was getting a tour of a special school during that trip to Denmark. The school was really high-end and all the latest technology. I had never seen anything like it before. I was only nineteen at the time so I didn't exactly have extensive experience of my own education system in Ireland, but I knew most schools weren't at this level of funding.

When we finished the tour, I asked a lecturer how can we ever reach that level of inclusion when we don't have the money.

I'll never forget the intensity of his response.

After all the theory we had sat through and high-end facilities we had visited, he was adamant that the three most important things to have when promoting inclusion were:

1) A willingness to put in the time.
2) A true desire to include.
3) Organisation

It was obvious he meant every word he said and I was left in no doubt. It often pops into my mind from time to time, especially when people are pointing out problems or reasons why something won't work.

If you've got the three things in the list above, it's highly unlikely that you won't be successful at overcoming a barrier to inclusion.

If you're missing any of those three things, however, it doesn't matter what your resources are or how much money you have, if you don't want to do it or don't want to put the time into it, it won't get done.

If you have read to this point, you must have found something of note here. I'd appreciate you sharing this email or the contents of it by screenshots, forwarding, social media or any means necessary and send people to to get their own. Thanks for the support.

Behave yourself,


P.S I have recently launched a course for teachers in New South Wales, Australia. The course is fully accredited and contributes 2 hours to their NESA registered professional development.

If you know any teachers in Sydney or anywhere in New South Wales, I would massively appreciate you sending them the link.


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