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Welcome to Monday Email #16

Today in Ireland, we are entering the next phase of easing our restrictions. We can now go 20km from our homes which means from today, I can get to the sea. There was a time where I wasn't happy unless I could get to the other side of the world and now, the Irish Sea will do me just fine. I don't care what weather we have today, I'm heading straight to the sea for a swim as soon as I can. Happy Monday!

One Strategy for Behaviour

Children can have meltdowns and become distraught when they are faced with work that they consider to be too challenging or beyond them. 

This can be frustrating for a parent or teacher who may be in a rush to get a task done, feel they are well able to do the task or are upset that they "should" behave a certain way.

It can be easy to fall into the trap of going toe-to-toe with the child and issue ultimatums or get angry.


If they are truly becoming very upset and melting down, getting angry will not achieve much only adding stress on top of an already tough situation.

In future, if you are working with a child prone to this trigger, try the 80/20 Rule.

Use the first 80% of the task as work they can already do and succeed at and leave the final 20% as the challenging part. This helps them warm into the task and build their confidence. The 80% allows space for praising their effort and work rate that when they encounter the challenge, the chances of them attempting it are going to increase.

Once they start to attempt those challenging final parts (regardless of if they are getting it right or wrong), we can start to praise the effort and their willingness to try tricky work. We can then start to build up their tolerance. 75% of a task is easy, 25% is a challenge. 70% easy, 30% challenge etc.

Imposition leads to opposition and if we try to force children to complete tasks, we will only get additional resistance. This principle reduces the need for conflict and builds the child self-esteem to give them the long-lasting skill of trying.

One Strategy for Inclusion

I get uncomfortable writing publically about the anti-racism movements that are ongoing at the moment. I'm afraid I'll say the wrong thing when all I want to do is help in a tangible way. I acknowledge that more damage can be done through not talking about it at this point, however. 

I posted on Instagram (link here) about the importance of reflecting on your hidden curriculum - the things you are teaching children without realising. The things they pick up from you through watching, listening and interacting with you.

Perhaps, you're motivated to start talking about racism with children but don't know where to start? I've got a book recommendation if this is you. 

"Ron's Big Mission" is a true story about Ronald McNair. Ronald grew up to be an astronaut with NASA, but when he was 9 years old in South Carolina, he couldn't even take out a book in his name in the library. He was allowed inside to read, but he couldn't withdraw. Ron takes it upon himself to engage in some civil disobedience in his local library and refuse to leave without taking out the book in his name.

I love a couple of things about this story. First of all, it is a context that children can understand. Most children go to the library and withdraw books. They'd be shocked to read that someone would not be allowed to withdraw books because of their colour. Secondly, every white person in the book is very polite to Ron throughout. This will challenge the idea that racist behaviour is always blatantly cruel and filled with anger. The white people in the library offer to take the book out on Ron's behalf. They appear "kind". The story shines a light on everyday actions that white people might not notice. It's a great story for opening the conversation about the injustices and need to speak out.

If you want to watch the story, click here.

If you want to check it out on the BookDepository, click here.

One Thought

There are three commonly talked about areas when we discuss improving the quality of teaching:

1. What we teach.
2. How we teach it.
3. When we teach it.

Generally, when someone tries to improve teaching, it is in one of these areas.

A fourth area exists, however, that doesn't get enough attention in my opinion: the Teacher's Mindset. This is discussed in research in terms of the teacher's ability to behave intelligently when faced with problems, the answers to which are not immediately known.

Every day, teachers are faced with problems. Big and small. Unexpected and expected. Short, medium and long term. It makes sense that if a teacher can improve their ability to handle problems, this will positively impact their teaching.

When it comes to working with children who have social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, I think the area of teacher's mindset becomes even more important. Their ability to handle adversity, setbacks and stress can either improve or exacerbate a situation. The teacher's mindset can impact how we perceive a problem and what we believe a child can achieve.

We can improve our mindset through consuming personal development books and podcasts, practising self-care and building our resilience among other activities.

It's an area worth remembering and developing when considering areas for professional improvement.

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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