An Excerpt from the transcription "School – pressure of performance with peers, classroom and sports"
As to the positions that I held within schools – they were various. Most of the time I did substitute teaching. so I was in a group of schools across two counties, so I got called by an agency to go to this school or that school. Now the way you get invited back to a school is entirely dependent upon what the children feedback to the staff because they need to know that the children are safe with the teacher in the room. And I managed to do a lot of really good work and, let's say, that went under the radar. A lot of the work I did was under the radar. But let me tell you, every single school always wanted me to go back. I never had a school say, "We don't want you coming back here because of what you taught." So they always knew that it wasn't necessarily curricula but they knew that the children would be leaving the classroom inspired, and they knew that was a good thing for the school.
Now I'll give you an example of one school where they contracted me to the work that I do. And this is how the interview went. It's very simple. I got called up from a buddy that I knew from the gym who ran the behavior support unit and this is how it went. He rang me on Thursday and said, "Oh hi Dean. Can you come for an interview tomorrow at the school?"
And I said, "Sure, what's the job?"
And he said, "Well, you'll find out when you get here."
I said, "Ok."
So I got there, he was there and the head teacher was there and this is how the interview went:
"Hi, we have heard ... we don't know what it is you do, but we heard you're good at it. Can you come and do it at our school?" (laughing)
That was the introduction. So what I did in that school was, they wanted me four days out of five and they wanted me to run what they called their senior team call-out which is basically going round the school, firefighting, basically dealing with all the difficult situations wherever they appeared in the school. So I would wander the school with a headset on and they'd say, "Right, go to room 37."
And one day I ran the behavior support unit while that guy did his head teacher training and it was a wonderful time and I got to know a lot of children. In fact I got to know all the children, I just couldn't remember all their names. The effect that that had on the school ended up being lasting... and the only reason I know that is because I did actually return to the school at a later date and talked to staff.
But some of the most interesting feedback that I got from the school before leaving was things like this... the staff knew that something had happened – I did a bit of training with the staff too... this wasn't the school I did a research project in, that was an earlier school... The staff knew that something different was happening and they were having children come to their classrooms that had previously been the most difficult pupils they had to deal with, always being sent out, always getting in trouble, never getting on with their work, completely having a turnaround. And they'd say to me, "I don't know what you did with that student but keep doing it because they're a completely different individual – they're actually coming to class, they're doing their work, they're getting on, they're friendly which is very unusual!" – things like that.
But some of the most interesting feedback I got was this – the ground staff, the people who see what's happening to the infrastructure of the buildings, they said, "Dean, since you've been in this school, there is less vandalism, there is less litter, and there is definitely less fighting." And that, I thought, was phenomenal.
So I'm not talking to the kids about fighting, I'm not talking to them about litter, I'm not talking to them about graffiti, but when children start feeling better about themselves as individuals their behavior just changes.
Because everyone in the universe, not just in the world, everyone in the universe knows the difference between right and wrong. You don't have to teach that stuff. It's natural to us. And the only reason we do the other stuff and get things wrong is because we're not feeling good about ourselves.
So yes, I got offered a lot of contracts and I didn't take any of them because I loved the freedom of going from school to school to school meeting and getting to know lots and lots and lots of different children and staff and actually sharing this understanding in a broader way than I could if I just took a contract where I'd be pinned down to one job. So it is a difficult question and as I said at the start – the simple answer is, you've got to have somebody who can make things happen in a school somewhere near the top who hears something. That's who you need to get the exposure to, because they're the only people who can... you know, you get classroom teachers and you get them on board and they love what you do and they can see it makes a difference, if it's not from the top down, someone near the top isn't seeing it, isn't listening, isn't hearing, it's very, very, very difficult to roll this out in a school. So we've got our work cut out – I know that.