Monthly Archives: December 2016

Keeping a Calm Classroom

Over the years, people have commented on how calm my classroom appears to be. Believe me, I don’t feel that they are anywhere near as calm as I would like them to be at times…

However, I have been reflecting recently on why this might be, and what it is I do when working in a special classroom. These are in no particular order.

Class rules

Keep these as simple as possible. For many years, my class rules have been ‘Kind, Quiet, Work’, and that goes for the adults in the room too!

Keep Calm

Easier said than done, particularly when Mary is trying to throttle Joe, but resist the desire to shout, unless it’s as a safety warning (e.g. ‘That’s hot, put it down’). It doesn’t help students who are probably already feeling anxious, and a stream of angry shouting about why you shouldn’t throw your shoes is not going to sink in.

Mind your language

If you are working with students who have functional understanding at a two or three word level, then that is how much information you should be giving them at a time. If Shane has been acting in an inappropriate manner, it is better to say ‘No, don’t touch Sam’s bottom’, rather than giving a long list of why it is inappropriate and what dire consequences may occur.

Also, be wary of a students’ processing time, and avoid repeating instructions over and over, as this will act to ‘reset’ the instruction, taking longer for it to be followed.

Minimise disruption

Where you have one or two students who find learning difficult and so display some challenging behaviours, it is better to try and remove that particular child from the classroom and to a safe space/outdoor area while they calm down. This means that the rest of the students can stay in their known classroom and get back to the work that has been set without having to walk the corridors looking for another available learning space.

Catch them being good

Goes without saying, doesn’t it? Lots of praise for all sorts of things builds positive relationships which you can then build on further. Students (and adults!) love being told that they are doing a ‘good job’.

Have consistent expectations

Don’t let a student learn that kicking off will get them out of their least favourite activities. If Joan is going to hide under the table every time it’s class reading (even though she is very good at reading), calling you all the names under the sun, work with others who are doing what they are supposed to be doing, while reminding Joan at appropriate intervals that it is time for reading, and when she is ready you will come and work with her.

Routine

Establish routines, and stick to them. This helps when support staff (or the teacher) is away, in that students will know what is going to happen, regardless of who is in the room. It might be a routine for the way lessons go, the morning/afternoon ‘circle time’ and/or getting ready to go home at the end of the day.

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#OnFire – Renny Marr

Unedited version of this month’s article. Such a nice chap to interview.

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Now in his second season with the Blaze, back up netminder Renny Marr has been showing us what he’s made of recently, standing in for Brian Stewart in games against the Sheffield Steelers, as well as starting in the pre-season friendly against Manchester Storm. He has also been a regular on international squads, icing for Scotland U17s, GB U18s and more recently for GB U20s.

How does it feel to be chosen to represent your country? Renny said, “Ever since I was young it’s been a dream to play for the GB seniors, so being able to play for Scotland growing up, and being selected for the GB U20s is always a really proud moment. It shows that the work I have put in is paying off and that I’m getting recognised. To be honest, up until I was 15 or so, I wasn’t really thinking about playing for GB – when you are younger you want to play in the NHL or professionally – but until I was 15 or 16 I wasn’t thinking about that, I was playing for fun. Then it got to the stage where I was training with the Flyers in Fife and getting on the bench, so I really thought that if I was improving a lot that I could maybe make the jump to the Elite league, and luckily two years ago I was able to do that.”

Renny played for GB U20s in a training camp in Slovakia, with Head Coach Tommy Watkins, earlier in the season. It included playing the Slovakia U20 team and a team from OHA Okanagan, Austria. He said “Slovakia were quite a challenge and Okanagan were also a tough challenge. It was a good test for the guys who are hopefully going to be going to the World Championships in December.”

More recently, he played another warm up match to prepare for the World Championships which are taking place in Hungary, and include Slovenia, Poland, Italy and Ukraine in the group. This time, the team took on the Hull Pirates EPL team, where Renny lined up against his brother, Jordan, with both brothers shipping three goals each.

Renny is really positive about the call up to the U20s. He explained, “I feel that it’s given me a lot more confidence, being in the mix with the other goalies. Some play in America, some play in Britain. Within the group of five or six I want to get better every day and make a push for being the number one goalie. I feel like that, along with working with Nathan Craze, the GB goalie coach, has really helped. When we were away for the week I felt like I was getting better every day, and Craze was just helping me out giving me pointers and tips, which I worked on since I’ve come back here to Coventry. Getting the call up was really good experience for me.”

Of course, he’s also working hard week in, week out with the Blaze, learning alongside Brian Stewart. “The work I’m doing with Stewy is definitely helping – it’s not lessons every day, but it’s watching him, speaking to him and learning from his experiences. Even just watching him in practice, I sometimes pick things up and trying them out for myself.”

He has had a couple of chances to put his learning into practice this season, how has having that extra ice time helped? “The first five minutes of the game against Sheffield here weren’t great, but once you get settled in and you’re playing, you don’t really think about that you are playing professional hockey, it’s just another game. I don’t really think about it too much, especially since I don’t have too much experience. It’s good to play games against Sheffield and Manchester who are going to give you a challenge. It means to me, that if I want to play at that level that I always have to get better. It’s shown that I can perform at that level, but it’s always making sure that I am pushing myself to be a starter in this league, to be better and to play more often.”

As well as sharpening his own skills, Renny spends time helping the goalies in the Blaze Academy. “Nathan Craze comes to Coventry with his goalie clinic, so I’ll help him work with some of the goalies,” he said, adding, “I come down and coach the goalies for the Academy sessions once a month or so. It’s good to speak to some of the parents and the kids, to help them get better. When I was growing up, there wasn’t a lot of that help and support for goalies in Fife, so I feel like by giving that to the kids it gives them something to aim for, so they can imagine themselves being like me or other young British goalies that are trying to play professionally.”

 

 

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