Do’s and Don’ts of Assertive behaviour

Making a request


  • Be direct and to the point
  • Give a reason for the request
  • Respect the other person’s right to say no


  •       Apologise
  •       Justify yourself
  •       Sell the request with flattery
  •       Take advantage of people’s good nature
  •       Take refusal personally

Saying No


  • Keep the reply brief and avoid rambling
  • Give a reason
  • Be honest about limitations/possibilities
  • Ask for more time to consider the request
  • Acknowledge the requester


  •       Keep apologising
  •       Feel guilty for saying no
  •       Invent excuses


Disagreeing/stating your views


  • State your disagreement clearly
  • Express doubts in a constructive way (not - “That won’t work” try – “Let’s see what other options there are”)
  • Use “I” statements to distinguish your opinion
  • Give reasons for your disagreement
  • Recognise other people’s point of view
  • Be open-minded and willing to listen


  •       Be angry or patronising
  •       Be sarcastic
  •       Sulk if others disagree!

Raising the Age in 2013

Do we appear to have our heads in the sand about the impact of 2013 on our colleges?  Particularly FE.  Or is it just me??

What I mean to say is, some of our less enthusiastic learners will soon be populating our colleges. What measures are being put in place to help teaching and support staff to manage these reluctant learners?

I’m definitely a ‘cup half-full’ kind of person and I do believe that continuing on in education and training post 16 will be a fantastic opportunity for our school-leavers.  They will gain new work and life skills, not just for the job market as we have always known it; it’s also a great opportunity to shape up for the new uncertain world which we are all having to adjust to.

But we have to get it right.  We can’t afford to lose sight of the burgeoning cost of supporting non-workers.  Our...

Behaviour – Why ME?

I remember precisely the moment when my mainstream classroom became an inclusive one.  And it caused a great deal of anguish.  I was informed by Additional Learning Support that one of my students would be bringing along a Learning Support Assistant due to the fact that he (the student) had no hands.  I was outraged – how was I supposed to teach ICT to someone with no hands?  I ranted on to the ALS manager but she told me I ought to see how the student progressed before making judgments.  Angry and confused about the consequences to my nice neat lesson plan, I argued and begged but she did not capitulate.  Who was I judging, me or the student?  As it transpired, the student was an Afghanistan refugee who was the victim of torture.  His hands (and some of his toes) had been removed as a consequence of being...

It’s not unusual; it’s ODD (Part 2)

Helping those with ODD
How can we support young people exhibiting Oppositional Defiant Disorder in academic settings? How can we help them to achieve and make them ready for work?

Transition to college can be greatly assisted by offering early meetings. Enlist the support of the school SENCO to provide some off-course support and behavioural goal setting, plus a named staff member (or mentor) to go to in times of stress. Preventative behavioural measures are more successful, less stressful and easier to manage than reacting to ugly episodes. Strategies are similar to supporting or teaching learners with ADHD. These learners are disorganised and/or forgetful and may need checklists to remember items for class. Repeat directions; write them down, say them out loud more than once and check for understanding. Sometimes it will be impossible to give more than one direction at a time and only the last one may be remembered. Teachers and learning support assistants should always check that the learner understands the tasks set, however long it takes.

Some young people with ODD find it...

It’s not unusual; it’s ODD (Part 1)

I first wrote this article for SEN Magazine and it featured in their August 2011 edition

The acronym ODD may be seen as rather an ironic one for such a misunderstood and difficult-to-determine behaviour disorder. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), however, is alive and well, and living in our college classrooms. Looking at research papers and observing young people who display ODD, I think that these symptoms were evident in some of the people I went to secondary school with in the 1970s, who were labelled “strange” or, indeed, “odd”. Our teachers did not cope well with ODD and the kids almost never went to college. Did these schoolmates go on to lead successful lives? I don't know, because they escaped from school as soon as possible and disappeared from sight. Now, though, college beckons and will soon be mandatory at age 16.

ODD rarely occurs on its own. Indeed, it is estimated...

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