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Nikki Cunningham-Smith is an assistant headteacher, SENCO and centre lead in a pupil referral unit. Nikki writes a behaviour blog for TES and contributed to the book What They Didn't Teach Me on My PGCE. Nikki is a regular speaker for BAMEed Network and also appeared on Greg James and Bella Mackie's podcast Teach Me A Lesson.
The behaviour management survival guide for new teachers | I love the title, it really sets the scene, as so many of us were given the advice, that as new teachers, we should not smile till Christmas to show a tough and professional approach and a complete lack of familiarity with our pupils. As the author points out in the closing chapter, we should smile, as we have chosen the profession and we are working with rewarding, uplifting, humorous children, and young adults. This book is written with great honesty and understanding, and without patronising, it manages to read in a supportive and helpful way. The writer demonstrates a great empathy with new teachers and understands the difficulties faced in those first few years when you don’t have experiences to fall back on. I like the way she stresses that if a teacher does give up it is not a whim, but a ‘soul searching decision’ to quit. It is also interesting that she talks about the importance of finding the right school for the teacher. A lot is written about the right school for a pupil, but she also speaks of teachers leaving the profession, not because they cannot do their job, but because the school, its principles and ethos are not right for them. It is packed with lots of amusing and relatable anecdotes from an array of NQTs including some from the author. The book is divided into chapters dealing with the various elements of behavioural management, including relevant examples, tips on how to manage such problems as embarrassment or losing control of a lesson, and a section called ‘reflective space’ with room to record your own scenarios and experiences. All this information is so helpful to any teacher, not just new ones; teaching us the importance of being able to laugh at yourself and just as the children do, to learn from our mistakes. A refreshing and helpful guide book for all teachers.