Lesley's remarkable story

Smiling teacher has be kind written on palms of hand


Lesley's remarkable story

Another trainee from the Greyhawk school sessions, Lesley, had an even more remarkable experience.

Lesley had been a keen participant in the Good Relationships training sessions.  The group had been discussing the need to safely share their feelings with pupils.  

The rationale for this is explained very well by Marshall Rosenberg in his book Nonviolent communications: a language of life. He encourages us to request for our needs to be met, and to share the feelings we have about that. 

She left session one determined to apply the approach strategically with her very difficult year nine group (14-year-olds).

She reflected for several days on her role as a teacher, her needs in the class, and the things which were preventing her from achieving the outcomes she wanted. At the next lesson she quietened the students down and began her explanation to the class, using relational communication skills.

To her shock and horror as she reached the point where she was describing her feelings of frustration and anxiety, she began to cry.

“I couldn’t stop weeping, but I knew I had to carry on and tell them what my needs were and how I was asking them to meet them Luckily this happened at the end of the lesson and I quickly dismissed them and regained my composure”.

Lesley explained how before the next lesson she was on a knife-edge of anxiety about how the class would react. She thought they might see her as an easy target and raise their disruptive efforts to new heights.

Instead, as Lesley said, “It was quite eerie - the class were all perfectly behaved!"


Hopefully, you will not be thinking 'Ah – if I have a difficult class all I need to do is start crying and all will be well’!!!


Lesley’s strategy worked because her actions were authentically ‘from the heart’. Her tears merely underlined the depth of her feelings for the children and their learning and she connected these feelings not to self-pity but to her needs.

She requested exactly what she needed them to do - she didn’t demand it.  When we become fully alive as human beings in our professional roles there is much more scope for the unexpected – in a positive way.

Freedom through control leads to a narrowing of the options because the primary value judgment is ‘can I control it’, and the more options there are the more there is to control. On the other hand, control through freedom invites the unexpected, the initiative from the other, and encourages the kind of creative thinking ‘on the fly’ which can have such a positive impact.

It's worth reading Warning! a Play in Four Acts for another excellent example of what not to do! 


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.1 Teaching children or training staff in-house

The content must be acknowledged as the work of Dr Adam Abdelnoor

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Dr Adam Abdelnoor, 2018, The relational approach: user guide and manual (submitted manuscript)