Warning! A Play in Four Acts

boy draws helixes on whiteboard with marker pens


Warning! A Play in Four Acts

Warning! A Play in 4 Acts

๐˜ผ๐™˜๐™ฉ ๐™ค๐™ฃ๐™š: ๐˜›๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ง๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜Ž๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ฌ ๐˜ฎ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ด๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ฎ ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ.

Trainer: โ€œwhen children โ€˜act upโ€™, we should interpret their behaviour as an attempt to communicate rather than something to be judged against a code of conduct. If we empathise with the feelings being indirectly expressed, and correctly understand the unmet needs of the child, then we can act to meet them, with positive results.โ€

โ€œApply this in the classroom and report back at the next session on the impact this has had on you practice. โ€œ

๐˜ผ๐™˜๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™ฌ๐™ค: ๐˜›๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ธ๐˜ฐ ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜Ž๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜บ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ธ๐˜ฌ

Lauren: โ€œI was explaining how the class should do the written work. When I went to write the questions up on the board, I saw one of the girls (who was frequently cheeky and provocative) had got hold of the board pen. My initial reaction was one of annoyance. But before reacting I tried to think about what this girl neededโ€.

โ€œSomething inspired me to say, โ€˜would you like to write the questions up for me?โ€™ and she said she would. I left her to it and went around the class checking the other girls were able to get on. Then I went to the board and said, โ€˜you will get behind! Would you like me to finish the questions?โ€™ She said yes - and got on with her work!โ€

Trainer: โ€œan excellent example of Good Relationships skills!โ€. (Big smiles).

๐˜ผ๐™˜๐™ฉ ๐™ฉ๐™๐™ง๐™š๐™š: ๐˜ˆ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ค๐˜ต, ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ธ๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ค๐˜ฉ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ด๐˜ฉ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ช๐˜ด ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฅ๐˜ฐ๐˜ต๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ ๐˜ข๐˜ต ๐˜”๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฅ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ.

๐˜ผ๐™˜๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง: ๐˜”๐˜ช๐˜ฅ๐˜ฅ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ฐ๐˜ญ: ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ๐˜น๐˜ต ๐˜ต๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ ๐˜ด๐˜ฆ๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ช๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ

Deputy head: โ€œI was teaching a group of children with special needs and one of them got hold of the board pen. I remembered what you had said at the first session and said, โ€˜do you want to write the work up on the board?โ€™ She said she did. So, I found her something to do and went round the class helping the other students.

Then I looked up and she had drawn a cock-and-balls on the board!โ€

๐‚๐”๐‘๐“๐€๐ˆ๐ ๐ƒ๐Ž๐–๐!!!

Thereโ€™s no โ€˜moralโ€™ to this story but there are some valuable lessons we can learn.ย 

There are a number of valuable lessons to be learned from Laurenโ€™s narrative.

  • When she asked the girl whether she would write the work on the board, she was actually asking the girl for help in meeting her teaching needs โ€“ it was her next task.
  • By doing so she clearly met the girlโ€™s needs (we donโ€™t have to analyse them).
  • She invited the girl to get her needs met by helping the teacher meet her own (demonstrating reciprocity - one of the trust-builders in the Good Relationship Method).
  • She trusted the girl, and in doing so made herself vulnerable for a purpose.
  • She gave the girl a choice (demonstrating free agency - a fundamental trust builder).

Whereas, the deputy Head simply took the anecdote and turned it into a โ€˜magic solutionโ€™: โ€œif a student grabs the board pen let them write on the boardโ€!

Nothing in the Good relationships method should be treated as a magic bullet magic solution. Anย  effective relational practitioner is someone who has learned to change themselves before trying to change others.ย  Somebody seeking understanding themselves and others, not magic solutions.

Relational practitioners are always seeking to understand empathically and to respond in the here and now to the unique individuals they are relating to at the time.

Itโ€™s not that difficult!

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

The group had beenย discussing the need to safely share their feelings with pupils.ย  ย 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.ย ย 

She left the session 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.

โ€œI couldnโ€™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 composureโ€.

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, โ€œIt was quite eerie - the class were all perfectly behaved!"

Hopefully, you will not be thinking 'Ah โ€“ if I have a difficult class all I need to do is start crying and all will be wellโ€™!!!


Lesleyโ€™s strategy worked because her actions were authentically โ€˜from the heartโ€™. 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 didnโ€™t demand it.ย  When we become fully alive as human beings in our professional roles there is much more scope for the unexpected โ€“ in a positive way.

Freedom through control leads to a narrowing of the options because the primary value judgment is โ€˜can I control itโ€™, 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 โ€˜on the flyโ€™ which can have such a positive impact.


Copyright and usage

The content of this article may be used only for non-commercial purposes under the following conditions

.1 Teachingย childrenย or trainingย staff in-house

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

Any resources used should be used unedited or altered in any way.

2. For other non-commercial activities

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

Any resources used should be used unedited or altered in any way.

Any quotes references or other usage should be attributed to the author and citedย as follows:ย 


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