Episode 210

Creating Positive Classroom Culture

Recorded by | Run time: 39 min, 13 sec


This week, Perth teacher Hannah Girling joins me for a live recording to talk all about building a positive vibe in your classroom.

Hannah Girling Creating Positive Classroom Culture

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Positive Classroom Culture – Full Episode Transcript

Bron: Our lovely guest for today is Hannah Girling. Hi Hannah, how are you?

Hannah: Thanks Bron, hi. I’m good. Thank you.

Bron: Yeah, that’s great. Awesome thank you so much for joining. And of course, before we begin, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land, where we now stand and pay my respect to elders past, present, and future.

So welcome to our special guests Hannah from Miss Girling’s Classroom, you can find her on Instagram, I’ll pop the link in the show notes, who is going to talk about the importance of building a positive and kind culture in the classroom. Hannah is in her sixth year of teaching and she’s passionate about teaching the upper grades, building strong and trusting relationships and visible wellbeing for both teachers and students. And that’s such an important thing at the moment.

Thank you again for being here, Hannah!

Hannah: Thank you so much for inviting me.

Bron: Yes. It’s been a goal of mine to get you on the podcast for some time, and it’s been a little bit hard to coordinate with time differences and differences in holidays. I’m just saying before we finally made it happen. So it’s super exciting to get this one out there.

Hannah: I’m really, really glad to be here. So thank you.

Bron: Awesome. Okay, so let’s get right into it.

How would you describe the ideal classroom culture for primary students to absolutely thrive in?

Hannah: For me, I always go back to when I was in school and I was really, really lucky enough to have a pretty incredible upbringing with my schooling. I actually did the vast majority of my primary schooling overseas in Thailand. My parents were posted over there for their job and I grew up in this incredible international school. It was a British international school and that was multicultural. And one of my best mates was Indian. My other one was American and there was just such a sense of belonging and appreciation for everyone. And it didn’t matter your gender, your race, your religion, none of it. It was just so, so welcoming.

So when I look at my own classroom, I just want that for my own students. And whilst I don’t have say as multicultural a school, as that one, we definitely need to make sure we’re appreciating everybody. And so at the very start of the year, I always brainstorm with my kids. Back when I was in year three, I did it, I did it with my fives and now I’m in year four. So I really think you can do it with every year group. Of course, the different answers you’ll get, you know, depending if you’re down in kindies or pre primaries up to your sixes.

But I think we brainstorm what we want out of this year, how we want to feel in our classroom and the same thing to pop up every time they want to feel safe, they want to feel welcomed. They want to feel loved. They want to feel heard. That’s a big part too, especially for those shy ones. So yeah, for me, that’s kind of where I start at the start of the year, just trying to find all of those things. Talked to my kids about it as a lot of class discussions. It’s not necessarily a worksheet or an activity or a lesson that we do. We do a lot of class discussions about what it looks like, what it feels like. And all those little things like that. Yeah.

Bron: Awesome. That sounds like a great foundation that you had as a student yourself. And we know that as educators, often our past experiences inform our pedagogy and also just our love of teaching and connecting with our students.

So why, what are the reasons why having a good classroom culture is so important for effective teaching and learning?

Hannah: I think it always comes back to a quote that I’ve heard a child will not learn from someone who they don’t feel respected by or they’re who they don’t like. And whilst you’re not going to have, you know, kind of have a, you know, besties with every teacher and they’re not going to be your favourite teacher every single year, they’ve got to feel respected by you. And they need to know that you, you value them as a person and as a learner.

So there’s no point trying to teach all of that curriculum. And we know there’s enough in that curriculum as it is. I’m going to try and get through all of that. And if, if they don’t have that relationship with you, they’re not going to learn. They are like, I do. You do hear those every now and then sort of stories of people who were terrified or something and they learned, but you really do hear about those ones where the teacher made them feel supported or like they could try their best, or they could, you know, take risks and take challenges because they felt safe and supported.

So that for me, like, there’s just no point getting into my explicit teaching. They need to feel safe and supported and like, they can actually give it a go and respected by me before they can even start to learn all that content. So yeah, that’s kind of where I go with that.

Bron: That sounds like it’s that underpins all of your teaching practices is really great because if you think about those kids who perhaps could have had a better experience with their relationship with their teacher, the potential could have been greater. So it’s just, I guess, about maximizing that and that’s, that’s exactly what you’re so good at doing and what you love.

Hannah: And it’s not even just teaching the academic content too. It’s if I want them to grow socially or emotionally or mentally all of those things, they still need to have that relationship with me in order to be able to have growth in those areas as well. So definitely.

Bron: Sure. Yeah. That’s awesome. And we know that classroom culture, obviously, like you’ve just been saying about the relationships. So obviously it has a lot to do with connection and recent research has shown that when students feel connected, then the academic performance is improved as we were saying, but also other things happen which are school attendance improves and student mental health is better. But we also see a reduction in disengagement from school and disruptive behaviour.

So we’re going to spend some time looking now at ways to build positive relationships with various stakeholders to strike that positive balance if that’s okay with you. So, yeah. So I guess first and foremost, the one that we’re really interested in targeting as a priority is that relationship with the student themselves.

What are some of the actual ways that you foster positive, meaningful relationships with each child in your class?

Hannah: So it’s interesting what you mentioned about the stakeholders, because one of the first things my school does at the start of the year is actually for the benefit of the students, but it does a really good job of building that relationship with the parents as well.

So something that my school introduced at the start of the year, is basically a form that goes home and it’s like getting to know you sort of form and it’s all about their child. And we ask the parents to come and fill it out. So it’s got all, you know, your names, details, date of birth, all that sort of stuff. But then it’s got your child’s hobbies ways that your child… things that your child likes, things that your child reacts positively towards how your child goes with their homework habits. So there’s all sorts of different things that the parents are able to share with us in order for us to start making those connections.

Yeah. And likes, dislikes work habits their social stuff as well, like who their friends are. Do they have many friends? Is that something the parents would like us to look at? Any sort of learning difficulties that we might need to be made aware of? Most of those things are handed over when we do our student handovers at my school, but it’s also important to know that, you know, things that may have missed been missed or things that happened prior to them coming to our school.

Yeah, they, we ask if they’re feeling comfortable to share a little bit like what a home life maybe looks like with their siblings, things like that. So that, like that happens in the very first week of school with us. So that goes home to the parents. So not only are we getting, gaining all that information about these kids, we’re also starting to make those connections with the parents, which I think is really, really important because we all know as teachers, there’s going to be times where we’ve got to speak to the parents, whether it’s positive or negative or even just neutral communication.

And it’s so much easier and more productive when you’ve got a positive relationship with those parents. I know when I’ve had to have some really hard chats with them about concerns, about learning difficulties or worries about different sort of behaviour things when they know you and they know you want what’s best for their child, it’s automatically going to be a little bit easier. It doesn’t make the conversation easy, but it definitely helps when you’re trying to share those concerns, but with the kids. So we basically take on this information and we collated it all. And I go through it basically with a, you know, typically we go through a part, every single part of it. And I like to make notes of what my kids are really interested in because at my school we do a lot of PowerPoints because we’re an EDI school.

And so when we do our, for example, our reading PowerPoints, I read that, you know, one of my students, he loves the Collingwood Magpies. So I make sure I put some stuff about Collingwood Magpies in there. And I know one of my other boys who was quite disengaged, he loves space. So I made some of our dictation passages all to do with space. And you just little things like that. And I know for a lot of people that would just be like, you know, that’s common sense. Of course you would do things and make sure it’s about your kids. But it’s commented on quite a bit. When we have visitors to our school about how engaged the kids are. And they were watching one of my lessons and every single word problem we did had one of my kids in the class as the person in the problem.

And the kids just get so excited about little things like that. So it’s all those little things that you can do that aren’t much effort. They don’t take heaps of time. And if you can just integrate tiny little things like that from day dot really from day one, I really do think that helps start to build those relationships.

Bron: That is awesome. So it sounds like you really gain a lot of insights each student is. And even though you know, you said you do get passed certain information by the previous teacher, but sometimes it doesn’t include those little one-off special things that make that child unique. So it’s really nice to get that information and then sit down and write it.

Hannah: Sorry to interrupt you. Sorry. especially when the child hasn’t had the world’s best relationship with the previous teacher and that doesn’t happen often at my school, but every now and then you’ll get a kid who didn’t really gel or connect with the other teacher.

And then when you do those handovers, they may not always have the most positive things to share, or they might miss some of those connections that they weren’t able to make with the kids. So when you get that kid and you can wipe the slate clean and try again, those sort of little bits of tidbits of information can be really, really helpful.

Bron: Yeah. And do you notice when you have included their name in a problem solving question, or when you’ve mentioned their favourite football team in a PowerPoint, do you notice, do you keep an eye on that kid and just think like I’m watching you, I want to see what happens and…

Hannah: It’s like little fireworks go off in the classroom. It’s hilarious. I mean, even homework there was, we had some homework and we made it all about one of the few of the kids.

And I just think they all wanted to do the homework because it was all about them and they couldn’t believe it. And yeah, when they come up and we do the PowerPoints, especially when we’re doing PowerPoints and we’ve gotten to the stage of where they’re doing the problems with me, they love it. If I call on that kid, you know, if it says, you know, Eloise had 78, whatever, come on, Eloise, let’s go, Oh, they can’t believe it. It’s so exciting.

And know, it’s just little things, just making sure they feel recognised and you know, you are here and you are important. Yeah. Those little things, I love it.

Bron: Yeah. That’s beautiful. And it gives you that feedback loop, I guess, as well, because happy, happy kids. And when you’re feeling like you’re making a positive impact, then creating that environment is I think they call it you know, setting the tone or creating the weather in your classroom.

Like how you present to them is matched by them.

Hannah: I’m feeling good too. It really does pay. Like you can see how it affects the kids. It’s definitely days when, you know, you just don’t want to be there. And you’re, you’re snowed under with reports and learning plans and parent emails. And if you go in there feeling like thunder, good luck!

Bron: It’s going to rain!

Hannah: Pretty much. Yeah. So we’ve talked a little bit before about creating positive relationships with the parents. And I really liked your point about connecting or reaching out to the parents in a positive way at the get go at the very beginning of the school year. I know my own children’s teachers often do that via email and it just sets a really nice tone because you’re right. Sometimes you have to have really yucky conversations with parents and uncomfortable conversations, but necessary ones.

Do you have any other tips and tricks for creating those really great meaningful relationships with the parents of your students?

Hannah: Parents is one that I would like to probably develop myself more over the next few years. Because I feel like I’ve really understood, not understood, but I feel like I’ve done a good job of building those relationships with kids over the last few years.

So parents is sort of where I want to go to next. I’ve actually had a really positive I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my parents through my Instagram and my Miss Girling’s Classroom, Facebook page, and I never ever intended it to be anything like that. My Instagram was purely made to become a digital portfolio for my teacher’s registration portfolio. That’s literally all I did and I didn’t use I didn’t think I was going to get any followers.

I just wanted to have like an online platform where I could keep track of everything I was doing. But when I started the Facebook page, so many of the parents, they love seeing their kids or you know, this, and a lot of the time I don’t include any faces or anything like that. And I often don’t even include names, but they know that’s their kids stuff, and they can actually talk to them about it. And it opens up those lines of communication for them and their kids as well. But yeah, emails is probably the best way to go. Especially during coronavirus times at the moment. I know my school, we can’t have parents on school grounds yet. So a lot of email communication phone calls, and also recognising that, you know, there’s a lot of parents out there who are working or are ESL and there’s, you might not be able to reach out to them as much, but they still really, really care about their kids.

And they want to know I know I had a parent one year who I emailed for every two, three weeks and I never once email got an email back. And I just always assumed that they didn’t really care, which was a really bad thing to assume, but I got to them at the end of the year and they just said, “Thank you so much. Like I know we haven’t been going so much from Erin, but having your emails is just the best thing.”

So, you know, you keep trying and you keep going for it and you won’t always be super successful, but you know, just letting the parents know and sharing those positive things too as well. Cause I think a lot of the time we fall into the trap of only communicating with parents when things are not so great.

Bron: Yeah. Yep. And it’s like busy teachers are so busy that can actually be you know, a very valid thing balancing your time and being able to do that and, and also knowing when to switch off and you know, not answering emails after a certain time in the evening.

Hannah: Definitely. So yeah, it is a fine balance to strike, but it sounds like you are definitely reflecting on your practice and, and then altering it to make it, make those better connections. So another one I wanted to ask you about a student student relationships.

So how do you help them form positive relationships with each other? And what is the climate like in your classroom when it comes to kids and their friendships, and also getting along with people who they might not see, particularly as a close friend?

Hannah: This one’s a really good one for my class this year. Perfect example for this because they’re they’re pretty exhausting year group. They are beautiful kids, but you know, there’s, there’s definitely a few behaviours and a few yeah, interesting personalities. And so many of them have made such poor choices over the last few years that it carries through with them into the next class. So even though they’ve got a mixed up group every year, cause we’re a triple stream, they’re lucky enough that they do get that mix. A lot of them are just know as you know, the bad kid or the naughty kid or the disruptive kid. And it’s been a big goal of mine it’s yet to try and like break that down and knock it away and move it aside. And it’s been really interesting. They they’ve actually really formed quite a close bond from what I can see.

Just on that last day of school of last term, they decided to create a year 4 conga line on the oval to have like you who do not necessarily play together in these groups. They’ve all got their own little friendship groups. And they all banded together to create a conga line across the oval and spent their entire playtime altogether. And then they pulled all the other year fours in as well. And just watching them what’s going like, well, they really do actually enjoy each other’s company. Even the ones who, you know, I’m like, “Oh God, don’t put that one with that one. Cause that’s going to argue the whole time.”

But they actually really did enjoy it. There’s little things in class that I do. I have set seating, so I put them where I want them to sit. That can be a combination of putting them next to who I know they’re comfortable with. Sometimes it’s putting them next to someone they don’t really know very well to try and build those relationships. Sometimes it’s keeping two from complete opposite ends of the room sometimes, you know, it’s, it’s a combination of a lot of things. I mix it around. I try and change their chairs, their desks spots every three to four weeks. They sort of get a chance to get to know everybody. Whenever we do group work, it’s again about find that balance of letting them join make their own groups, but also then putting them into different groups to separate them out a bit.

Something we do in class we do a lot of celebrating when other people receive like achieve something. So when they were getting their pen licenses and we brought them up to the front of the class and they all do, I say, give him a “whoop whoop.”

And they go “Whoop, whoop!”. And we do a lot of celebrating each other’s successes. We at my school because we’re a Catholic school, we do, what’s called an Our Lady Star of the Sea award. And it’s a really, really special award. It’s quite an honour to get it. And they’re only eight kids per class get one. So two a term. And what I do is I actually get them to nominate their peers. So I do a Microsoft form or a Google form thing. And basically they’ve got all the kids in the class and I have to select which one they would like to nominate. And then they have to write me a paragraph about why they would nominate them. And they’ve got to show them and give me examples of when they showed kindness or respect or honesty or loyalty and all those things.

And I’ve always said, I always said to them at the start, “Please, don’t just nominate your best mate, because they’re your best mate.” And I really probably didn’t need to say it because the nominations that come through are two kids that, you know, I didn’t really say talk to each other much, but they say, “Oh Miss Girling, you know, that kid always opens the door for me and says, thank you. And then they were also helping me hand out the sheets the other day.”

And they just, they, they say some beautiful things about each other. It’s just like, yeah, again, not a hard thing to set up, but I, I used to do that for merit awards and stuff, as well as a little bit when we had only merit awards, just little things where they get to share in each other’s happiness and success and really build each other up. Because I think if it, if it’s constantly from the teacher coming and saying, you know, you did a great job and things like that, but then they’ve got their peers either neutral don’t really care or bringing them down. Like, it’s, it’s great that the teacher’s doing it, but they need that from their peers as well. They need that from people their own age.

Bron: Yeah, that’s right. I think that’s lovely as well, because we know as adults that we get a certain buzz from offering praise and, and showing kindness to other people and acknowledging their success. So it’s really cool to teach that to kids because they’re going to use that skill later in life as well. So yeah. I really like those ideas. Thank you so much for sharing those. Cause I think that they’re really great ones that you’re going to be able to put into practice in your own classroom, no matter what your level your students are, because yeah. It’s really important to get that kind off yeah. To have them getting along and you’re right. Like it’s it’s hard to sometimes get a class to gel and once you’ve really nailed that and you see like the conga line happening or something, it’s like, yes!

Hannah: All the other teachers were like “What on earth, is your class doing?”.

Now there’s a little family they’ve got to do that. They’ve just got to get it. And I think that, like you said, with your little whoop thing, like when they all have something, a common thing that it’s like an in joke that they share with their teams. And I’m seeing like a lot of attention grabbers like that. And teachers that teach their kids just and show a little bit of their personality and then the kids will take that. And, and then, you know, I’m sure they take it home and it’s a bit quirky and the parents are thinking in joke, but it’s really cute.

Yeah. One of my kids, I said, I think I said the word ningnong. One time I was like And one of the kids went home and said to his little sister who dropped something, she’s just being a bit of a ningnong. And I remember the parents saying to me, pick up on those little things, but like even within my classroom, like you do all those things, but having that environment as well.

So having their work up on the wall, my class actually has a photo wall, but it’s like our, we call it our fall white hall of fame. Basically, anytime we do any sort of activity, I try and take a few pictures and I take photos of the kids who get merit awards and stuff like that. Or when they get champion boy at the swimming carnival, we put all of my photos up there and they loved going up and looking at each other and going a little, remember when you got that?

I remember when all we looked so nice. That’s such a nice photo of us. We were so happy and they love it.

Bron: That is so cute. I love it. Yeah, just those little things that you can do as part of your, you know, just add in little value-adds for your kids each day and it makes them look forward to being there. So, yeah. Cool. So talking about, you said before that you’ve, you’re, you described your class as being a little bit exhausting and we all picked up what you were putting down. We know exactly what you mean sometimes, you know, it just takes a little bit of extra patients or, you know, to get, to get them working properly and cohesively together. You know, Oh my gosh. Yes, exactly. It has been hugely challenging for teachers, but also for students. So we put that in the back of our mind.

Thank you for mentioning that as well. Talking about that with everything, all things considered, and we have had a really rough year behaviour management practices.

How does behaviour management and your process and your strategy and that department correlate to creating that positive classroom culture?

We think of behaviour management is you, it doesn’t really connect with positive all the time, but how do those two things work together in your room? Hannah, for us at my school, I know I say my school a lot, but I think that’s one of the best things about my school is the way that we all do the same thing. And so for the kids, it’s really easy for them to understand what’s going on. But we use One, Two, Three Magic, which is by Behaviour Tonics. And I’m so glad we do because it really takes the emotion out of it.

And also the negative emotion and behaviour management. I know for me, don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you just want to really, really all of them, but One, Two, Three Magic. It’s really just a, you know, that’s one, that’s two, that’s three. And it’s none of that yelling. If there’s not that any teacher would intentionally yell or shout across the classroom anyway, but there, it really does take away from some of that negativity that, especially in your tone of your voice.

But then the other side of that is the emotion coaching. So it’s, we put a huge focus on emotion coaching because there is no point just counting the kid, putting them in time out, and then not going back through them. And, and don’t get me wrong. Sometimes you have to wait a little bit. This, the kid might be in the red zone if you’ve used the Zones of Regulation and they’re not ready to go through their behaviour, but I’m talking them through it and it’s highlighting the things that, what they did.

But going through it with them as well and having their feedback. So they’ll spend a lot of the time. I remember I counted one of the kids to being out of his chair for the, probably the 2 million time in about two minutes. I, he got really upset with me and I ended up just leaving it. Cause I was like, I’m not dealing with that right now. But when we came back to, I said, you’re going to be like, you, you counted that you were really, really upset, like what happened? And he said to me “I was out of my chair, because I had gone to go and pick up something to someone who had hurt themselves and then they didn’t want to get out of their chair.” And like, if at the time, you know, if I had just ripped into that child, like that human being just, you know, would never have done anything like that again, because we were able to just do it, you know, that’s one, that’s two, whatever.

And then go back through it with them and talk about them, have that communication with them. I think that’s a huge thing without behaviour management. It’s not so negative as such. I do think it helps because the emotion coaching definitely opens up those lines of communication with the kids. They feel again, they feel heard and they feel understood.

And even when they’ve done the wrong thing, like completely the wrong thing I’ve been able to use emotion coaching, not every single time, but most of the time to actually go through the behaviour with them. And then we’ve not had a repeat or we’ve had a different, you know, they’ve been able to understand what’s happening, but you know, you’ve always going to have kids who’ve got different learning or intellectual disabilities that prevent them from always being able to manage or toggle between behaviours and stuff like that.

So definitely recognising that in the kids, knowing the kids and knowing what could set them off. I had a kid one year who had a little brother at home with autism and I just thought this kid was coming in or moody and cranky and just would, didn’t want to have a bar of being in the classroom. And I remember again, speaking to the parent and having that positive communication with them and they let me know what home life was like.

And it was so hard and this, this kid was having to get up in the morning, pretty much get their other siblings ready, run the household, organise lunches, do this, do that. And of course they were coming in, you know, already their bucket, half empty. So it’s just, yeah. Finding those. I think for me, it’s just a huge thing with communication. So whether it’s negatives, not so much negative now, I kind of lost my train of thought, but when you are doing behaviour management, trying to reduce some of that negativity from it. Yeah. Really focusing on the emotion coaching as well.

Bron: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And emotional intelligence is something that we always kind of working within in our classroom across the curriculum and helping them to regulate their emotions because it doesn’t come as naturally the younger, they are the less emotional regulation they have to rely upon.

Hannah: Definitely.

Bron: But yeah, I really love that, that you, you were able to use your strategy to help that student. And then he was able to verbalize what was actually happening because it hadn’t become so escalated. And there’s a, there’s a main that’s going around and it’s about being the calm in their chaos. And I think that that’s something that you do really, really well is to be that calm. And it’s great that your school has a whole school behaviour management system that encourages that!

Hannah: I am not perfect in any way, shape or form.

And I have definitely not always been the calm in that chaos. I definitely don’t have noticed over the last few years, because now I’m in my sixth year of teaching and some days it feels like it’s the first six months and some days it feels like it’s been 20 years. It’s just re I have really noticed that I’ve stopped a lot of the times stop taking the behaviour so personally as well, I used to think, or they’re doing that to get me, get me upset or whatever. No, no, no. They just are really struggling with this and looking at the thought and the thought behind the behaviour and the motivation and the behaviour. And sometimes they are just not being very well behaved, but a lot of the time there is a reason for the behaviour and working out what that reason is. And then either putting in preventative measures or I’m working with the kid to sort out some strategies. Definitely.

Bron: Awesome. Well, Hannah, thank you so much. That brings us to the end of our interview. We are going to be asking for some questions and we have had some hands up already. Yes. Super exciting. We have Kirstie and she’s going to join us in just a moment. Hi Kirsty.

Kirsty: Thank you. How are you?

Hannah: Not too bad. Thanks.

Bron: Okay. Go ahead and ask your question when you’re ready.

Kirsty: No problem. So I was just wondering how to, what’s your biggest success story?

So did you ever have a student that was a really reluctant learner, but after building a positive with them, they became engaged in their learning once more?

Hannah: Oh, now I’m already starting to tear up. Yeah. Great question. Cause see, I love that. Yeah. I have had a student and I don’t want to go to interrupt too much because I will just sit here and cry because it meant so much, but I definitely have had a student before and he was he was definitely labelled as the naughty one, the disengaged from the disruptive one. And I remember at the start of the year, I didn’t even worry about what he was learning. I just made every effort to work out what he liked and things like that. And Oh God, sorry.

My friends, know I’m a very emotional person.

Bron: This experience obviously made a big impact on you and you were teaching cause you care this much.

Hannah: So yeah, he ended up having a really interesting year. He… don’t get me wrong. He was still, he was hard work at times, but he went into the next year so much more confident and willing to try, which is a huge thing. Because he wouldn’t even look at his work at the start of the year. And was he the perfect student? Absolutely not, but just constantly working on that relationship with him and he wasn’t very, you know, he wasn’t very forthcoming at the start, but finding what he was interested in and learning a lot of lucky for me I didn’t have to learn about it too much, because it was footy. I’m footy mad as well. Yeah, just constantly just not giving up and trying, trying to, to train. So yeah, no, I’ve definitely had that. One of those and he’s into high school now and he’s doing really well and you’re like, yay. It’s definitely a big plus. Yeah.

Bron: Yeah. All that’s fantastic. Kirsty is over here in the comments feeling extremely guilty and she said, “I didn’t mean to make her cry. Please tell Hannah, I’m sorry.”

Hannah: We are, we are just like so many teachers, you know, we just care so much probably too much sometimes. But yeah, when you get to make that sort of impact and that wasn’t until my fourth year of teaching, I had positive. I’ve definitely have positive times with other students and stuff like that, but that was probably the most meaningful.

Kirsty: Sorry, Hannah. I just realised that I was still able to speak very quickly. The reason I asked you this question is because I have a very similar success story to you. So as you started to cry, I started to cry again. You’re an inspiration and you’re doing a fabulous job and thank you for answering my question.

Hannah: Thank you so much, Kirsty. I really appreciate it.

Bron: Thanks Kirsty. Oh my goodness. It’s a cry fest. I think as teachers, we all have that one student and we just remember, and our heart is so connected to that child and it just brings back. It just comes back to you and totally empathetic and loving and you couldn’t be, you couldn’t do this job if you weren’t. So crying is fine.

Do we have any other questions I’m just looking to see? Okay. So we do have another question here from Eliza. Sorry. I’m just I’m going to wait for Eliza to pop on in.

Hello Eliza, what’s your question for Hannah?

Eliza: Hi.

My question is about how to help foster positive relationships between the children.

Especially if there’s a child who tries their best to make those connections, but they don’t really seem to gel with anyone in particular and they try, but they’re, it’s just a bit tricky in terms of, they try to have those positive relationships, but other children can sometimes find them irritating or so yeah, just trying to think of little ways.

Hannah: Yeah. That’s actually a really, really, really good question because it’s something I’m trying to work through now. I’ve never really had that sort of child over the last few years. You’ve always had you know, your children who may come across as irritating or annoying, but every year I’ve always, they’ve always had a really good group of friends who really enjoy their behaviour, which I’ve always found bizarre, but that’s anything that’s anyway.

But this year I have got a child who I don’t particularly find hard to like or anything like that, but they really don’t seem to have a strong group of friends. They seem to be friendly-ish with most kids, but they don’t have like a strong, solid group of friends. And if you were to go up that child and say, who are your friends? They probably would struggle with it.

So something I’m doing at the moment is I’m working with a child’s parents to look at possibly starting you know, play dates and things like that. Again, it’s hard with the coronavirus. We’ve already sort of just been out of go back into that thing. Sometimes they need to be outside of that school setting to really build those friendships. We’ve looked at the kid joining, if they’re like good at sport, looking at joining, you know, a team sport, like a basketball soccer, footy, netball, whatever it is.

So that again, they get a bit another chance at relationships there as well. But at school it is hard. Like just you watch the kids and they just don’t all seem to gel with that one particular child. And you can’t really put your finger on as to exactly what it is. For… I’ve had a friend who had a kid like that and it ended up being that the child was diagnosed with Aspergers back when we diagnosed with Aspergers. And it made so much sense as to why they were missing some of those social connections. They were struggling to read body language or understand tone of voice and things like that. So, I mean, don’t always rule that out as a possibility. Maybe there is some sort of underlying difficulty there. I think just providing them with as many opportunities as you can to work with their peers in positive ways as well.
Not necessarily always just, you know, a group activity or schoolwork. Like I try and take them out for brain breaks and stuff like that. And if I get an opportunity to, to do a brain break in a collaborative way, I’ll try and encourage a bit of that and stuff. But yeah, it’s, it’s a really tricky one because there’s not really one perfect way to fix it. You know, it’s not a one sort of solution.

So just constantly trying and working at it through different things, but also talking to the parents because I know with the communication I’ve had with this parent it’s been really helpful understanding the things that have happened in the past possibly that have caused that children to maybe what I was saying before about, you know, how children have carried through a certain label through school. Sometimes that doesn’t help. So yeah, it is tricky. I wish I’d had one answer so I could go, “Oh yeah, I’ve done this and it worked”, but no it’s one of those hard ones, unfortunately.

Eliza: Thank you. The play date idea’s really good though. Cause I hadn’t thought of that. So thank you.

Hannah: Oh, no worries.

Bron: Okay. Well thank you so much. That was a great question, Eliza. And Hannah, you offered some really great advice there as well because it isn’t a one size fits all kind of solution for those types of students. And it’s really important to get to know the history and those relationships as teachers. We don’t label students, but kids tend to do that for each other and they get in mind.

Hannah: That’s what I meant when I said label. And I say, you know, that kid or whatever, but he’s not silly. You know, they see things, they hear things they will. And as it goes through the groups, if there, if there have been particular children who have struggled with behaviour, whether it’s due to difficulties or not. I know with my kids, they’ve got the ones who they’ve decided to just the smart ones, because they’ve always done well. And the way that they’re the kid that always received the award and stuff, and they’ve all just decided that that child is the smart one.

Bron: Kids are very good, agt categorising people. Aren’t they, it’s kind of how they organise their minds.

Hannah: They’re very good at it. You’re not wrong.

Bron: Yeah. Thank you, Hannah. We don’t have any more questions popping up on Facebook. So I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you, Hannah, for being here and chatting with us. If you’d like to follow Hannah,   It’s Miss Girling’s classroom on Instagram and Facebook. So go and follow follow for more teaching tips cause you a star on both of those platforms with lots of advice on different topics and we’ve only just covered one today. So thank you really appreciate it. And thank you for taking the time. Thank you so much. And thank you to all of our lovely guests. Thank you for showing up in a very busy week for some teachers first week of school back and or taking time out of your school holidays to be here, to listen to Hannah. And also thank you so much, Heath and Mel, who were our two moderators. All right. Thank you everyone for being here and have an amazing week. Thank you, Hannah. And we will talk soon. Podcast will be out in a few weeks.


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