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Sorry, did I roll my eyes out loud?

Posted by: on 21-05-2020

Hello!  It's a lovely day, the birds are singing, the sun is shining and I am sitting in front of my laptop, a cup of chai tea to my right.  Ah, word pictures, an efficient use of language.

The title of this blog is one of my favourite quips, which I often see on the old social media.  There are others, but they contain swears and I cannot mention them.  They are also funny, but not PG friendly.  Rather like me.  It is often said of students with SLCN that they are rude.  They blurt out things they shouldn't.  I once asked my mother what it was like in Victorian times.  She was not amused, but my grandmother was.  She had a wonderful laugh - wicked and infectious.  My laugh is like my Nanna's - more of a cackle.  When we are young, we ask questions that pop up in our heads and say what is in our minds - my eldest daughter was a professional at that.  She would look up at me with her beautiful brown eyes and say things that would make me want to say "Beam me up, Scotty."

Looking back, I am glad I was able to answer her honestly, though usually in a whisper and not in the decibel-heavy way in which her sweet voice would reverberate.  I like to think that if she asked a question, she got a good answer.  But as we get older, we learn not to be so honest.  This is good and bad.  By not saying what we think all the time, we are careful of other people's feelings.  I have taught my children that rather than saying "I hate that," that a cheerful "That's not for me" will suffice.  Example:

"Would you like broccoli and salmon for dinner, light of my life?"

"Hmm, that's not for me; I would rather eat biscuits."

A little phrase that avoids offending another person and that covers your reluctance to eat/do that thing.

However, it does mean that sometimes things are left unsaid.  If a situation leaves you uncomfortable, if someone says something you really don't like and you don't say anything, then it may happen again.  I tend to call my students things like "sweetie." Now I know some of my students don't like it because they tell me.  And that is good.  We both know where we stand.  There are some words, which I won't repeat here, that I do not like people using and I will tell them.  If they object, I can then explain why.  That's good, because it leaves them in no doubt as to how that language affects me.

In The Phoenix Provision, we like straight talking.  If someone is feeling an emotion, we like to know about it.  If someone doesn't like what is going on, they can say.  And then we work on it.  There is nothing worse than having to guess why someone is acting in a specific way (apart from a paper cut; worst thing in the world). Using the Zones of Regulation is a good start to explaining how you feel and why you are acting in that way.  Having an adult you can talk to honestly is important too.  They can listen to what you have to say and then help you unpack it.  And they can help you learn to express yourself in a way that is good for everyone.

Part of the remit of the Provision is to help students be part of the mainstream community.  We don't want you to change, but we know it can be tough out there and there are things we can help you discover so that you feel comfortable and others feel comfortable too.  Luckily, we have school rules to help make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them and it all boils down to one thing: RESPECT  (I am now singing that song in my head; be grateful you aren't in the same room as me).

One of the (many) acronyms we use in the Provision is THINK.  Is it:






I like this.  It gives you a moment to reflect on what you're going to say before you say it.  I have to do this on occasion.  As Thom Tuck says when he says things incorrectly (baby dog instead of puppy) "sometimes before my mind can act, my mouth says I've got this."  I'm sure there are times you wish you could take back what you have just said.  I do.  Which is why, when something happens, you will probably see me breathe in before I speak.  I am actually thinking, or "THINK"ing.  If the class is being noisy, do you really have to point that out?  I can guarantee that the teacher knows.  If you decide to shout out, as you probably will have to if the class is noisy, that is not helpful or necessary.  If someone in class gets a question wrong, you don't have to tell them that.  The teacher will be able to deal with that and help the student.  

I think another way of considering this is how would you feel if someone said it to you?  There's a bit in the Bible that says "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Now whatever your religious beliefs or non-beliefs, that's quite a good idea.  I try to treat people the way I would like to be treated.  I give people chances when things go wrong, because I hope people would do the same for me.  That may not always happen, but I will keep on giving people chances, working with them, thinking about their feelings.

So, we have this lovely conundrum - when should I speak out and when should I stay quiet?  I always err on the side of caution.  One of my favourite quotations from Mark Twain (don't get me started on Huckleberry Finn; greatest American novel, I think not) is "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt."  Cool, isn't it?  Unlike Huckleberry Finn... If the teacher has put something up on the board that is wrong, it might not be an error.  It could be a deliberate mistake to illustrate a teaching point.  It might not be, but you don't know that for certain.  And...drum roll...teachers have feelings too.  If you shout out that the teacher has done something wrong, how might they feel?  I have done that in the past.  I, quite brilliantly, used it as a way to show how we need to proof-read our work and then got the students to correct it, but I have a tough hide.  I am also a fan of acknowledging mistakes and building on them to get to the right answer.  

To conclude - inside thoughts are best kept inside your head - I know I am old and overweight and you pointing it out won't change either ( I like cheese and cake too much; not together though).  The fact you hate poetry is ok, you don't need to tell the teacher in the middle of his lesson.  The Geography lesson might not appeal to you, but the teacher has not decided to make you sit through it because she hates you.  Your friend's choice of footwear may not be yours, but pointing out that his trainers are hideous will not make your friendship any stronger.

But saying how much you like someone's artwork, acknowledging how hard someone has worked on an essay, finding something positive to say, that's definitely an outside thought.  


Stay safe.



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