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What's under the hood?


This is adapted from a reflective log sent to us by one of our EC UK Practitioner Trainers.

Twelve year old, 'Saman', was doing a practical food tech lesson. Health and safety rules specify that pupils must remove outdoor coats and not wear hoods up. Saman refused to take off his coat and hood.

'Catrin' felt frustrated and annoyed at Saman's non-compliance. She thought he was frustrated, annoyed, too...and defiant.

When Catrin reminded him of the class rules, Saman swore at her and said he wasn't taking the hood off. She told him he would be unable to cook and would end up doing theory if he continued to refuse. Saman insisted that he wasn't going to take off his hood.

Catrin asked Saman to step outside the classroom with her. She told him that she could see that he was annoyed, but said she wasn't going to change the rules. Catrin then asked Saman if there was anything else going on.

Saman replied that his hair was 'a mess and no one can see it'. He went on to to say how he'd had to rush in the morning, and didn't have time to sort out his hair.

Catrin thanked Saman for explaining his situation and said she now I understood why he felt so frustrated - and that she would feel the same way if she came in to teach unprepared. Catrin asked him if he would be able to sort it out if a TA took him to the bathroom, and offered to get his recipe started.

He agreed, and returned fifteen minutes later to attend the lesson...without his coat.

Catrin recognised, validated and empathised with Saman's emotions. She also offered him a solution that would enable him to address the problem and return to the classroom.

Saman calmed down quickly once he had told Catrin the reason behind his defiance. He cheered up when offered a solution that enabled him to neaten his hair, and he returned to the class ready to engage with the lesson.

Catrin described the interaction with Saman as a good reminder that there is usually an explanation behind a child's defiance. It's not always obvious, and the child or young person doesn't always verbally explain the reason for their actions.

Catrin also said that the time taken to engage with the child and find a solution was worth it, as Saman was engaged for the rest of the lesson.

It's also worth noting that Catrin didn't judge Saman's issue with a dismissing attitude - It's just your hair, no big deal! - but empathised instead about how uncomfortable we all feel when we're not prepared.

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