Book Review: Mark Le Messurier, 2010 Teaching tough kids: simple and proven strategies for student success, Routledge, London.
Following his earlier successful publication of Cognitive Behavioural Training: a how-to guide for successful behaviour , Mark has again produced a book of practical wisdom for those who work with challenging young people. To quote from the Introduction: â?~This book is written to enrich the ways we think about the tough kids and fortify the work we do with them in our schools.' This is exactly what the rest of the book addresses.
Mark writes in accessible, conversational style to suit a wide readership, but his ideas are firmly based in sound academic research, as well as the experience of himself and colleagues working with such â?~tough kids'. The theory is illustrated with numerous case study vignettes, representing a wide range of troubled and troubling behaviours - the surface manifestation of emotional and mental states where â?~executive function' is poor, for many and complex reasons.
Mark is committed to the belief that educators, himself included, â?~have the capacity to influence transformation within students'. More than wishful thinking, this belief is supported by research that identifies teachers as one of the most influential variables in student performance - more powerful than the influence of home, peers and the school as a whole. He encourages educators to engage in self-reflection, and provides some tools for doing this effectively, recognizing that our own behaviours can be part of the problem or the solution to the challenging attitudes and behaviours of students.
There is a chapter devoted to explaining restorative approaches, co-authored with Bill Hansberry, a practitioner in this area across a number of schools. This provides an alternative process to the punitive cycle that often dominates behaviour management approaches in schools. Subsequent chapters focus on understanding the underlying factors and providing strategies to improve concentration, task completion, organization and memory. He then addresses the really difficult area of oppositional styled behaviours - approaches to working out what underlies and triggers the behaviours, and designing effective plans for improvement. Another chapter explores the particular needs of students with Asperger's syndrome, and considerations for developing improved social and emotional connections that are essential for improving their behaviour.
A chapter on â?~mood lifters' is a welcome reminder that lighter moments in the day can make all the difference to classroom functioning - of course with practical ideas to make this happen. Finally, and not surprisingly from such a relational author, is an explanation of the benefits of mentorship, and how such a program can be implemented.
Teaching Tough Kids is an invaluable resource for teachers and others who work with young people whose behaviour challenges their patience and personal resources. It has the potential to empower both the teachers and their students with more productive, proactive ways of thinking and behaving that make real learning and more positive living possible.show more
by Sharon Palm