I Have Control

One thing that really grates a teacher is when another teacher steps into a situation and takes over.

I’m talking here about behavioural incidents where more than one member of staff is involved. Most teachers will deal and manage a situation on their own but sometimes back-up is needed. The incident might be something you have no real understanding of or you are just out of your depth and are not coping. So you ask for help – there’s no shame in that.

But sometimes a member of staff can observe your failing attempts and step in uninvited. This might be welcome on occasions but not if they do it in such a manner that it makes you look stupid. They might barge into a situation and get it all wrong making things worse. They might step in and save your bacon.

Either way, someone has to take control and exert their authority and restore order. This doesn’t have to be dramatic but it does need to be professional. When someone is flying a plane, they have control. The co-pilot might be required to take the controls and so the exchange between pilot and co-pilot is

Pilot 1: I have control

Pilot 2: You have control

The management of a situation is vital so that everyone knows what they are doing. If you don’t own the incident then the incident owns you and things can get out of hand. It needs to be agreed between teaching professionals exactly who does have control in a situation so there are no mixed messages being received by pupils. The pilot exchange brings clarity in a crisis because the communication is clear.

This doesn’t mean the other pilot sits back and relaxes. Far from it – they still have an active part to play but the control is firmly in the hands of their colleague. They own the plane and for teachers that means owning the situation.

So, when a playground incident gets ugly, the last thing we need is 4 teachers all jumping in. Someone has to say, “I have control” and take charge and colleagues have to acknowledge this and say “You have control” which means that one person is making the decisions about what to do and what to say. Just by introducing this language we can professionalise a situation and make it less chaotic, especially in a restraint situation.

Clear lines of communication means there is less room for error and for teachers contradicting each other. The pilot flying is the teacher taking charge.

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