A review of the ultimate guide to managing challenging behaviour and supporting behavioural needs.

Reviewed by Kat Cauchi

“Miss, I don’t give a sh*t” shares approaches to managing challenging behaviour and engaging with students with behavioural needs so they can flourish. Within the text are real-life scenarios, including quotes from pupils, interviews with experts, top tips, strategies, and action boxes to help the reader put what they have learnt into practice.

When Adele gave an overview of her book, she explained, “It was really important to me that the book sits within the classroom.” Well, I can safely say upon reading that the lived experiences within the text breathe an authenticity into the book that makes it deserving of a place on your bookshelf. I’d recommend a spot within easy reach though, so you can keep coming back to it!

Adele calls herself a ‘bridge builder.’ What she means by this is that through working in alternative provisions (APs) and pupil referral units (PRUs) as well as mainstream schools, she can pluck the research-informed best behaviour practice from APs and PRUs and weave it into mainstream schools. After all, these are ‘the same kids’ and the pupils in AP/PRUs were in mainstream schooling at one point or another in their lives.

What makes this book different

“Miss, I don’t give a sh*t,” isn’t about reinventing the wheel of behaviour management. It’s about connecting those working wheels from mainstream and alternative provision together for a more stable, consistent and impactful approach to engaging with challenging behaviour.

A key part of the text that, for me, is the beginning – her first chapter is all about self-care. Self-care in a book about behaviour? You may think that sounds strange but, it’s genius! You see, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup,’ therefore you aren’t in the best place to engage with challenging behaviour if you aren’t in a good place yourself.

Additionally, it makes sense that being able to hold firm boundaries for yourself will have a knock-on effect where others are more likely to respect your boundaries and you will have the strength to hold boundaries for pupil behaviour, for a fair and consistent approach.

Solid structure

Following this initial chapter are a further eight chapters covering: safety; building relationships; seeing the child (not the behaviour); explicit teaching of behaviour and self-regulation; not taking things personally; inclusivity, belonging and bias; teamwork, and school-wide behaviour approaches. The consistent structure of each chapter is helpful, starting with an insult of the week, followed by what you will learn, an introduction to the topic, in-depth explanations and examples, an interview, an action box, a summary of why the topic relates to behaviour, and further reading. This structure has a good flow – starting off with a light-hearted laugh and ending with you having actions to put in place and further resources to explore.

I also really like the way the chapters are ordered, for example, having ‘Safety first (learning second)’ before going into the subsequent topics is reflective of the importance of learners feeling and being safe in your classroom; and learning to ‘build relationships’ in chapter three will help you ‘see the child’ in chapter four. A lot of thought went into this book to ensure the reader is building knowledge as they work through the text.

Another gem is the troubleshooting chapter, because sometimes you really do need a quick answer! A series of specific issues are given e.g., “Ah they won’t stay quiet,” with a response from Adele to help you address the specific problem. This is useful for when you have a particular niggle in your classroom that you need to get sorted before you can delve more deeply into the other content.

In conclusion, this is a must-read book. You are guaranteed to have actions to put into place post-reading that will have a hugely positive impact on you and your pupils. It also has great re-read value, as you work with different pupils or as different circumstances happen to your pupils that cause a change in their behaviour.

This book is your go-to support guide for behaviour – along with comedic relief as, let’s face it, you probably need that too!

Author

  • Adele Bates

    Adele is a Behaviour and Education Expert with over 20 years of teaching experience, who empowers school staff to support pupils with behavioural needs and SEMH. She’s an International Keynote Speaker, a featured Expert on ‘Teenagers and Behaviour’ for BBC Radio 4, and the Author of ‘“Miss, I don’t Give A Sh*t”: Engaging with Challenging Behaviour in Schools.’
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