-˜Problems are not the problem; excuses are.' Lisa Jane Ashes' Teacher in the Cupboard exhorts us to look afresh at the issues which concern and frustrate us, and encourages us to consider alternative perspectives and focus on possible actions rather than being blinded by the problem. Lisa courageously challenges the reader to look again at their own behaviour, and to ask whether in some ways we may be contributing to the difficulties we are facing. Yet by beginning with careful observation and reflection, using our insights to frame solution-focused questions, taking action designed to resolve the issue, and then evaluating, reviewing and recalibrating, we can -“ as Lisa suggests -“ move forward.
The topics explored include: strategies for controlling our emotions and not letting them derail our behaviour as we address pupils' challenging behaviour; getting the best from high-attaining students and encouraging their independence; how to create a learning culture within classes which may have been -˜written off' by others; effective time management and self-regulation; how to make differentiation manageable; how leaders can work to get the best from staff as they work to get the best from the pupils; and how to make the most of professional development sessions.
I found this an unusual, provocative book, designed to encourage us to think and to question our assumptions, to resist giving in to our emotional responses, and to reflect -“ from -˜the cupboard' -“ before taking action which is carefully considered and purposeful. It also offers practical ideas and resources to support our implementation of the different strategies that Lisa suggests.
Teacher in the Cupboard has something to offer all teachers -“ including supply teachers -“ and classroom assistants of all levels of experience, if they are committed to refreshing their practice in order to be even more effective in the future.