I’m Barry Whelan. I’m a teacher and I specialise in behaviour academically and professionally.
The reason I’m so passionate about the subject of behaviour, however, derives from my own experiences growing up. As a teenager in secondary school, I endured a number of extremely challenging years where my behaviour was being viewed as challenging and my progress was seen to be stalling.
I had a particular teacher who took an initial dislike to me and, in my view, this was incredibly unjustified. I got stuck in a negative cycle of behaviour where I was being reprimanded and misbehaving to the point where it became a chicken and egg situation. Was I being reprimanded first which led to misbehaviour or was I misbehaving and then being reprimanded? A negative cycle had emerged that proved difficult to escape and I was blinded by anger, upset and feelings of injustice.
Whether the teacher was right or I was was right was irrelevant. The pattern was self-fulfilling and detentions followed along with being put into a process where I had to get a signature at the end of every forty minute class to prove I had behaved. The anger and injustice persisted which fuelled further rebellion and misbehaviour.
And all of a sudden, it stopped. The clouds lifted and the cycle was broken. The teacher who I had clashed with left the school and suddenly, my behaviour dramatically improved. Was this a miracle? Or was this an example of how the environment students are in can impact behaviour massively? I have spent nearly fifteen years committed to answering these questions since.
While completing my Bachelor of Education, I specialised in social, emotional and behavioural difficulties where I was afforded the opportunity to travel Denmark to engage with an intensive two week programme viewing schools at the cutting edge of behaviour management and inclusion. This was paired with some chance work placements in areas where I got to hone the academic theories I had garnered in the real world and found that it stoked my passions. I was immediately hooked.
Eight years have followed working in a diverse range of schools and systems where I have met a wide variety of students who have had a profound range of needs. Alongside this practical experience, I completed my first Master of Education degree majoring in social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. This degree has proved invaluable to the way I view behaviour and I am now pursuing a second Masters in Special and Additional Learning Needs to develop my understanding and knowledge further.
I facilitate workshops for newly qualified teachers in the areas of classroom management, behaviour for learning, inclusion and special educational needs. I have also created two successful and accredited online courses for teachers in Ireland and Australia.
This blog is a medium for sharing strategies, thoughts and ideas. I hope they are of some use to the reader.