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Gangs and Packs

I’ve had several conversations with Teachers and School Leaders lately about pack or gang mentality amongst students who congregate for the perceived purpose of poor, aggressive or bullying behaviour.

They most commonly ask me what they can do to shift the gang’s behaviour. They’re disappointed when I tell them they can’t.

You see, groups don’t change. People do.

If you have a gang or pack problem in your school, I suggest you metaphorically view them as being on the other side of the river … and picture yourself as having but a single, small boat.

Trying to move all of them across the river at once will undoubtedly lead to all of you drowning.

But if your boat has room for only one passenger … who do you take? Would it be the low-risk strategy of choosing the student who doesn’t really fit or belong in the gang anyway? Or are you brave enough to aim for the ringleader and the thrill of a high-risk, high-reward endeavour?

I don’t mind which gang member you target as long as it’s only one of them.

The dynamic of a group changes when its membership reduces by even one person. That’s your ambition. When one person is on your side of the river, you can go back for another.

And for bonus points, this approach is equally effective with colleagues. We’re just less likely to use the word “gang” for a gaggle of miserable educators gathered at their usual staff room table to negatively assess every initiative, change, program, expectation nd leader they don’t like.

We call those gangs “cliques” – same thing but.

Keep fighting that good fight,


PS. Join the Expert Facilitators from Real Schools in an immersive workshop, RP2.0 – The Restorative Future of Teaching. Book tickets today for Raby, South Coogee, Upper Mt Gravatt, Mount Gambier, Kalgoorlie and Bunbury. Workshops kick-off on 12 October.


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