Scroll Top


There’s an ancient adage around teaching that “the kids who least deserve your love and kindness are those that need it the most”.

Mostly, it’s a reminder to bring the best practice in our hearts to each and every one of our students.

But it’s also because it works. 

In the equally ancient ABC model of human behaviour where A = Antecedent, B = Behaviour and C = Consequence, we tend in schools to jump in between B & C.  It’s too late, especially when the behaviour is negative.

What we’re forgetting is that the C becomes the A for the next behaviour.  If all of A, B & C are negative, then we’re enabling students to stay in a downward behavioural spiral.

So how do we turn that spiral upwardly?  Get in earlier … at the A level.

Create a random, bewildering positive A for your most challenging student.  It could be buying them lunch, giving them a book you think you’ll like, recording them a heartfelt video about their potential or giving them a random homework extension.  Anything that’s positive really.

You’re not doing it because this positive A was earned or as a reward, but because the next B is now more likely to be positive too.  And then, the C of that B is that you get to thank and congratulate the student – another positive that becomes the next A.

Spiral flipped.

We’re all, even we adults, regularly in behavioural spirals of some kind.  If we start exercising, we tend to eat a little better.  And the negative reverse of this tends to also be true.

If you can step in at the A level, sure the hearts of you and this student you’re thinking of right now will glow.  But mostly, do it because students in upward behavioural spirals are easier to work with.

As a teacher with a bias for ease and a penchant for laziness, I reckon you deserve a little more easy in your life.

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. WA EDUCATORS (especially those of you who’ve so subtly whinged to me that we “over east” always forget you!) I’m in Perth next week for FOUR kick-arse workshops for Teachers and School Leaders. You’ve really gotta get there. Check out the chance to register at this link. You know you want to! 

Want to subscribe to Adam’s Home Truths? Simply subscribe here.