Book review- When the adults change, everything changes by @pivotalpaul via @itPressUK

Published by Crown House Publishing

When the Adults Change, Everything Changes: Seismic Shifts in School Behaviour








Practical Ideas





  • Workable and manageable solutions to consistently promote positive behaviours in school.
  • A call for all school community members, including the adults, to advocate the same policies.
  • Classroom strategies and ideas shared throughout the book to help foster respect for eachother.
  • Each chapter concludes with three helpful checklists Testing, Watch out for and Nuggets designed to help you form your own behaviour blueprint.
  • Suitable for all head teachers, school leaders, teachers, NQTs and classroom assistants in any phase or context.

A Promoted UKEdChat Review

Even with ‘expert’ advice from consultants, self-proclaimed gurus, or politicians, managing behaviour in secondary schools is an art within itself. Different personalities, socio-economic conditions and expectations are all unique to each individual setting so no one slant on how to manage behaviour will suit all schools. Yet the role of pastoral care in many schools has evidently been diminished with the focus turning towards academic achievement in high stakes exam results, with pupils being reduced to ‘units of progress’. This is not only a UK shift in focus, with many jurisdictions around the world following a similar pattern.

One main approach that works across many schools is a sense of consistency, with pupils and teachers knowing what is expected, along with visible kindness and respect among every within a school community. In his book “When the adults change, everything changes” Paul Dix explores some approaches in cultivating a school culture where visible consistency creates rapid seismic improvements in behaviour, even where the elusive magic behaviour solution is never quite within reach.

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Of course, one of the problems with consistency – in terms of schools – is the adults, not the pupils, and Paul argues that you just need the ‘brass neck’ to challenge adult behaviour, and where consistency crumbles is when the expectations and consistent approach to policies is not respected from the school management downwards – every adult needs to be invested in a consistent approach, that will be understood and respected by pupils.

Indeed, the book goes on to challenge certain classroom practices that ‘reward’ unacceptable behaviour. For example, Paul advocates the use of ‘recognition boards’, where excellent behaviour is noted (on a whiteboard), instead of adding the names of those show poor behaviour. How often have we used the ‘stick’ of writing the names of those with bad behaviour, who see their name on the board (a reward)? The positive recognition board fosters a positive interdependence in the classroom with no prize or material reward – the aim is to have everyone listed on the board! With this in mind, Paul offers 9 great ways to sharpen your use of a recognition board which is worthy of note.

The book continues apace encouraging educators to exercise a deliberate ‘botheredness’ – showing pupils that you care and are interested; certainty in adult behaviour – knowing and understanding your own emotions and keeping them in check when challenged; keystone classroom routines – students appreciate and value a routine where they feel safe and know the expectations, so ask pupils to remind you of the routine before you ask them to enact it.

Yet, most impactfully, the book concludes with a handy 30-day magic challenge for schools to strive towards in focusing on creating a positive behaviour culture – drawn from ideas shared in the book. Fundamentally, expecting a change overnight is unrealistic, but changing ideas, cultures and expectations over a 30-day period offers everyone within the community to practice some of the changes without any dire consequence, but keeping a record of current problems and reflecting upon starting points will help show how progress is being made during the period of change.

This is a great book for schools where there is evidently a lack of consistency where behaviour management is involved. Offering a great mix of strategies, common-sense solutions, and realistic goals, Paul Dix has created an easy-to-read guide offering schools, in any environment, confidence and encouragement to create a school climate where all individuals earn respect through kindness, challenge and consistency.

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About @digicoled 257 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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