Majority of workshops that are delivered in the wider community work with young people, young people who often have multiple and complex needs where anti-social behavior may well be a feature of their lives either directly or indirectly. The purpose of this blog is based on the concept of positive reinforcement and being more proactive than reactive. At the heart of this blog is the principle of respect for the workshop, the workshop leader and the workshop group. It involves some strategies and techniques, which are supported by verbal and positive communication.
Do Not Take it Personally
Easier said than done. It’s hard not to take it personally when a participants appears to be doing their utmost to disrupt your workshop. But in almost all situations you will be able to deal with the situation more effectively and be more likely to prevent a reoccurrence if you take a step back and handle the situation as objectively as possible and not take it as a personal attack of you.
Think Quickly and Act Slowly
As a general rule always be ready. A good workshop leader should not wait until they witness disruptive behaviour, they don’t wait for it to happen then think about how to deal with it. Instead a workshop leader should pre-empt the situations and think through the different ways they might respond. This could be done when planning for the workshop, or think about a series of situations and what your responses or reactions should/could be and create list based on that… I created one 4 years ago, and I keep adding each time I either come across a situation or think about a certain scenario. That way you will be somewhat ready if your workshop is disrupted and will be able to quickly determine the best course of action. Your response must always be calm and measured. You need to show that you are entirely in control of the situation to keep the respect of all your participants.
Have Established Rules and Procedures
A set of basic ground rules can go a long way towards maintaining a sense of order and control within your workshop. As a workshop leader you should start your workshop with these ground rules and then repeat them as often as is necessary for the message to sink in – we have copies on the wall around our building. Once you are comfortable that participants are aware of the ground rules, then always expect a certain level of behaviour from them. At the same time praise them when they work within the ground rules but at the same time be quick to pick up on anyone who is not behaving in a way you have deemed appropriate. Never let a situation unattended, whether good or bad.
Act as You Say You Will
Another one on ground rules. Once you have set them, make sure you stick to them too. Don’t let it slack, especially at the beginning of the workshop or project. This way your participants will know exactly what is expected of them and the consequences if they do not follow your ground rules. You should also set a good example and follow your own guidelines – for example, you cannot expect your students not to use their mobile phones, if you keep checking yours every 2 minutes.
Although it can be hard to keep your cool, allowing a situation to escalate into a shouting match is a sure way to lose the respect of your workshop and massively increase the likelihood that you will encounter further behaviour problems in the future. There’s a different between raising your voice and shouting. In my opinion raising your voice can be ok as it shows authority and control whilst shouting shows frustration and lack of control. If you cannot control your workshop through raising your voice, then go completely silent and start to make eye contact with the disruptive participant (s). Keep looking at them (well stare at them) and 9 out of 10 times they would usually stop. I remember my school experience, when there was one particular teacher who when we made noise in the classroom, used to go quite, cross his arms and just stare at us… It shut me up!
These are only a few tips that I have thought about right now but I’m sure between us we use more techniques. I am a huge believer that if we building positive and trusting relationships with our participants then this does half the job. However I have left this topic for another post.
But in the meantime, let me know what you thought about these tips by commenting below or share your tips around being a music workshop leader.