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Am I just cynical or what? Do SMT use lesson observation to head off complaints about poor behaviour?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by will o the wisp, Jan 20, 2011.



  1. I spend a great deal of time putting together bright, jolly, interactive, differentiated, multi-media, all-singing-all-dancing lessons only to have them sabotaged by two children whose behaviour is beyond the Pale (out of a class of thirty, where another eight have various other special needs).
    I had a very mixed day again today- most of class lovely most of the time- but these two characters very draining. They think they can get away with it because I work part-time, and while I will always carry out any sanctions I threaten, I am not there most of the week.
    I went to the Head today to let her know that child A had taken it upon himself to award himself good behaviour stickers on his chart that I had expressly not allowed (what use a chart that fibs?). Made the mistake of bursting into tears (oh, the frustration of a child that plain won't!) Knew as I walked into her study what support she would offer. Oh goody- she will observe me-(it doesn't have to be just the once, lucky me) to see what more I could be doing.
    I don't mind being observed- (if it could help it would be wonderful)- I am always well planned-up and prepared with those afore-mentioned bright, jolly etc. I just mind the implication that somehow the behaviour of these two is my fault, that something she can point to is lacking. It isn't, she can't, it's theirs, and it needs (to my mind at least) to be said : they, for their many reasons (poor parenting, deprivation, broken homes etc etc etc) behave very badly to many members of staff, show a lack of respect that I find jaw-dropping in eight year olds, need a firm hand and to be punished with something more effective than missing playtime. (Child A misses so many it is an occasion when he gets to have one. This is not down to me-as I said I am part-time, but missing play-time also has a hugely detrimental effect on the lesson after, when an active little boy has not been able to run himself out.)
    What d'ya all think?
     


  2. I spend a great deal of time putting together bright, jolly, interactive, differentiated, multi-media, all-singing-all-dancing lessons only to have them sabotaged by two children whose behaviour is beyond the Pale (out of a class of thirty, where another eight have various other special needs).
    I had a very mixed day again today- most of class lovely most of the time- but these two characters very draining. They think they can get away with it because I work part-time, and while I will always carry out any sanctions I threaten, I am not there most of the week.
    I went to the Head today to let her know that child A had taken it upon himself to award himself good behaviour stickers on his chart that I had expressly not allowed (what use a chart that fibs?). Made the mistake of bursting into tears (oh, the frustration of a child that plain won't!) Knew as I walked into her study what support she would offer. Oh goody- she will observe me-(it doesn't have to be just the once, lucky me) to see what more I could be doing.
    I don't mind being observed- (if it could help it would be wonderful)- I am always well planned-up and prepared with those afore-mentioned bright, jolly etc. I just mind the implication that somehow the behaviour of these two is my fault, that something she can point to is lacking. It isn't, she can't, it's theirs, and it needs (to my mind at least) to be said : they, for their many reasons (poor parenting, deprivation, broken homes etc etc etc) behave very badly to many members of staff, show a lack of respect that I find jaw-dropping in eight year olds, need a firm hand and to be punished with something more effective than missing playtime. (Child A misses so many it is an occasion when he gets to have one. This is not down to me-as I said I am part-time, but missing play-time also has a hugely detrimental effect on the lesson after, when an active little boy has not been able to run himself out.)
    What d'ya all think?
     
  3. moscowbore

    moscowbore Occasional commenter

    hi will o the wisp,
    Stick to your guns. Do what you do. Apply sanctions and seek management assistance where you feel it is necessary.
    If these children are causing problems across the school it seems odd that a manager would take time off from their busy schedule to observe a lesson with the intention of passing on tips. If a manager decides to get rid of you they will. If a manager decides that you are causing too much fuss about something nobody else is complaining about, they will find an excuse even if they have to make one up. You have no control in this situation and you will eventually leave the school. Unions are useless and will only instruct you to leave anyway.

    Wait for the observation feedback. I hope it is constructive and useful. If it isnt just leave.
     
  4. good behaviour stickers on his chart that I had expressly not allowed
    So who made the chart? Sounds to me that there is some conflict of opinions between you and the colleague(s) with whom you share the class. If you mean you won't use the chart at all (rather than not giving a sticker for that session) I'd say this boy's behaviour is probably made considerably worse by being told to use a behaviour management strategy by one adult then working with somebody else who refuses to use it.
    Child A misses so many it is an occasion when he gets to have one. This is not down to me-as I said I am part-time, but missing play-time also has a hugely detrimental effect on the lesson after, when an active little boy has not been able to run himself out.)
    Again, inconsistency of approach. I am not saying you are wrong, but if there is one thing I have learned it's that children become very confused and frustrated if everyone is not singing from the same hymn sheet. Time for some frank conversations with your partner teachers, perhaps?
     
  5. I'm sorry, you have misunderstood my somewhat twisted semantics.
    Of course I use the chart- and we do all sing from the same hymnsheet- I merely meant that the child's behaviour had not merited a reward sticker for his reward/monitoring behaviour chart (agreed between us all, TAs, parent and child ) in that session but that he had illicitly taken unused stickers from the cupboard and awarded them to himself. A propensity for fraud in later life, perhaps?
    Vis a vis the playtime issue- when I said "This is not down to me" I meant that he misses a lot of playtimes becauses he misbehaves for my colleague, or doesn't finish his work, or has been agressive/ hurt another child during a previous break. Missing break/ or part of it is the standard sanction that I use too- and I try to be consistent with it-it is just that it can have a knock on effect in that behaviour in a small boy is not always enhanced through lack of exercise, and I wondered if anyone had some suggestions for alternative sanctions.
    I am also trying to discover whether any other cynics out there think that the standard response from Heads to teacher distress at some children’s dreadful behaviour (i.e.: to observe you as “a critical friend”) is actually a very clever way of enticing people to keep shtum about it. I mean, we all love criticism, don’t we? And it’s our fault, anyway, isn’t it? (I did say I was a cynic).
     
  6. I agree with this although I wouldn't say that a senior manager who behaved in this way is clever. Quite the opposite in fact.
     
  7. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    I agree that it's quite obvious that some SMT focus on the teacher not the misbehaving child(ren) - its easier to deal with teachers failing to control classes than actually deal with the behaviour of the children themselves. Not much you can do about it unfortunately - there will always be those that find whatever minute error a teacher does and use this to excuse abysmal pupil behaviour (including those doing this on TES). There is always more a teacher can do, you see...... Cynical, yes. Accurate, absolutely.
     
  8. Oh how familiar this sounds! I have first-hand experience of this type of technique by SLT. A few years ago at my old school, I had the class from hell. I wrote it all down and handed it in, talked it over with my line manager etc. The behaviour got inrceasingly worse as I continued to stick to the sanctions; the students saw that I wasn't supported and got worse and worse. The worse they got, the more I passed on notes. As a result, not one of the children were spoken to about their behaviour but I was observed frequently, given tips (before the observations started) like 'do you do 3 part lessons?' and 'have you tried making the activities more exciting?' as if it was all my fault.
    I agree with the PP who said it's weak management. I don't think it's a coincedence that behaviour at the school went markedly downhill in the years before I left. Weak SLT = denial of the actual problem and a shift of blame elsewhere.
     
  9. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    The further away from bad behaviour you get in teaching, the more you think that it doesn't exist. Many senior people/ LEA wallahs/ Behaviour Wallahs/ teacher trainers fall into this trap. Because they are no longer in difficult classrooms on a long term basis they can pretend that it's not such a problem after all, or that they have some kind of magic skill set that calms and pacifies the savage breast. They don't.
    1. SLT usually have timetables so skimpy they would barely cover your modesty; and what they do have is often composed of sixth form or the odd genial class.
    2. Even if they do have a challenging class, by virtue of their light timetable they have the time to deal with the behaviour that arises, as opposed to the NQT who has lesson after lesson of the same, and drowns under an avalanche. There is an economy of scale at work here; a tipping point of time spent accumulating behaviour to follow up, versus time available to deal with that behaviour.
    3. Having status in a school helps make behavioural problems melt away; even the dumb kids realise when someone is a CO and when someone is a private. Power cows.
    4. Being well known to the children is connected to (3) but not the same. If you've been there a while the kids acknowledge that you're part of the school, and not merely a delivery boy.
    As time goes by, a senior teacher can walk through a school day and say, 'This school is well behaved!' A new member of staff, or a cover teacher, can go through the same day and say, 'This school is terrible! I'm off.' No wonder- they've been in different schools, in the same building with the same kids. Such are the senior staff who ascribe behavioural problems to teacher weakness, oblivious to the fact that, were they to to be parachuted into an unfamiliar, challenging school, their vaunted 'experience' wouldn't prevent the kids from taking them to pieces.
    Best of all, they pour scorn on the struggling teacher, put them on a 'at risk' list, and call it support. How lovely of them.
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     
  10. This conjured up interesting, if somewhat puzzling, images until it dawns that it's a verb and not a noun. [​IMG]
    But it's an unlikely theory in this context; much more likely that the senior staff have earned some respect over time by consistently applying good behaviour management strategies that have demonstrated their positive interest in the welfare and success of all pupils, whereas the NQT who tries a "she who must be obeyed just because she is the adult in the room" approach, without any of those subtler (but assertive) approaches, is going to have a hard time. It's 2011, not 1961. (Not that I'm necessarily saying that is your position, will-o, but one does see a fair bit of it around.)
    Tom, if your "expert" contribution here seems to focus around repetitive moaning and bitching that senior staff and behaviour "wallahs" are all rubbish and that's the cause of most people's problems, it seems to me to make this forum a pointless exercise that merely provides an opportunity for the inadequate and the disaffected to let off steam. Pointless.
     

  11. Perhaps it would help if you explained what you mean by 'good behaviour management' strategies?

     
  12. I am not yet disaffected, nor do I believe that I am inadequate -although it is interesting to see how quickly One of the Above seeks to push the blame right back on those at the sharp end!
    And as for letting off steam- hardly pointless- or would it be better to just go bang! Many thanks to those posters who have saved my sanity-and my poor family from constant moans this weekend!
     
  13. Mr Leonard, I have seen enough of your previous contributions on this forum to be fairly sure that, however one might attempt to answer that question, you will respond with a mindless restatement of your firmly entrenched views on this topic.
    I could also refer you to the many previous attempts others have made to provide you and your like-minded regular posters here with some relevant ideas. Or I could point out that the topic does not lend itself to a few comments on an online forum, but is extensively covered in a wide range of documents, publications, seminars and courses, all of which would require some serious study and considerable in vivo practice to develop your capabilities in this regard.
    By way of example, which just happens to spring to mind because I had some engagement with it last year, here is one - just one - useful reference:
    http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dcells/publications/100824practicalen.pdf
    I would make the friendly suggestion that you set aside some evenings for the next few weeks, work your way through it carefully, and reflect upon how you might progress. At least it would be a start, and more beneficial that regurgitating your negativity here day after day, Good luck!

    Will-o, I'm glad to hear you're adequate and affected. [​IMG]
    I suppose it was maybe the following that made me suspect otherwise: "I am also trying to discover whether any other cynics out there think
    that the standard response from Heads to teacher distress at some
    children’s dreadful behaviour (i.e.: to observe you as “a critical
    friend”) is actually a very clever way of enticing people to keep shtum
    about it. I mean, we all love criticism, don’t we? And it’s our fault,
    anyway, isn’t it? (I did say I was a cynic)."




     
  14. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    1. I clearly state that this is a problem for some SLT, not all.
    2. Although we clearly disagree on many matters, I'm asking you for a second time on this forum to write with better manners. I'm happy to discuss matters of pedagogy in respectful way, and I certainly don't consider my views to be final. Your method of reply is, to be frank, insulting. Please conduct yourself with more dignity.
     
  15. My view on this topic is that the behaviour strategies endorsed by the likes of you are no where near as effective as you think they are - especially when classroom teachers are not supported by their schools.
    Now when one attempts to point this out you say that it must be the personality of the teacher which is flawed rather than your strategies. With this in mind I'm rather surprised you have the nerve to accuse me of having entrenched views.
    Refer away.
    I had a quick look at your link. I've heard it all before and a large part of it seems to consist of lists of buzzwords and personality traits that 'effective' teachers should have. I'm dubious - for example how do we measure how creative someone is? How do we decide whether someone is dynamic or not? Why does being dynamic cause pupils to behave better?
    Regardless of my sceptism towards this document my main complaint isn't about publications and behaviour wallahs who say it is good to be a 'hard worker' or to 'praise' pupils. My complaint is about publications and behaviour wallahs who refuse to acknowledge that it takes more than excellent teaching to turn tough schools around.
    I read something interesting the other day that said that the banking crisis could have been avoided if those that correctly predicted it were not ostracised for thinking negatively.
     
  16. The word you used was in fact "many", which, as I am sure you realise, carries a different inference to "some".
    It is a matter of regret to me that you find my comments ill-mannered, insulting and undignified; my own view is that, under the circumstances, my contributions could be classified as mild-mannered to almost Clark Kent proportions.
    I read your comments here regularly and am frequently horrified that these come from someone appointed as the "expert" in this area. (On what grounds, I have no idea. It is not obvious from the brief CV published on this site, nor from the contents of your personal website, featuring the book you would like to sell, which you advertise here with almost every posting.) I will not quote at length from the content of your postings, but even just referring to fellow professionals with much more experience than yourself as "wallahs" who "pour scorn" seems to me quite inappropriate given your appointment. And the words you often use to describe children and young people are, in my view, frequently unacceptable. But the comment that sticks indelibly in my mind is when you said, "And thanks to Gove, we can now all get our knuckle dusters out." That you described this last comment as ironic did not impress me, that seemed to carry as much weight as "C'mon mate, we're only kidding" and "It was just a joke. sir", neither of which I have often regarded as carrying much credibility. The fact that you felt empowered to make such a comment in your official capacity here told me pretty much everything I needed to know.
    So any insult is in your reading, and any lack of dignity lies in your own writing. My response is not personal, it concerns the content of your postings, the attitudes you portray and the professional competence as an "expert" that you claim to represent. In the context in which we communicate here, I do not see that saying so is ill-mannered, it is simply fair comment. If you volunteer for the position you hold, and then use that position to comment using the language that you do, then you should certainly be robust enough to take it.
     
  17. Firstly I think you ought to look through some of your own posts before getting on your high horse about the terms 'wallah' and 'high horse'.
    Secondly if you are going to complain about the language used by experts on the board you really ought to do it consistently. You seem to ignore poor language when it is used by self proclaimed experts who happen to share your point of view.
    PS Inconsistency, unfairness and ignoring poor behaviour are all traits that you associate with inadequate teachers.


     
  18. Apologies I meant to say 'the terms 'wallah' and 'pour scorn''
     
  19. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    So if I understand correctly you are continuing to put huge amounts of time and effort into planning lessons when you know that these lessons will not work and will be sabotaged? It sounds to me like you are not channelling your efforts very effectively if this is the case. If your current all singing, all dancing lessons are not working then why continue with such a labour intensive regime? If you reduce your workload in the planning and delivering of lessons then you might have more time and energy to chase up the behaviour issues. You will also feel less resentful of your lesson being ruined if you have put less effort into it.
    I assume your past experiences of being observed are broadly positive then. The observer might have some worthwhile advice to offer. They might not. Provided it is done in a supportive way it can't do any harm.
    I used to think like that about 12 years ago when I was new to teaching. I was having real problems managing behaviour and I was convinced that I was doing all the right things so the problem must be the kids. I struggled for 18 months until i realised that if I was doing everything right then things ought to be getting better. The kids were not going to change unless I changed something. If what you're doing isn't working then it's worth considering changing something. This observation might give you some ideas about that.
    I would consider making your lesson less all singing all dancing, Reduce the content and reduce the amount that is going on. This reduced pace will make you more able to pick up poor behaviour. If you tell the class that you will go back to your all singing stuff when the behaviour improves you might get a bit of peer pressure going too.


     
  20. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    I'm happy to discuss behaviour issues til the cows come home. But I also think that adults and professionals need to be able to disagree about the issues without making personal judgements about the people writing them. I also believe that these forums are a great way to hear other people's points of view so that we can agree, disagree or ignore. There's no need- there's never a need- for it to become confrontational, because then the value of the discussion is impeded by the emotional content of how we engage. While I disagree with many things people say, I never describe the writers in a derogatory manner, or question them personally. I enjoy reading other points of view to mine, because it forces me to challenge my own beliefs, and to hopefully reflect upon my own practise. That, in my opinion, is one way we can all improve as teachers.
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     

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