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Angry, aggressive Y7 pupil refusing LSA intervention... Please help!

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Lilybett, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Hellooo,
    Just to give you the background, I'm a primary NQT but have been unsuccessful in securing a teaching post and have started work as an LSA in a secondary school.
    I have 5 kids I work with for a few hours a week, from Y7-10. I have only so far met one of my Y7 charges. I was waiting beside his place as he sat down and brightly said: 'Hi, ____. I'm Miss L. and I'm going to be working with you in a few of your lessons.' His response? 'Oh, for ****'s sake!'
    I didn't want to get into a fight on our first meeting so I just said that that's not appropriate language to use in school. His reply? 'Get lost!'
    So then he sat, his whole body turned as far away from me as possible. He refused to interact with me at all. When I tried to speak to him (like, when he was staring into space instead of starting the activity and I asked if he had everything he needed), he just repeated: 'Get lost!' He refused to speak to me and sat hiding his work from me. I could, however, glance bits of it and it looked fine. Handwriting was cursive, spelling perfect, answers correct, etc. And despite the delay in getting started, once he did, he just silently got on with the work set.
    So I glanced at the bit of paper I've been given about my kids and there is no mention of any academic problems. It just says that he has social and communication problems and is prone to aggressive behaviour against adults and children.
    I chatted to the teacher after the lesson and he was lovely about it. He was horrified about the 'Oh, for f*cks sake' and said he could see why I hadn't got angry about it but that he wouldn't tolerate it again, but was also at a loss as to how you make a child accept the help of an LSA when they obviously don't want or need it. He could only suggest talking to the SENCO but I don't want to look like I already can't hack it!
    Actually, I'm going off on a bit of a tangent and should be posting that in the TA forum... What I wanted to ask of you behaviour experts is... Help? I have to go to all of this kid's English lessons, his D&T and his Art. How can I make him open up to me, other than being patient? Obviously when I see him again on Thursday (shudder) for English AND Art (shudder), it will be a clean slate and I'll act as pleased to see him as I was today. And if the only reason he has an LSA is that he is prone to aggressive violent behaviour... what should I do?!
    I was only offered the job on the last day of the summer term, so it isn't the school's fault, but I've had no time for any training. I know this sounds a bit stupid coming from a qualified teacher but... [​IMG] If he starts having an aggressive tantrum, do I remove him from the classroom? Can I touch him? Can I make him? What if he assaults me or a pupil? I only took this LSA job as a stopgap to a teaching job, I really would not like to be struck off during this time!!!
    Am now absolutely dreading meeting the next two of these kids tomorrow! Please help! Many thanks xx
    PS: Can I just be really bloody elderly and grouchy and say that I am only 26 and I would never have DREAMT of speaking to an adult (in school or out) like that when I was 11! You know even when you got told off for something you REALLY hadn't done and you had that huge sense of injustice about the whole thing?! I literally wouldn't have dared! Little sod! ;)
  2. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Right, Lilybett, from what you have written, you have done very well in trying circumstances.
    As the boy is Year 7, I assume that he's only been in the school 5 minutes. Wow! What a start!
    My advise would be to go to SENCO and his HoY. He MUST have come to the school with a shed load of paperwork so ask if either you can see it or ask the SENCO to go through it with you so that you can plan some strategies together. Obviously, you cannot have a repeat of your first lesson together, so get all the help and support you can.

  3. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    To be fair to him (no he doesn't deserve it, but hey ho!) he has started at his new school and then gets stuck with this 'teacher' sitting next to him, cramping his style. He isn't going to be impressed with the singling out and the attention that tells all of his new class that he needs help. "Get Lost" is probably a reflection of his feelings which say "This school already thinks I'm a loser then! Great! What is the point in being anything else?" Someone more experienced in the role should have warned you this would be the likely result before you went in and suggested a different approach.

    I would find some nice looking children who look like they could do with a bit of help. Sit with them and offer your help to them tomorrow and leave this poor lad alone. Maybe pass him a note that says 'I don't mind not sitting with you, but I want you to know I'm here to help YOU really. Can we think of a signal that tells me when you need help, so I know to come to you as soon as possible? And I'll obviously leave you alone when you are fine." Then leave the note on his desk with a smile.

    Any time he does anything good in a lesson when you are about, give him a massive smile. It will take ages and ages to build a relationship with such a damaged child, so be patient and keep being kind. Even when he throws it back at you, it isn't his fault as such and nor is it yours. He is only 11 and life has taught him to be this way.

    However, if he does something totally unacceptable, like swear at you, make sure you know exactly what the school and SEN policy is for dealing with this and then use it. He will test your boundaries and NEEDS you to be clear and consistent.
  4. Thank you both for replying. xxx All the advice has been to see the SENCO, and the D&T teach said to go and see him, so I guess I realy must do that.
    Pffft. To be fair to the school, since only Y7 have been in today, I spent this morning with another LSA, so I could watch her. But how things worked was that I watched her sit beside a very sweet girl who was delighted to have a grown-up all to herself, desperate to please and looked and acted MUCH younger than her 11 years and I though: This looks okay! (To be fair, though, since this child has bladder issues, every cloud!)
    Minnie, I like the idea of the letter. I bet he contemptuously tears it to shreds lol. I just CANNOT sit beside him when the little jerk is practically breaking his spine, he's leaning so far away from me for the whole hour. I know there are other kids in the class on School Action/S.A.+ so at least I could spend the time doing something useful. But I dunno, if his Statement says he has X hours of individual support or whatever, is it right for me to *** off and sit elsewhere?
    Can't wait to get back into teaching!! Hehehe! [​IMG]
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    WOW! Your language and way of describing him, definitely says you aren't keen to work with him! You are going to have to feign some positivity towards him if you are going to make this work.

    Having support does not mean he has someone sitting right next to him watching his every move. Support means there is someone available should he need it. He is an 11 year old boy, he isn't going to want you sitting right next to him in his lessons. He is simply displaying the behaviours that have put him on the SEN register. Work with others nearby and keep an eye on him, smile every time you catch his eye (no he won't smile back for ages yet). Once you have him not glaring, snarling or swearing when you smile at him you can start to speak to him as well. Little by little you will build a bridge and then be able to support him more fully.
  6. Also... Can I ask for tips on meeting the rest of the kids, so I don't completely stuff them all up?!
    Tomorrow I have two D&T lessons with a Y9 boy. I have no info on him whatsoever, though, sooo...
    And tomorrow I have Maths with a Y7 boy. He is Statemented, epileptic, on medicine which diminishes concentration and dyslexic (reading age: 7). Doesn't say anything about anger issues...
    And then on Thur I meet the other one, another Y7 lad. BESD. Apparently he behaves unpredictably and gets aggressive when presented with an unfamiliar or unpleasant task (I shouldn't smile at this, but.... I'm sure I won't be when I meet him!). He likes to run away from school and to 'shut down' and refuse to speak for hours at a time, eek! Ability average but behaviour gets in way of progress and very bad memory, apparently.
    On Thursday and Friday, I have several lessons with these two Y7 lads together. Sounds like fun and games!
    I can see how introducing yourself like I did today sends the message: 'The school already expects you to be a loser'. I had romantic notions about building some great relationship based on honesty, getting a bit Robin Williams. I mean, sure a little kid might not think too much of it if an adult 'happens' to come sit with them, but I thought a secondary kid would obviously figure and not appreciate being fibbed to. ...How might be a good way of introducing myself to these lads? So grateful for your help xxx
  7. Of course! I have never forgotten once reading that:
    Teachers are only human and they will have favourites and they will have pupils they dislike but they must never show it.
    I never do. :) xxx
  8. Ignore all that **** they say about students, take them at face value. I wrote on the TA forum, regarding the target method. I believe this will work, and what I forgot to mention is that you could write the targets on the board for a few students so not to draw attention to him.

  9. With regards to this one:
    Removing from the classroom - would leave this to teacher's judgement (he is unlikely to leave the room for you, you are more likely to be able to do this when you have built up a positive relationship with him - along the lines of: "Let's take some time-out and have a bit of space to calm down", rather than "That's enough - Get out!)
    Can I touch him?
    Yes, you can (despite what kids say), BUT I would strongly advise against it! Many teenagers do not like being touched, especially when they are angry and it is by someone they don't know very well.
    Can I make him? Er...No! You can't make anyone do anything they don't want to. End of! (You can use consequences etc, but ultimately he will only do it if he wants to!)
    What if he assualts me?
    Not that likely - most teenagers are 'all mouth and no trousers' - there are of course exceptions to this rule and I don't know this young man. However, in my experience, most young people are not violent unless 'pushed into a corner' (eg. shouting in his face, grabbing hold /touching them - they may often hit out as a reflex, standing in their way etc.)
    Behaviour management can be very different with teenagers, than primary age children, as they react in different ways. It is important not to 'show them up' or give them an audience, particularly at secondary level. Delayed compliance is another technique that works well with oppositional teenagers. I would echo what others have said about not being 'in his face' but being part of the classroom as a whole and noticing others work. Even if he won't let you close, just glancing over his shoulder once in a while and noticing and praising something good about his work - "Well done, that's really neatly presented", (but praise others - don't single him out), will help to build that relationship and help him to not see you as a threat, who will expose him weaknesses.
  10. Depending on the timescale - I think you may have missed the boat on the behaviour consequence. In order for them to be effective they need to be immediate (especially for BESD students). I don't think it will help your relationship much if you give him a detention a week later! You may have to accept you have missed your moment for this one, but make sure you know the behaviour policy next time and follow it if he uses bad language.
    Would agree with the comments about the letter though - it would really draw attention to the lad to pass him a note and would also single him out. Just keep it low key and whilst you have having a wander around the room, just ask him a few others, if they are doing ok.
  11. I am surprised that schools are still allocating TA's to be velcroed to one student, takes me back about 10 years in SEN teaching! As a SENCO, I do not expect a TA to only work with one student, especially one with behaviour issues. I usually make sure the TA and teacher are aware of all students in the class who might need support - whether or not they are actually on the SEN register, and then encourage the TA to work with those targetted students, while at the same time keeping a weather eye on any BESD students. The only time a TA will work 1:1 an sit next to a student is to scribe or read for them if they have that need.
    For BESD students in a Secondary school their street credibility is very important and I know very few who will accept a TA working too obviously with them. Really the TA is only there in case something kicks off when they might be needed to step in, possibly to go and get help or supervise the rest of the class while the teacher deals with the disruptive behaviour. Eventually you might build up a relationship whereby when you spot the danger signs you can step in to defuse the situation but that will take some time.
    Even though a Statement might refer to hours of support, it does not mean that a TA has to be present for that time, many schools have smaller class sizes for Intervention classes or counselling staff which can be paid for out of the SEN budget.

    Incidentally one of the thing Ofsted judges is the effective use of additonal adults in the classroom on the progress of all the students, an Inspector will expect to see you interact with the whole class, asking searching questions to check their understanding and help them move on.
    Good luck for the rest of the term, enjoy!!

  12. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    This is absolutely excellent advice. At its core it recognises
    that this pupil has specific needs, and just as we'd differentiate
    for pupils with learning difficulties, we can do a lot by
    differentiating with those pupils who have behavioural difficulties.

    Minnie has also summed up in a few words the idea of reframing
    this relationship: that is, we all get locked in to perceived
    patterns of relationship - he thinks "she's just a sh*t
    teacher", you think "he's just a feral wee ned" - and
    that prevents us seeing solutions; and if we want to find a solution,
    we have to break that cycle. And given we're the responsible,
    educated adults, we're the best ones to do it. So yes, try to
    "reframe" the situation: try to look at his motivations
    differently so that you can look at the situation differently; by
    doing so, you might just catch him by surprise and get him to take
    (positive) notice of you. We're not trying to “understand” him –
    he may actually be a wee ned – but trying to change our
    perceptions so that we can find another way to skin a cat.

    I'm all for expectations and insisting on rules - I'm an assertive
    disciplinarian at heart - but we sometimes have to accept that
    an individual might need a different approach. I'd
    recommend trying what minnie has suggested. If he tears it up – so
    what? Try again. Try something different.

  13. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    If it was me I'd try and turn the whole thing on its head... go find him during his form time and get him out of the room, tell him you think there has been a bit of a misunderstanding. Tell him very clearly that you have been assigned to him because of his poor behaviour skills and not his ability to do the work. Make a deal with him... explain that as long as he is working well with others and responding appropriately to the teacher you will work with the other students in the class who would like help with their work... but if his behaviour deteriorates you will be glued to his side! In order to make this offer to him he has to 'give' something too. He has to give you 10 minutes of form time every few days to tell you how he's getting on in his lessons and with the other kids. Obviously you'll need to check this out with his form tutor and subject teachers but you might find if you treat him in a slightly more adult way he's more likely to respond. the next step is to start passing by his desk every now and then during the lesson and ask him about the work, ask his teacher if you can set small extension tasks to raise his game a bit. If you're giving him a positive response to his work and acknowledging he's bright he may warm to you more. In English if he's doing any form of creative writing ask him if he can write a whole paragraph without using the words: and or then. Or find him a thesaurus and challenge him to use two four syllable words or something. kids with behaviour problems spend a huge amout of time being told off by one group of staff and 'mollycoddled' by the rest... the most successful LSAs I've met are the ones who are always totally straight with the kids. When they do well tell them so... if they're out of order tell them how disappointed you are and why their behaviour is not acceptable. I'd also recommend you do a bit of reading on Restorative Justice... might help with the actions and consequences bit for kids who don't care and won't attend detentions.
  14. I work with teenagers.

    I'd tell him that you have been asigned to him because of his behaviour, an example being his behaviour the last time you met and that if his behaviour improves you will no longer be assigned to him.
    You get paid the same if you sit next to him, or if you sit in the corner reading a book.

    I liked the idea of a note. If he does screw it up / tear it, then sit back next to him, say his behaviour is such that you need to sit with him for 10 mins, if his attitude improves then you will move away, but only to the next table.
    Make it in to a game, see how far away he can get you in the space of one lesson.

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