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"Are you being supported?"

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Teapot345, Nov 18, 2018.

  1. Teapot345

    Teapot345 New commenter

    This is the question I am most often asked, currently. I am struggling with a very difficult class that all other teachers in the school refused to teach and my (experienced) phase leader/PPA cover walked out on a few weeks ago. I arrived new to the school this year and was given this class, blind and oblivious to it.

    What does support look like in your school?

    My previous experience of "support" in a difficult class turned out to be evidence gathering by SLT and bullying to get me out as an NQT. It took me a year following that to get back on my feet and into a good place, mentally. Then I started here. Now I feel like I'm sliding right back down the same path, feeling like a failure all over again.

    So, what might actual support look like?
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I don't work in a school on a permanent basis but as a supply teacher.

    Firstly, do not blame yourself. It is wrong of the school to "dump" this class on you. Keep records of everything that has happened. The incident of the teacher walking out and the other teachers refusing to teach this class.

    The HoD should try to provide you with another adult in the room since if there are two people then two can provide a united front.

    The HoD and SLT should sit down with you and help you with a plan to get back control. You in a million years won't be able to do this alone.

    Ensure you are in a union. I would ring them and see what their view on your situation is.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  3. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    Sorry to hear of this situation. It really isn't acceptable for a school to give new teachers a class that is reknowned for being difficult. Also very counterproductive as neither you nor the students are getting a fair deal.

    Firstly, I would ask why is nothing being done to change the dynamics of the class? The HoD needs to take responsibility for removing key players, mixing this class in with others to try to make a more workable environment. Sometimes, the balance of girls/boys/high/low/teacher-student relationships etc just doesn't work and the department need to acknowledge this and make changes. This is done in my current school. Simply throwing in more teachers expecting someone to cope isn't going to work.

    Absolutely you should have a second adult in the room whenever possible - and a pre-arranged 'parking' system whereby students are removed and dealt with by someone in SLT.

    The students need consequences for their behaviour and for this you need help. What are the current procedures? Are you able to insist on anything from the school's systems being followed? For example, at what point does the Head of Year/HoD/deputy head become involved? If there isn't anything, you can try emailing your HoD, copying in the head of year and appropriate line managers/pastoral managers etc, detailing what is happening in the class, naming key players and listing the things you have done to no avail. Explain how detrimental the current situation is to the progress of the students and ask directly for them to support you.

    You should be able to expect this sort of support from senior teachers/leaders:
    - being in the room throughout lessons, or being there at the start of lessons to get established and then returning to check on students, monitoring certain students themselves through report cards/school system, issuing and carrying out detentions/sanctions and speaking to parents.

    These things happen in other schools so ask directly for them to happen. Other teachers cannot "refuse" to teach a class and then expect you to do so. You should be part of a team. Remind your HoD of this. I think you will need to be really firm about what needs to happen, otherwise they will hope you just struggle on.

    Good luck. Let us know how you get on.
    JohnJCazorla and janerain72 like this.
  4. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Established commenter

    Reading all recent threads in this Behaviour Forum I find quite unbelievable. Support from other staff acting as a team was what I was advised to expect in any school as I trained during my PGCE in 1966.
    When I began teaching in 1967 as a mature person (I had worked in industry previous to my teacher training) I pushed Sarah's excellent advice to the limit. I never joined a union, my own views, training and experience caused all powers that be to back off.
    It Is so disheartening that nothing has changed. Note that I said that this support could be expected in all schools, not just some. It didn't happen but I made it happen, or changed schools.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. mccara73

    mccara73 New commenter

    I'm an experienced teacher of 15 years (spent in one school) and have recently started a new school and been given a difficult class. A very similar scenario, I have a class of 10 boys who many staff regard as unteachable and renowned for feral behaviour. During my lessons with them I feel like I'm working in a PRU unit not mainstream education. Do you think it's fair for my new school to give me this class? It wouldn't have happened in my old school.
  6. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor


    Hello, I am surprised that your school have given you this class in your first year there. Was there any discussion about it before you got your timetable? Is it a standard state school? If so, I imagine a class of 10 is a specialist option to accommodate challenging circumstances and therefore the head of department should be monitoring and reviewing this strategy.

    How are you getting on with it?

    I would as above, insist on support if you feel you need it and don't be afraid to question their decision to give you the class. Ask what the rationale was for creating this small class and what the expectations are. This could help clarify who is 'in charge' of the boys and therefore show you who to press for support.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  7. Cleod

    Cleod New commenter

    Hello, Have been reading this thread and others which have been very comforting. Not much help to other queries as I'm in a similar boat. I'm an experienced teacher (6/7yrs) and new to quite a good school since Sep. I've THE classes though. Others have said it. Every class bar one, there are tough classes where there are students who challenge me. For example, my second top set in one yr groups seems to have some characters which I find odd yet same set in another yr group has angels?! I can manage the other classes myself but I know other teachers have nicer classes than me. I find two classes horrendously challenging and stressful. Have done everything: logged, detentions, escalated, praised, seating plans, v.structured lessons, phoned home for good and bad, praised, toughened up, gone to HOD/HY/SLT. Two students were removed from one class indefinitely. I am supported only when I ask for help even though one class are notorious. I feel very hard done by and resentful. I know I'm a good teacher so I have the sense to know it's not me but I feel like a broken record about them and I end up struggling by myself and criticizing myself. Sure I will look at ways to adapt my teaching for these classes but there is only so much time in the day in a demanding school where I have to make my own lessons as not everything is shared. (Also no resources available for my texts but resources from previous years shared for other teachers?) Any tips? Must I pay 'my dues first'? I resent the school in fact for giving me one class in particular. How do I stop resenting the school? I just feel like packing it all in!
    agathamorse, JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Support means other adults helping members in the class..Especially a difficult class.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Cleod

    Firstly, I am very sorry you have been put in this position. There are hundreds if not thousands of classes all over the country like the difficult ones you describe causing anxiety and stress for those who try to teach them. I know it is small consolation to you, but you are not alone.

    Are you in a position to look abroad for work? Working overseas isn't always perfect, but some people have posted on other forums about some successful experiences of working abroad.

    It is only going to get worse as schools do not have enough money to pay for additional TAs and other support staff which would help class teachers.

    If I were you, I would either look abroad or find a job outside teaching. Life is way too short to spend it anxious and stressed out because of lazy and arrogant teenagers.
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  10. Cleod

    Cleod New commenter

    Hi Pepper5, Thanks for advice and getting back to me :) yeah tbh teaching abroad has crossed my mind too many times the past few months..the pressure is just too much! It's great to have the option amd know others are in the same boat
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You are welcome.

    Take your time to decide what you want to do and research everything carefully.

    The pressure on teachers shouldn't be so great. If you didn't have all the disruption, you could just get on with your job and have a happy life.

    It is shocking the way some students are allowed to behave in schools because SLT don't know his to say No! No to the disruption and, therefore, leave the class teachers to fend for themselves.
    agathamorse likes this.
  12. helgarr

    helgarr New commenter

    I am sorry to hear of this, I am in a similar situation with 2 difficult Y9 groups in my first year having moved from primary to secondary. It is very stressful and demoralising.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  13. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    There really is no solution on your own.

    The way forward in the short term is to have a stronger SLT member (there is usually one or two the kids respect) in with your classes at all times without fail, reinforcing the rules and halving the burden. The behaviour policy may be ineffective and needs reviewing, but it needs to be followed, with children who won't behave excluded, parents brought in etc and punishments need to be carried out immediately, not with delays of days or weeks trying to get a kid to do a pointless detention and wasting your time, which is what usually happens.

    Longer term, resign, use the sickness route and apply like mad for other jobs. If you can, see the world. Just go for it and live; China or anywhere in Asia will be a good bet. Teaching in the UK is dreadful everywhere in the mixed state arena.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  14. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I agree 100% with binaryhex. Get out of the UK state system and don't look back.
    agathamorse likes this.

    LINGUIST2 New commenter

    I have a particularly difficult class 2 periods a week . Twice I have called my HOD for support - she has a senior class at the same time and she won't come to assist saying I have to send anyone to her but it's when lots of pupils are being loud and not listening. If she can't come it would be nice if she could contact SLT for one of them to come. Senior staff seem to want to ignore any problems just because the kids sit and behave for them. What should I do?
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  16. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You can't do anything apart from looking for a better school t work at, but SLT ignoring requests for help is common.

    The SLT need to show a united front and discipline the students causing the mayhem.
    agathamorse likes this.

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