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Badly behaved classes - what to do?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Progressnerd, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    Hi all

    I am leaving my current school and starting somewhere new in January but I'm still feeling really stressed out.

    I teach a year ten class this year and it's a large class of 30 pupils. There's at least 5 or 6 really tough pupils behaviour wise, known throughout school as tough characters. As my subject is a core subject it's the only subject they seem to be together in this mix for. Therefore I seem to be the only teacher giving sanctions to them and of course then you get things like 'its only this subject so you're picking on me' etc

    My current SLT at school aren't known for being supportive in these situations. I had a few similar situations in the past, asked for support and ended up being told it was my fault because of a lack of rigorous marking, not enough differentiation etc you know the usual list.

    The problem is I see this class mostly in the afternoon and they are simply unteachable. I've tried every strategy under the sun but ultimately they don't respect me, the Head of Year or my Head of Department so I'm fighting a losing battle.

    I don't know whether to ask for support but run the risk of SLT making my life unpleasant for my final 3 weeks or just get on with it and know that I'm leaving. I try and do my best for the class and the 20 or so nice kids in the class but I can't teach properly without stopping every minute to deal with defiance and low level stuff.

    The class fill with me dread and I do find myself being really snappy at times in the afternoons. I have been off with WRS in the past and if I wasn't leaving I'd probably have to go off again if this continued.

    What's the solution?
  2. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    keep doing the things you are doing, but do them with a smile on your face knowing you are nearly out of there!
  3. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    I see what you're saying but this is so hard in practice.

    Today the good pupils came in and got on with the starter nicely then 5 minutes later the disruptive pupils barged in and starting play fighting. Then when I managed to get them all seated eventually they wouldn't even open their books, were shouting across the room, were winding others up...hard to smile when that's all going on and the nice pupils are waiting for the next task.
  4. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    yeah it's tough, but keep remembering the nice ones deserve you! I would keep involving my HoD and whatever your behaviour/sanction policy is though
    forthejoyofit and sabrinakat like this.
  5. Wilmthrop

    Wilmthrop New commenter

    I think I have answered one of your other questions, yet again, I find myself in a very similar situation to you. I am due to leave in January and teach a humanities subject to an all-male Year 11 class that has a poor reputation across the board.

    In some respects, I think you've answered your own question: you are leaving in January. You must have three weeks of attendance left? Remind yourself of this every time you're faced with teaching this class, it will make you feel A LOT better. As an aside, do not tell them that you're leaving until the last possible moment, this could lead to a further deterioration in their classroom conduct.

    If I was you, I'd focus on managing behaviour and making your final weeks teaching a clearly difficult group as tolerable as possible. To this end, give them worksheets - easy to follow, well-explained activities that gradually get more and more difficult meaning that all shades of ability within the class are catered for. As you have mentioned, the problem isn't all students and such an approach means that those who behave well won't be hindered by the misbehavior of those who don't. This will give you the time and space to monitor those students who are behaving badly and sanction them accordingly.

    I think it's awful that your SLT aren't supportive in these situations, but what do you have to lose by telling them that you're having difficulty with a class? I would personally work with your HoD and the HoY to ask for the worst offenders to be removed so that they don't hinder the learning of others. Personally, I'd think this was a positive thing to do as it shows that you still remain deeply concerned about your students despite the fact that you are nearly at the end of your employment. You could also consider re-organising them into a new seating plan, although this would be a temporary measure I find that a change of scenery can regularly have a positive impact on classroom behaviour.
  6. mollyhog

    mollyhog Occasional commenter

    I used to have classes like that. I would intercept the disruptive ones at the door (send them back out of the room if necessary) and talk to them before they come in. Reiterate the class rules, tell them what you expect them to do when they get to their desks and tell them that this is the first of their 3 warnings (assuming you have a 3 strike system). Make them tell you that they understand, and get them to repeat the expectations back to you. As soon as one steps out of line write their name on the board. They hate having to acknowledge that they know what the expectations are because it leaves them without a leg to stand on when they do step out of line.
  7. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    Having worked somewhere with a strict behaviour policy set by SLT and then a school with a loose policy, I feel your pain! Without backup from SLT and a consistent approach from other teachers across the school it can be extremely tough to implement sanctions. My advice would be:
    - Create your own set of 5 rules with the class and explain why it’s important. Ask them to copy out the rules into their books for reference.
    - When a student affects their own or others learning, give them 3 strikes and then they’re out! Can you send for someone to collect them? If not, give them a worksheet and ask them to work on a desk outside while you stand close to the door. They should also get an after school detention the same day. Ask the office to text home as a curtesy.
    - Use positives to invite students to fall in line “well done 4 people are doing that task, now 5.....”
    - Have a board for achievements and put names on there for doing the right thing or getting questions correct. Ask the students what they would like (positive letter to parents, phone call, text, merit points, stickers?!)
    - Tier your work so students start off with something really easy and feel positive about achieving something. Praise them for doing well and move them up.

    I’m sure you know many of these but this is what has worked for me previously. It would be better if you could get the backing of SLT or heads of year too. Log everything and then explain to anyone who will listen the issues you are having with those students and the evidence you have gathered.
  8. Thomw1994

    Thomw1994 New commenter

    I have this many times a week. I simply let them know that they're just children and regardless of whether they learn, I'm still in charge and whether they want to or not, they're not going to take away the luxury for someone else to learn.

    Today I sat at the front of the classroom and rang each of their parents and invited them into the classroom to see their child's book, speak to the class about their behaviour and really feel embarrassed. I remember a teacher when I was in school invite a parent in to listen to what the other students think about their behaviour and how they can't learn while their child is disruptive.

    I also have a number of students on behaviour contracts to me during their lessons which means they and their parents have agreed to a set of rules to improve behaviour, and if these aren't met, then they will be sanctioned. Even a minor break will result in detention (e.g. six targets, one target not met results in a detention).

    Luckily, my HoD is very supportive of behaviour and knows that I have some very difficult classes so these have been spoken about with the school.

    Congrats on the new job and I'm hoping that the new school is better! I know how having bad classes can ruin your outlook on teaching, but remember the lightbulb moments!
    tall tales likes this.
  9. Thomw1994

    Thomw1994 New commenter

    Also, make praise the big aspect of your classroom. Like I have a sweet box and the kids who do the best get some sweets at the end. Make sure that you make lots of positive phone calls home. One of my worst students was excellent in a lesson last week and I rang home. The next lesson she was excellent again and behaviour has really improved.

    Some of the kids need positive reinforcement just to do the basic things.
  10. -myrtille-

    -myrtille- Occasional commenter

    I could have written most of your post.

    I have a group of 30 badly-behaved Y10s and only ever see them in the afternoons (last thing on Thursday and Friday, feel my pain!).

    Behaviour across the school is not good (special measures) and Y10 in particular are very disaffected - I see them around the school, arriving late to lessons, with headphones in and mobile phones out and very little regard for instructions from staff who tell them to put them away.

    I need to do more positives to get the middle/good kids on side, because I feel like we're not getting anywhere due to the disruptive behaviour. It's just constant chatting, failure to listen to instructions and complete tasks. But it's really draining because I spend a huge proportion of every lesson waiting for the class to be quiet so we can move on.

    Things that make me feel better are:
    -Looking at the books and assessments of the good kids and realising that I am actually teaching them and they are making progress. Those who choose to engage are learning. I don't think they're all going to fail their GCSE!
    -Reminding myself that I have other classes who are fab for me, including some supposedly tough Y9 groups. It's not me, it's them.
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Have you tried the invisible strategy?
    Make these kids invisible?
    Prepare lots and lots of work sheets for the good kids, lots of stuff you know they are enabled to do, and talk only to them. Don't talk to those who don't behave. They are not nice, they offer you nothing in interaction, they probably take your words as provocative, in fact they might enjoy the attention.
    Don't give them it.They will be noisy, they will be disruptive, but until they physically walk over to the nice kids and grab the nice pens from their nice hands, just. make. them. invisible.
    For your sanity.
    Think about it-they are awful when you try to address it, and this is a stress point. So don't address it, they will still be awful, but you are freed up to work (ok-a backdrop of their noise) with those who take the work.
    Not a great strategy long term, but a good one to quickly forge some fond memories of the nicer ones, and more importantly, a strategy to leave you intact by the end of the lesson.
    (For what t's worth, there are certain types of disruptor who turn themselves around if you make them invisible, because in effect you are giving them nothing to disrupt-maybe that could happen too)
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    You've got two weeks to go

  13. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    Give the bad kids laptops or if you don't have any, a cut and stick activity.

    Give the good kids better worksheets.

    No stressing. You've got a few weeks left. The kids probably won't remember you by the following Christmas.
    tonymars likes this.
  14. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    You have got less than 2 weeks to go. One Week. The last two weeks of term can be filed with 'fun' activities with no teaching. Yippee. Watch films. Do revision posters. Computer activities. Ask the students what they want to do. It should be vaguely subject related. Do anything which requires minimum input and stress for you. (Alternatively, you could make them do a mock exam in silence).
    You've got the new job. References are done. No-one from this school will be pulling you up in January. Enjoy your last couple of weeks.:)
  15. Apple76

    Apple76 New commenter

    I have a year 10 that are really hard work too. When I have them lesson 1 they are so good and nice to teach. Lesson 4 or 5 they can be a real pain. There are a few key characters, a bit with adhd who on days when he’s off the wall is a nightmare, a boy who joined late from a pru who has changed the dynamics totally and an autistic pupil who gets no support and is so needy.

    It’s hard to smile for three weeks as they can really drain you, so keep up the expectations and sanctions. Ask your god if he / she can take two out and ask the same of the head of year. That leaves only one to deal with and it will probably be fine then. You need to say you can’t deal with them anymore and want support.
  16. FredfromFrance

    FredfromFrance New commenter

    Ask your god if he / she can take two out and ask the same of the head of year.

    By the power of Odin! I cast ye out!
    strawbs likes this.
  17. Apple76

    Apple76 New commenter

    Auto correct is actually more helpful than my suggestions here :)

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