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Bullied by pupils

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by grantgust, Mar 16, 2017.

  1. grantgust

    grantgust New commenter

    hi everyone,
    I m here for advice. I m not an experienced teacher and in the past month I've been having great difficulties dealing with this. KS4 class. Their behavior toward me is appalling. They don't listen to instructions or to me giving them warning or telling them to stop talking. Instead they ignore me or they start attacking me in chorus - shouting that I m rude to them and that I m victimizing them. They refuse to work, or to leave the classroom if I ask them to. They challenge every aspect of the lesson and anything ai do and every topic (why this, why that, we don't like it, we don't need it, why this topic, why this activity, that person can teach us better, your lesson are boring, you can't teach us, you are a terrible teacher, this is s useless...). I'm ignoring all of that and carrying on, but it s it helping and now even good kids comply with the attitude of the class. And it's basically 1 against 20 whenever I say something. SMT
    Has talked to them, but the situation has gotten much worse, to the point I break down crying after every single lesson, and we have 3 or 4 a week. I don't know what to do. They made it clear they don't trust me and that they ignore my authority. What would you do?
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. Aaaarghghgh

    Aaaarghghgh New commenter

    I would write an email to my immediate boss and explain the situation, that I feel unsupported and that I am having difficulty coping, including that it is starting to impact upon my health. Read through the email once you have written it and take out as much of the emotion as possible while sticking to the facts. Make clear in the email what you want from your boss, and give a time limit - e.g. that you would like to meet with them this week to discuss the matter.

    For what it is worth, it does sound like you are having a nightmare with this class. If it is any consolation, most of us have been there. You cannot cope on your own. You need support. Politely demand it.

    Good luck.
  3. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Dunno, but I am in exactly the same situation but mine have got LSA onside who consistently undermines me. Whenever I say they can't do anything LSA says they can. My only vague consolation is that another teacher who teaches them is off with long term stress and has involved union, citing lack of duty of care for the teacher.
    I am being observed with my group next week and I suppose it will all be my fault that they are not engaged.
  4. JellyKat_123

    JellyKat_123 New commenter

    I had a very similar class of Y11s last year. My HoD had them two lessons a week, and I had them the other two. Neither of us could cope with them (and she's been teaching 20 years). We demanded SLT support, and they allowed us to split the kids who wanted to learn from the core of 8 troublemakers. We ended up just treating the group of troublemakers like babies, giving them really easy, simple work to do and expecting practically nothing from them. I know this won't be what you want to hear as a dedicated teacher that wants you to do well but they were so awful it was the only way. Is your HoD supportive?
  5. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    For those that do not appreciate what school is trying to do for them I would bring back conscription. Six months of being forced to conform to army life might make them realise that larking around will not be tolerated if/when they get a job.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Kids. Yuk.

    "Right. I know nothing. You know everything. Tell me what YOU think we should be doing. What makes a good lesson? What makes Mrs X such a great teacher? You know how to do bullet points? OK, 5 things about Mrs X that are so good, 5 things worth learning, 5 things you think I can improve at. Go. The 5 best (most useful and constructive) sets of ideas get something from me - yet to be announced. Oh. Make that an extra set of 5. 5 ways to reward effort and application. Go!"
    grantgust, FormosaRed and Piranha like this.
  7. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    You're probably not going to like what I'm going to say, but nothing is going to change s long as that class believe they have the upper-hand and that if they hang on long enough they'll break you.

    It's not personal, really it isn't. It's 'pack behaviour' gone wild these days in schools.

    You can try gdw's suggestions certainly.

    If that doesn't work, bottom-line is
    'You have to do this topic/ lesson because the government/ School etc. says we have to.
    Like you I have little choice in the content. GCSE prescriptions drive the content and bottom-line is you need to pass those exams to have any chance in life.
    Yes it's frustrating for all of us. So we just need to get on and get through the stuff we have to.
    If we can do that together, I'll see if I can add some extra interesting things now and again when we've completed the things we have to do."
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I'm afraid it's what happens to inexperienced teachers. They test you. They wind you up. They can smell the trepidation. And they haven't given up so this means you're still providing them with some entertainment. Don't shout. Try to look completely unperturbed.

    Sit down and start scribbling in a notebook. "Whatcha doin', Miss/Sir?" "Nothing." Make them a bit wary.

    But SMT has had a word. Backed up with what? There have to be consequences. Delivered by SMT. One or two have to be taken out and punished. A quiet word simply isn't good enough. Come on, SMT, that's not too much trouble. Surely!

    But never let them see you're rattled.

    Pretend to ignore them. "Miss/Sir, aren't you going to tell us to shut up?" "No." "Why not?" Shrug. What can you do if you have no back-up? They usually come round when they realise you're not going to rise to it. They get bored. But you have to be brave to feign complete indifference.
  9. katykook

    katykook Occasional commenter

    First of all poor you, this is a horrible situation and you don't deserve such treatment. You are a qualified teacher so you have been judged capable of doing your job. I would not attempt to teach this class until you have their respect and attention. So:
    1. Set them independent work with clear written instructions. Make sure you give any students who cooperate
    immediately positive feedback.
    2. If they protest say, " Your work is in front of you, you need to complete it." Just repeat this calmly every time.
    Setting this work will mean that the kids who want to learn will have something useful to do. The good kids want you to be in control of the situation.
    3. The troublemakers will get frustrated at your lack of reaction and want to up the ante - do not engage with them
    beyond repeating the above response.
    4. You need to agree to this with your line manager/HOD/SLT as you will not be teaching the lesson in the expected
    way. If you get agreement, also request someone to be on call to remove the persistent troublemakers from
    the classroom. They can take the work with them.
    5. Always follow up with them afterwards e.g. "Your behaviour today is not what I expect from a mature year 10/11.
    I'm sure we are both keen for you to gain good results in your final exams and that can't be done without your
    cooperation, so let's start again next lesson." Keep it formal and unemotional.
    6. If there is no improvement phone the parents and explain that their child is not cooperating and is likely to fail the
    exam. Never underestimate the power of the phone call home.
    7. If the student does start to cooperate give praise. If it's sustained phone home to say how pleased you are with
    8 Finally do not beat yourself up - they are the ones at fault. This is just one class amongst the others that you are
    teaching successfully.
  10. elfinamerica

    elfinamerica New commenter

    ***Sounds all too familiar!!! ;)
    Lara mfl 05 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Really sensible practical steps @katykook.

    As we all have pointed out, your major 'task' is to practise staying cool, calm and collected and a bit like a recorded message.
    Not engaging verbally but ensuring everything is written down will definitely help there. Keep going. It is not going to be easy, but perseverance and getting the more engaged ones onboard will help.
    pepper5 and (deleted member) like this.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The day has to come when we wear bodycams. Or have CCTV in the classroom.

    Trouble is that the management would be overwhelmed and couldn't cope. They manage now by pretending it doesn't exist.
  13. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    I'm sure by now you will have a load of data on students and their progress, and if these students are anything like the ones I have encountered their behaviour will be affecting their progress.

    Make students aware of their targets and where they are currently and create a checklist of common tasks the class should be doing to achieve their target grade (or if you have enough time, create a personal checklist). Have a conversation with students about where they are and where they need to be and explain how you will support them, but they have to work hard too! Also explain to them that you will be informing parents regarding their progress (not necessarily behaviour) and stress how crucial achieving their target is for their future. Remind students that if they work hard, you won't need to contact their parents.
    katykook and pepper5 like this.
  14. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    So much sound advice so far. I would add the following.

    You definitely are not going to change the situation by yourself. You need SLT to come down on this group very, very firmly. The bottom line is that they enter your room, ready to learn and follow instructions. One of the SLT needs to stay in the room for one or two lessons so you can get a chance to establish order and routines. I have recently experienced something similar and some classes are so out of control, that the only way to change it is if someone comes down very hard on them so the class gets the message that they are not in control.

    As others have said, no matter how badly they behave, do not show you are rattled. You must try to be tougher than them and believe me, Imknow what it is like to have a class that tries to make a teacher cry. Most of have been there. Remember this: it is not anything you have done, but rather the students' poor behaviour is what needs to be changed.

    Tomorrow, as a matter of urgency, speak to your HOD and get their agreement that they will formulate a plan with SLT to make changes and support you. To change this situation, you all have to have a united front to change this situation. You have a right to teach and the ones who want to learn have a right to work in peace.

    You are not an experienced teacher, but there are teachers with years of experience facing exactly the same issues. The problem is an epidemic within schools and this year has been particularly bad.
  15. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Look at the fine print of school policy. There must be something about intervention by SLT and what sanctions various behaviours elicit.

    The SLT have to do something because the kids know perfectly well they've got you by the 'nads. Send one of them out to fetch SLT and state in front of them (when they arrive) that x and y are going to have to leave the room due to a and b and will SLT kindly escort them. Thank YOU. Leave them no choice.
  16. freckle06

    freckle06 Lead commenter

    I'm always inclined to remember with awful classes, that it's a long game and one that I have always been determined to win. I agree with
    about not letting them know they're getting to you.

    There is some really good advice here, but you need you HODs support to make it work. I

    found with very difficult classes to chunk the work into manageable sizes that every child can achieve. Then at the end of the day I phoned every parent to say what a 'delight' their child had been, if they complied and completed work. I did this to get brownie points so I could cash them in later. It really helped getting the ring leader somewhere else, so I could build relations with the rest of the class.

    Good luck, and remember it's a long game, a very long game (sometimes I didn't feel I'd won until they'd left!!)
  17. gadgetgirl123

    gadgetgirl123 Occasional commenter

    I have a class like this.

    I decided trying to simplify a lesson, make it fun, wordsearches with key words etc...

    They still messed around, so I told them that I had spent time and effort trying to prepare a lesson that they would enjoy, but as they clearly did not appreciate my effort, then from now on I was going to spend my time on other classes.

    I got the text books out, and made them copy the chapter out, then again the next lesson. I sent anyone out to the behaviour room who would not behave.

    They HATED it. I do 'teach ' them now, and it isn't perfect, but it is a huge improvement.

    The last three lessons have been relatively calm and no one sent out... they have also been tokd by senior leadership that if they continue to play up, then they are not allowed to the Y11 prom.

    Don't give up, but do seek help from senior management, and perhaps film the class so the behaviour can be shown to others.
  18. suzuki1690

    suzuki1690 New commenter

    I have been there. I found giving them perhaps 20 or more numbered sentences (on the subject matter that they had recently covered) to re-write, calmed them down. They re-wrote the sentences, there were missing words shown by a dotted line within the sentence and they had to fill in the missing word using the answers at the bottom of the page or on the back of the page. The questions at the beginning were far easier than the ones towards the end to avoid any issues. When they re-wrote the sentence they had to underline the missing word that they had picked which made it easy for me to mark. If they ignored that instruction I did not mark it and sent them back to underline the missing word. They got the answers, they just had to figure out what answer went where. Some kids took my sheet and just filled in the answer on the printed sheet, they were sent back to re-write it on a piece of paper. I put the question sheet and blank lined paper on each desk for them coming in. The instructions were on the board in simple language and when they did 4 questions they came out for me to mark it or if the class was very bad I would pick a row and invite them out when it suited me. If a kid got one wrong I would tell them that 3 of the answers were right but one was wrong and send them back to their sea to figure it out. I always made sure I had enough of these sentences to last me for the full lesson. The kids eventually knew what they had to do without thinking and even started moaning that this is all they do in this class. However it controlled them, I remained in charge and for some daft reason they got on with it and it was divide and conquer, anyone stepping out of line stood out. The point was no one refused, not even the biggest chancer tried it on, it was simple but it was the subject they were studying and I had some really poorly behaved kids. It worked well, especially for classes in the afternoon. I taught in the morning when they were less likely to be a problem. Before I retired it was amazing the number of these missing word exercises I had accumulated!! It was a bit labour intensive but I used it again and again with classes the next year. Teachers in the dept loved these sheets and regularly asked for them. You have my sympathy, it brings it back which is why I am glad I am done.
  19. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I don't know what subject you are teaching, but if I were in your shoes, I'd watch out for a teaching post in a College of Further Education where students come to your classes because they have chosen to do so and want to pass their examinations. I taught in FE for more than 30 years and I couldn't have put up with this situation at all. I would have simply picked up my books and walked out. I can't imagine how you cope with this. I'm old - - - yes, yes, yes, but - we would not have dared to have treated a teacher in this way because the dreaded cane would have awaited our behinds. I bet this advice won't really help, but hope it does.
  20. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    Some very good advice here. This happens to experienced teachers too. An interesting title to this thread "Bullied .." but yes, this Is what it is. Jellykat: identify, isolate and baby the trouble makers. If only! Spot on Lara mfl 05: 'pack behaviour' gone wild these days. Of course if you get no support at all from SLT, HOD etc and there is nowhere you can send reluctant learners, you really are f*****
    pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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