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Cracking the impossible class

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by andiboro123, Feb 13, 2020.

  1. andiboro123

    andiboro123 New commenter

    so I've had this year 9 middle ability class for 4 months. things are getting worse. massive 29 students, id say on any given day 7/8 can destroy the lesson, all I'm learning have big needs and wants. not many SEN but loads of hormonal arguing teenagers.

    anyway I've tried being firm, fair, funny, supportive, and I've still not found how to get anything like a decent lesson out of them. 22 of the class are girls and whenever you challenge any behaviour they respond to massive defensive and 'why you picking on me; routine. I've tried many punishments but these seem to have no effect, parents on end of phone just give excuses and weak promises to try and have a word with them.

    Ive asked HOD for help too many times and class now think i have no aurtoprity without having to cry for help. I've been teaching 15 years and really don't know what to do !

    lessons are basically throw worksheets at them as they will not listen at all, wen i asked for quiet. some work, most sit and chat, lots of bad behaviour gets thrown around.

    tried seating plans, most just all go and move where they want.

    please give me some advice, my support system in the school is weak and asking for help does not seem practical and i am the mercy of if others are free, but mainly i feel the class don't respect me as i have to always get help.

    i just don't know how to set up my mentality and approach, I'm not a screamer and they would just laugh anyway.

    please help ! after half term i need a some new ideas, fresh approach
  2. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    I feel your pain. I had one similar. Nothing worked. I knew it was them, not me.

    You could do with a TA in there with you. Another adult in the room can make a difference.

    So glad I'm retired! :D
    bombaysapphire and agathamorse like this.
  3. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    Are they good for anyone in the school?
    tall tales likes this.
  4. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    With the class I recall, they were never together for any other subject, just lumped together for MFL. Most struggled with literacy and were in small groups for English.
    I remember one NQT SEN specialist advising me to "just play games with them".

    Yeah, right.

    That made them worse!
    caress and agathamorse like this.
  5. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Sometimes you just have a toxic combination of individuals who will not behave for anyone.

    It might be a case of counting down the lessons you have left with them until Summer and almost treat them as behaviour management test students.

    If the school will not remove one or two of the worst troublemakers to another class, ask for a TA as others have said, and be upfront with them you need an extra body in the room to deal with them!
    mothorchid and SundaeTrifle like this.
  6. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    No easy options here but I do believe that the seating plan is the starting point, standard routine is you meet them at the door, they sit as directed, refusal means removed from lesson and the school follows policy on removing pupil from lesson and they are out for rest of lesson. Sanction is applied by HOD or SLT.
    The big issue here is it must be clear to them that this policy is for the duration. it won't matter if it is tomorrow or the day before the biggest exam of their life, refusal to follow the teachers direction means exclusion form the lesson. If they persist then they are removed every time they refuse to cooperate.

    You also have to invest some time in planning lessons, problem with worksheet exercises is they will see this as 'you cannot be bothered - so why should they'
    There is nothing wrong with your teaching, sometimes pupils just refuse to behave. I have seen this happen to experienced teachers, including myself. I have known members of SLT and HT's struggle to maintain control of a class once they are determined to play up.
    It is hard to believe right now but it is only a minority. Remove the ringleaders and invest in the rest of them and you can still win over the majority.
    Don't spend next week planning too much, get some rest, do the prep this weekend and then put your feet up.
  7. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    The only thing I can suggest is to try and build individual bonds with them by getting to know them, their interests etc.
    Or I’d go for video heavy lessons. Or put some nice Pop music on, turn off if they are naughty. Just a thought.
    afterdark likes this.
  8. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Some of these children need to be removed from class and others need to be placed on report to HOF, HOY or SLT for at least a week. Write down record their behaviour. Propose a meeting with parents HOY HOF even HT.
    Sounds awful but if they SEE action being taken things will improve.

    Show them who is in control.

    Present and take action now before half term.
  9. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Yes for the short term Until rhose that disrupt are removed. Then move on to highly differentiated work in silence with vety clear strict instructions and boundaries. Set these out with HOF /Hoy and even parent.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    These are teenagers at the peak of their educational career, not toddlers.
  11. andiboro123

    andiboro123 New commenter

    I think they are good for my HOD. He says he had them in year 7 and he is a great teacher also.
  12. andiboro123

    andiboro123 New commenter

    I have tried removing students but sometimes they get returned which really doesn’t help after a chat.
    Also if I removed students every time they refused to follow an instruction. I would be removing over half the class which isn’t possible and would cause chaos and look really bad.
    I feel I just have to keep them in class and babysit them. But it’s so hard having over half the students trying to wind you up and blatantly defy you to see the reactions.
  13. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    As an experienced teacher you will know that there are classes that are notorious. Is it one of these? Is the school generally out of control or do you think you should be able to manage? I can sympathise. I once inherited a class that was horrific but management would not support me. Are you new to the school? On supply? Or do you feel you should be asking for some behaviour management training? Only you can know if it is you or them. Otherwise all I can suggest is to concentrate on the nice good kids. There must be some and praise praise praise. There will be some who will never change but some will if you show them you value their good behaviour.
  14. andiboro123

    andiboro123 New commenter

    It is definitely a tough class. I teach well with other groups. I am frankly intimidated and stand in front of them not knowing what to do at times. Nothing I’ve done so far has made much of a difference. Great ideas so far though but still don’t feel they would work. Lots of praise is what i try and do but the class drag me down into confrontations.
  15. koali

    koali New commenter

    Dont they have detentions in your school?
    I agree with the earlier poster who said a seating plan is the first solution. In my school refusal to sit where a teacher says is defiance. They would get one warning to comply,and if they still refused to comply, they would be removed from the lesson and would also get an after-school detention. this generally sends a message to the others.

    Students who repeat this sort of behaviour would be removed for a run of lessons to establish an appropriate atmosphere and then allowed back in on probation. Parents would be contacted to explain this to them. Children often do not like their "school world" and their "home world" making contact.
    Have you tried contacting parents and being really blunt and factual about how disruptive they are being?
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    There's not enough asking why the kids do this.
    They do this because they think they can.
    And if they think they can, it is because they have done it before.
    And nothing happened to them.
    No sanctions.
    I'd be asking not "what can I do about it" but "why has it come to this?"
    And the answers would be out of my hands and at the top of the school, perpetuated by all those numerous members of staff who busy busy themselves writing emails about behaviour, logging behaviour, talking about behaviour, analysing behaviour, defending behaviour. Causing poor behaviour by not seeing it as a choice. And thereby enabling those who misbehave to return and do the same time and time again.
    Poor behaviour is chosen as an act of success.
    It is the school culture which allows this success, the network of failings to actually give consequence, because the person at the top does not care enough about implementing a water tight system to ensure this.
    One person.
    Thousands of kids.
    And when this works, hundreds of other adults going about the activity they were trained to do, which is teach.
    I hate poor behaviour, but I hate how it is so often excused at the top even more than I hate the behaviour..
    It's not actually difficult.
    An already difficult job for teachers does not have to be made more difficult just because one person does not know their number one remit.
    But this is what has happened to OP and yet again
    I despair

    Edit-today I saw on SIMS how the worst behaved child in the school got an achievement point "Well done! He arrived late and therefore excitable, but by the middle of the lesson had sat for five minutes and tried some writing, an absolute hero".
    I despaired at that too.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2020
  17. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    A good strategy for groups like this is silent copying of notes that then lead into group work and presentations to the rest of the class.
    You could also invite some parents in to sit with their own little sh1ts during lessons.
    agathamorse likes this.
  18. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    "Silent copying of notes"?!

    If she could get them silent, she could teach them!
  19. donrickles

    donrickles New commenter

    Hi, I have faced a very similar class this week, I feel your frustration.

    I stand and observe and look for solutions like you do.

    Firstly Y9 have always been the toughest year to teach. lower sets even more so. If the class has poor regulation, no routine, no respect for themselves or others you are in for a difficult time. Don’t be too hard on you.

    if they cannot enter properly, sit down, and start work quietly on a starter, then they have learned poor self regulation, this is a whole school issue and indicates no whole school approach. Ie each teacher doing there own thing, fine in a school with good behaviour, not ok in a behavioural issue school.

    This is not your fault, you will need to reinforce your expectations at the start of every lesson until they get the idea. Identify the 8 key problem causes. Praise and reward the good ones. Tackle the problem students individually though tutor, head of year. Make sure they are on written report. Through hod invite slt to the start of a lesson, be honest let them know your having difficulties and you want them to help identify the problem pupils. This way you have an slt recruit to help later when this all escalates. If the slt witnesses the poor regulation at the very start it can’t be you, not yet. Slt will need to leave after start but may help the lesson settle.

    don’t let them argue back, don’t argue the point, just reinforce your reasonable request. Don’t let them turn it into their own little drama.

    give only 3 warnings then remove, even if that is within minutes of the lesson starting.

    have clear consequences in place for each problem child and agree extraction point and room. To different support, your hod, hoy, collegue, school inclusion, ta 121, etc. If this is planned in advance you have upper hand. Make it clear it is their poor behaviour and regulation, their poor choice that you have to act on.

    in the short term you may lose 5/6 problem pupils. But you will be able to mould the remainder. If the problem students don’t conform repeat removals. Then if required involve slt from earlier. Use report evidence to support your case.

    ultimately if you follow up comms, the school will have to give you additional support through ta, or reduce the class size or perm remove problem pupils. But don’t let it be about you. Always make it about the child’s poor choices. Be relentless be consistent. If you have exhausted all avenues and there is still no improvement then find another school where the little ******* have a bit more respect for you.

    take care
    Don rickles.
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    The fact they are a 'middle ability class' implies it is a subject where there is setting.
    So get rid of the worst offenders/leaders...even if just for half a term. Send a couple up and a couple down. Attainment and ability are irrelevant, no one is learning anything at the moment.
    Then you have 3-4 left and have them sat at the front facing you. The moment they so much as bleat out of turn, send them out.
    Get everyone else on side with fab lessons.

    Once the 20 or so are on side, then the rest will find it harder to destroy lessons.

    And then look for a job in primary...far fewer arrogant hormones! ;)
    madcatlady and agathamorse like this.

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