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Dear Tom, at the end of my tether with this Y10 class..

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by bacardibreezer, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. bacardibreezer

    bacardibreezer New commenter

    I have one particular class of Y10s which now just dread. The only time I have ever managed to 'teach' them was when the HoD observed a lesson.
    I have tough kids in other classes, but no other class is like this; it's more than half of them, including ones who were apparently good last year. In eavery lessonI have to deal with students taking and hiding other students' pens, books and bags; students poking one another with any implement they can find; students waiting until ten inutes into the lesson to announce that they don't know what to do (which always causes lots of hilarity among the rst of the class) or to announce that they don't have a pen.
    When I tell students to move seat or give detentions, I just get griief such as 'It wasn't me' or 'Why are you moving me/ keeping me in when you didn't move him/ keep him in.
    I finally got a member of SLT to talk to them last week, but I don't know what she said as I was asked to leave the room with the students who know how to behave appropriately.
    Also, one boy, when tackled by HoD, announced 'If she (that's me) doesn't like it, she should get another job!' He's still in my classroom sneering at me every lesson and the temptation to smash his face is very great.
    Parents have been contacted, but I'm still not getting a lot of joy. Where do I go from here?
  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi, BB, sorry to hear you're having a tough time with these charmers.
    It sounds like they've set themselves against you somewhat; classes can sometimes adopt a hive mind when it comes to teachers. (Which for many of them is as much as they'll ever have). Have you taken them over this term, or have you had them for a while? From the apparently good comment I'll assume the former. In which case they may have developed a temporary allergy to you for any one of a number of reasons, but the most obvious is usually that they don't like the change, that they see you as an unfamiliar (and therefore non-authoritative) face, and perhaps more simply, that they want to bait the new teacher (no matter how experienced you are!).
    None of which is much direct help, but it's nice to know that it's nothing wrong with what you're doing, how your teaching is, or anything else like that. If it's half the class, and if they regularly repeat the same 'jokes' then it sounds like you have a class that hasn't learned to respect you...yet.
    You are, I'm sure, going in the right direction, so I suggest that you keep travelling the path. At the risk of teaching you to suck eggs, make sure you revisit these basics:
    1. Do they know your expectations?
    2. Assuming they do, are you FAIR, PREDICTABLE and FEROCIOUS with your sanctions? Do you issue a sanction every time they break the rules, or do you let them off at times?
    3. Do you always follow up the detention, and chase up/ escalate anyone who forgets to come?
    4. Have you begun to let them cheek you and get away with it...because it's too tiring to follow up?
    These are, I know the basic tools of behaviour management, but you'd be amazed how even the most experienced teachers can sink back a bit and let these slide; and it's a slow process, and we don't know it's happening until things have changed for the worse.
    Seriously, I bet that you ARE doing the right things, but you just need to keep a firm line and never give up. With some classes it can take a while for your regulations to become a habit, and some of the more belligerent (of which you seem to be host) can keep pushing the detentions as far as they can, in an effort to see how far you can be stretched, or to see if you'll give up.
    Remember, don't give them any satisfaction at all by letting them see you're feeling bad about this. Walk tall, plan structured lessons (on work sheets if you want to- the priority here is behaviour management, and you can save the Ker-Plunk and the Blockbusters until they learn to pay you some manners. Structured, simple lessons will give half the class something to do, while you focus on taking the names of offenders).
    Any student who howls at you about anything, gets an automatic detention. Any student who doesn't have a pen three times in a row (or something) gets a detention. Any student who won't move seat, gets a ...you guessed.
    It's a lot of tracking and monitoring for a while, but eventually they'll get the message that you're not to be trifled with. It's worth it in the long run, otherwise you're dealing with the same grief until the Universe freezes with entropy. But succeed you will, I'm sure.
    Good luck!
  3. I know it's no help in itself but you should be aware that this is very, very common when a year 10 class gets a new teacher. In tough schools it is close to normal.
    All you can do is prepare for it. Stick with activities that are easy to manage, preferably ones where you can tell with a glance who is, or is not, on task. Don't turn your back on them. Sit at the front and if you want to see somebody's work ask them to bring it to you. enforce a seating plan. Have clear sanctions and rules which you know you can enforce. A system of warnings with escalating consequences is best so that you can make it clear that they are being punished for repeat offences that you have made a note of, rather than simply because you have lost patience with them. In particular, make sure they know that it is unacceptable to argue with you over sanctions. Mark their work after every lesson and make sure they are punished if they haven't done enough work, and make sure they know this will happen.
    Probably the most important thing is to keep at it. If you introduce rules and sanctions and then give up on them when they don't work then this will happen with everything you try. Work out exactly what you will be able to enforce and stick with it indefinitely even if they make sure it doesn't work to begin with. Plan for better management of their behaviour rather than a change in their attitudes.
    Good luck.
    Teaching blog here.
  4. bacardibreezer

    bacardibreezer New commenter

    Thank you Tom and oldandrew (I did a very long reply on Wednesday morning but it didn't send and I haven't had another chance to reply until tonight - sorry).
    Every piece of advice from both of you was very welcome - no case of teaching me to suck eggs at all as I needed to hear all of it. I have become so tired over the last month that I have allowed the sanctions to slide, but your posts have given me a new stregnth to carry this thing through. Yesterday was especially tough and one of the girls (whose mother is constantly complaining about me) called me 'a *** ***' - twice. A few days ago I think that would have been the end of it - I would have left the classroom unable to cope - but thanks to your posts I was able to hold my head high and deal with it in a professional manner.
    I know there is no quick solution to this, but next time I feel as if I'm running out of energy, I'll come back on here and read your posts.

    Thanks XXX
  5. Hi I've been reading the comments on your class with real interest. I just wanted to say; I can relate to what you have had to deal with in this class and I too had the worst behaviour I have ever encountered from year 10's who were simply bitter because they didn't have their old teacher anymore. It's amazing how change can turn them into monsters. Don't give the girl's mother another thought, she's clearly a silly person! If stuff like that is said to you that girl should be removed from your class immediately and it a head of department's job to do that, or who ever else is on that duty. Just don't think about all their nasty remarks, let it wash over you. They want to upset you and if they can't see that it's having en effect they won't bother. Also, did you ask your head of department what she said to the kids? Have they said anything about their opinion on the class or the kids? They should be supporting you, especially when the pupils are being this rude.
    All the best.
  6. I feel your pain - I have had classes a bit like this (low level but continuous disruption). I actually find it easier to deal with "the big blow up" because you can issue an instant sanction for the "big event" but constant low level nonsense is a right PITA.
    I have used the "Consequence Wall" to good effect - keeps you right as it is an instant record of who has overstepped, and the pupils have a visual clues. They don't like it!! Be clear about 3 strikes and you're out but inform them they can redeem themselves. This works reasonably well.
    Chase everything up and if you say "one more word and you're out to the partner classroom" then do it the moment a pupil oversteps the mark. It's a slog but eventually they will (grudgingly) accpet that you mean business. Clamp down hard and show no mercy - by that I mean do not get into "negotiations", stick to your guns and be consistent. Eventually they will get the message.
    As to the "I don't have a pen/pencil" litany ....... have a bundle in your hand and "count them out and count them in" and jot names down. Ridiculous to be supplying writing implements - charge them 10p for the privilege and stick it in the charity box !!

  7. bacardibreezer

    bacardibreezer New commenter

    Within half a term, two boxes of pens had gone - mostlyon this class. Aswe had contolled assessments, I went out and bought pens using my own money and insisted that every student who borrowed one had to give me something of theirs in exchange - something they would want back, such as their bag or a shoe. This worked well for a couple of weeks, then I had a day off sick last week. On my return, every pen had been given out by the cover teacher - none returned. As we were doing the next lot of assessments, this was really disruptive - especially with this particular Y10 class.
    On another note, had a parent in last night - her son is one of the ringleaders. How I didn't deck the pair of them ... he's so good at home and she really can't imagine that he's a pain at school, so it must be my fault. Yet the way he spoke to me and wouldn't let me finish a sentence (and kept calling me a liar) - and she sat there and let him get on with it, only interrupting whenever I was speaking. No wonder he's such a git!

  8. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Isn't it awful that in order for this particular fantasy to be true, the mother must assume two things:
    <ol>[*]Her son is a robot, devoid of freewill, and only capable of reacting helplessly to circumstances[*]You're a tyrant that goads them into insubordination, like Captain Bligh.</ol>Well done for not spannering them.

  9. bacardibreezer

    bacardibreezer New commenter

    There's still two days left before term finishes ... [​IMG]
  10. I've been on both sides of this - the teacher that is being annihlated by the new year 10 class, and a class' previous teacher on whom they look back with rose-tinted spectacles. With the same class.
    I taught in a very tough, inner city school, with far lower than average results, very high proportion of free school meals, kids from awful backgrounds and lots of traveller pupils (not that this is a problem for anything other than attendance, I hasten to add). A school nearby closed down, and their pupils joined us. As a result, we had to change all of our sets - mostly for the better, meaning that there was less differentiation needed in each group as kids were of similar abilities.
    Last year, I started teaching a small year 10 group, low ability mixed with moderate ability but very disruptive pupils. I'd not taught any of them in year 9, and only a couple in year 8. They were vile - chairs being thrown/foul language/physical threats. Luckily, I'm fairly thick-skinned and have had enough success with difficult groups (and enough "nice" groups) to know this was no reflection on my abilities as a teacher. I stuck to the systems, and slowly but surely behaviour improved until it was merely "below was is expected" rather than "terrifying". They did OK, finished most of their coursework, sort of matured a bit.
    Come year 11, a colleague with whom I got on famously had the bottom set, which had been reduced to two pupils thanks to exclusions and "alternative provisions", so we asked if we could combine our classes and team teach. We couldn't wait - at least there'd always be one person paying attention (seriously, if you ever get the opportunity to team teach with someone you work well with, DO IT). Now at this point, I should mention that I have 3 years experience, whereas they have considerably more and is easily the best teacher I have ever seen, never mind worked with! This "new" class that was mostly my previous class, their mini-class and a few from the set above who were seriously damaging their colleagues' chances of getting Cs were, on paper, a nightmare, but two of us should be able to cope. We did, pretty much. However, a couple of those from my year 10 class were openly hostile towards my colleague, seeming to think that the year they spent with me was some kind of revolutionary and innovative period of pedagogical development.
    As it happens, they settled (I think that finding out I was leaving at Christmas to go to a new school helped them focus their anger towards me instead) and I hope they'll be OK for my colleague in the new term. What I'm trying to say, I think, is that it's very rarely personal - kids don't like change, they don't like new teachers, they think they like their old teacher even if they didn't, and some of them are just horrible and none of this is your fault!

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