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Dear Tom, boys take up all my attention and it's not fair!

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Dink_bird, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. Dink_bird

    Dink_bird New commenter

    I have recently started working in a tough school, and although I'm doing quite well on behaviour management under the circumstances, I'm getting frustrated at how much of my attention the "high profile" boys are taking up in lesson. There are many lovely, hard working kids in one particular group, and although I'm trying to make a point of speaking to them and giving them praise and feedback, I'm still spending <u>more</u> one- to-one time with these boys so that they realise I'm on their side to build a relationship which encourages them to behave and learn. I've also given firm rules and followed up trangressions with sanctions, but any other advice you could give would be most welcome!
  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi there
    It sounds like your dilemma is this: you want to make sure all kids get your attention, but the ones who misbehave take up a disproportionate amount. Might I say that this is unfortunately the way of things in most situations- the excessively needy grab your focus because that's what they want. And boy, are they good at it. We can speculate the way they've been brought up, possibly starved of affection, or vying with peers and siblings for parental attention, but ultimately, that's not the main issue. The main thing is what YOU do. I suggest the following:
    1. Keep doing what you're doing; the firm rules and the follow up is the key to wearing this situation down. But it will take time.
    2. Don't reward their desperate attempts to win your focus; if they shout out, tactically ignore, then follow up later. If you even respond to them at the time they just learn that it works. That habit needs to leave them.
    3. Make sure- force yourself to pay attention to the ones behaving as you want- mention them by name, and repeatedly mention how well their behaving, just simple things like, 'Well done, Carly, you;re getting through that really well,' etc.
    4. The minute that one of the naughty boys does something right, mention it, and congratulate it; 'Good start, Josh,' etc. Just simple things, nothing
    5. Give them ore attention AFTER lessons, in the form of detentions and sanctions. And make sure they're not too cosy or chatty- they need to be uncomfortable for them to NOT want to be there any more!
    Good luck
    <i style="color:#1f1f1f;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;line-height:16px;background-color:#e5f4fb;">Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.[/i]
  3. Dink_bird

    Dink_bird New commenter

    Thanks for that. It is a "boy thing" because there is a culture among a hard core of lads that doing any work or following instructions just isn't cool, and they can't possibly lose face with their peers by changing that behaviour..guess I just have to keep pluggin away..
  4. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Tom - I should print this out and put it in my markbook or something, because I've got those kind of boys in some of my classes, too. But what does 'tactically ignore and follow up later' mean? I've got kids who call out all the way through my lesson - it's like a running commentary and I feel like I can either exclude them or put up with their commentary. How can I tactically ignore such behaviour? It's too disruptive.
  5. If this helps, here's how I deal with a group of my Year 9 boys who not only call out in class but are sneakily disruptive by humming or making quick high pitched yelping noises....
    1. I ignore the first outburst by continuing with my lesson. (I also always try and ignore kids who call out to get my help, they need to put their hands up)
    2. A warning is given if the behaviour continues and I have a box drawn on one side of the board...The warning is along the lines of "You need to stop calling out/interrupting my lesson, if you choose to do it again your name will go in the box" they know that this means they owe me time at the next lunch break whether that is directly after the lesson or later on in the day and I usually keep them back for 10 minutes or so to do extra work (but this has been explicity stated to them in the past).
    3. If it continues further consequences are used... a times 2 means they owe me double the time and they're shifted seats, isolated etc
    On another note they come and make up this time outside my staff room, so even though I have kids a few times a week, it doesn't impact quite so heavily on me missing my break. It has definitely cut down on the poor behaviour of the majority of students and now after a term with this class I just seem to be continually working with the same 3/4 boys
  6. Be careful with points 3 and 4 that Tom has suggested. Unless you know these pupils really well and you are fully confident that they will respond well to public praise I would tread very carefully with it, initially. If, as you say, that there is a culture of misbehaved boys who think it is 'uncool' to perform well on task in your class then praising them in front of their peers will only (in my lengthy experience) cause more crisis situations. Try to find out if these pupils have pen profiles and read them, It will serve you well to know if or when public praise is appropriate.
  7. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    Thank you. I think I need to follow a similar model (to the 'name in the box idea') and make this more clear to the pupils.
  8. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi there
    I've clarified what I mean by tactically ignoring here:
    Post 18
    Also, I'll add that praise is important, even in rooms where the culture is that it's not cool. You need to MAKE the culture in the room, and show them what's desired as well as deterred. That means confronting the overlying culture and making a stand, and setting an example. It's YOUR room, not theirs.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
  9. Hi,

    I used to work in a school where there were similar problems (especially with boys). I used a system which I called 'dogs' (that I got from a colleague who saw it at an inset she went on). I had a stack of small (2cm x 2cm ish), pictures of cartoon dogs on coloured paper, that I kept in a tub on my desk. If students were doing well I used to give them out (If the kids responded well to public praise I made a fuss too, if not I gave them quietly with a word of praise to just the student). At the end of the lesson (some teachers I knew used to run this over a week or a half term for better prizes) I would get the students to put their initials on them and put them in a box and I would pick out 3 names at random. Those students would get a tangible reward - sweets (depends on school policy!), stickers, silly 'joke shop' toys, or a credit etc. I found that this method helped me in a number of ways;

    1) It was easy to administer (and classroom support could also have them to give out) and made me focus on positive behaviour, making me feel happier in lessons and less likely to get cross with the poorer behaviour. It doesn't matter how many you give out as you are only giving 3 prizes at the end of the lesson.
    2) it could be tailored to classes and individuals very easily to target specific problems and get them to become habit: "everyone who has their book and planner on the desk at the start of the lesson will get a dog" "If you arrive on time tomorrow I'll give you a dog" "If you can sit still for the next 5 minutes you will earn a dog" etc.
    3) You can tailor the 'prize' to the students - Some kids (especially the good ones) just liked to get the cartoon dogs and stick them in their books, others always put them in the tub every lesson, some 'saved up' for a week and then put them all in to up their chances, some wanted sweets, some wanted a note home in their planner and so on.
    4) It gives students an 'excuse' to be working - on more than one occasion I heard boys say to their friends, who were teasing them about not working, or who were distracting them "Shut up, I want to get a dog, I might win a sweet" and that seemed to be an acceptable excuse (whereas "I want to work" wasn't.)
    5) Because of the lottery element it was ALWAYS worth trying to get a dog as even if you only had one you were still in with a chance, even if a student had had a poor first half to the lesson it was worth improving in the second half to get dogs (even if they already had some other sanction due to poor behaviour).

    I initially only used it with KS3, but as my classes moved up they would ask me to do the same thing in KS4 and even at A level! I was concerned when I first started using it that the good kids would be upset that the 'bad' students would get dogs for things that they didn't (like being on time or sitting still for 5 mins) but they didn't seem to mind as long as they were getting them for reaching THEIR targets... Obviously rule number 1 was that if you asked for them directly, you didn't get...
  10. I have used raffle tickets to do much the same; at the end of a week for a regular class or at the end of a day if it's a 'one off'. It works well on new classes and when on supply. Even really 'hard' cases seem to want to win something, and I have never had a complaint that it's not fair! I use party bag toys as prizes. I have also used quick notes home - a quick hand written note on bright yellow card - a 'golden ticket' - for something the student has done wellthat day. I used these very sparingly so there was a lot of prestige value among the children.

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