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Dear Tom - Help! Problem with sly student

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by signoradolores, May 28, 2012.

  1. Dear Tom
    I have a mixed group who I have just taken over. They are generally well behaved but there are 3 or 4 boys who have very high spirits. They are actually quite nice normally but there is another boy, quite clever, who causes low-level disruption, making comments, being quite disrespectful etc. The other boys seem in awe of this pupil. I see them misbehave and show-off and then look to him for encouragement.
    Anytime I tell him off or suggest that he is behaving badly and/or encouraging others to do so he denies completely that he has done anything and tells me I am picking on him. He is quite convincing and I know that he usually manages to behave well to permanent teachers but has been disrespectful to supply teachers in the past.
    I am not sure how to handle this behaviour. I am new to the school and it will be his word against mine about his misbehaviour.
    Can you give me any advice as to how I can deal with him?
    Many thanks
     
  2. Dear Tom
    I have a mixed group who I have just taken over. They are generally well behaved but there are 3 or 4 boys who have very high spirits. They are actually quite nice normally but there is another boy, quite clever, who causes low-level disruption, making comments, being quite disrespectful etc. The other boys seem in awe of this pupil. I see them misbehave and show-off and then look to him for encouragement.
    Anytime I tell him off or suggest that he is behaving badly and/or encouraging others to do so he denies completely that he has done anything and tells me I am picking on him. He is quite convincing and I know that he usually manages to behave well to permanent teachers but has been disrespectful to supply teachers in the past.
    I am not sure how to handle this behaviour. I am new to the school and it will be his word against mine about his misbehaviour.
    Can you give me any advice as to how I can deal with him?
    Many thanks
     
  3. Treat everyone equally - punish the behaviour of whichever child misbehaves, without reference to the sly boy (he's exhibiting power-stuggler behaviour, I'd say; acting in a way to undermine your authority).
    Punish the sly boy's misbehaviour without reference to other children - if possible deny him his audience. If necessary involve senior staff and parents.
    Lastly, make a record of every incident, for evidence.
     
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Your word against his? In Hell, maybe. If you work in a school where the word of a misbehaving child is taken as heavily as yours then you need to start scanning the job pages of the TES ASAP. The vast majority of schools will support you if you say that child X did behaviour Y, and you sanctioned the child for it. After all, this isn't the High Court, and if the level of evidence required was that of 'beyond reasonable doubt' then we would never get anything done.
    Use sanctions and rewards as appropriate- and in this circumstance I would park the rewards a little in favour of sanctions. This child doesn't need nurturing; he needs to realise that his actions, while perhaps marvellous for attracting the awe of his classmates, isn't appropriate for a classroom. And the only person who will make him realise this is you; it all falls to you.
    Separate him from his peers. If he acts up, have a plan in place so he can be removed to another place until he can behave properly. Few children enjoy isolation from the peers, so this is a tried and tested way to ensure compliance. And as for his friends, if they want to disrupt the calm of the room by acting out, then make sure they also experience sanctions; detentions, missed breaks, phone calls home etc.
    The important thing is that you step up to the challenge this represents. If you let it slide, it could start to infect the conduct of the others, and then you'll see an escalation of challenge in the room.
    They need you to take point on this.
    Good luck

    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or
    follow him. His latest book, Teacher, is out this month, published by Continuum/ Bloomsbury

     
  5. I agree with whacko. The kids who are influenced by the "sly" kid need to take responsibility for their own behaviour. Just because someone tells them to do something they do not have to; they need to decide if that thing is a good idea. Hopefully, they will realise when they get into trouble for their actions that "sly" isn't as great as he seems.

    Also moving the "sly" kid may help. You are in charge of where pupils sit. Make sure he's not going to distress the kids that don't give grief though.
     
  6. I recently had two year 8 boys who suddenly dashed into the
    classroom threatening each other with one chasing the other around the class.
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3">
    </font>They took no notice of my &lsquo;request&rsquo; for them to stop and one
    boy pinned the other up against the wall by shoving a desk into him hard!<font face="Times New Roman" size="3">
    </font>They were sent out of the class for fighting (after they had
    calmed down) with a teaching assistant who took them to a member of SLT.<font face="Calibri" size="3">They were then sent straight back and said that they had to
    return to lessons as they had only been &lsquo;messing&rsquo; about. I then sent them back
    with a reminder that they had been fighting and needed to stay with SLT. This
    time the head teacher accompanied them back with the same story that they had
    only been messing about and must remain in the class. </font>

    After discussions with SLT, it would appear that they took the
    story the boys had told rather than my recollection of events. I was told to
    put them into detention for messing about in lessons. I have refused, arguing
    they were fighting and needed to be isolated.
    <font face="Times New Roman" size="3">
    </font>Subsequently it would appear that SLT are avoiding me and
    the relationship is now very strained!<font face="Times New Roman" size="3">

    </font>
     
  7. This sounds to me like a case for a grievance being take out against the SLT with the support of your union. You cannot be seen to be undermined in this way. The SLT obviously know that they are at fault here. Don't back down or your own credibility with the class will be lost.
     

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