1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Dear Tom - help with classroom management badly needed.

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Jennqt, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I’m an nqt in serious need of help. I’m struggling with the behaviour of most of my classes – many students are openly rude and disrespectful. They talk over me, refuse to follow reasonable instructions and just won’t cooperate. I separate them, use seating plans, give warnings, never shout and am never rude to them. I listen and try to get to know them yet they treat me like dirt. I make my lessons as interesting and interactive as I can – they take ages to plan – but nothing seems to work. My marking is always up to date, I always praise good behaviour and try to make them feel positive about themselves. I make sure I don’t do whole class explanations talking for more than 2 minutes as advised.


    <font size="3"> </font> I was a good teacher on student placements. I&rsquo;m doing the same thing but treated like **** by the students.

    I&rsquo;ve just caught up with marking. I&rsquo;m exhausted. I&rsquo;ve got the rest of this holiday week to plan more entertaining lessons for classes of students who will throw them back in my face.
    <font size="3"> </font> Colleagues promise that it gets easier after the first year, I hope I can keep going that long. I&rsquo;m tired of crying and feeling useless. I want to be a better teacher. Other teachers at my school don&rsquo;t get treated like I do so what am I doing wrong?

     
  2. Hi,
    I&rsquo;m an nqt in serious need of help. I&rsquo;m struggling with the behaviour of most of my classes &ndash; many students are openly rude and disrespectful. They talk over me, refuse to follow reasonable instructions and just won&rsquo;t cooperate. I separate them, use seating plans, give warnings, never shout and am never rude to them. I listen and try to get to know them yet they treat me like dirt. I make my lessons as interesting and interactive as I can &ndash; they take ages to plan &ndash; but nothing seems to work. My marking is always up to date, I always praise good behaviour and try to make them feel positive about themselves. I make sure I don&rsquo;t do whole class explanations talking for more than 2 minutes as advised.


    <font size="3"> </font> I was a good teacher on student placements. I&rsquo;m doing the same thing but treated like **** by the students.

    I&rsquo;ve just caught up with marking. I&rsquo;m exhausted. I&rsquo;ve got the rest of this holiday week to plan more entertaining lessons for classes of students who will throw them back in my face.
    <font size="3"> </font> Colleagues promise that it gets easier after the first year, I hope I can keep going that long. I&rsquo;m tired of crying and feeling useless. I want to be a better teacher. Other teachers at my school don&rsquo;t get treated like I do so what am I doing wrong?

     
  3. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Mistake number 1. Only listen if they are saying something worth hearing
    Mistake number 2. If the behaviour isn't right then there is little point in planning all singing all dancing lessons that the pupils simply will not do properly. Until the behaviour improves make your lessons award winningly dull. This will mean that you actually get through the content you plan to get through (as you will have reduced it) and that you are not exhausting yourself planning lessons that do not work (if the boring lessons do not work then at least you will not feel bad having spent hours planning them). It will also mean you have a bit more energy to follow up incidents and give detentions/phone home etc.
    Good. This is something I rarely manage to achieve.
    This is over-rated. It's at least as important to make sure you come down on poor behaviour like the wrath of God. Stick is more effective than carrot in my opinion. Think about how you respond to situations and why you do stuff. If a new policy came in and you thought it was drivel what would motivate you more, the knowledge you would be praised if you did it or the knowledge you would be severely *** and sanctioned if you didn't?
    Whoever gave you that advice should be shot. whole class explanations take as long as they take. It would be virtually impossible to get across some of the more complex ideas in 2 minutes. It's completely impossible to get any form of worthwhile Q and A or discussion going in 2 minutes. You could spend 2 minutes telling them to be quiet before you actually get to start explaining anything (I assume you wait for quiet rather than talking over them)
    If the behaviour in lessons is poor then exposition should be short. 2 minutes is ridiculous though.
    get help. Form tutors, heads of year, heads of department and friends can all be enlisted.
    Sounds like your placements schools were significantly better than your current one.
    Don't
    they are right
    I hope so too
    remember it's not personal. pupils, particularly in some schools are dreadful to new staff. they behave as badly as they can get away with. teacher baiting is a sport for some kids. when I was new to my current school the kids messed me about and I'm awesome. It isn't personal. It took me a term to get a grip on behaviour and 2 terms before I could teach most lessons the way I wanted to.
    You will be.
    They are established. you're not. They have established tolerance levels with the pupils. you haven't yet. the pupils know where their lines are and what happens when those lines are crossed. they are still testing you out.
    It does get better but you can speed up the process. Stop worrying about your lessons being interactive and entertaining and focus on sorting out the behaviour issues. It's far easier to make your lessons more interesting when the behaviour is better than it is to improve behaviour that has been allowed to slide.
    Good luck
     
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I would just repeat everything BigKid has already said, but he/she said it so well there is no point.

    Stop being so bloody nice and start taking charge. Don't waste your time on interactive lessons, just get them sat down, shut up and doing as you say. THEN work on fantastic lessons. they will whinge, but use fun and exciting lessons as a reward for doing as asked. Once they see you are not to be messed with they'll knuckle down.
     
  5. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Thanks Minnieminx.
    I think whoever is supposed to be managing behaviour in the OP's school has a lot to answer for (as well as whoever has been giving her dreadful advice and whoever came up with the idea that lessons have to be entertaining)
     
  6. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Some good advice above. Hi, and sorry to hear about your woes. Do not panic. This is all fixable, but you're going to have to readjust your self-expectations, and reassess what you consider the role of sanctions are in your classroom.
    1. Teacher placements are unlike real combat with live bullets for many reasons- for a start you are significantly less monitored. Plus there will probably be large variations in the student demographics, school behavioural policy, etc, so don't beat yourself up for things being different here. They ARE different.
    2. The most important point for me to make is that good behaviour is absolutely prior to good learning, and until the class learns to behave with you, their learning will be substantially reduced. This also means that, no matter how lovely your lessons are, how great your marking is, etc, these things will never have a significant impact on their behaviour with you. Of course, they're great things to do, but you have bigger fish to fry.
    3. One big, enormous fish, in fact- getting them to behave. Children don't behave for you at first because they think you're polite and effiicent- they behave because they don't want to get into trouble with you. If that sounds a cynical estimation of human character then I plead guilty. I also think that humans are capable of wonderful acts of altruism and beauty, but I still wouldn't leave my wallet with a stranger while I nipped off to feed the parking meter. Sue me. Kids can also be marvellous; but we're mugs if we think that we can avoid getting tough with them, and hope that they'll fall into line out of sheer empathy and trust. They won't.
    4. Set your behavior expectations out for them, as clearly as possible. Tell them what you will not stand for, and what they can expect if they decide to ignore your expectations.
    5. Then do exactly as you said you would whenever somebody fails to meet your standards of behaviour. Use the school system. Give detentions. And you must- MUST- make sure you follow up with them all. As soon as you start to slip with the detentions they realise they can get away with misbehaviour sometimes, and that means you might as well not bother, because it has the same effect.
    6. Swamped with detenions? Stop trying to do it all alone. Keep a list of detentions you set (name, time, reason). If they turn up, cross them off. If they don't, or if they misbehave in detentions, don't panic- just refer them to your line manager and ask them to escalate the sanction. You can also phone home personally at this point. The point is that if the kids see you as strict, then although you'll have a lot of work to do at first, this will start to recede as they learn to behave with you.
    7. It DOES get better with time...IF you do something like I and others have described above. But if you DON'T do these kinds of things, then you will potentially be teaching the same lessons every day for the rest of your career. Which means it makes sense to get busy- and get real- with the healing power of sanctions, because that's the clearest language you need to speak with them.
    8. As time goes on you can develop a more nurturing relationship if you choose- but the primary relationship you need to establish with them is that YOU are in control of the room, not them. If they're rude to you, if they misbehave, you can still be impeccably polite as you say, 'Unacceptable behaviour, Josh. See me after school.' It's entirely possible- in fact desirable- to have great manners and still be tough as boots. They don't need a tall pal- they need an adult, and an authority figure. In other words, they need a teacher.
    Believe me, almost every teacher goes through what you're experiencing. It's NOT your fault; nobody instinctively knows how to control classes, and I certainly didn't when I started either. But if you're patient, resilient, and thorough, then I'm sure you'll be excellent. Stop blaming yourself; nobody criticises a new driver for being unable to pop their Mini onto two wheels through an alley, so you shouldn't feel bad for having some problems to begin with.
    Very good luck to you.
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     
  7. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    And I'll add a few more points regarding lesson planning. Stop, stop, stop working yourself into the ground planning lessons with trim, shiny hub caps and go-faster stripes. Ditch the Ker-Plunk and the Deal or No Deal activities. Plan for misbehaviour. Plan as if you know that the lesson will be tough, and you'll need to be ready to deal with it. I suggest the following (although these are just some ideas):
    1. Keep it simple: three parts to the lesson will be just fine, thanks.
    2. By all means do a few 'lessons from the book'. It's an enormous myth (and indeed, an unhelpful and dishonest lie) for teachers to feel bad about this. Set them something easy to follow- read text, answer questions- and that way the more amenable children can get on with something, while you deal with misbehaviour. It won't please the OfSTED inspector, but frankly he should be at the bottom of the list at this stage.
    3. Don't give them group work for a while, unless it's extremely simple. Don't get them to move around the room. Don't give them diamond nines, or anything that involves cutting, sticking, etc. Use as few props as possible. Get old school on their derrieres. If they say for one second, 'This is boring,' then give them a detention for their cheek, and wonder to yourself how they manage to do differential calculus without exploding or something.
    4. Get yourself into a situation where you can watch them at all times; where they don't need to talk in order to complete the task. Finally, have a seating plan that annihlates friendship groups and bullying ecosystems.
    Good luck
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     
  8. I'm also an NQT and I could have written every word of your post myself (except that I'm not up to date with marking, so well done on that!). I am struggling with unruly classes and behaviour problems that just didn't arise during my PGCE year. I have students openly critical of me, and some parents have complained to the head of department. I am as close as I have ever been to thinking I don't want to be doing this any more.
    I've tried keeping lessons as simpe as possible to focus on behaviour. Now my mentor has told me that I'm following all the right behaviour management techniques (although I see little impact on behaviour), and I have to make the lessons more interesting! I feel I'm working long hours to achieve very little. Other teachers in my department are really supportive and keep telling me things will get better. But at the moment, I don't see that happening.
    I'm torn between despair because I can't see things improving, and anger because if the students put as much effort into lessons as I do we'd all be flying.
    I know this doesn't help you much, but rest assured you are not alone!
     
  9. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    And I could have written precisely that in my first term (Sept.1996 I started and no there is no need to mention you were still in junior school thank you!). I'm still a teacher and not a totally useless one. It does get better, I absolutely promise. You will look back and laugh about it one day.

    What are the sanctions you have available? Get tough and use them at every single opportunity. You say you are using the right techniques (or your mentor does) but how are you using them? Is it consistent and often? Is your idea of totally unacceptable behaviour the same as a more experienced teacher's? (I had a year 10 boy in my first term who would sit on his desk with his feet on his chair and tell me to F*** off if I so much as asked him to sit on his chair properly. Why on earth did I let him get away with that for so long????? No clue, I wouldn't do it now though!) Ignore all pleading and apology, be a tough nut and let the pupils see you mean business.
     
  10. Wow - thanks for the detailed responses. Thank you all for taking the time to reply.
    Most of what you are saying contradicts what we've been told during teacher training, repeated by my mentor and SLT at my school. I'm not sure how planning more boring lessons will help. If students don't respond to exciting, interesting lessons as well as I'd like, why should they put effort in to lessons that would bore me? This is what I believe. Sorry to disagree with people with more experience than I have, but isn't it good to try to get students excited in your class - as this means they will behave? That's what my school thinks.
    I will get help in chasing up detentions, but can't give too many as other nqts have been criticised for over using sanctions. This shows they aren't planning properly.
    Thanks. I will try to toughen up and have higher expectations, without giving too many dts.
     
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Yet all your experience so far tells you this isn't true. You need to get them to behave in order to teach them anything at all. Once they do that, you can inspire and excite them. If they are out of control the last thing you need to do is excite them.

    Schools do often say that to younger teachers, knowing it isn't true, as it means they don't have to address the problems of behaviour. If they blame poor planning and poor teaching they don't have to deal with the children who haven't behaved.
     
  12. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    They won't want to participate in "boring" lessons any more than they want to participate in your current lessons. However it is far easier to make them do a "boring" lesson properly.
    You are currently aiming for exciting, interesting lessons. However I wonder how many of the pupils that are currently misbehaving actually find them exciting and interesting. Not very many I'll wager or they would not be misbehaving.
    The bottom line is that learning will not take place unless you create a suitable learning environment.
    You have the cart before the horse here. You can get students excited in your class once they are behaving.
    This is the kind of nonsense propogated by poor senior managers and people who cannot manage behaviour properly. While behaviour and planning are connected in the sense that pupils are likely to misbehave if the lesson or resources are not appropriate some pupils will misbehave whatever you plan. Some pupils will misbehave for reasons that are nothing to do with you or your lesson and certainly nothing to do with your planning. Some pupils (and it might stagger you to discover this) are not very nice people. To suggest that giving too many detentions shows that someone is not planning properly is nonsense of the highest order. It shows they are serious about managing behaviour and deserve support in doing so.
    Quite possibly mutually exclusive I'm afraid.You could try alternative sanctions like phoning home, setting extra work, writing out the code of conduct or equivalent,.
    One thing I do is use my free lessons to track down pupils that have been misbehaving in my lesson and (preferably during a lesson they actually like) remove them from the lesson and make them listen to a lecture and then do an incredibly tedious task for the rest of the lesson. They hate it and the teacher teaching the lesson generally won't mind (if the pupil is a muppet) and might even thank you for it.


     
  13. Great advice; really sensible. bigkid: is it too much to hope that you're a member of SMT at some lucky school?
     
  14. "Most of what you are saying contradicts what we've been told during teacher training, repeated by my mentor and SLT at my school."
    No. Surely not. Say it isn't so.
    It is to your credit that you are unwilling to believe that people you should respect and look up to are giving advice that shows them to be unworthy of that respect. But if the facts drive you to that conclusion, if you have integrity, you will (reluctantly) face it. What do your experiences to date indicate about the quality, and truthfulness, of the advice you've been given in training, and by your mentor and SLT?
     
  15. I am sort of an NQT (it's a long story) and I could have written your posts, apart from one thing. I am a lot more cynical than you about behaviour and why it happens... I know that what everything those that have posted before me is true, and what you (and I) are told on teacher training is only true of certain schools... and even then seen through rose tinted glasses. See Tom Bennett's blog post entitled "Build it and they will come" (5th February 2011) for more evidence.
    I'm working with one of our senior SLT on improving my classroom management skills (I trained in schools that are worlds apart from the one that I now "teach" in). She has told me to keep 3 things in mind:
    1) Praise lots, but only when it is due
    2) Be prepared to be a bi-atch, even if it goes against the very fabric of your being (this is my problem)
    3) When trying to get a handle on behaviour, boring book based work is the way forward. You can praise the ones who are doing as you wish, and sanction those who are behaving like twits.
    I'm sorry, but this is testicles! Sanctions are there to be used! Your SLT sounds stupidly unsupportive. Have a look at this thread for a way of handling it. The fact that other NQTs are setting lots of detentions should shows that it's not just you, and that maybe the "if you plan amazing lessons they will behave" idea only works for established teachers.
    You're not a rubbish teacher; you obviously care because otherwise you wouldn't be posting here. You just don't have the skills to deal with it yet, because the behaviour management training you get on your PGCE is all down to the ethos and pupils of the school you get placed at. But now you have the chance to acquire those skills.
    Why don't you try the advice of the very experienced teachers for the next half term, and see what the results are?
     
  16. It will make life a lot easier with planning, but my SLT won't like me not doing my usual lessons. They behave when SLT observe so I can actually teach the lessons I plan. So my observations are good.
    I was doubting what posters were saying because it doesn't make a lot of sense - why would teacher trainers lie to us on mass? Why would SLT give advice that is rubbish, when they are inspected on the teachers in their school? If their advice and views are so wrong, why tell nqts when it will affect our teaching in their school?
    Still, if they were so confident they were right, wouldn't the people who believe it be disagreeing with everything said on this thread? (The teacher trainers, the SLT who tell me that discipline just comes from well-planned, interesting lessons).
    I know its half-term but surely someone would have disagreed?
    Thanks. I'll try to be harder, give more detentions, chase up all detentions with help and plan lessons that involve sitting down and working alone! Anythings got to be better than what has happened so far!
     
  17. After posting my reply above I read this from Andrew.
    OMG - again, its an open blog with room for comments, yet no one in 5 years has denied any of it!
    God I feel annoyed with it all.
    Thanks so much. Why do teacher trainers say what they do - do they believe it?
     
  18. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Try it for a week or two. When pupils complain about the boring lesson, which then will, say in total innocence "Oh I'm sorry I thought you didn't like those lessons as you have been so badly behaved. I'm trying these instead to see if you learn better this way. So far you seem to be doing so. Maybe I'll try some more exciting lessons again when you show me you can behave and so learn in them. Learning is of course the most important thing." They can't possibly argue logically with that, and if the really moan mention that you are the teacher and so you get to decide.

    After a couple of weeks, when the classes will be much more under your control, you could ask if they would mind a more interesting lesson next time and say you are going to give it a go, but if they don't behave well enough to learn then it will have to back to the boring ones.

    Poorly planned, rubbish lessons will mean children misbehave. No point behaving if you aren't going to learn. (My year 6 class behave appallingly for their French teacher, but the lessons are soooooo poorly planned and deadly that I would misbehave as well!) But forgetting to plan in a way that takes account of behaviour issues will also be disastrous. Ensure the pupils will learn in your strict and stern lessons and they will behave. Once they are under your control then you can do the fun and exciting. A bad lesson is one where children don't learn, not one where they aren't excited.
     
  19. Jen, please, take the advice of the experienced people at your school who are trying to help you. The reason why hardly anyone with moderate sensible views bothers to post on this forum is that it is dominated by a handful of negative right-wing zealots who live in the past and whose advice will take you precisely nowhere in future. Likewise the "blog" of "Old Andrew" - eccentric garbage that no-one with any self-respect would read, let alone bother to engage in conversation there.
     

Share This Page