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Dear Tom - help with classroom management badly needed.

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

  1. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I think I know where you are coming from, sunpainter: but when you say "simple", you seem to conflate "simple" learning and teaching approaches and "simple" behaviour management expectations. I would suggest that management expectations should always be simple and then consistently enforced through appropriate praise and sanctions. You can easily have a very complex, interactive lesson that keeps the kids motivated and engaged, and manage it using very simple behaviour expectations consistently enforced.
    Of course, there are times when a "simple" teaching and learning activity may be appropriate, such as last period on a Friday or just after PE: but the aim should be to motivate and interest children at all times (let's forget about the red herring of "fun" for the moment).
    As for keeping it "dull" for those who misbehave: how do your children behave when they are bored by doing something "dull", such as sitting in the back of a car on a long journey? Are they fractious? fidgety? bad tempered? I wonder why we would want to recreate those feelings in a classroom, especially in those pupils who are likely to give us the most trouble? And when our children are stuck in the back of a car on a long, dull journey, don't we try to find ways to keep them interested? So why shouldn't we do that in classes too? Seems basic psychology to me.
  2. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    I like the example of the kids in the back of the car because so often I hear conversations about kids that seem to paint them as an alien race of nasty creatures... when in reality they are children. Some of them have been taught to be nice and respectful of adults and some have been taught to treat anyone in 'authority' with total disrespect.

    The former will sit beautifully throughout any lesson that engages them in an activity or process that engages them... like learning something! The latter need to be taught how to respect people... and the best way I know of doing that is to treat them with respect and subtly point it out to them every now and then... explain your respect for them when they are doing something they should and then you can ask them why they are choosing to be so disrespectful of you when you don't treat them in that way.

    No matter what kind of home the child comes from they have a basic want for positive praise. Kids with low self esteem will balk against overt use of praise... but a 'smiley' in their book or a nod of thanks when they do something positive will start to alter their trust in you and build their self worth.

    In the same way that all children crave positive praise... all children will become easily bored and misbehave if they have nothing to occupy them productively... that doesn't make them 'all out to get us' it just makes them children.

    When I work with a particularly difficult pupil I sometimes try to imagine how I would treat them if they were my niece or my nephew.. I try to remind myself that they are just kids and need to be treated like kids. Sometimes that means being very straight about expectations and consequences but sometimes it requires a more nurturing conversation away from the audience. One Y8 girl I taught was just rude and disruptive during lessons... I kept her behind after class and she sat there expecting the riot act... but I just asked her what she wanted to do when she left school... She was really surprised and told me she was really interested in dance... I asked if she had looked at college courses in performing arts and worked out what kind of qualifications she would need... she was surprised to learn she could do a course at college based in dance. I was also fortunate enough to be in a position to invite her to come and join the after school dance group I had set up for my Y10s doing expressive arts GCSE. She never came but her whole attitude towards me and her lessons changed. All it took was 10 minutes of my break time to have a conversation with her about her and she was genuinely transformed. She wasn't always brilliant but she was never disrespectful towards me again and I even got the odd smile.

    I'm not suggesting that would work with all kids, there are some I've met who I wouldn't want to be alone in a room with, but it's about learning to read the kids as well as they read us... why would you go out of your way to behave nicely towards someone who never smiles at you, just tells you what to do without reason and... and tells you off if you don't do exactly what your told when you're told to do it.

    Have you ever noticed how badly behaved staff are when they have to sit through dull whole school meetings? I've seen texting at the back of the hall... reading books on their knee... hats on... ipods hidden under hair... marking kids work during a talk given... whispering with friends all the way through...and then they walk out, talk critically about the speaker and say what a waste of time it was! We're not that different really... if we're bored... we behave badly!
  3. Nope, no idea, really, sounds obsessive and unable to follow an argument in any sort of logical way. If I had to guess, probably based on the fixed notion that there is a behaviour 'crisis' in UK schools, which would only be resolved if teachers were give a free hand to 'discipline' and 'punish' young people. Nuts.

    Zadok, love your posting, agree with every word. Often amused by how some staff in schools expect pupils to respond postively to conditions that groups of adults, including themselves, would find quite intolerable.
  5. Apogolgies for lack of clarity in quoting in above post. Have tried again here.
  6. You misunderstand me. I am not suggesting boring children into submission. In the most challenging classes, however, I am learning to plan lessons that require only the most unambiguous and easily enforcable of expectations - and have simple instructions. This gives the children who are looking for a weakness (and there are some) no room to manipulate the "rules" or deliberately misunderstand. A tactic otherwise known by me as the "I don't get it" tactic - meaning "explain it again Sir, so i don't have to get on with the work.". If the instructions are really simple, then they just make themselves look dim!
    Then again, boredom is underrated. I spent many a school day doing dull reading comprehensions. Sometimes practising a skill can be boring; it doesn't make the skill any less worth aquiring.
    Anyway, hope the original poster is having a better time. There seems to be lots of pointless arguing on this thread which can't be much help. The trouble is... people who have been doing this for a long time forget, all of the little stages they went through to gain authority. Authority is a subtle construct, hard won and easily lost.

  7. Got up early to do some marking. Too tired last night. Taking a break to update you.
    I decided to only give 2 or at most 3 detentions per lesson or there are too many to manage, like last week. I got all detentions done but their behaviour in my detention was horrible. Worse than in my lesson.
    Zadok, James seems right. Your post sounds like my mentor talking. Thats why I take so long plannign lessons. I'm exhausted, near to tears with tiredness, behaviour still awful but they should come round. Theres no reason not to if the worst few get detentions for very bad behaviour which will be guaranteed. My mentor, colleagues say they will come around, be patient. I hope they do soon because working this long and dealing with rude behaviour is exhausting.
    Back to marking.
  8. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    Excellent advice which, unfortunately, is never given to new teachers.
  9. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    We can't all be gifted [​IMG]
  10. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Now I understand THAT smiley, bigkid!
  11. I have read through this thread and it seems to have alot of good advice for the OP. As a new teacher myself, I find myself reading alot of the behaviour discussions as I know I am guaranted to find some useful advice or tips.
    And just to give some balance to proceedings ;) Raymond, Gary, Bronson, Leonard, Bigkid, Oldandrew - I happen to think the advice you guys all regularly give (along with Tom and a good few others whose names currently escape me) is consistently excellent. As an NQT its especially helpful to have such a range of perspectives coming through on here. So I would personally like to thank you all :)
    Broadly speaking (from what I have personally seen and read) I find myself agreeing with your perspectives on how behaviour (and the handling of it) is sadly mishandled in many situations. I think your helpful, yet realistic, posts on this subject should be a must read for all new (and old) teachers. I don't personally advocate going down a brutal, punishment style route to solve the problems but equally I think that the current apparant mollycoddlying of a high amount of feckless, or downright nasty students, helps no-one, (and can make it worse), and is why so many otherwise good teachers, feel they need to leave (that and the sometimes ridiculous workload)
    A quick snapshot from my school:
    6 NQTS in total
    In this last week alone I have seen 2 of them in tears due to behaviour/general stress issues, 1 going home in severe pain halfway through parents evening (i seriously suspect stress has a contributing factor to whatever is wrong with her). Another seriously considering quitting after her NQT year due to behaviour/workload but also scared she won't pass due to behaviour problems in her class. Even if stress being suffered isn't directly due to student behaviour, the inevitable feral behaviour of some students can only aggravate it. And my school is actually ok - middling comprehensive with reasonable exam results, working class catchment and decent OFSTEAD grade.
    The only way I have made it this far is by deliberately resticting what I did/attempted to do - i.e. not volunteering for anything I didnt need to do, letting the odd minor behavioural issue slide so that I could go home on time and get some sleep. The positive is (apparently) little stress suffered by me, but at the cost of my development being a little slower than I would otherwise have liked - I am still playing catch up with some behavioural issues. My fellow NQTs are probably slightly ahead of the game compared to me, but do all seem to be a whisker away from cracking up due to stress. So it seems to be progress v health for an NQT, particulary while so much of an NQT's time seems to be taken up by constant, repetitive, debilitating behaviour issues, which could be stamped out if only the powers that be actually 'man up' and start trying to seriously deal with it.
  12. I would report it to the police, it's called a violent incident!!
  13. A shame my problems have caused so many arguements between people trying to help me. I guess theres a lot of history behind the rows.
    I showed the note to my HOD when I calmed down and was less likely to cry. I told him it upset me.
    He screwed it up, threw it in the bin and laughed saying I shouldn't take insults from students seriously. He said he used to get grafitti about him and notes all the time. You laugh it off.
    SLT would agree with him.
    4 weeks until the end of term and counting.
  14. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Actually, no, jenn, I've only been posting here since the New Year. There are just some posters who want to tear down anyone they don't agree with. It's no big deal, and it's a shame that those posters have diverted attention from you and your needs. I apologise to you for allowing myself to get sucked into their personal comments.
    The manager's decision was wrong. The note should have been kept. It may have become evidence in a criminal prosecution.
  15. Less than you'd think. I certainly can't remember who James is or why he hates me.
  16. I would report it to the police, it's called a violent incident!! Again!!
  17. '....I showed the note to my HOD when I calmed down and was less likely to cry. I told him it upset me.
    He screwed it up, threw it in the bin and laughed saying I shouldn't take insults from students seriously. He said he used to get grafitti about him and notes all the time. You laugh it off.
    SLT would agree with him....'
    Words fail......
  18. Hi. Sorry to hear you're having a hard time. There is an excellent video on managing classroom behaviour. It's called "The Classroom Experiment" - about 2hrs long. It is based on a Year 8 class and has all the teachers involved in teaching this year group following the same behaviour management strategies. It may be useful.
    Think of the time you spend planning as the time you would spend on cooking for a child - if he isn't going to eat it you are the one who ends up feeling hugely frustrated and wanting to throw the plate at the wall!!! A waste of time - keep it simple and make what works. : )
    We also use peer and self assessment using coloured highlighters to indicate if a student has understood and demonstrated their understanding of the Lerning objective / WALT (whatever) (green), not quite there (orange) and still needs help (pink). This saves a HUGE amount of time marking and you can look back through the books to see at a glance where each student is.
    If you can send me your email I'll send you back the programme in a Zip file.
  19. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    They are supposed to support you in your NQT year. Leave as soon as you can. Perhaps you should talk to your union for advice. I'm sorry that other posters have chosen to engage with each other and not focus their response on you. Best of luck and virtual hugs.[​IMG]
  20. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Gary, are you able to interpret ANYTHING I say with any degree of accuracy?
    Suppose the person who sent this note then continues with acts of harrassment, such as vandalism - or even, yes, the physical and sexual violence the note alludes to. Then the note COULD - I said COULD - become part of a criminal investigation, which is why it would be better if it were kept safe. I did NOT say that it could initiate a criminal investigation as it stands.
    Please, please, dear Gary, think carefully about what I say before you waste my time again. I am tired of having to reply to you and explain what I did NOT say all the time. Thanks for your input.

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