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Dear Tom (or anyone else who might help!)

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by chrisa86, Mar 10, 2009.

  1. chrisa86

    chrisa86 New commenter

    I'm currently a student Maths teacher (PGCE) on my second placement. First was a grammar, only a few behavioural issues but on the most part they were easy to deal with.

    Second placement, 4 out of 5 of my classes are okay - I have lower expectations of their behaviour but they're okay to handle and so far the threat of a detetntion has been more than enough to keep them on the right track.

    My fifth group however is a Year 10 group will constantly inform whichever teacher they have (whether it be me, the other PGCE student or their regular teacher) that they "ain't f*cking bothered".
    They get up and wander around, sometimes to show texts, sometimes to hit someone.
    They'll call out and just do whatever they want completely ignoring anyone trying to help them.

    They're a group that are predicted grades between U and D roughly - they know this and really can't be bothered.

    They're also aware that because the school is an "All-Inclusive School" that whatever they do, they won't get kicked out. Yesterday the other PGCE tried to raise his voice, they just laughed at him, detentions are no use, sending someone out to diffuse a situation does nothing.

    I'm just really wondering if there's any advice anyone can give someone who obviously isn't very experienced to help - I'm supposed to be observed by an Assistant Head with them next week (which in itself is an absolute joke as she asked what period I could do, gave her two for observations and then just decided where she'd come - she let everyone else choose their own!)

    Any help would be appreciated, that group actually make me dread going in to school (I'm with them every day expect Friday) and I'm honestly just counting down the days (47 more) 'til I'm out of there and can then wait for September when I can start my job.
     
  2. chrisa86

    chrisa86 New commenter

    I'm currently a student Maths teacher (PGCE) on my second placement. First was a grammar, only a few behavioural issues but on the most part they were easy to deal with.

    Second placement, 4 out of 5 of my classes are okay - I have lower expectations of their behaviour but they're okay to handle and so far the threat of a detetntion has been more than enough to keep them on the right track.

    My fifth group however is a Year 10 group will constantly inform whichever teacher they have (whether it be me, the other PGCE student or their regular teacher) that they "ain't f*cking bothered".
    They get up and wander around, sometimes to show texts, sometimes to hit someone.
    They'll call out and just do whatever they want completely ignoring anyone trying to help them.

    They're a group that are predicted grades between U and D roughly - they know this and really can't be bothered.

    They're also aware that because the school is an "All-Inclusive School" that whatever they do, they won't get kicked out. Yesterday the other PGCE tried to raise his voice, they just laughed at him, detentions are no use, sending someone out to diffuse a situation does nothing.

    I'm just really wondering if there's any advice anyone can give someone who obviously isn't very experienced to help - I'm supposed to be observed by an Assistant Head with them next week (which in itself is an absolute joke as she asked what period I could do, gave her two for observations and then just decided where she'd come - she let everyone else choose their own!)

    Any help would be appreciated, that group actually make me dread going in to school (I'm with them every day expect Friday) and I'm honestly just counting down the days (47 more) 'til I'm out of there and can then wait for September when I can start my job.
     
  3. We have all been there. First off you have my sympathy,secondly this is not your fault, no matter what your management say after they observe you. I taught in a school in east London for 14 years which had it's fair share of groups like the one you teach. If you look at it from their point of view it is easy to see why they do not care. Who would want to work for a grade U? If it is of any comfort to you I think that you will make progress with this group and if they were your class this year and next you would see some real results. Having said that the only way to succeed with groups like this is by hard work and by building as good a relationship as you can with any students who are less disaffected than others. You seem like a nice person do not take the nonsense they say personally, in fact tell them that your job is to help them learn not to listen to their chat about other subjects ie you. There is nothing wrong with knowing when you can not change a situation like this one and counting down the dys till you can leave. But I suspect that this group will teach you more about teaching and schools than you think right now. Check out Oldandrew's blog for more practical advice, he is the man.
     
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    It's always tough being on placement on your PGCE, and being in a challenging school multiplies that. Don't blame yourself, and certainly don't think that it makes you somehow a bad teacher. There are many kids who simply won't behave for you if they sense in any way that you're unsure of yourself, which is the definition of training as a teacher. You have no existing relationship with them, and whereas many pupils automatically defer to authority figures, many others don't have this conditioning, and will only defer to you once you have established yourself with them. So the best advice is achieving that relationship ASAP.
    1. No matter how chaotic it getss, always remind yourself that you are the authority in the room. Just because they don't acknowledge it doesn't mean you're not. Every time someone breaks a rule (which I imagine is frequently at this stage) then take names (so learn them) and make sure they turn up to detentions you give out. If they don't attend, escalate the sanction, and follow that up too. This will be exhausting. It is also essential, and every drop of sweat you put into it will be repaid in this life, not in the next. It takes time and Herculean effort.
    2. Never blow your cool. Keep your temper, and try never to shout. If they see you react to them then they instantly know they have power over you. Don't allow them this power. If they misbehave, just calmly remind them of the consequences, then move on...and make sure the consequences happen. Feel like a punch bag in the classroom? Fine. You'll feel much better when you make their lives unpleasant afterwards. Not vindictively, but from a sense of natural justice. We don't win by being ruder or nastier than them. We win by being fair, consistent and relentless. They just can't compete with this.
    3. Even if your school runs a no-exclusion policy (and why on earth would any school be proud of that? It's like an army having a 'no-bullets' policy. Bravo to the committee of soulless robots that approved that little gem) then you still have powers that finish before that. Meetings with parents etc are all suitably unpopular with your average pupil to be effective.
    4. How on Earth do they know their predicted grades? What is a school doing telling pupils they are expected to get a U? That's crazy to the power of crazy. EVERY pupil should be expected to do well in some way, and every teacher should communicate this expectation to the students. So I advise you to do the same. Tell them that they can all do well, and that they don't have to believe anyone that tells them otherwise. We become the person we perceive ourselves to be. Tell them that you expect them to do well relative to their ability if you must, but tell them you believe in them.
    5. Your SLT should support you, not undermine you, so ask for behaviour guidance, and observe other teachers working who can control these classes. And demand that SLT/ HODs follow up with sanctions if yours are ignored. If they're not doing this then they have no right to criticise you.
    Best of luck and take heart- as you know not all schools are like this, and teaching these kids might just be a tremendous learning experience for you...even if it feels like Hell right now. Time spent in the wilderness can seem like time well spent when you get a perspective on it.

    Good Luck
     
  5. chrisa86

    chrisa86 New commenter

    I've just noticed this in your book (received from NUT), I feel so special and somewhat nostalgic.
     
  6. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

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