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Dear Tom, PGCE student, feel bullied by this class ?am I imagining things?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Tom_Bennett, May 7, 2012.

  1. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Verity
    Just seen this. Unfortunately this is a very common situation for new teachers; they start off with a class who a) resent change and b) resent the introduction of a new authority. Automatic deference to rank is dead, so they expect you to 'prove yourself' over a period. Alas this means that in many classes, many children will take a new teacher as an opportunity to do as they please. They know/ believe that you won't be there for long, that you're a little uncertain, that you might not know the ropes so well. And many will exploit that.
    The weird/ sad thing is that many really nice kids will do this too, especially if they are triggered by strong personalities in the room. Because they don't see you as an authority, any attempt to modify their behaviour by issuing instructions or consequences can lead to confrontation. This takes many forms, but often ends up as a simple 'No' followed by 'they're picking on me.' This is a simple extension of the 'It wasn't me' excuse. It isn't meant to be the truth; it's simply a deflection to avoid trouble and work.
    The key thing you need with these pupils is persistence; the relationship takes time, and it is built on trust- trust that you will be reliable, that you have boundaries, that you care enough about them to want to push them and reward them and sometimes punish them. They need to know that YOU know what you want. You need to be consistent; you need to have clear ground rules in the room. You need to have clear consequences that always happen, no matter what.
    If someone mugs you off and repeatedly disrupts your lesson, then have them removed- don't put up with it and let the class see you're a punching bag. Get them out. And not into the corridor- have them taken to the exclusion room/ park room etc.
    So, reboot your relationship. Tell them you want to remind them of what works in a class and what doesn't. Tell them what will happen if they want to cross the line. Then make sure it happens, that day if possible. If they fail to attend detentions etc, then escalate. GET OTHERS involved. You won't look rubbish, you'll look like a teacher who works in a team. We don;t do this by ourselves, we are legion, for we are many. Believe me, although some moronic teachers get a bit sniffy when the new girl asks for help, it's far better to do this than to suffer in silence. To Hell with them and their professional amnesia about how hard it is to begin. You have a class to teach.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.

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