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Dear Tom/whoever: Escalating detentions with no help from HOD?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by msloops, Jan 9, 2011.

  1. Just wondering if anyone has any suggestions for how I can escalate my detentions without help from my head of department?<BR>
    I'm an NQT and as part of my target for this term to improve behaviour in my classes, I've started setting detentions. At the moment, behaviour in one particular class is awful and I've been setting a huge number of detentions this week. I'm happy doing them - I think once they start to work I won't have to do as many and I need to keep setting detentions until I know that the students know that behaving badly in my lessons will lead to an unpleasant consequence - but my problem comes when they repeatedly don't turn up.<BR>
    My original idea (and what I thought was the department policy) was to ask my head of department to arrange an after school faculty detention for students who choose not to turn up to my detentions. However when I asked the head of department about this she simply said "you're doing too many detentions", at first saying this was because "you need a break" - as I said, I am happier doing the detentions if that's going to improve behaviour and I think once they start to work and the kids know I mean business I won't have to do as many - and then saying that "it's causing a problem in the corridors", because apparently other kids have been hanging around outside my door waiting for those in the detention. (Something that would be easily solved by telling them to clear off, I would've thought, but there you go.) When I asked her if she could do an after school detention for a specific child, she worked out she wouldn't be able to do it for a whole week - I'd much rather have a detention that is much nearer to the crime, otherwise there's a chance we could have had 3 or 4 lessons in between, and everything will get very confusing!<BR>
    The h.o.d. is very busy and there's lots of pressure on her at the moment as SLT are unhappy with her, but I found it really unhelpful for her to say that I should just abandon all my efforts after only a few days of the new term! The school as a whole prefers to 'catch them being good' and not use sanctions really, and i'm all in favour of the carrot as WELL as the stick, but at the moment there's no way I can get by without using detentions, unless I want to teach them the lesson that the only consequence for them being very rude, insulting me, refusing to listen, doing no work, shouting out and disrupting lessons to the point where nobody is learning very much, ever...is that they won't get any merits today. The behaviour policies are drawn up by the scariest SLT members who, when they do get in the classroom, have such power that they can easily control the classes without having to resort to sanctions, but I'm obviously not there yet. I don't want them to think that, because I'm ignoring them and using detentions, that I'm ignoring coaching and mentoring and feedback, though, either!<BR>
    How can I escalate my sanctions myself without any help? I'm happy to put in the time and effort if it's going to work. Perhaps I should ask my mentor - 2nd in the faculty - to help out?
  2. YesMrBronson

    YesMrBronson New commenter

    This is absolutely true.
    Assuming you're giving out detentions in line with the school policy then your HOD is talking cobblers I'm afraid.
    Did she say why she wouldn't be able to do it for a whole week?

    Most schools (especially good schools) have a policy for this. The policy usually runs along the lines of having a 'senior' detention as a sanction for pupils that don't attend detention. This would be a detention, usually after school, run by a senior member of staff such as the Deputy Head, and often takes place in the school hall or similar. You say you haven't been at the school long so perhaps your school does have a policy like this but no one has made you aware of it yet.
    If that turns out not to be the case...
    ...then that may well be a way forward.
    Please post and say how it goes.

  3. Further to earlier answers..
    You say that this is your NQT and you have been set a target re behaviour.
    Do try and keep a record of everything you do and everytime you have not been supported in line with school policy.
    You can use this record as evidence should behaviour become an issue with regards to passing your NQT year. Make sure you discuss how things are going with your mentor and ask for advice if they try and blame for this problem that is, from what you have written, beyond your reasonable control.
    Good luck.
  4. Thank you YesMrBronson...
    The school policy is for each department to deal with its own behaviour issues, and so its up to the head of department to decide what to do.
    Too busy.
    Not at my school because it's all dealt with in separate departments -that's why I was trying to get my head of department to do an after school detention, but she's very reluctant.
    I will speak to my mentor, but I don't want to force anyone else to spend time after school in detention, especially if it is only my kids who are there. There is one other teacher in the dept who does lots of detentions, but she does them all herself too and she doesn't need to give quite so many as I do.
  5. Thanks - I will keep a record. It is already an issue and if it doesn't improve I won't pass. However, it's only me that has problems with behaviour in the dept so it can't be beyond my control...can it?
  6. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Ms Loops. Sorry to hear you're having trouble. I facepalmed myself a few times when I read your post, because your personal thoughts about effective behaviour management are so much more in harmony with the way the world is, compared to your HOD's. The sad thing is, the HOD is supposed to be supporting you- but from your description, all they seem to be concerned with is not making any more work for anyone. How professional.
    'Catch them being good'? Yes, I tried that in the Barlinnie Maximum Security Wing for Violent Offenders. Every time Southwark Ron got through a whole day without chinning anyone I gave him a lollipop and half a week's leave. Robbed a few Post Offices, but you can't focus on the negatives, can you?
    I've always thought that the 'carrot or stick' argument was a false dichotomy: I just take a carrot, tie it on to the end of a stick, and then get busy. A 'carroting' I call it.
    The advice you've had above is very sound. Also, try to discuss with your concerns with your HOD; you may still be able to convince them that you deserve support- even though it sounds like they're being somewhat derelict in their duties, they may be under pressure for reasons no one can guess, and might be more supportive if you have more contact with them. That said, you're still in the right. If the SLT are unhappy with her, there may be a connection; perhaps you can have a private chat with the line manager senior to her and discuss your concerns. Of course that might be hard to do, but you deserve support.
    Very good luck to you.
  7. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    I'd suggest sticking to sanctions you can carry out without support.This might mean only keeping behind 1-2 pupils at a time. If you are an NQT you probably won't have an afternoon register to do so you can use that time to pick up pupils and discuss their behaviour with them. It might be possible for the head of year or the form tutor to be there with you.
  8. Thanks Tom, very helpful, that's reassured me that I am going down the right route.
    Bigkid: I can carry out the detentions fine on my own, the problem is just how
    to follow them up with something more serious when they don't show up. In the class in question, the situation is out of hand and there are currently far more than 2 pupils who are behaving badly enough to definitely require a sanction, every lesson, and I find keeping several students behind doesn't take much longer than just keeping behind 1 or 2. Just keeping one or 2 would require me to deliberately pick on a couple and let the others off - not what I want to be doing as I'm trying to be fair (although finding it impossible to be honest when there's loads going on at once). I do have a form to register too. Thanks for your advice though!
  9. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    You're welcome.
    If you have a form to register then I would suggest that you either occasionally ask someone to do it for you enabling you to round up pupils that have not attended detention or ask someone to round the pupils up for you. I generally ask someone to do my register which enables me to go to their tutor room in the afternoon and prevent them leaving.
    Alternatively you could have a sanction that you give before a detention (I get them to copy out something about why school is important). If they do the copying they avoid detention. That way the number of pupils having detention (and therefore the number not turning up to detention) might be reduced.
    Have you tried phone calls home before the detention and after if the pupil has not showed?
    If the parent is supportive then asking them to sit in lesson with the pupil can be effective (although with the wrong parent it can backfire badly).
    I take pupils that have not attended detention out of whatever lesson they are in when I am free and make them spend the entire double lesson cleaning graffiti of walls or scraping chewing gum of the bottom of tables.
    The trick, in my opinion, is too find something that you can do yourself (if you are not getting support) that is even more unpleasant for the pupils concerned than a detention.
    If a pupil lives very near the school for example then some parents will escort their progeny back to school to do the detention if you phone home giving them a double whammy of detention plus embarassment.
    I suggested picking on 1 or 2 at a time simply because it easier to round them up or have them rounded up if the numbers are small.

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