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Desperate with my year 9 group

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by maralex86, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. maralex86

    maralex86 New commenter


    This is not the first time I post this problem but... I feel like I am totally desperate and I feel a failure. I am a NQT teacher, teaching Spanish and French (subjects that are not usually very popular as most of the students don't see the point of learning a language as English is spoken everywhere) and managing behaviour is not my strength. I work in a difficult school, classified as "require improvement" by ofsted and one of the reason I decided to work there is because I thought it would be a very good learning experience, however I am feeling that instead of learning, I am failing. The reason why I feel like that is because I feel unable to control my year 9 group. I was hoping by now they would be used to me and we could have a rapport, but it is getting worse and worse and specially now when they have made their choices and more than 60% are not doing Spanish GCSE so they don't see the point of behaving. It is a difficult group with one student that take drugs, another one in managed move and another one really aggressive to the point I thought she was going to beat the TA. I feel myself unable to teach, unable to control them and I can't even do tests properly! as I can't control them I can't do speaking assessments o listening assessments.

    And I have tried everything; following behaviour´s policy, rewards, an attempt of a fun lesson, videos, etc.

    The worse part is when "good students" blame me because I can't control the group. One of them wrote in his book "how am I going to learn if you don't control the group?", another one told me that he decided not to do Spanish GCSE because he didn't enjoy Spanish lessons anymore and in parents evening some parents were asking me what I was doing to teach their children.... And I went home and I felt defeated.

    The thing is that I think I am a relatively good teacher. I have 9 groups and I only have problems with year 9... of course other groups are difficult as well but not like year 9 and I am afraid that we have reached a point in which we hate each other, I hate them and they hate me but it is painful to see the frustration faces of those who want to learn and if I don't give up is for them, but it is so frustrated to spend hours planning lessons that I might not even be able to deliver....

    Honestly, I don't know what to do.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi maralex86

    You are a good teacher. You have 9 groups which is a lot and this is the only one you are facing severe difficulties with, so remember that: you are a good teacher - an excellent one I am sure.

    Please do not blame yourself for this situation. You cannot control anyone's behaviour. You can only control your own behaviour.

    The class you describe sounds very challenging and I suspect that any teacher taking the group would struggle.

    You have listed all the strategies you have tried which are the usual ones most people would try. What does your HOD have to say? Are there any ways she/he could assist? For example, perhaps redistributing some of the students to other groups so you have a break to teach the ones who want to learn.

    I don't believe they hate you, nor them.

    Please don't think you are a failure. If you are in a school that requires improvement, the SLT have let the standards slip. You should be able to go to your HOD or Principal and ask for assistance. Not that you are weak, but that you need backup because of the dynamics of your class; for example, the student on a managed move etc...

    Having an aggressive student threatening a TA is also of course concerning.

    If you are in a union, you could phone and ask for their advice. Also, phone the Education Support Partnership who may be able to also advise you on what steps you could take with the school to get more support which is what you need.

    In the meantime, perhaps relax just a bit and do some simple lessons that may not require so much effort to prepare on your part but still keep everyone engaged. Workbook activities where students can work at their own speed and individually or in pairs.

    Have you ever tried eating with them in the school's cafeteria? Perhaps you could get a colleague to join you to eat with the students which might build some rapport. Try to find out what they like...what struggles they have.

    It is not long until Easter. You will have two weeks off then the final stretch.

    I would, however, phone the Education Support Partnership over the weekend and see what they suggest. They can also offer you emotional support. Their details are posted at the top of the workplace dilemma forum.
    maralex86 likes this.
  3. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    Hola maralex...it does not surprise me to hear that Year 9 are playing up in MFL! I have the same problem as I have 9 groups like you and I am a year ahead of you. Please talk to someone who can help as pepper has suggested. Do not blame yourself as its sounds as if you are doing the right things. However, Pepper also recommended a great book called Taking Care of Behaviour by Paul Dix which I also bought and can highly recommend. There are also some good tips on here:
    Just the other day also noticed a huge change in behaviour when I started giving instructions from the back of the room, literally stood amongst some of the worst culprits - they seemed to take more notice. A clicker therefore might be a good investment so you can be free to move around if you don't have one already.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    "Workbook activities where students can work at their own speed and individually or in pairs." I agree this works really well!
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hola Idiomas11

    Glad you found the book Taking Care of Behaviour by Paul Dix useful. It is always great to hear when people have found a resource useful.

    Taking Care of Behaviour is now out of print, but Paul Dix has written a new book. I don't know the title and haven't read it yet, but is probably available on the Pivotal Education web site or on Amazon. As I say, I can't recommend this book because I haven't read it, but it is probably good and I do want to read it in due course.

    Your idea of standing in the back is a good one as well.
  6. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Are you thinking of When the Adults Change, Everything Changes? It is definitely worthwhile. If +NQT's need guidance on behaviour then Paul is their optimal resource:


    Paul's ideas & practices are very popular because they work, balancing the traditional purpose of the classroom with the needs & gifts of their modern occupants.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2018
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. maralex86

    maralex86 New commenter

    My HoD and my mentor are teaching while I am teaching that group and they are really supportive, however they can't do anything else that hearing my complaints. I have had some members of SLT coming to my lessons and I even had a formal observation! which didn't go very well of course. I have also suggested a meeting with parents but this hasn't had taken place yet....
  8. maralex86

    maralex86 New commenter

    Thanks for your all replies! I have found Paul Dix's book in Amazon and I am going to buy it... however I am bit hesitant with books because I read "Getting the bugguers to behave" twice and It hasn't been very helpful and I must admit that is partly my fault as I am not patient enough and when something doesn't work I tend to give up...
    pepper5 and Vince_Ulam like this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hola Vince

    Yes. Thank you very much as that is the book I was thinking of.

    If you recommend it, I shall get a copy as I did enjoy and use the other book Taking Care of Behaviour.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.
  10. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    I recommend it, Pepper. While some in the new school movement impose group marching chants and recruit Trunchbulls to supervise detention-cellars, Paul Dix represents the voice of sanity in all discussions of school behaviour. His ideas are not only enlightened but also effective.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I will definitely buy the new book and I agree Paul Dix's ideas are effective.

    About three years ago I studied his online course Taking Care of Behaviour and it helped tremendously.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    The big thing to remember is that this is NOT your problem. This is a departmental / whole school problem. But you are the one who unfortunately has to deal with it.

    I would also point out to you that as an NQT, part of your provision is that you should not routinely have to deal with difficult classes. This is because even an experienced teacher would struggle with the group you are describing and an NQT has very little chance.

    In most classes, there are a very small number of students that are actually determined to cause trouble. The rest tend to go along with it.

    Talk to someone senior. Get the worst offenders removed for a few lessons, and get your HOD or similar to give them a thorough talking to. If you can, remind them of your behaviour expectations and then put them onto a 'one strike and out' status (though I suspect your school will be reluctant to back you, (which is probably whats causing the problem). Then make sure that the rest of the class have an enjoyable lesson - worry less about the learning than reestablishing a good working atmosphere in the class.

    But the big thing is - you are NOT a failure because you are struggling with a nightmare class. Its not something any one teacher could manage on their own.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    If these pupils do not behave with a member of the SLT in the room, I would suggest that this is not your problem but a whole school one.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. askaloser

    askaloser New commenter

    In Many cases this is a "welcome to the downside of the job" and if anybody tells you they have not had the same experience they are either lying or extremely lucky.
    I see the post was last year so the students you had problems with will, by now, be causing the concerns elsewhere and in that respect are even more a "whole school problem" than your own concern
    However you must reflect on what you achieved, what you failed with and be very brave... how the school failed you.
    Almost every school now has a "time out room" ( name may be different but the aim is the same). If there is not one and the school requires improvement then they should get one very quickly. Then USE it. I understand your reluctance to criticise the head of faculty and your mentor but you should insist that they take one student each. you mention there are about 3 who are the problem. The school should have a partner class system which will allow you to move the offenders out for at least half a term. Failing that then use the corridor.
    You should have a behavioural log and a head of year/pastoral system that uses the behavioural system. If you are nervous about meeting the parents that is understandable, but there are staff with responsibilities to do this task. Give them the accounts, read the reports that exist on these students and ask about them being placed on report, thus starting the home school link. You can observe the students in a different lesson and see if there are any tips you can pick up.
    Whilst this is happening it is absolutely vital that you take the more willing students and make them feel that they are progressing with you. That is vital. obviously this is a limited reply but should give you some pointers.
    The bottom line to remember as an NQT (especially) is that we have all had these issues and many of us still do. It is not wrong to remove the problems. One would hope the SMT support you. If the school is struggling as much as you indicate then they should be making examples of such students. Preferably not exclusion but by putting support strategies into the school pastoral system to help the troublesome students change their ways
    Good luck
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Sound advice.

    The misbehaving students need to be removed after clear warnings and at some point either in a time out room or in meetings with SLT and the parents, need to reflect on their behaviour and also get some strategies on making changes. An apology would be in order as well.

    I work as a supply teacher in a lot of RI schools and in one particular one last year I observed about eight students in one class deliberately chase away teachers through their behaviour: not following instructions, eating in class, mobile phones, defiant manner etc. Every lesson there was some sort of drama and they would out in the corridors having it out with the teachers or being kept behind. I covered this class a few times and other times I observed them from across the corridor. Those six or eight students were the ones clearly in control.

    I never saw any change - the change needs to start from SLT taking each one of these students and meeting them with the parents to discuss the behaviour and the impact it is having on the others in the class. If I were SLT they would either change the behaviour or they work in a time out room. That would be it. Bottom line. The tragedy of it was their teacher although I did not know that well, appeared to be such a well qualified subject specialist. The students had everything they needed to do well but those eight destroyed hours of learning time that will never be able to recovered.
    Vince_Ulam likes this.

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