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Feeling like I can't teach anymore

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Alexalex93, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. Alexalex94

    Alexalex94 New commenter

    I have started my second year of teaching at the same school I was working at last year. Mostly, I have some good classes and have started off pretty well. I have been praised on working with difficult students.

    During the summer holidays, the head made a point of giving the top sets to the 'stronger teachers'. When I was given my class list, I noticed that I did not have any top sets, while all staff in the department, including NQTs and new staff have been given a fair share of top sets. While I have four nurture sets, and many classes with high need SEND and EAL students. This made me feel like I have not been given any top sets since I am not a strong teacher.

    Going into the year, many classes have done well and I am able to teach. In the past two/three weeks, I have had some trouble from two classes in particular. One class constantly speaks over me and refuses to let me teach. I follow the behaviour policy but this does not work as most of the students continue to disrupt. Another class constantly messes about and then demand that I teach them while they are being silly.

    I am now starting to believe that I am a horrible teacher since students are requesting to move out of my lessons since they do not learn anything. I am putting more time into these lessons to plan in order to prevent behaviour issues from arise. I have rang home, contacted HoY and SLT for support but I am constantly being told that I am removing students too often.

    This morning I did not want to go into work knowing I had these two classes and cried on my drive into school. I don't know what to do as I feel like I cannot teach or loosing my ability to control difficult classes.
    drek and henrypm0 like this.
  2. SamGBr

    SamGBr New commenter

    Did your HoD give any explanation why you didn’t get any higher sets this year?

    I have seen the phenomenon in other schools that if you have success with lower sets / sets with high SEN, that you get almost typecast as the Lower Set teacher in the department. Took one of my ex-colleagues 5-6 years to finally get some A-level after being in this situation.

    Hate to suggest it, but it’s probably worth looking around your area for jobs where you can get some higher sets. Or use the job hunt as a bargaining chip for your current school for next year...
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Keep battling away. I didn't get any high level O level groups in 4 years at my first school. I learned a fair few teaching strategies as well as some crowd control techniques.
    You need to talk to your department manager about the children who are not responding to the school behavioural policy.
    Good luck. It's not too late to look at (and apply for) vacancies in other schools.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Start looking for another post.

    There is no point staying there as it will never improve. It is irresponsible to give you so many difficult classes - it doesn't matter if you have been teaching 5 minutes or 50 years.


    Sorry for the shouting, but you are not to blame and this kind of thing wants to make me cry.

    You are not paid to work miracles and "control" difficult classes.

    The school, students, parents etc. are blaming all THEIR shortcomings on you.
    drek, sbkrobson, tonymars and 5 others like this.
  5. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    You are doing a great job, there's only so much it's humanly possible to do with difficult groups like that and they tire you out. That's why those classes needs to be evenly distributed. You couldn't possibly succeed in that situation.

    The headteacher doesn't know what they are doing if they think that the "stronger teachers" are required for top set, those are the easiest classes to teach as long as your subject knowledge is good enough. It's the opposite situation, the "stronger teachers" are needed for the groups which you have. Why on earth this person think's it's appropriate or helpful to label the staff in this way I can't imagine.

    It's possible that they did this because they have faith in your abilities with groups like this from last year, but they appear to have communicated the exact opposite and are not giving you any support for increasing your workload in dealing with those groups. That's just bad management.

    I've seen too often the "burnout timetable" in schools where 1) the new or temporary member of staff isn't trusted with GCSE groups yet and 2) the established teachers have been asked which groups they want to keep from last year. So you end up with bottom sets for Y11, lower sets for Y8-10 and top set Y7 to balance it out.

    That can be a very behaviour management heavy timetable. It's not really done on purpose but it's the natural result of those two conditions. Working supply I've had something similar to this set pattern every year. Funnily enough there's always a new teacher to take on those classes next year!
  6. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    It’s rotten being given only lower ability groups, they should be shared fairly throughout the department. You will find yourself getting jaded and disheartened, it is difficult having to face disruptive classes day in and day out. You should have some nice days to look forward to.

    Well done on developing good relationships with the rest of your groups. Can’t give much advice because those who should be supporting you and helping you develop have given themselves a cushy number.
    tonymars and pepper5 like this.
  7. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    At my first year at the school I'm in now my entire timetable consisted of bottom sets and groups nobody else wanted. It was tough - and at the end of the year I told my HOD that if my timetable for the following year was the same then he could start looking for another teacher.

    It wasn't.
  8. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Sounds like my second year of teaching. I took a job at short notice whereby I had all set 3 and a few set 2s. Thing is, we're too inexperienced to know what a tough call this is. As a result I left the school after one year because I'd had enough of bad behaviour.
    You should foremost speak to your HOD about this. They need to come up with strategies to help you, such as dropping in halfway through to check all is ok, or taking one very badly behaved pupil. If anything, I'd try to build relationships with the pupils and see if any activities can be linked to their interests.

    Introduce a few games into classes- of course, nothing where they can get too silly- but I think in the short term you should prioritise having enjoyable lessons, over drilling them with behaviour. If you can, give little prizes out at the end of each lesson for "most improved behaviour in a lesson" (small sweet etc) which might be more appealing to more immature pupils. Try to get as many "on board" as you can, and that will improve the average mod of the class, and encourage any really badly behaved pupils to lean towards the average.
    tonymars, SundaeTrifle and pepper5 like this.
  9. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I'd be interested to know this and I think the spread of the classes is important.

    If you have a reasonable timetable with one lousy class, the better classes keep you going and you can survive because you know you only see the hooligans once a day.

    When all or most of your classes are 'challenging', you know every day that's you're going to have a full day, not just 50 minutes, of a battle on your hands. How we cope, how the quality of our teaching suffers, I think depends in a huge degree to the proportion of time we spend dealing with this kind of group.

    And of course, it's worse if the other staff have better classes. When you're all in it together, you can share each other's despair and pull each other along. When everyone else has a relative breeze noone understands what an utterly **** time you're having.

    This is either very thoughtless timetabling showing a lack of understanding of all of the above, or it's downright nasty and unfair.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Funny that.
    It takes a very special lack of intelligence to believe that there must be a finite number of removals from lesson and then a teacher is in the wrong, and an even more special lack of intelligence to apply that to the teacher who teaches a disproportionate number of those kids who require removing.

    I suggest you remove yourself, because they are not going to be fair about this.
    Blinkered scapegoating incompetents.
    Them, not you, I mean.
  11. Alexalex94

    Alexalex94 New commenter

    The HoD and Headteacher told me that because I managed so well during my NQT year with very difficult classes, they had faith in me to handle difficult classes. Many of the classes I see this year are continued from last year and thus have built up relationships with them.

    It's more the fact that my results look dreadful and many students do not make progress due to massive disruption. Students are extremely rude to me and do not respond to the school behaviour policy when used. I seem to keep sending emails to the leadership who fail to intervene. My HoD is lovely about it and does offer me massive amounts of support.

    I keep on looking for other jobs to see if they tempt me...
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  12. baitranger

    baitranger Established commenter

    Headteachers and their senior managers should take all of the lower level classes and lead by example. They have shoved all of the **** onto you because you have a reputation for being good with them and because it's the easiest thing to do. No-one else wants to take them. I agree that it's time to look elsewhere. If the children are behaving in class in a way that would get them thrown out of local shops, they are not likely to improve no matter which "strategies" you use. In the end , you'll get the blame for their bad behaviour, which is just madness. They are to blame for their bad behaviour, not you.
  13. skellig1182

    skellig1182 Established commenter

    I would have thought they would have given top sets to new teachers because they are easier. The children in top sets self teach and often have support at home. You need a very good teacher to work with borderline children and those with additional needs. Every child counts in a school and all results matter. Are you sure it’s not just because they think you will be able to narrow the gap with these under acheibeing children? xx
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    OP most of us have experienced this.
    You are being terrored.
    For a better understanding see the teachingbattleground blog
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. livingstone83

    livingstone83 Occasional commenter

    If you've got to the point that you're crying, then find somewhere else to work.

    You've been given the hardest timetable, that's simply not fair - least of all because of your lack of experience. You shouldn't feel that you're not a 'good teacher'.
    The first few years a a pretty steep learning curve, adding the most difficult classes makes it more of a cliff than a curve.

    Don't be down on yourself. You've been given a raw deal by the sounds of it. There's hundreds of other schools out there that will give you much more support - I'd strongly recommend taking a serious look.

    Your teaching skills will improve (they do for us all) - it doesn't seem like the skills of your leadership team will.
    pepper5 likes this.
  16. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    They gave you all the difficult classes because they were too lazy to take them on themselves - they see you as a ticket to an easy life.

    To do that to a new or experienced teacher is despicable.

    Yesterday on supply I had a couple of classes like you describe and if I had to do that all day every day I would go insane.

    As someone said above, if you are crying, you need to look for a more supportive school.
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  17. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
  18. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    If your HoD is responsible for the allocation of groups among the teachers in your department, is this a not a wee bit hypocritical? Is your HoD being supportive in ways that actually help you, or just making encouraging noises, while shovelling on you the dross that nobody else wants to teach? I wonder if they will be so supportive when your results look bad.
  19. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    At a guess, they had NQTs who needed to be given not-horrendous classes, old-hands who would blow their tops if they didn't get at least one top set, and you ended up losing out. In a way, it is a sign that they have some confidence in you. I had a bit of a rocky first year, and they had three NQTs the next year, so they actually gave me a nice timetable in the hope that I wouldn't need any support - I kept all the groups I'd done well with and lost the ones I'd struggled with.

    Are the two groups you're having difficulty with new to you? Perhaps, in a way, you're expecting them to behave as well as the ones you've spent a year with already - hopefully they'll come round. Use your HoD's support, don't be embarrassed about it, and remind yourself how well you're doing with the other groups.

    As for kids wanting to move group, ignore that. I spent a while in a three teacher department, and one girl repeatedly asked to move set because she didn't like the teacher. After three years, she'd done that with all three of us!

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