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Getting back into teaching: Behaviour struggles

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by g2016, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. g2016

    g2016 New commenter

    I have been off with depression for over a year now and slowly have to consider re-entering the classroom. During the last year before I called in sick, I worked at a vocational school where behaviour was very poor. Unfortunately, my colleagues stuck their heads in the sand, which meant I was the only one addressing behaviour, which caused the children to rebel against me. Following the school rules seemed to make things worse. I observed colleagues to find out what they did differently, but soon found out that they allowed poor behaviour. (Eating/drinking in class, phones out, rude behaviour, applying makeup/spraying deodorant around the room etc.) I ended up leaving the school and vowed to leave teaching altogether.

    After a year of counseling, I have decided to go back into the classroom. My counselor has advised me to only teach in certain schools, preferably no lower sets. He's convinced me it's not my fault. (After a few years of teaching supply in the UK and a year of struggling with behaviour in my own country I was pretty sure I was to blame.) Also, I'm determined to only work at schools with a supportive SLT to back me up. However, I am still very nervous about re-entering the classroom. I know I could get a job today, if I wanted to, but the thought of having to face the children and not being able to deal with them scares me. I know I am a good teacher, but the last couple of years have really damaged my confidence.

    How can I prepare myself for the first step back into the classroom? In my country, there's often no clear behaviour policy, so I'll have to rely on my own methods.
    pepper5 likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    It's good you recognise that not all teachers can work in all schools. I think the more we refuse to even interview for jobs in places where the behaviour is bad, the more HTs will get the message. Behaviour is a priority, not something you worry about after your marking policy or 2,000 learning walks and book trawls to make sure the teachers are doing their job.

    However, you can't really 'prepare' for behaviour management at this stage, and I would suggest that you also must not rely on your own methods. You need a school where the behaviour policy is clear, where it is carried out uniformly, and where it seen as a whole school issue. In your class, you may ban phones. But if you are the only teacher doing that, then you will have endless conflict. So your choice of school is important.

    Beyond that, my two main pieces of advice are:
    1) Think about the behaviour you want. Be very clear on what you yourself will accept.
    2) Make sure you have a really good 'self care' plan worked out for dealing with any bad days. We all have them. The question is not 'can I avoid dips' but 'how fast can I get back on track?'

    Best of luck!
    celago22, JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You will find it difficult to find any schools where the behaviour is at an acceptable level that you desire. In the area I live in most of the schools are in Requires Improvement and the behaviour is appalling. I can think of three schools where I would want to work on a permanent basis - the rest are terrible places to work in terms of classroom behaviour ad partly the bad behaviour is down to the SLT not knowing what to do about it. Those of course are the schools you want to avoid. I know I sound very negative, but that is the reality of the education system in the UK in 2018. A few new schools have been recently been built and all are in RI despite millions being spent on buildings/teachers' salaries/management salaries. No one can teach/learn in them because the schools can't get a grip on the behaviour. Please believe your counsellor it definitely isn't you or your fault.

    Your next obstacle will be to find a school where you don't have to teach any bottom sets. Even in the better schools there are going to be students on report, those who don't follow the rules, ones where they stretch everyone to the limit.

    If you can find a school where the behaviour is generally good and you have supportive SLT then you can take the advice in post 2 and ensure you have clear classroom rules. Go onto the Pivotal Education web site to get tips on behaviour management; and as post 2 also sets out have a plan worked out where you can deal with any bad days.

    No, none of this is your fault - get a copy of the book On the Edge by Charlie Carroll. It is about a teacher who went undercover as a supply teacher for a year and worked in some of the UK's toughest schools.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  4. g2016

    g2016 New commenter

    Thank you @SEBREGIS, for your kind words! I will definitely take your advice to heart. I plan on having another chat with my counselor about all this as well. Just to put some things on paper, make it clear to myself what it is I expect and be firm about this. I'm just scared they'll "smell" my fear, but I guess there's only one way to find out.

    @pepper5, I don't live in the UK anymore, and in the country I'm currently teaching in, behaviour is much less of an issue. I left the UK partly because I realised I just couldn't be the teacher I wanted to be. Where I live now, there's a clear distinction between teachers that are only allowed to teach year 7/8 and then only bottom sets and the ones that are allowed to teach top sets. So fortunately, that shouldn't be too big of an issue, as I have the "right" degree for my situation. I'll have a look at the Pivotal Education website as well and I'm thinking about buying some books on behaviour management. I'm glad you agree too that poor behaviour isn't our fault and it saddens me to realise I've been convinced it was, and there are so many other that are made to feel the same.

    I read On The Edge a couple of years ago. To be honest, I felt much better, knowing that there were others out there who were struggling with the same issues. The book was hilarious, but only because it was all so true. Sad, really..
    pepper5 likes this.

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