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Getting so sick of backchat

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by ros85, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. Hiya,
    I've been teaching for nearly 5 years and have just taken on a new role in my department- one of the resposibilites is to help to manage behaviour. So if a member of staff is having problems with a particular pupil, then I'm called in to speak to them, and deal with it from there. I also run a department detention.
    I am getting increasingly fed up with dealing with disrespectful pupils who seem to do nothing but backchat when I'm trying to speak to them about their behaviour. This also happens a lot in my lessons with my own pupils, and seems to be a bit of a whole school problem. Colleagues complain about the same thing.
    Is it too much to ask, to be spoken to like a normal human being? Is it just one of the downsides of being a teacher?
    Please someone tell me there are schools out there where pupils don't speak to their teachers like they're something on the bottom of their shoe?
     
  2. Why not just avoid the talk about the behaviour and let the punishment do the talking? Just say "I don't like that behaviour, it's against our rules and it's going to cost you half an hour of your life. If you would like to discuss it then come along at break time" (they don't).
    Then the whole conversation is cut out. They know they've done the wrong thing - they don't want to spend time lowering themselves to an apology, so rude answering back is what they think will help get them out of it.
    But I know what you mean - I hate the answering back.... I just try as far as possible to avoid situations where it is likely to happen, and use ways to cut them dead when they start.
     
  3. PaulDG

    PaulDG Occasional commenter

    And they've learnt that, in general, it's a strategy that works. They've found that if they can distract the adult by complaining "but he did it too" or "you're just picking on me.." that they get let off
    Chances are, that impression has been reinforced at school as teachers have had to give in time and time again because they know they wont get management support.

    Well, you're (the OP) "management" now - so show them their previous experiences are a poor guide to the present - that giving you backchat is, not just ignored but will ramp up the sanction. (Ignoring in these circumstances just means they can continue the strategy - while it doesn't work with you, it doesn't cost anything either and it almost certainly does work with others.)

    (How is it that people in charge of behaviour policies seem to be so ignorant of Game Theory?)
     
  4. My advice is that you need to rank up the authority line with them, particularly in your position. You can try and do it the long winded 'lovey-dovey' way but the fact that they're chatting back to you demonstrates that they feel they can speak to you in a derogatory way-and will get away with it. I'm a HoD and my students wouldn't dare to speak out of turn to me, they know better and they know exactly what sanctions will be applied if they try it. It's all very well analysing a multitude of learning needs/personal circumstances etc. but all we sometimes result in doing is finding excuses for allowing students to talk to staff like they're something on the bottom of their shoe. It's wholly unacceptable and completely unnecessary. They address me properly, without exception. You need to make it very clear that you will not put up with it and that you're not interested in their opinion until they can demonstrate manners with you and other staff, only then are you prepared to open up proper discussion with them which is non-academic based.
     
  5. 'You need to make it very clear that you will not put up with it and that you're not interested in their opinion until they can demonstrate manners with you and other staff, only then are you prepared to open up proper discussion with them which is non-academic based'
    Absolutely right, but I've always felt that this shouldn't be up to the individual alone. It's a matter of the culture of the workplace as well; that is, if some teachers see this kind of behaviour as nothing to worry about AS LONG AS IT ISN'T DIRECTED AT THEMSELVES, then the person on the receiving end isn't going to get very far; s/he's just going to end up isolated. In which case, better to look for another job... easier said than done. Also, the workplace culture... seeing that it's a school.... should be able to involve social attitudes as well, by convincing the parents to get involved on a basis of support rather than antagonism, as so often seems to be the case these days.
    However, in my experience, the individual is more often left to cope alone, as in so many cases of bullying: the onlookers are only too happy to see the hostility directed at someone other than themselves.
     
  6. Thanks for the advice everyone. Well, I certainly don't let them get away with the backchat; they either find themselves in the detention for even longer, or I ring their parents there and then to inform them of the problem. As vehar pointed out, I think that it's a cultural problem within the school. The pupils aren't concerned about backchatting and will even try to do it to SLT. I think I'll just keep up with the sanctions and perhaps cut the conversation down as much when I'm 'telling them off'.

     
  7. Hi ros85, yes, there are schools out there where "pupils don't speak to their teachers like they're something on the bottom of their shoe." Not as a general rule, anyway. I think. But it all depends how one interprets that statement, really. I think I sympathise with your dilemma, but your posting, to be honest, really just raises a number of questions in my mind. Why have you been selected for this role within your department? How was it intended to complement the role of the head of department and other staff more senior to you? Did you have any option on taking on this task? Do you think you are best suited to it? What are the school-wide procedures for behaviour management, what rewards and sanctions are available, and are they consistently implemented? Why are you the (sole?) person who runs a "department detention"? Why have the class teachers not taken appropriate action already in individual cases? What exactly do you mean by "backchat", and not being spoken to "like a normal human being"? Can you give examples? Why is this a "whole school problem", what guidance is there from senior leadership on this? And so on.
    So, in the absence of that clarification, any observation is purely general. Mine is this. In general, one has to recognise that relationships in schools merely reflect those in the wider society in which we have to operate. In my childhood, fifty years ago, it was accepted, and by and large reflected relationships within families, that a young person should listen in shamed silence to a reprimand from an authority figure, and meekly accept any punishment that was handed out. Since then, society has changed. Within families, generally speaking, there is much more dialogue and negotiation, and the relationships between adults and young people is much more flexible. Other social institutions, such as schools, need to reflect this change. For some decades, some schools tried to hang on to the old ways, but increasingly it became ineffective as it failed to reflect the changing values of society and the expectations of parents. So I would suggest, if it is not the case already, that your behaviour management initiatives are more likely to succeed if they focus in a non-confrontational way on dialogue and agreement, and seek positive routes to improvement. If, as I think your posting implies, they are driven by sanctions and detentions, then they probably are working against the grain of the culture in which we live, and are unlikely to succeed in the long run. That is not to say, of course, that sanctions play no part in a well-managed policy, merely that a positive discussion is the best starting point.
    Of course, having said that, there are some things that are unacceptable by any standards, and if that is what you are facing, then you are right to resist and take appropriate action. However, I would strongly recommend that you seek full support and involvement in so doing from your head of department and other senior staff. In any event, good luck with what certainly sounds like a challenge for you!
     
  8. "In general, one has to recognise that relationships in schools merely reflect those in the wider society in which we have to operate." JamesTES 2011

    To translate - " a lot of teenagers speak to adults like rubbish outside school and show no respect for those in authority so let's pander to them and be friends and then they will like us and we will have an easy life."

    I am so bored with your constant liberal wetness. This constant erosion of standards is exactly why so many new teachers post on this forum in desperation. They probably work for apologists like you.

     
    Bolter likes this.
  9. I'm in FE so we don't use detention, although I have array of mundane jobs I need doing around the department (e.g. tidying boxes of cables) that I might give to someone. If, for example they fail to hand in an assignment they are hauled in on their day off and have to start the work from scratch. If they fail to attend this additional day then they go through the disciplinary process at whatever stage is appropriate. Other sanctions we would use for general bad behaviour are report cards, banning them from privileges until they behave properly etc. Alongside this we run support for learners that have specific issues, e.g. anger management programmes, emotional welfare. Always a clean slate when they enter the room on the next occasion.

    It depends on the student, some parents are very supportive, others are about as much use as a chocolate teapot. In several of my more difficult cases this year they have already been booted out of home for behaviour related issues.

    I've found that if you are consistent with sanctions and corrections within school/college time then the student learns that backchat will simply get them disciplined and/or 'rinsed' in front of their peers. Unless you are dealing with a student prone to aggression and violence of a serious nature then be short, sharp, consistent and firm in your dealings and you will curb it. I go to parents as a last resort, i'd rather deal with it myself as much as possible. Your manner with them is key, we all know that kids know who they can give it to and who it isn't worth trying with. Backchat isn't something I would call home about, my personal preference is to deal with issues such as this in the room at the time, through stern vocal correction, this includes with learners who are with us at 14/15 because they have been permanently excluded from school and are rather tricky customers. As soon as you engage in discussion about 'Yeah but......' or allow them to be rude then you are encouraging it. My deadpan response is 'i'm not interested right now, if it's that important speak to me in your lunch when i'm not trying to teach'. If they're being rude to you then simply 'I won't be spoken to like that, the guidelines of acceptable behaviour in my classroom are perfectly clear, i'll be reminding you of them in your break'. One non-discipline tool I use a lot is to keep the pace of lessons very quick.
     
  10. Tough one- change tack & don't speak to the students about their behaviour- they will either argue or defend their behavioral choice from an emotional response
    inform them of the cconsequence in neutral tone and let them know you will follow up in a day or two to listen to any concerns etc don't counsel and consequence at the same time.Have a rule of double consequence for backchat after 1st warning- the students will use relationship withdrawal and aggro if we let them - the function of their behaviour is to avoid talking about it so try not to talk about it-good luck stay strong
     
  11. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    It sounds from your post that what you really object to is the tone that your pupils adopt, not necessarily what is said (although probably that aswell). I would tackle the tone first. If they speak to you in that tone then you refuse to engage and tell them why. 'I'm speaking respectfully to you I expect the same in return'. (In our school we would also address their uniform at the same time - if they look like a scruff we get them to smarten up they are speaking to a member of staff.) A scratched record technique about them accepting personal responsibility for their actions and issue sanction. I presume in all this you are speaking to them without an audience. Having said that I do understand what JamesTES is alluding to and allowing pupils to respond to the issuing of the sanction isn't always a bad thing but they must learn to put their case in a respectful and polite manner and in the end accept your decision.
     
  12. Well said! But as anyone who has followed his posts will realise, it is many years since JamesTES actually worked in a school. If he had any genuine recent experience of the true baseness and depressing immorality of mummy's little darling / daddy's little princess, who transform into their alter-egos the second the Lexus four-wheel drive has pulled away, then he would be qualified to give an opinion. But seeing as he has spent the latter part of his career as an ITT lecturer, with no more idea of what we teachers face on a daily basis than a plumber or bank clerk does, then he should shut-up, without the put-up. JamesTES...come to my school for a week and try out your theories. It would be more excruciating than an episode of Jamie's Dream School...
     
  13. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    I absolutely agree. As an ITT lecturer visiting dozens of schools every year to talk to several teachers and student teachers working there, seeing what goes in scores of classrooms and meeting hundreds of pupils, how could he possibly be more informed than a plumber or a bank clerk? [​IMG]

     
  14. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    Sorry to quote the lot but the part of the quote attributed to me is wrong - I didn't say any of that.
     
  15. crusell

    crusell New commenter



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    The cultural thing is a good observation. If you look at Bion
    and his basic assumption theory, most institutions will be operating in BaF-
    fight or flight as opposed to BaW ( work group mode-reserved for those nice
    small public and independent schools). Fight or flight is what happens to a
    group where everyone in is concerned with survival.


    “The fight-flight group assumes that it must preserve itself
    at all costs, and that this can be done only by fighting of fleeing from someone
    or something. The group has no tolerance for weakness and expects casualties
    since salvation of the group is more important than the need of individual
    members. The flight-flight leader must inspire great courage and
    self-sacrifice, and lead the group against a common enemy. If none exists, the
    leader will create one.”and “In fight
    the group may be characterized by aggressiveness and hostility; in flight, the
    group may chit chat, tell stories arrive late and any other activities that
    serve to avoid addressing the task at hand. The leader for this sort of group
    is one who can mobilize the group for attack or lead it in flight”.


    This BaF corresponds with Klein’s idea of the paranoid –schizoid
    position where a person manages relationships and experiences through primitive
    defence mechanisms such as splitting , hence the schizoid part of the paranoid-schizoid.
    The paranoia representing the fantasy or phantasy (out of awareness) of fears and anxiety from past personal and
    group experiences (Transference). That is
    to say that people within the group split into good and bad, negative and positive,
    teachers versus pupils, Maths against English, SMT/SLT against staff. An
    interesting researched example of this is when Elizabeth Menzies Lyth did a
    study of nurses in a hospital and found that even with people who had gone into
    a work situation with the desire to care holistically for their patients (
    depressive position) that is to show compassion, sympathy, empathy,
    understanding, guilt, shame etc all characteristics of the depressive position,
    under stress they moved into the paranoid-schizoid position and started to split
    their patients into part objects referring to them as the leg, the kidney etc.,
    effectively depersonalising them.


    Petrouska Clarkson developed the idea of the Unfinished or
    transferential relationship. This kind of relationship is observed in the
    workplace, in schools etc, whereby a person projects unfinished and unresolved
    resentment, dissatisfaction and anger on to a representative authority figure who
    is in effect a mother/father substitute and the origin of all the unfinished
    stuff.


    The question is how do we deal with this and get through
    every day without becoming ill.


    I think understanding the psychodynamics of the institution
    helps, i.e. BaF. It is an institution and you have to get over it or get out.
    If it’s an average secondary school it will be too big and to be honest you won’t
    have the power or influence to reduce its size.


    Be aware that people will be in the paranoid-schizoid position
    and that anybody in depressive position will be attacked as the soft underbelly,
    if you’re a decent understanding person you may have to recognise this and move
    on. It happened to me!


    Be aware of being drawn into the Karpmann drama triangle-
    persecutor-victim –rescuer- google this for an explanation. The drama triangle
    is where people play games with each other- read TA Today. Stay outside of this
    by using immediacy, depersonalising responses e.g.” I ‘d like to talk to you right
    now John , but I’ve got to be on duty as we haven’t got enough staff.”,
    waiting, using “I “statements like “I
    need “and “I want”. Be matter of fact- Miss Jones was unhappy with your behaviour
    in class and this is the time of your detention or I’m quite happy to listen to
    you, but I can only see you at this time. We’ll talk about it a 3.15 etc.


    Most Transactional Analysis therapists when faced with a
    client’s anger would not recognise it, statements could include “Keep going,
    you doing really well.” or “Any more?” or “Have you finished?” with a dead pan voice. You need to be careful
    here as these statements could come across as sarcastic. The idea is for the
    person to hear how they’re sounding and force them to be aware that they’re the
    only person in the drama triangle or game. Eric Berne called this Martian
    thinking as Martians, not being from earth, only understand the literal meaning
    of things and do not pick up on the subtext i.e. the aggression, tone of voice
    etc. Wait for the student to say something meaningful , you don’t have to
    respond otherwise. “A wise man knows when to keep his mouth shut”.


    A lot of the drama triangle games will seem to have parallels
    with symbiotic relationships experienced by people who have borderline structure
    and people in contact with them. A lot of young people will go through
    borderline arrest, in my experience depending on family background and perhaps as
    a reaction to the trauma of being in a damaging system and institution. This
    borderline structure can be encountered in secondary schools, even primary and is common in PRUs. Selective symbiosis
    sometimes is necessary or passive behaviours (agitation,doing nothing,
    overadaptation,incapacition or violence-e.g. kicking a door in or cutting up)
    can be escalated as the student will
    perceive your ignoring or your calmness as abandonment. Recognising the anger
    usually works. “I can see that you’re really angry and I’m just wondering if it’s
    me you’re angry with or someone I represent or remind you of.” “ You seem
    really angry right now, I’m prepared to talk to you, but I don’t talk to you
    like that and I expect the same respect in return, that’s the situation.” “I’m
    going to wait over here and I’ll be available when you’re ready to talk to me
    calmly.” Leave plenty of space for the student to think (take up time) and
    stroke any positive attempt to communicate their needs responsibly. “Thanks
    John, I’m really glad you’re telling me what happened, we can communicate after
    all.”Choose your phrasing and tone carefully as this helps avoid inviting
    drivers. Inviting “be strong” would be counter productive, inviting “please
    others” is a bit manipulative, but would be useful in the long run, see overadaptation.
    e.g.” I was really hoping that you’d be able to help me understand what
    happened.”


    Again seeTA Today and Personality Adaptations ( Vann Joines,
    Ian Stewart- Life space publishing)


    Make sure you get a supervisor, counsellor to offload and process
    the feelings that are being brought up within you.


    Remember you can’t have you cake and eat it, don’t expect
    an institution to be healthy psychically.
     

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