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Help, tricky level 2 group

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by sweetsaregood, Nov 20, 2017.

  1. sweetsaregood

    sweetsaregood New commenter

    I'm currently working with a level 2 group (all girls). I have never taught a group like it. It's very school-ish behaviour. There is constantly a problem between one or more of them, they back chat and set one lecturer off against another. They have a very difficult time engaging in any meaningful discussion and they struggle to record anything meaningful without excessive supervision or prompting. I could go on and on but I want to turn it around. All of the lecturers currently detest teaching them. Individually they are good kids but together....
    We've only known them 10 weeks and we are all exhausted!
    Has anyone had any experience of such a group and can give me some ideas to try and rectify this.
  2. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Yes. I left.
  3. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    I taught in FE for 7 years, with groups at Levels 3, 2, and 1. I found the Level 3 students were not too bad with the odd exception. To understand the problem with Level 2 students, you need to consider where they come from.

    Some of them will simply be operating at their upper limit academically, so you need to consider that when working out what how you intend to deliver. They do actually want to achieve something, but they will require simple structured scaffolded tasks, they can do without having to stay focussed for any extended length of time.

    I found that a lot of students were doing Level 2 courses at College, as an alternative way of getting 'benefits', because there are no jobs to go to, or they have no idea what direction they want to take with their lives.

    Then there were others who underachieved at school not because they were unintelligent, but because they didn't want to 'conform', and just wanted to 'have fun'. That attitude doesn't change somehow, simply because they are attending College rather than school. In fact I found it was exacerbated by the fact that they now considered themselves to be 'young adults' rather than 'children', and therefore felt even less of a requirement to adhere to expectations and rules. They want to be seen as young adults and treated as such, but at the same time remain free to continue to display disruptive and childish behaviours.

    My experience was that for the most part they were hard work from day 1 until the end of the course. I suspect you will find that most will do enough to at least pass, although they will leave everything to the last minute, and will require constant reminders and pushing from you. There will be some who surprise you, and put in some effort towards the end, and achieve grades that reflect their true ability levels. There will a few who just aren't that bothered one way or the other, and see their attendance at College as simply a way of filling in time between school and dole. For those students, you can encourage and exhort them to do better, but other than that there is little you can do.

    It shouldn't really be that way with 'young adults' at College, but that's the reality of what you have to work with.

    I started using verbal questioning and photo/video evidence of students completing tasks, wherever possible, as an alternative to asking for written work, and having to continually chase them up.
  4. Resource_Creator

    Resource_Creator New commenter

    I really feel for you. Brings back memories of an ESOL class I taught where I just had one or two disruptive girls. I think they had been sent to NZ by rich parents who didn't know what to do with them for the holidays. They had no interest in learning, that was for sure. I tried a number of strategies, with limited success.

    Sometimes having a one to one discussion with them and treating them like adults can work. Asking them for solutions. Just getting them away from their peers to discuss. Also I start most classes now with agreeing team 'Values' for the classroom and discussing goals. That way all have contributed to classroom behaviour standards. They have set their own rules. I'm sure you've tried many things. For one girl I discovered that the threat of emailing her father on her progress was enough to adjust her behaviour for a while! Gave me a bit of respite lol. Best of luck
  5. coldmetal

    coldmetal Occasional commenter

    Once they know each other well they will mess around trying to impress each other and push the boundaries. A seating plan helps break the silly comunication so that problem people are away from each other. Often where you do this other dynamics will spring up so the concept of 'Hot Desking' to them whereas they don't know where they are going to sit or who next to helps. Delivering stuff they enjoy and having course work they like that they can be encouraged to care about. Breaking the periods down to bite size chunks - stuff seems obvious but can help. Sometimes the dynamic is such that almost nothing helps. Lets pray we all don't have too many of those.
  6. gogogulliver

    gogogulliver New commenter

    Honestly, I find that keeping people very busy can help. I have some groups that I know that any group teaching cannot last more than five minutes or it will dissolve into poo jokes and people shouting at each other to shut up while some people quietly get out their phones and start watching Eastenders. Trying to make it "fun" can actually descend into madness. Rethink the balance of the lessons. Keep it focussed. Keep it short. Give immediate feedback and make sure you praise any good social behaviour, even if it's you saying thank you for letting someone else speak uninterrupted.

    Sometimes, focussing on working quietly with lots of 1-1 support and very immediate target setting can help with groups like that. You end up jumping around the room like a ninja but it does get learning done as the students are getting 1-1 feedback and they know you'll check it again that lesson.

    To echo what elder_cat said above, do hold in mind that their experience of education was likely very different from your own and they've gone from maybe being in the bottom groups for everything and feeling like they were bad at education generally to trying to cope in an adult environment without necessarily having picked up the skills to do so, or even knowing that such skills exist. I start a lot of my feedback by asking "so what's good about this?" and getting students to recognise where they have achieved and what shows they've been following instructions. Even if it's that they've put speech marks around their quotes, it's still a skill that they've picked up and been using.

    With the setting lecturers off against each other thing, make a really clear distinction about who is doing what module. If it's not yours, do not touch it and make it clear that you will not answer questions about someone else's module; the students need to ask them directly. That can help sometimes.

    Good luck!

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