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How could I have handled this better/differently?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by crockedpot, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. crockedpot

    crockedpot New commenter

    I have been working in FE for the last six months, teaching functional English and GCSE English in a range of vocational areas. My engineering/construction learners have always been challenging, but I thought I had a handle on things, and behaviour has been (relatively) ok. They find it hard to settle down for any length of time to tasks, but overall, not as bad as I had feared.
    Today, however, one of them appeared to be on his mobile phone during the lesson. I asked 'what are you doing?' and he replied 'playing with my d**k'. Cue mass hysteria as the class of 16 and 17 year old boys erupted with laughter. I am pretty broadminded, and have given the class some lee way in terms of language I would normally consider acceptable (though I do have rules about swearing and general language suitability) but this was, for me, a step too far. I asked him to leave the room with me, took him in the Curriculum Managers office and relayed the tale.
    He was brought back after about ten minutes, apologised (without much sincerity) which I accepted and he came back into the class. I have since been thinking it over and wonder what I should or could have done differently. Did I overreact by asking him to leave the class and should I have just let it go, putting it down to an all male environment where they don't know how to behave, or should I have done the opposite and made more fuss about having him back in the room straight away?
    I realise I shouldn't have asked the rhetorical 'what are you doing' question (it was obvious) but wonder if any more seasoned teachers have some advice on how they would have handled this situation.
  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    "Would you like a magnifying glass?"

    Probably not appropriate. ;)

    I think you did the right thing. If you accept that sort of thing then the line gets pushed further back and before you know it he will be playing with his bits in class. Now they all know there will be consequences. If he apologised and it doesn't happen again, it's all good.
  3. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You handled the situation very well and he should have left the room. He has apologised and I doubt he will do it again; if he does, then the sanctions will have to be more severe and youncan take it up a notch if needs be.
    jarndyce likes this.
  4. crockedpot

    crockedpot New commenter

    Many thanks for your replies - I was fed up about it all yesterday (when I posted) and it was good to hear that people thought I acted in an appropriate way!
  5. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    My reply to this would have been instant: well we all know you're a w****r. That would have made him a laughing stock, and the rest of the class would have probably said something like nice one Mr G.

    I used to teach in what was considered to be a rough FE college, but had a great time. There's no need for formality, in fact it's probably a hindrance. But you do need to be robust. Another thing I'd almost certainly have done is move the lad to the front of the class for the rest of the lesson. Also, whether the college likes it or not, sending students out of class is often an excellent solution. At one school, with a stream running through it, when I sent a boy out I'd often say go and do something useful and feed the ducks.
    dljames2013 likes this.
  6. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    ah3069 and jarndyce like this.
  7. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Don't knock it till you've tried it. It worked very well for me. Doing the appropriate thing can sometimes alienate a teacher from their class by making them seem like some up-tight robot.

    In fact, when I taught at a FE college, I can even recall myself and other lecturers enjoying a pint with some of the older students.
  8. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    @crockedpot - well done!

    Having worked as SLT and Vice-Principal in various F.E. Colleges, my view is that your method of dealing with this was correct. I have taught literacy to students on the NVQ level 2 Gas Plumbing in my time - it is not an easy job!

    You are not the friend of these young people to enjoy a laugh with them, you most certainly should not respond with an obscenity as proposed by @David Getling . Such a response would have infuriated parents, and rightly so, and you may well have ended up on a disciplinary charge had you followed that advice.

    Young - or childish - lecturers who try to be one of the boys in class receive no respect from students or colleagues. Nor should they.

    Well done again.

    Best wishes

    yodaami2, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Theo isnright in that dealing with students it is important to respond in a professional manner and the quick comeback can backfire in your face, so the best course of action is what the OP did.
  10. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Okay, then. I've tried it - see above - but I wouldn't advocate it and I think back and cringe now.

    Responding to that kind of "banter" with a snappy put down means you stoop to their level. You're not asserting your authority because damn right you should be smarter, quicker and wittier than a bunch of kids - competing on their ground only undermines you. If you enjoy demonstrating your wit at their expense and need those cries of "Nice one, Mr G" to boost your ego, you're making it all about you and not at all about them and their learning.

    And that's before you open the whole horrible hornet's nest of what happens when you call a pupil or student a ******.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Interesting. Last week I sent a student out of class for being disruptive (FE) combing her boyfriend's hair, playing with his face, refusing to change seats, playing with phone, screaming across class.. you get the picture.
    Once she was outside, she texted her boyfriend to tell him, to tell me, to come outside to her - she wanted a chat.
    HOD: - I am too confrontational.
  12. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Saluki, that made me laugh. I'm not sure who had the least grasp of appropriate behaviour - your student or the HOD!
  13. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Doing the inappropriate thing can put you on a swift bus to capability.
  14. Robfreeman

    Robfreeman Occasional commenter

    I used to do the same job at an FE to. Only thing I was a sessional,I picked up a class which had be resigned twice, I saw the class the lesson beforehand to get what I was walking into and then took them over and within two minutes of walking in this student looked at this girl and shouted across the room "Your a f******* S**g B***h" (fill the blanks in) I looked at this kid and said to him there is no place for that language in this room, I hope your going to apologise to her, his response "I can say what I like and there is nothing you can do about it". So I asked him to leave the lesson and think about that as he wont come back if he thinks that's acceptable. He refused I offered to get security to remove him and he stormed out and complained against me. The complaint was upheld yet he never came back (especially when I said would you like to be on the receiving end of that) and the students worked brilliantly afterwards. Sometimes you have to say this is my line dont cross it.
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    You are so right and it is having the courage to take action once that line has been crossed. I don't understand why is complaint was upheld as you did nothing wrong. He spoke in an in appropriate manner in a classroom, you gave him the choice to stay in the room if he apologies and stopped swearing, but he refused. Sooner or later he had to learn that certain choices have certain consequences and there is something you can do about it.

    I trained to work in FE colleges but have worked in secondary schools for the last few years. The behaviour in some secondary schools is bad, but it is must be even worse in FE colleges since the students just drift from secondary to FE colleges and the behaviour is repeated except they are now older and bigger and probably even more difficult to manage and teach.
  16. David Getling

    David Getling Lead commenter

    Never needed to do this. Others have been doing it for me since primary school, and it's more or less never stopped.

    And some of you old stick-in-the-muds, with your exhortations to appropriate behaviour, would do well to remember that, time and time again, it's mavericks like me who have been shown to bring out the best in students.

    Yes, read it and weep, most students I've taught have enjoyed the experience, and I've had parents tell me that their child has told them I'm the best teacher they have ever had. I've had a class go to their head of year and ask for me to be their teacher, and another turn round and tell their HOD that they wanted me instead of her. Yeah, my ego's doing very well, thank you.
  17. crockedpot

    crockedpot New commenter

    Behaviour in FE is appalling in my experience. We have the same kids in secondary, but without the sanctions...so no detention, no isolation, and often no support from management, it's hard to know where to go with them. I entered FE thinking I would be dealing with people who would actually want to learn, but in reality, we are working with kids who are being forced into classes they have no interest in. Only now they know we have no actual punishments that have any teeth.
    pepper5 likes this.
  18. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    This year has been particularly hard in FE because we have got very low ability students who really don't want to do GCSE English and Maths. They hated it at school and didn't realise they would have to do it at college.To a point I can sympathise with them.
    On the other hand there are the students who were let down by the school system because they were in low ability disruptive classes. They are trying hard and once again are being let down by the college system because they are in large, low ability, disruptive classes.
    OP Is your college bursting at the seams with GCSE students? Have you got enough teachers to deal with all of the students? What do you think your pass rate will be? Be honest.
    I am all for students being given a second chance but the government really needs to re-think this one.
    pepper5 likes this.
  19. re

    re New commenter

    My problem with David Getling's put-down comments is the 'banter' aspect, particularly with boys of this type. Once you allow put-downs of this type, you have opened the floodgates to bullying under the guise of banter.

    I teach both Construction and Engineering students in a school and have made my room a banter free zone, tempting as it is for me to put down students using wit. The reason is that the boys started to get competitive with their put-downs and nothing to do with me being an old stick in the mud.
  20. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Oh dear, David, did you never have wise old granny to tell you that it is better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all possible doubt?
    ah3069 likes this.

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