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I'm at wits end with Bottom set year 11

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by joedoggyuk, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. joedoggyuk

    joedoggyuk New commenter

    This class is understandably demoralised with your subject. They are likely to fail it. It pains me to say this cliche, but these kids need more confidence--not in themselves, but in their ability to do your subject.
    You need to cheat. Just a little. Give them an internal assessment; an end of unit test (i.e, not a real test). Before you give it to them, read it yourself, and teach them a revision lesson "to the test" just before the test, giving them that little bit more of an advantage.
    They won't do brilliantly, but they'll get something that might just make them question their own conviction that they'll fail.
    You need to be completely blase when they get back their test papers. They a big red "C" marked on the front of their test, not "E" for a change. Euphoria takes hold. They boast to their friend within your vicinity, and you subtly drop in the words, "it's not good enough for me", walk off, and hide the smug feeling inside that you're starting to win the fight.
    Hyperbole? Perhaps, but there's certainly something in giving them a little confidence in your subject. Of course, you know this grade will be an inflated grade for what they'll get in the real McCoy, but you'll win some on side, and bring them up to what they should get.
    Might be worth doing some compulsory after school revision lessons. The lessons them selves may not be the real changer, per se, but that the kids see you as someone who genuinely cares about their education, and not someone who pays lip-service to caring. Play this card with care: only play it if you're confident you'll be able to squeeze the good majority into coming. Get support from SMT to punish/chase any child that does not attend your after school revision, after all you're doing free work. If you think, even for a moment, that many will not come, SMT won't support, and you'll be overwhelmed in punishing them don't do it, you'll loose face.

    Managing bad behaviour is always easier when you pretend it's not happening*. Not much learning takes place, but I've seen a few teachers pull this off without SMT noticing; in fact, these teachers tend to do well because they don't pass things onto SMT.
    That's not you. You'd rather feel terrible after fighting with these beasts and loosing, than not fighting for their education at all. You're a martyr. For that... I salute you.
  2. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi there, feeling your pain
    You didn't say exactly how long you've been there, but I'm guessing not long. There's one ingredient missing from this potion: time. If they're bottom set, mucked around, mucking about and just mucky, then they are in a raw state of student-hood closer to ectoplasm than clay. They'll take a while to mould into the right shape.
    This means that you need to make a few adjustments mentally in order not to go completely ga-ga:
    1. Acknowledge that this will take time, and there's only so much you can do. If they;re not perfect for you, then that is just the way they are for the moment. Don;t beat yourself up, and don't internalise this. This is NOT your fault, as you suspect. It is a difficult situation, and you;re handling it. Think a doctor blames himself for patients being sick? He does not. He gives them medicine. You're in the medicine phase.
    2. Realise that this is a long game, and persist with the things you've been trying so far. They all sound sound to me. What you mustn't do is bottle it and lose your nerve and stop what you;re doing,. With some classes it can take all year to get the ship turned around. Progress is often glacial, and if you don't keep your lip stiff and your powder dry the temptation is to bail/ give up/ break down. You mustn't do any of these things: instead, see this as the marathon you must run in order to get to the destination with them.
    It's obvious that this school doesn't have the strongest of systems. Very well; in such sloppy institutions, the teachers have to make it work for themselves, or get out,. That means using the school system as much as you can, doing call outs when necessary, escalating sanctions up the line management structure, and calling home AS OFTEN AS YOU MUST. This might mean every day for six months, and if it does then so be it. The path you are on is not pretty, but it is the right oath. There are no sexy short-cuts, no tricks and tips. There is only persistence, and the continued development of a relationship of trust and discipline with these kids, until they believe in you as an authority and someone they can rely on.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his personal blog, and follow him here on Twitter.
  3. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    Ignore their previous targets completely. Your goal should be to move them forward from where you picked them up. If they meet their target grades then that's wonderful. It seems to me that if you move them forward at all you will have done pretty well.
    Pupils in bottom sets are often, due to lack of ability, effort or poor behaviour, below their targets. Pupils who make good progress generally don't end up in bottom sets.
    They have probably become accustomed to not doing any work for years. They won't like the change in expectations so you will have to work pretty hard to enforce yours and even harder to get them to buy in.
    Their self belief is probably pretty low so you are going to have to convince them that their is a point in working hard. That can be tough when pupils are so far below their targets.
    When you give them short, easy, achievable pieces of work also give them a time limit after which you will put the answers on the board so they can self/peer assess (not all subjects lends themself to that model of a lesson but their should be some tasks with simple closed questions for most subjects).
    With a class like yours I start with:
    <ol>[*]5-10 min explanation (the shorter the better)[*]10 min task (closed questions)[*]answers on the board (2 mins to self/peer assess)[*]5-10 min explanation[*]10 min task (closed questions)[*]answers on the board (2 mins to self/peer assess)[*]Open ended task putting the previous tasks in the lesson together</ol>If you make it clear that pupils who do not complete each task within the 10 minutes will get detention and make the questions sufficiently easy initially that they can all be successful then they will probably decide it's less hassle to play ball eventually. You can then raise the bar in terms of difficulty and expectations once they are playing ball with the basic structure of the lesson and the time targets.

  4. Thank you Tom for your Reply and everyone elses

    I will try to do some of that with them.
    The school is good at picking them up and SMT and my Dept are very supportive and do help.
    I think time might be the answer. But its good to know i am on the write track.
    Also sorry of all the typos my home computer is missing the zxcv buttons.
    Makes for very intresting lesson planning at times.
    Thank you again for your help
  5. Hello Tom.

    I think this is the thrid one i have written not sure if i'm doing them right as they are not coming up.
    i have only been here a term.
    Thank you for your information and the ideas i will try to do these.
    The school is very supportive (SMT), as are my dept and my HOD with them.
    Sorry for the poor spelling my home computer is missing the zxcv buttons.
    Thank you again for your help
  6. I feel your pain. I was in the exact same position at the beginning of last year. New school, bottom set, told by everyone that don't expect much just do your best to contain them. I thought what have I gotten myself into. If they are better for you then you are already winning.Don't lower your standards, continue to raise the bar for them. Plan interesting lessons and build on any successes you get. I found the key kids in each group in the room and worked on them. Build their confidence, work on your rapport.listen carefully for the answers, some kids will say them when they think you are not listening or will say it when you are writing answers on board. They may call out but reward the answer and then kindly remind them of rule to not call out. Or if you can't recognize who said it indicate the direction the comment came from and say someone got the right answer would them mind repeating for the others whom may not have heard it.Do in class marking on simple paragraphs and show them what they have done right and how simple it would be to improve their mark. give them a real mark and encourage them to read their response to the class, if not ask for permission to read it and then ask someone else to read theirs. Give constructive verbal feedback at all times.This builds confidence and trust. Follow through on everything, ring parents to ask for support or information that will help you know the kids better. You will be constantly making a difference and improving their performance. In my case the kids saw dramatic improvement in their confidence and results to the point where some of them were in the top percentile of year 10 school certificate results. Some have decided to choose more academic subjects for the senior courses now. It is like the panteen ad says "it won't happen over night but it will happen" hang in there.
  7. Detentions for behaviour are generally bad ideas in my experience. There are a few ideas that you could try - I have a three pronged attack on this.

    Step 1 - Group work - Set them into groups of 4, with your best behaved students split aroundthe groups. Set yourself up a scoring system for your lessons (focus on behaviour) - such as you get 1 point for all 4 pupils working for a 5 minute block, you get a point for all pupils having a pen and pencil, you get a points for all pupils completing all the work, you get a point for all pupils in their seat for a 10 minute block, you get a point for not talking to any other group.

    Then you work in these behaviour groups every lesson, letting them score points, it is really important 90% of the focus is on point scoring and we use ear messages for bad behaviour (as I will come to that in a moment). I do this for an 8 week block, it really does seem to improve not just behaviour but the relationships of the class as a whole.

    Offer rewards for significant amounts of points scored. I offered one that if the class got 800 points as a whole, we would finish 20 minutes early and watch Remy Gaillaird. Anyways this is number 1.

    Step 2 - Winning The Right Battles - Don't confront badly behaved kids in front of the class, use ear messages, tell them that you are upset at their poor choices and you would like to have a quick word at the end. Once the class has gone, you can have a chat with them about their behaviour and this removes the bravado, it also allows you enter into an agreement with them and refer back to it next time. (For those people who think detentions work, I'm willing to bet 90% of your detaniees at any time are the same predictable people making the same predictable scenes.).

    Step 3 - Parents - A base rule of the 8 weeks is that I make 3 positive calls home before 1 negative - as soon as a class realises that you are making positive calls home, their entire attitude changes. They will ask you to call for them, they will ask what they need to do to make the calls, they will beg for them. Now you have a lot of power, tell them to continue following the rules and you will try and find something to call about.

    'Bad' classes are generally full of pupils whose relationship with teachers is bad, you are trying to reframe this.
  8. Thank you very much i will try this with them.
    a membe of staff at school who has them and works well with them suggested this sort of straggy today on friday.
    thank you again :) [​IMG]

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