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In over my head

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Geekygeordie, Sep 5, 2018.

  1. Geekygeordie

    Geekygeordie New commenter

    Hi all,

    Took a job in an academy as a teacher but after a couple of days teaching i'm in well over my head. I knew there were a lot of students with SEN and learning difficulties but the picture I was painted was that a couple of the groups would be difficult to control and the rest should be really good as they all have a genuine interest in computing which is the subject I teach.

    To paint a picture of how every lesson has started so far, students come in and immediately want to log in and listen to music. If you don't allow them to listen to music you are met with comments such as and this is not an exaggeration, "What do you think you are doing you f*****g *****". Class sizes are around 6 - 9 students in size and I have support staff in lessons but when students kick off they literally just say "howay such and such calm down or do some work". Kids don't listen to them or myself and to top it off I have been asked to get all of the ks4 students through a gcse in computer science in ONE YEAR. This is something which would be a challenge with high ability students but just feels like it is not remotely a possibility with these students.

    If I had been made aware this was that the school was like prior to accepting the offer or had been informed of the ridiculous expectations there is no way I would have accepted the job.

    Am I right in thinking I am stuck until Christmas?

    Don't think I would keep my sanity if that was the case!

    Thanks in advance
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  2. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    I can't think of anything to say.
    Just being supportive and maybe you could stay till Christmas but find another job to keep you sane.
  3. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    Find the main cut off switch and turn off all the equipment?
    Then resign?
    agathamorse, pepper5, steely1 and 2 others like this.
  4. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    Speaking for myself (and I've NEVER been in your position I have to say), I would just pack up my things and wave goodbye no matter what. They've obviously misled you regarding this work and it is their fault and not yours. This isn't what you are being paid to do: put up with all of this. Say goodbye and close the door - - - but I expect others will give you different advice. My heart goes out to you, it really does, though this doesn't help I know.
  5. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    There is a possibility, though perhaps remote, that once you've had time to form some kind of relationship with these kids, things will be better. But I sympathise enttirely and would at least be weighing things up until the Oct resignation deadline IF i could stick it that long. I would abe considering Just Walking Away as one of my options,

    You're a teacher. If the environment you're in doesn't allow you to ply your trade, then whatever the legal situaiton, I don't think you have any moral obligation to stay there. There are other places you could work where your teaching would bear fruit, Don't stay where you're wasting your time.
  6. mordrid

    mordrid New commenter

    Make sure you:

    -don't raise your voice
    -speak respectfuly to them at all times
    -treat them all as the wonderful individuals that they all are.

    In all seriousness now, isn't the application of the above over the last few decades the very reason for their behaviour.

    In my opinion, wishy washy liberalised dogma is the very reason we're in this mess.

    Finally, from my own experience, the best advice that I can give you is to remain in your post ; this alone will earn their respect. Sorry that this advice is contrary to what your heart wants to do, but I believe it will eventually pay dividends.
    saluki, BTBAM, forthejoyofit and 7 others like this.
  7. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    Quite right. You are a human being and nobody who is employed by someone else to work for them would be expected to put up with this. Walk out and let the school contact you. Then you can tell them. Your health and your happiness is the first thing to be considered and if you have to put up with this and it causes you dreadful problems, you'll be paying dearly for it in later life, for sure. It's not worth it.
    Alice K, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  8. peapicker

    peapicker Star commenter

    Firstly - and importantly - take no action without consultation with your union.

    But secondly, IF the job was misrepresented to you and this influenced your decision to accept the offer, you may be able to say that the contract is rescinded because of the misrepresentation and walk away immediately.

    That may not help you in the short term, however, if you are left with no income.

    How readily you would be able to find a new job in your area, only you will know. There is supposed to be a shortage of teachers.

    Did you not get chance to see the school in action when you were interviewed?
    tall tales, mothorchid, Curae and 3 others like this.
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    "the picture I was painted was that a couple of the groups would be difficult to control and the rest should be really good as they all have a genuine interest in computing which is the subject I teach"

    At a guess, they had supplies all last year, and most classes have nbehaved well enough not to trouble SLT provided the supply teachers let them do what they liked all lesson. SLT have therefore gained the impression that the kids love computing and have not realised quite what it was they liked about it.

    When I started in a tough school, the other guy who started with me walked out after two days. He went and saw the head, was polite but said he didn't think he was cut out for it, and the head let him go with good grace.

    Talk to other staff and see what they say. They may have advice that will work, and if they haven't anything to offer, then you know there's no point staying.
  10. Sharpie123

    Sharpie123 New commenter

    Get help. Speak to your line manager. Take it further if he/she isn't supportive.

    It's really early days. Maybe they don't know how to behave. Maybe you need to help them to learn that too. Try to find a way forward.

    Some of my worst classes initially turned into some of my best. Sometimes it is a battle, but those are the classes that make you feel you have achieved something.

    Give it a go.
  11. elder_cat

    elder_cat Lead commenter

    In my first year in FE, I ended up teaching Level 3 Computing to different groups of students, with very different needs and abilities. I had one complete class of Level 3 students, all of whom were SEN. There was a single LSA, and she was brilliant, but she was only there to work with a couple of the students specifically.

    There weren't issues such as the one you've described in your post, but it was nonetheless challenging. To be honest, when I first started I wasn't convinced I would be able to manage it. But after a short while you should find your feet, and you may start to see some progress, just don't expect it to be plain sailing.

    The bad language may be nothing more than bravado, where they are testing the water, and making their mark, with a new teacher at the start of a new year. Without knowing the details of why each student is classed as SEN (and I wouldn't wish to), it's difficult to suggest any specific actions you could take. But you may find that as things settle down into a routine, you find them easier to work with. Still challenging, but easier to handle.

    In terms of the expectation of being able to get them through GCSE Comp Sci in a single year, only time will tell if that's achievable or not, and you can only do your best. Ultimately, the kids themselves will determine whether they are both capable and willing enough to do it. Some will have you pulling your hair out, wondering what possessed you to take the job in the first place, and some of them may surprise you.

    If you do decide to stay, then you need to do so on the understanding that these students' behaviour will inevitably be very different to what you might expect from other classes, and it would be unrealistic to expect otherwise. That doesn't necessarily mean you can't form a working relationship with them. It just means it will have to be different relationship to that which you would expect to have with non-SEN students.

    At the end if the day, you need to do what is best for you. If you are no longer there, someone else will come along and pick up the reins. No-one is indispensable.
  12. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Both these comments are valid at the start off any term, especially with a 'new-to-them' teacher.

    Do also take note of this
  13. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Just been reading about your experience at your previous School. Sounds as if you're still suffering from that stress, so may be a trip to your GP is in order. Not a permanent 'fix', but certainly medication in the short term will help.
  14. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I am truly sorry to hear about your dilemma. It sounds as though the school were so desperate they were prepared to tell you anything tonget someone in to cover the classes.

    If you decide to stay, you are going to have to go back to SLT or HoD and explain that you will need their support to make the classes better. Agree on what the rules of your classroom will be. Yes, the students are SEN students but they shouldn't swear at you nor should they ignore reasonable instructions. The SLT need to decide what they want: do they want you to teach? Yes or no? If they do then they need to step up to the plate and DO THEIR JOB and say no to letting students run the school which is what they are doing.

    You won't be able to sort that mess out in a million years unless you get the SLT to get off their backside and DO SOMETHING!
  15. Geekygeordie

    Geekygeordie New commenter

    Thanks for the comments people. Some interesting reading.

    Yeah i'm aware that with a lot of these students its a case of building relationships and behavior will settle down but the language is something that is always going to be an issue by the looks of things as unless the swearing is aimed at someone or threatening, it doesn't even get a moments notice from support staff who have worked at the school for a while.

    To be perfectly honest I don't feel particularly stressed and I'm fairly thick skinned so the comments don't bother me all that much. It's more just a feeling of I'm not the right person for what they need. With regards to the crazy expectations of the GCSE in a year, I know I can just leave at Christmas when it's clearly going to be evident that just isn't a possibility.

    Just feel like everyone's time would be wasted with me being there even until Christmas. It's just massively difficult as the kids have not had a stable Computing teacher at all over the last year with around 6 coming and going in that time so I understand why they are where they are in terms of their skills. I must say I also understand why so many teachers came and gone.

    To be honest they completely lack the work ethic to make up for lost time but will give it a couple more weeks but the inevitable Christmas departure is likely.
    pepper5 and agathamorse like this.
  16. mordrid

    mordrid New commenter

    The SLT need to decide what they want: do they want you to teach? Yes or no? If they do then they need to step up to the plate and DO THEIR JOB and say no to letting students run the school which is what they are doing.

    I'm no fan of SLT.

    However, whenever a teacher offloads to SLT this translates in kids speak to " we're winning" "he/she can't cope with us" "they don't want to deal with us"

    Whether you succeed at first or not, own that classroom ; don't loan it out to SLT when the going gets tough.

    I couldn't disagree more with the following: You won't be able to sort that mess out in a million years unless you get the SLT to get off their backside and DO SOMETHING!
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2018
  17. Geekygeordie

    Geekygeordie New commenter

    Not all that far off!! Are you sure you weren't there last year? :p
  18. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, the class teacher has to ensure that they set the rules and expectations. However, running a school is a team effort. The OP needs to have the assurance from the SLT that if students misbehave then there are systems in place to deal with the issues. It is obvious from the details in the original post that the students have taken control of the classroom and it is unrealistic to expect any one teacher to go in and change things by themselves.

    Unless they can find super teacher from somewhere, the SLT need to get a grip and HELP then it is not going to change. Why should class teachers be afraid to ask for assistance for the basics in fear of looking weak. It is a team effort but ultimate authority is in the power of the leaders of the school; and until the leaders do what they are paid to do then there will be too many classes just like the one described above. Who do they think they are going to find to cover that class? Why just go through 50 supply teachers? Wouldn't it be easier just to take an interest and help?
  19. mordrid

    mordrid New commenter

    I just wanted to stress the paradox that is a quick SLT-inspired fix can make one's life in the long term much harder.
    tenpast7, JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  20. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Perhaps, but in extreme cases like in the original post where there is a history perhaps of challenging behaviour the class teacher needs to know the school's SLT will backup the class teacher 100%. The bottom line is this. What are the rules? What happens if anyone breaks the rules?

    It is very difficult to get the right balance with some groups: go in too stern and they will rebel even further. Go in too softly and they will think you are to be walked over.

    There has to be some realistic rules and expectations set and then sanctions applied and backup from SLT.

    I have seen so many good teachers - excellent subject specialists - chased away by classes like the one described above. Then the students think they have "won". Are all the people bad teachers? No, I don't think so. The management of the schools have failed to do what they are supposed to do. Their attitude is it isn't their problem- we will just find someone esle to give it a whirl until Year 11 HS sends the next victim packing. As long as their pay cheques keep rolling in why should they care there are desperate teachers sobbing in the toilets?

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