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Inadequate observation due to poor classroom management

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by katherinelily, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. Hello
    I was recently observed teaching a middle ability, ks4 class. Despite my best efforts with planning and resources, some students decided they just weren't having any of it: having noticed a member of the SLT in the classroom, I suspect that they deliberately decided to play up.
    I receieved an inadequate, which I understand in the circumstances (I have never been graded as inadequate before, either at this school or any other one.)
    Various things have been put in place supposedly to help me, although they have been rather counter-productive so far. My main concern however is this: I am being observed, with the same group, next month and have been told (by the member of SLT who saw me) "I expect to see a marked improvement." However, the class are bright enough and sadly unpleasant enough to deliberately be rude, and unco-operative.
    I can make this class work in silence but only if I stand at the front watching them beadily. If I set work and one of the conscientious students ask for help, or I go to chivvy a lazy student along, the rest start to indulge in behaviur such as putting on makeup, eating and drinking, playing on phones and flicking paper or drawing on one another.
    My real concern is that I will teach a 'proper' lesson and be graded as inadequate because of behaviour, or spend the lesson at the front and still be graded as inadeuqate because of not actively teaching.
    Does anyone have any good ideas with what I can do?
    Many thanks.
  2. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Your main concern should be 'Are all children learning?'. If they are then is isn't an inadequate lesson. OK it might not be outstanding, it is it all a bit passive and dull, but it won't be inadequate.

    I would show that I was teaching in whatever way suited that class and their learning. If that meant being a beady-eyed policeman at the front then so bit it.
  3. I noticed that the students saw no reason to behave when the school leaders were around which says a lot. There is a culture of blame in your school.
    1. Find out if this group are causing anyone else trouble around the school.
    2. Follow the school policies to the letter and throw as much as you are allowed back at the SLT. Note down any action they fail to take and anything they do that does not adhere to school policy.
    3. Tell your SLT if you do not think their interventions are helpful.
    4. Contact your union for advice and think about getting some representation in school if the SLT decide to keep holding you responsible for behaviour they clearly cannot control themselves.

  4. You've just set this teacher up for speedy capability. Nice work.

    My advice: get help and support and work through it. Becoming aggressive, unionised and denying the problem makes it all rather serious, rather quickly.
  5. "You've just set this teacher up for speedy capability" - what is speedy capability?
    "My advice: get help and support and work through it" - a bit vague?
    "denying the problem makes it all rather serious, rather quickly" - who recommended denying the problem?
  6. baitranger

    baitranger Senior commenter

    You are being made a scapegoat for the poor behaviour of some of the children in the class.
    It much easier and much more convenient to blame it on you rather than dealing with it by using the limited range of disciplinary measures available.
    If you are found to be incompetent and leave, the hope is that the next teacher will fare better, therefore solving the problem.
    If they don't do any better, at least the situation has been "dealt with" and everything will look better on paper and maybe when they're a bit older they'll improve anyway.
  7. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    This speaks volumes about how effective this SLT member is at managing behaviour and supporting staff with behaviour issues.
    Did the pupils learn anything? If they did then the lesson was not inadequate.
    Are all the relevant staff (Hod, SLT etc) aware of what support you would find useful?
    What an ****.
    Do so. Make the work sufficiently easy or scaffolded that nobody will need any help. Keep this up until the behaviour improves. That will avoid many of the behaviour issues you describe.
    Seems your school is using different criteria to mine. I would spend the lesson at the front, sort out the behaviour and the observation be damned.
    I would also leave the school and go to a better one at the earliest opportunity.

  8. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    My main concern would be to make sure that the students in this lesson are being punished consistently and proportionately to their misbehaviour. If they don't think they'll get into trouble with you, then they'll keep repeating their misbehaviour, and you'll be in Groundhog Day, no matter what school you go to.
    A minority of kids (I'm being generous here) will deliberately bait you. They don't do this because they're misunderstood, crying out for help, or expressing a need; they do it because they're unpleasant, just as some adults are unpleasant. So they need to be treated as if they have transgressed, because they have. YOU are in charge of the room, not them.
    The main reason I would focus on this aspect of your behaviour management isn't because it avoids further anemic 'support from senior staff (and may I just observe how the word 'support' in this context is often a disguise for the polar opposite) and complications with your career, but because it's intrinsic to being a good teacher, plus it will make your professional life far more enjoyable once you establish good control over the classes. They also learn far better, which is of course one of our key aims. And ironically, they usually start to respect you a great deal more too. People are funny like that :)
    So focus on your sanctions- do they do detentions every time they mug you off, misbehave or fail to meet your expectations? If not, then make it happen. It'll be hard, laborious work at first, but in the end it is entirely worth it.
    Good luck
  9. "Despite my best efforts with planning and resources, some students decided they just weren't having any of it: having noticed a member of the SLT in the classroom, I suspect that they deliberately decided to play up"
    I've had this in observed lessons as well. It's common sense that some students will deliberately play up in observed lessons, especially if you've handed out punishments or bollockings to them recently.
    Unfortunately, observers are often to stupid to see what's obviously going on or just don't care. The only solution is to drop like a tonne of bricks on the perps as soon as you see it coming.
  10. Just to add, any observer worth their salt should be aware how observed lessons can present a golden opportunity for revenge for some students.
  11. Focussing on your sanctions is the worst advice you could possibly have been given. Sanctions are only good in the very short term and then not terribly effective with wide swathes of the student population. Also using sanctions is almost always a form of relying on someone else, which also never works in the long run. Instead, focus on building high quality relationships with the individuals in the class, rather than thinking of them as a whole. This will lead to sustainable improvement. If, as a teacher, you can't do this then you will always encounter this problem with classes and should consider a change of vocation. Harsh but true.
  12. "focus on building high quality relationships with the individuals in the class... If, as a teacher, you can't do this then you will always encounter this problem with classes and should consider a change of vocation."

    I can't do this at all, until I've established who's in charge, which always requires some use of sanctions. (Admittedly I've been lucky, in that in nearly ten years' teaching, in different schools, I've never met the "wide swathes of the student population" with whom sanctions are not effective). Then, when I have established who runs the classroom, I do find, over the following months and years, that my relationships with the pupils are good.
  13. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Not true: telling them to build a human pyramid would have been far, far worse.
    While I agree that given time, the good teacher will develop great relationships with as many students as possible, for the new teacher, blinded by the fog of the classroom, this simply isn't practical to do. I see many NQTs attempting to personalise their teaching to every student, and it all becomes too much for them. The result is usually to crumble under the onslaught. I think it's very easy once you've been around the block a few years like we have to forget just how confusing and overwhelming the first year is. The simplest, and still best advice is to go in quite strict, sort the behaviour expectations, and then gradually develop more sensitive patterns of control and direction with the class.
    But if you try to get to know them as people from day one (when you're brand new) then it's a recipe for many kids to take advantage of your uncertainty. They need to see clear boundaries at the outset; once these have been absorbed, then things can get more interesting.
    Sanctions don't always have to rely on others; but that's what schools are for- we don't work alone, but as members of a cooperative community. And from my experience, they work pretty well with the vast majority of students, who realise pretty quickly that you mean what you say, and that it's more cost effective for them to comply than to rebel. And best of all, they usually realise that they prefer the certainty, the reassuring civility of the well-run classroom. You build meaningful relationships with them best by showing them you care enough about them to run a tight classroom, because that's the best way for them to learn, to flourish and prosper.
    The tougher the school, the tighter it needs to be. And for many, many NQTs, every new class is tough. New teachers have to tackle the big issues (behaviour) before they start work on the subtleties: if your saucepan's on fire, the first thing you do is turn off the gas, not call Argos for a new one...
  14. Well said, leatherpatches, good to see the occasional voice of reason in this forum. The negative influence of the 'punishment' gurus here makes it usually a waste of time to respond, but nice to see you taking the trouble. Do they really think a philosophy based on outdated social and pedagogical attitudes about 40 years out of time has any relevance to the present day?
  15. JamesTES, leatherpatches, do either of you agree with the views given on the thread I started?
    What do you think I'm doing wrong in what I said in the first post. Do I need to punish more, entertain less like the others say?
  16. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    You're using the wrong language, jenn.
    Do you need to punish more? It's not about "punishment", but perhaps need to use the sanctions available to you more assertively and consistently.
    Do you need to entertain less? It's not about "entertainment", and you need to continue to provide good, interactive lessons so that those pupils who ARE behaving get the best of you.
  17. Would it be correct of me to assume that you are advocating a 'no punishment' solution here James?
  18. Doubt it. Too simplistic.
  19. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    I agree. A detention also gives you the opportunity to talk to a pupil away from their peers (audience) which means you are more likely to get sensible responses and start to form a more positive relationship with some of the trickier individuals.
    It's about making your lessons work. By this I mean making sure that pupils in your lessons are behaving and learning. If you can provide good, interactive lessons and make them work then by all means do so. I tend to find that until the boundaries are established along with what happens if those boundaries are crossed all singing all dancing lessons simply do not work unless you have a very nice class or work in a very good school. this is particular true with difficult classes.
  20. bigkid

    bigkid New commenter

    You for some reason seem determined to present anyone who sanctions a child as some sort of card carrying facist dictator or mail reader whose philosophy belongs in the past.
    Absolute drivel of the highest order. In some schools, with some pupils, sanctions (call them "punishments" if you will) are an absolute necessity if you wish to be in control of your classroom rather than ceding it to pupils.
    I once taught a pupil who was a violent, racist, sex offender. He would routinely threaten staff and pupils. He would regularly assault other pupils. He would verbally abuse staff and pupils several times every day. He would touch up and grope girls in almost every lesson. His mother was on the game and used their home as her base of operations. I never met his dad but I was reliably informed that he is a rather violent member of the BNP.
    I wrote up every incident and referred it. Little was ever done. The police couldn't do anything because none of the victims ever wanted to take it further. Other teachers were too intimidated and too unsure of management support to even bother challenging his behaviour. Management took 6 months to even acknowledge that there was an issue to address despite the daily referrals. When they finally did something it was massively ineffective.
    I am unsure how I could have developed a positive relationship with this young man. What I did do was eventually reach a point (through relentless application of sanctions) where I could teach my lesson without being threatened or having my lesson interrupted by him bullying or sexually assaulting other students. sadly it was to no avail because I had to throw him out of his GCSE exam for threatening an invigilator.
    Clearly those of you with an aversion to "punishment" have not had to deal with this sort of student much. People that tried to form a positive relationship with him all dismally failed and many had their good natures ruthlessly taken advantage of (when he was finally thrown out the decision was overturned because a teacher wrote him a positive reference that he used to get back into the school).

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