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Infrequently seen class - HELP with low level disruption

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by biltonhr, Nov 11, 2017.

  1. biltonhr

    biltonhr New commenter

    Hi All,
    I am an Art and design teacher but due to a mat leave my timetable is currently a mis-mash of subjects including IT, Construction and English. I have one class, who I see only once a week that I'm really struggling with. According to their key English teacher they are her favourite class however, they give me a great deal of grief each week, to the put that I'm dreading the lessons.
    Due to seeing them so infrequently it's really hard to build up a relationship however, if you have any tips that could help prevent the continual low level disruption and poor attitudea I would be incredibly grateful.

    pepper5 likes this.
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Tell them you spoke to that other teacher and she said she really enjoys her lessons with them. Ask them what it is about those lessons that make it a more pleasurable experience. Tell them you want them to enjoy and achieve while getting to grips with whatever your learning objective may be.

    Be honest. Say you think things could go better. Get them to write 3 positive things about their lessons with the other teacher. Collect their thoughts (scraps of paper) and have a quick look.

    You obviously think they have potential as you have cared enough to talk to another member of staff. Just be honest with them. If they aren't just a difficult class with lots of troublemakers then it might help.
  3. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    'According to their key English teacher they are her favourite class'

    The cynic in me says that some teachers will respond with the 'They're fine for me' variation as a form of behaviour management oneupmanship even if they are not. However, sometimes, as bloody frustrating as it is, a clas will just 'behave' for someone else and not you.

    Maybe they know you teach Art and sense you're not a specialist and see your lesson as a bit of a 'cover' lesson. You could always do the 'Ive got a degree at thne University of wherever' to shut them up on that behalf. Or do what GDW suggests and big them up, say that the other teacher loves them, sometimes kids respond to positivity better than being criticised and yelled at, however tempting it is to do the latter.

    If you weren't struggling with one class, you would either be in denial or work in about 4% of schools out there or be one of about 4% of the 'perfect' teachers. For the other 96%, Its very normal and treat it as a learning curve!
    les25paul, pepper5, saluki and 2 others like this.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    First you said low level disruption and then you said you dread teaching them.

    Is it professional pride? You just aren't accustomed even to low level disruption.

    Is it that you think its going to worsen?

    Behaviour management is really just carrots and sticks but maybe you're just not as committed to this subject and they sense it? You know - amongst this mish-mash of which you speak.

    You're going to have to fake some positivity to get through this. They do need to think you're on the ball. It's only ONE lesson and they're not SO bad.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I sympathise as I'm going through the same thing. I have a mess of a timetable with two groups who I only see once a week. No knowing them (forgetting their names!) means it's far harder to maintain order and nip in the bud any minor disruption. I have started to see slight improvements but still would be happy to never see them again.

    The mess of a timetable drove me to resign just before the Oct 31st deadline in the hope of finding something better. I hope you can find a better solution than I have.
    pepper5 and biltonhr like this.
  6. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    In the past I have found that often the classes which caused me the most problems were ones I knew less well. So I think your concern is normal and not your fault.
    Have you tried a seating plan? This helps you to learn names (always helpful for discipline) and to split up certian groups/pairs of disruptive students.
    How about worksheets on the desks as they come in? That could help to settle them at once.
    Are you in the room when they arrive or do you get there after them? Don't allow them in until you are ready - and make them come in quietly. If they are noisy coming in, then out they go and do it again. And again. And again, if necessary.
    Who sets the work for the weekly lesson? If it's thier key teacher, are you comfortable teaching it? Or is it not your "style"? If it's you, it's hard to keep momentum from one week to the next, so you may want to consider what you might do about this.
    Good luck! remember, you've seen them a handful of times this year, perhaps nine? That's the equivalent of very early in the term, so you will still be getting a handle on them.
  7. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    That's true, it's the equivalent of 3 or 4 weeks getting to know them I suppose.
  8. biltonhr

    biltonhr New commenter

    Thank you so much this is really helpful
    Thank you so much, this is really helpful and positive advice. Much appreciated!
    thistledoo and pepper5 like this.
  9. biltonhr

    biltonhr New commenter

    I am always there before the children arrive and welcome them into the room once they've lined up etc. I do have a seating plan but think it's worth tweaking slightly again to prevent some of the usual suspects from continually disrupting the lesson. The tasks are set by the key teacher and often involve an entire 50mins of reading, which for any Yr9 group would be tricky. I'm going to try to remain positive and speak to them about the book that I'm currently reading to help inspire them and build some sort of relationship. Thank you for your help.
  10. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    You could go for the old tried and tested methods
    Catch them being good
    Proximity praise
    Broken record
    Positive praise
    High and clear expectations
  11. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Thing is, when you really don't know them, it can be hard even to know who's being good and who's just putting on a good show while quietly winding up the others. And of course, the truly good ones are the ones who you never really notice.

    Had I taught this class in previous years it would have been easier, but new school, lots of different classes to get to know and it's just an impossible task. I hope my replacement fares better.
    saluki likes this.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    This sounds a lot like the other teacher is doing all the fun stuff and leaving you all the cr ap. Hence the class like her and her lessons and find yours as dull as ditch-water.

    Look online for something more interesting, there are a zillion ready made lessons around, and do those instead.
  13. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    50 minutes reading is far too long for yr 9. Perhaps about 30 minutes and then some sort of spelling/grammer work? There are all sorts of fun worksheets out there. You could make up a booklet which they would fill in according to any errors they ahd made elsewhere, during the week. That would be individual learning!
    Do you model quiet reading in front of them?Sitting up high on a desk, so you're visible? That can help too.
  14. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    That sounds like the other teacher is treating it as a "cover lesson", and that's probably rubbing off on the kids - they're seeing you as a non-specialist who is not trusted with the main teaching (or marking?). You might want to talk to the other teacher about whether there are parts of the teaching you could take on, so the kids understand that you are not just "covering". However that is likely to mean more preparation and marking for you, and you would need something you're reasonably confident with.
    sparkleghirl likes this.
  15. dixonh

    dixonh New commenter

    I’ve had this at the beginning of term with a new class. I only see my classes twice a fortnight and this particular class has me on Monday and Tuesday and then not again for 2 weeks.

    They really enjoy structure so I have a timer on my PowerPoint for every section of my lesson. Every time a student completes the task satisfactorily within the time, I give them points. I also say things like ‘I know I’m not supposed to give you more than 2 points but I’ll give you 5 because you’ve worked so hard’. I have structured my lessons so we have lots of 5 or 10 minute tasks to start off with.

    Students also love the random name picker. I put the students names in the wheel and after the timer has finished, I spin the wheel and whoever it lands on performs what they have done in class. We peer assess and this has created a great atmosphere of anticipation (am I going to be next on the wheel?!), excitement and responsibility (I have to do my work or I maybe chosen next).

    Even the hardcore students have responded well. I figure that I would rather have half a term (6lessons) of doing this and build resilience and a positive relationship and then I can really focus on teaching them in a more independent fashion after xmas when they can behave and will hopefully enjoy my lessons more.
  16. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Love those ideas @dixonh

    Use the tech. They love that.

    Thanks for sharing. Fab.
    dixonh likes this.
  17. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Really useful ideas @dixonh and not loads of extra effort. Especially about giving them extra points. And short achievable tasks.

    I worked on the principle that if you expected a positive response, you'd be more likely to get one. Didn't work for all of them, but the majority and certainly enough for them to carry the rest along with them. loads of praise to start with, overdoing it probably, but the carrot worked better than the stick for me. Then the stick is more effective on the occasions, hopefully rare, when you have to use it.
    grumpydogwoman and dixonh like this.
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You have to butter them up and string them along a bit. They're kids.

    You know. Like using Father Christmas to get your own kids to behave/shut up/do what you want. Tell them they're marvellous and Father Christmas will be so pleased and can they keep on doing those good things.

    Everyone likes a bit of encouragement.
    foxtail3 and GirlGremlin like this.
  19. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    I wouldn't like or entertain 50 mins reading with Y9! Go with @dixonh suggestions and break down the lessons with other tasks/ structure. Good Luck!
    grumpydogwoman and dixonh like this.
  20. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    I might even be tempted to go visit the class with this other teacher but of course timetabling would probably prevent this - but it would be good to show a united front and you might even be able to take content from the lesson to use/ build other than 50 mins of reading.
    I know, pipe dreams...but if you could observe their\behaviour and contribution to the other lesson it might help to provide continuity.

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