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Move from primary to secondary and struggling with Y 9s behaviour

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by helgarr, Sep 20, 2018.

  1. helgarr

    helgarr New commenter

    Having taught in primary for 20 years I fancied a new challenge and have started as a maths teacher in my local secondary school which is a great school. Most of my classes are going well except my 2 yr 9 sets which I am really struggling with.
    The hardest class is relatively small 18 students but there at at least 6 students that are known difficult students, they are all in different teaching groups for other subjects but come together in my lesson so it is arty time !!!
    Despite following the school's behaviour policy I just can't get on top off them as they gang up and react to any little thing. If anyone makes a silly noise all the others laugh etcI have had 3 removed this week in the hope that things will settle with the rest. Things have been better but I still feel that they are too loud and there is far too much over reaction to little events and flouting of the talking volume expectation. Plus already a complaining email from a parent.
    My dept have been very helpful but I am feeling very embarrassed and lacking in confidence.

    I am using all the strategies recommended but I know I am being inconsistent as I get flustered when they all seem to be doing something that is outside of the expectations so there is probably a lack of consistency.I just feel at times I am in the middle of an out of control children's tea party.
    The other class is better but there are 2 or 3 strong characters who call across the room and wind each other up deliberately.

    Any ideas
     
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi helgarr

    You are doing extremely well if all your classes are going well apart from the two year 9 classes.

    What you describe is very typical behaviour and almost every secondary teacher reading this will sympathise with you. The type of students you describe are very strong willed and it takes a lot of patience to carry on.

    You are doing everything you should be doing so do not be embarrassed - your colleagues know what it is like and don't think any less of you I am sure. Indeed, they are in an extremely good position to have a trained maths teacher onboard as many school struggle to find good maths teachers. Most teachers go through this and have had classes like the one you describe.

    What I would say is that you must try never to let them see they have rattled your cage; they are testing you to see what you are going to do. Keep giving them warnings and go through the system of having them removed. If your school will allow it, you could make up some small laminated red cards. These cards will act as warning cards. When a student breaks one of your rules, you give them a card. Once they have two cards, then they are removed or whatever your school system is for persistent disruption in a lesson.

    The one thing you have going for you is that you are in what sounds like a supportive school. There are many other secondary schools which wouldn't be so supportive.

    If you can maintain your composure and continue with using the behaviour system and all the other things you are doing, you may find that things will get better. It is only two weeks in so early days yet.

    Perhaps start a Call Home Fridays system whereby the students in your class who have worked hard and behaved well get a phone call home to their parents on Friday to tell the parents how well they have worked. Once the misbehaving ones see their mates getting phone calls home and rewards, they too might want to have a positive phone call home.

    If you look on the Pivotal Education web site you might find other ideas.

    Look upon this as part of your professional development. It is a learning experience for sure, but don't try to go it alone. Keep asking for support if you need it and your colleagues are willing to give it.
     
  3. helgarr

    helgarr New commenter

     
  4. helgarr

    helgarr New commenter

    thank you that is very helpful
     
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. Northern_Miss

    Northern_Miss New commenter

    Why not use the old Primary standby - call in the top 3 offenders for a parents meeting with you and their head of year. Then follow up with, "we can meet in 2 weeks to review..."
     
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    It absolutely sounds like you're doing really well in the early stages of your transition. Year 9 is often considered the most challenging year group in secondary school so don't feel despondent. Congratulations on the success with other classes and for making the move; not easy.

    It can feel so overwhelming when it feels that there's too many students misbehaving to deal with. So, firstly, you need to identify the "worst" three. Then deal severely with them. Have them removed by SLT in front of the class and ask for a follow up meeting with parents if this is possible. At the same time, email three children with positive comments.

    Be clear with the class that you are aware that the behaviour of some students is interfering with their learning and that this is something the school cannot accept. I have found that some Year 9 students can be surprisingly committed to studying and do actually want to learn. They just can't show that in front of their peers. So show them that you care about their success. Ask their head of year to come along to the start of lessons and then pop back in after 15 minutes. They can then remove anyone who has already had a warning and not settled down.

    What sort of seating plan are you using? If you have tried separating the noisiest ones and that hasn't worked, you could actually try putting them together right by your desk. This will make it easier to see exactly who instigates the issues and deal with them more promptly. Don't be afraid to keep sending kids out. Your responsibility is to the whole class and if one student has to stand outside to enable you to teach, that is the answer in the very short term. Tell them this explicitly when you do go out to speak to them. Offer them another chance - be as kind as you can manage! They are so needy. Tell them you want to teach them but cannot allow them to ruin the lesson for others. Invite them back in but then send them back out if they cannot take it.

    Alternatively, you could try separating those who are not listening and giving them something boring/mindless to do whilst you group the well behaved ones together and actually teach them. This can work but can also be risky. If you had support of a TA or head of year, this can be a good move to get the good ones to feel it is worth staying on track and to bore some of the 'followers' into submission.

    Please continue to ask for the support. A supportive department is the main reason to stay in a school and everyone benefits from this so don't be embarrassed. We all need support with certain classes no matter how long we have been teaching.

    Good luck. Let us know how you are getting on.
     
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. Northern_Miss

    Northern_Miss New commenter

    Contact your union. If this plan doesn’t work the school may move for formal capability and fire you. If I was you, I’d be talking to my union rep and also job hunting right now. Good luck honey. Remember not all schools are the same - some have much nicer kids and staff than others, sadly!
     
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi helgarr

    Sorry you have been unwell and also the dilemma you have been in at school. This scenario is happening in many schools across the country with experienced teachers and those without much experience. Even teachers of 20+ years of secondary experience are struggling with the behaviour, so do not let this shake your confidence.

    Take Northern_Miss's advice and call your union today or ASAP. I also agree that you should look for another school as there will be more supportive schools and ones with less challenging students. It is, however, very unfair the way the school has handled this as all your other classes were going well apart from the two you mention with the well known difficult students. This says a lot about the way the school is managed and you are far better getting out with the help of your union.

    I have taught 10 years in many different secondary schools and teachers are on the brink with anxiety attacks and stress. You only have to read a few of the threads on Work Place Dilemmas to know you are not alone although that may not be of much consolation to you. It seems that some SMT rather than address their own shortcomings and help teachers, put all the blame on their classroom teachers which is not the way to handle problems.

    On a separate note, if you could manage a bit on supply, you might find you get a lot of work as a maths specialist and that way you could get more experience without the commitment to any one place and you could also get a good look around different schools. On the Supply Forum there is a thread about starting out on supply. Also, it would give you more time to practice working with difficult groups and perhaps taking some courses on behaviour management. I recommend Pivotal Education for courses/help/advice if you look them up online.
     
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    Get support in eg another adult for some lessons. Phone home for three of the worst culprits and put them on lesson report.
     
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    It probably all feels very bleak and stressful right now.
    But they must be mad if they are willing to get rid of someone who is teaching maths in secondary. You will find another job and likely a better one.

    Don't be fooled by the 'great school' tag. In my experience, the 'great schools' can be horrible places to work because noone wants to acknowledge that problem students or classes exist so they blame the teacher.
     
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.

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