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My students are revolting...please help!

Discussion in 'Further Education' started by 911turbo, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. I
    privately tutor a very small group of students. I have
    written before on this forum about how they are adults and I use a
    variety of
    different teaching methods, try to motivate them but that they don’t do
    the
    work, chat in my lessons and hardly ever do the homework I set them. I
    have
    encouraged and guided them as much as possible, been creative with my
    resources
    and have empathised with their reasons for studying this A’Level. They
    only
    have two hours a week tuition from me (their choice) and I have told
    them they
    need to work very hard to obtain their second year A’Level. They have
    been
    overwhelmed by the workload but they don’t do the work! I do get some
    essays and coursework in but certainly not enough to help them pass.I have spent time reflecting why they are there. In their first year their grades were okay, one had an A, one B and the rest were C's and a D. I dont think they have a hope of acheiving that this year and ultimately could fail. They were on a 'proper' A level course last year through a college, not private tutoring where they are only prepared to pay for two hours a week tuition as they are now.


    The last time I taught them it became impossible. One of the
    students said she had had enough, she wasn’t doing the exam and she was only
    there to keep up the numbers! She said she would never learn it all and it was
    too stressful. She was doing it for 'fun'. (She is 50 years old). The others tried to convince her to do the exam in June and she
    just refused and I said I sympathised and she said she didn’t
    want my sympathy! This student is the oldest of the group and she distracts the
    others constantly. She has made offensive and narrow minded comments that I
    found upsetting if I am honest and I feel she undermines my position as their
    tutor. The atmosphere, the last time I taught them, was tense and very
    uncomfortable and I remember coming away thinking that I couldn’t teach them
    again.


    I thought about it in depth. I have done a lot of work and
    preparation for these students. It was extremely hard to create a scheme of
    work to put so much work into such a short space of time and I have prepared
    their lessons and resources until June but I knew I couldn’t teach them with
    this lady in the group. So as we are always in contact by email I emailed them
    to explain how I felt, suggested that I would still teach the others without
    the student causing problems, and that I would teach them in my home (as we
    were using a building where this lady works) and that I would reduce the price
    accordingly. I also said that I would teach individually, or in pairs, or
    whatever they would like.


    Now they have refused. Said that I agreed to teach them as a
    group (which of course I did, but who could ever predict what will happen?) and
    that if I wouldn’t teach all of them, then they would accept me withdrawing as
    their teacher. This woman doesn’t even want to use the A’Level and was purely
    doing it for fun. They are missing out because of her. I have reiterated why I
    didn’t want to teach this woman in the group but the emails I receive back just
    keep on about teaching them as a group! It is not possible now for me to teach
    them as a group, not after the way I have expressed my grievances against one
    of them and they are asking for a refund. I am not in a financial position to
    just give back their money (it is four payments in advance) and I have done so
    much work for them in preparation that I feel they should pay for.
    Additionally, I haven’t said I wouldn’t teach them, just one of them! I feel I
    have bent over backwards to accommodate them. I have tried to support them even
    though they don’t do any work.


    There was no contract and we are completely private, not
    under a college or governing body. Does anyone have any suggestions please?
     
  2. I
    privately tutor a very small group of students. I have
    written before on this forum about how they are adults and I use a
    variety of
    different teaching methods, try to motivate them but that they don’t do
    the
    work, chat in my lessons and hardly ever do the homework I set them. I
    have
    encouraged and guided them as much as possible, been creative with my
    resources
    and have empathised with their reasons for studying this A’Level. They
    only
    have two hours a week tuition from me (their choice) and I have told
    them they
    need to work very hard to obtain their second year A’Level. They have
    been
    overwhelmed by the workload but they don’t do the work! I do get some
    essays and coursework in but certainly not enough to help them pass.I have spent time reflecting why they are there. In their first year their grades were okay, one had an A, one B and the rest were C's and a D. I dont think they have a hope of acheiving that this year and ultimately could fail. They were on a 'proper' A level course last year through a college, not private tutoring where they are only prepared to pay for two hours a week tuition as they are now.


    The last time I taught them it became impossible. One of the
    students said she had had enough, she wasn’t doing the exam and she was only
    there to keep up the numbers! She said she would never learn it all and it was
    too stressful. She was doing it for 'fun'. (She is 50 years old). The others tried to convince her to do the exam in June and she
    just refused and I said I sympathised and she said she didn’t
    want my sympathy! This student is the oldest of the group and she distracts the
    others constantly. She has made offensive and narrow minded comments that I
    found upsetting if I am honest and I feel she undermines my position as their
    tutor. The atmosphere, the last time I taught them, was tense and very
    uncomfortable and I remember coming away thinking that I couldn’t teach them
    again.


    I thought about it in depth. I have done a lot of work and
    preparation for these students. It was extremely hard to create a scheme of
    work to put so much work into such a short space of time and I have prepared
    their lessons and resources until June but I knew I couldn’t teach them with
    this lady in the group. So as we are always in contact by email I emailed them
    to explain how I felt, suggested that I would still teach the others without
    the student causing problems, and that I would teach them in my home (as we
    were using a building where this lady works) and that I would reduce the price
    accordingly. I also said that I would teach individually, or in pairs, or
    whatever they would like.


    Now they have refused. Said that I agreed to teach them as a
    group (which of course I did, but who could ever predict what will happen?) and
    that if I wouldn’t teach all of them, then they would accept me withdrawing as
    their teacher. This woman doesn’t even want to use the A’Level and was purely
    doing it for fun. They are missing out because of her. I have reiterated why I
    didn’t want to teach this woman in the group but the emails I receive back just
    keep on about teaching them as a group! It is not possible now for me to teach
    them as a group, not after the way I have expressed my grievances against one
    of them and they are asking for a refund. I am not in a financial position to
    just give back their money (it is four payments in advance) and I have done so
    much work for them in preparation that I feel they should pay for.
    Additionally, I haven’t said I wouldn’t teach them, just one of them! I feel I
    have bent over backwards to accommodate them. I have tried to support them even
    though they don’t do any work.


    There was no contract and we are completely private, not
    under a college or governing body. Does anyone have any suggestions please?
     
  3. This seems a ridiculous situation. How did these students come to select you as their teacher? Did you teach them on their AS last year? They seem to have no respect for you as a tutor, and now you have put yourself in a really difficult situation by creating 'sides' in the group. The naughty student and the 'good' students, although of course they are not good students at all. In fact, now you have put yourself in the 'naughty chair' and they might see you as being devisive in wanting to break up their dynamic. Are you 'friends' with these students? I know they are mature, but you still have to maintain the authority and distance necessary for them to be 'students'. The whole thing suggests a club rather than a teaching situation. I don't know the full situation, but I would suggest it would be a really bad idea to teach them in your home. A complete no no. Do these students not realise that this year, of all years, is going to be the hardest to get a place at university with the younger students rushing to get places before the fees go up - that alone should be incentive enough for them to work their socks off.
    The woman who is just coming to 'make the numbers up' who is causing the major problem - why does she need to make numbers up? You say you could teach the others without her - were her fees necessary to make the private tuition viable? What are her real motives - to spend time with her friends, someone she perhaps has her eye on, or whatever. If they are her friends, surely she realises that she is wrecking their chances of making a career in nursing, etc? And if the others are valuing chit chat over learning, just for those two hours, then they are deluded that they will pass, but this you know already. Do they go to the pub together afterwards? If not, perhaps they should, and save the chat til then. It doesn't make sense. What are their real motives for being there. I have never had an adult class who behave like that - they are more likely to demand high pressure teaching to get their money's worth.
    You don't say how long you have been teaching. You clearly care passionately about getting the students to achieve, and about your subject, and have put in loads of work. It's the tutor/student boundary that seems the weak spot, and perhaps this is due to lack of confidence? I must sound like a granny...!
     

  4. Hmmm. Firstly can I agree with comingupforair in that you mustn't have them in your home.
    I think you need to take a step back and think about what is important here. If the answer is to get these somewhat unwilling students the qualification they need, then I suggest you call a meeting somewhere calming where you can all discuss the situation and, hopefully, come up with a solution. However, if they are not doing the work anyway, it does make me wonder whether it is worth all the hassle. Are they likely to succeed however hard you try?
    As for the woman who has caused the problems, we all have one of those in our classes; it's just that they are usually a lot younger and can be dealt with accordingly. Usually when they behave in such a way it means they are lacking in confidence and struggle with the work. Is this the case with her? Would it be worth having a quiet word with her offering her extra support?
    If you get nowhere with any of the above, I think I would just say to them that you will be in the pre-arranged place at the pre-arranged time to teach them and it is up to them then whether they come <u>and</u> are prepared to learn. Even a verbal contract works both ways - the lecturer teaches and the students do the learning (and its accompanying work). If they are not doing that, then they are not holding up their end either.
    Good luck.
     
  5. I'm afraid there was. It may not be written, but it is there. You allude to some of the terms.
    Furthermore it is almost certainly a 'private' contract with each student. This means a breach by one cannot be construed as a breach by them all. I would take legal advice before you do anything rash.

     
  6. 'comingupforair' (love the name) no I didn't teach them for their last year. They were with a college. I am not friends with them either. They do treat me like their teacher also; there is certainly a divide but they are terribly disrespectful. I will be immersed in telling them something and in the middle of it they will say, totally interrupting me, "Where is that draft I can feel?" and then investigate where it is and I was talking! There is a distance between us. I only suggested teaching in my home due to the lack of somewhere else as the lady who is disruptive, I teach where she works and there isn't anywhere else. I do think they are aware of competition and we have spoken about it but they still don't work.
    The fees weren't dependent on that woman being there but of course, they need her to use her workplace. They are all female and I think her motives are to simply chat and 'be there' for the others. They don't go the pub afterwards so I do think their motives are to simply chat and socialise as well as 'try' to work.
    I do lack confidence and haven't been teaching long but the problem is I can see more difficulties arising and after what I have said about this woman being insulting and disruptive, I don't exactly want to call a meeting! I don't trust them. They were late paying last time and I'm not sure that I won't end up with egg on my face eventually and actually being bullied.
     
  7. As I said - I think you have to decide what you want to happen. Do you want to go on teaching them or do you want to stop? Depending on your decision, you will need to set up the "way forward". I can quite understand that you don't want to have a "meeting" but, unfortunately, sometimes you just have to face the flak in order to sort out situations - has happened time and time again to me. Whichever way you decide to go you will need to communicate with the students and, to me, meeting face to face is always the best way - e-mails are great but don't have the "flow" necessary to having a free and frank discussion. Couldn't you ask a friend to go with you as a mediator?
    You do need to take control of the situation though as that is the only way you will come through this and build on your confidence for the future.


     
  8. baitranger

    baitranger New commenter

    Yes, I agree that there is a contract, but at least one of the students in the group is in breach of that contract, which has as one of it's terms that they will all behave as reasonable students so that you can teach them.
    I think you have done exactly the right thing in putting your concerns into writing, and in getting written replies from them.
    You are prepared to teach them if they are prepared to be students.
    You cannot reasonably be expected to teach someone who is continually interupting the lesson with irrelevant remarks, nor to teach someone who is openly uninterested in what you are teaching and who declares that they are not there to learn.
     

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