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Need advice on my class being nice

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by SUgar1, Feb 18, 2011.

  1. I am a 2nd year teacher with a year 4 class. Last year my class were practically perfect! Of course I look back with rose tinted glasses as they were my first class. They were lovely though and so well behaved.

    This is long and rambling but I need some advice please.

    This year it is a whole different story. I have lots of children that are simply nasty to some of the others. I have one boy who is rambunctious and the other children pick on him for this. He struggles to control his behaviour and does do some things to hurt the other children. The other children then over react and really hurt him.


    My problem is, as much as I bang on about being nice to each other, making sure everyone is included in games and accepting some of the differences between themselves they just cannot do it. I had a few parents raise some names yesterday and some issues that have not been brought to my attention. I have also just found out that the children are not talking to me when problems happen. It is very upsetting to hear some of the things that are happening. My HT has spoken to several boys and the whole class as I am now at my wits end and really have no idea what to do about it.

    One boy in particular is 'leader of the pack' and most of the boys look up to him even though he is the one causing a lot of the nastiness. I have had to do a lot of work with this boy anyway as he was refusing to work for the majority of last term. Although he is working now he still has a real attitude problem and a self inflated ego. Again the HT has said that peer pressure would be the way to stop this boys behaviour but the others think he is cool and don't see it as a problem or are too scared in case they end up with no friends.

    We do SEAL but I don't think that it covers the issues we are having and I want to introduce some circle time. I am not very experienced with circle time though and would like some suggestions on how to get across the importance of being nice to one another.

    I really am upset by some of the things that I have heard as some of the children in my that this is affecting are really lovely but feel worried about clothes they wear or who they play with in case the 'leader' or his friends say something. Any help would be appreciated please.

     
  2. I am a 2nd year teacher with a year 4 class. Last year my class were practically perfect! Of course I look back with rose tinted glasses as they were my first class. They were lovely though and so well behaved.

    This is long and rambling but I need some advice please.

    This year it is a whole different story. I have lots of children that are simply nasty to some of the others. I have one boy who is rambunctious and the other children pick on him for this. He struggles to control his behaviour and does do some things to hurt the other children. The other children then over react and really hurt him.


    My problem is, as much as I bang on about being nice to each other, making sure everyone is included in games and accepting some of the differences between themselves they just cannot do it. I had a few parents raise some names yesterday and some issues that have not been brought to my attention. I have also just found out that the children are not talking to me when problems happen. It is very upsetting to hear some of the things that are happening. My HT has spoken to several boys and the whole class as I am now at my wits end and really have no idea what to do about it.

    One boy in particular is 'leader of the pack' and most of the boys look up to him even though he is the one causing a lot of the nastiness. I have had to do a lot of work with this boy anyway as he was refusing to work for the majority of last term. Although he is working now he still has a real attitude problem and a self inflated ego. Again the HT has said that peer pressure would be the way to stop this boys behaviour but the others think he is cool and don't see it as a problem or are too scared in case they end up with no friends.

    We do SEAL but I don't think that it covers the issues we are having and I want to introduce some circle time. I am not very experienced with circle time though and would like some suggestions on how to get across the importance of being nice to one another.

    I really am upset by some of the things that I have heard as some of the children in my that this is affecting are really lovely but feel worried about clothes they wear or who they play with in case the 'leader' or his friends say something. Any help would be appreciated please.

     
  3. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Have you talked to the teacher that had this class last year? They might have some tips.

    I think circle time is a really good idea but I also wonder if it would be worth doing a project about bullying. Asking the children to come up with definitions of bullying could help them realise that it's not just about being hit in the play ground.. it's about being made to feel less than someone else because of how you dress or how you behave. It might just open a few eyes. It also means you can get them to think of strategies to deal with problems; like telling their teacher if they feel bad or hurt by someone else's behaviour. You could look at what makes someone into a bully and what effect it has on the victim. It also gives you the opportunity to raise some points head on. If you hear some one being nasty you can refer to their own contributions to the class... especially if you create a whole class bullying policy designed by the pupils themselves. You could try looking at the positive side too... they could discuss what qualities make a really good friend.

    Strangely I wonder about the boy with the self inflated ego... in circle time try starting the circle by asking the kids to finish the sentence 'the best thing about me is....' or 'my best skill is....' things like that. The idea is to make them all feel good about themselves to start with but you might be surprised with what the boy comes out with. I work with much older kids and the ones who shout loudest and seem to have the biggest egos are usually the ones who are hiding terrible insecurities and low self esteem by over compensating.
     
  4. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    I agree with all that has been suggested re circle time and stressing the importance of being nice. but I would also suggest you punish the nastiness.

    Go back after half term with a zero tolerance approach. Enlist the help of colleagues and each time a child is nasty go a bit OTT with the scolding and send them off to another class with words similar to 'You cannot stay here, because we are a nice class who treat each other kindly. As you don't want to do that today, you have to go elsewhere.' They will soon get the message that being nasty gets them sent out.

    Maybe have a box where children can put in events that they don't feel able to tell you directly. Don't feel bad that they don't do this, they have had 3 full years before you in school which have clearly taught them not to bother telling the teacher. Once they see you actively doing something about it they will start to tell you.

    Good luck. OTT praise for being kind and OTT scolding for being nasty has worked wonders for my class this year. They are now utterly lovely 99% of the time.
     
  5. I'm going to assume that this is a primary class and my background is mainly secondary but I have some questions.
    Is there any valid evidence that any of this actually works?
    My perception is that most children who do bully know perfectly well what bullying is and that it hurts others - thats why they do it!
    I would suggest that adults who act as if they are in charge would be a far more beneficial here.
    oldandrew has debunked this on his blog - here is the link;
    http://teachingbattleground.wordpress.com/2009/04/05/self-esteem-part-1/
    ---------------------
    The reason I am making these points is that, based on my personal experience of several schools (see below), these strategies do not work - at least on their own.
    <u>The SEAL, bullying, circle time cycle</u>
    1. A viscious incident means that bullying is flagged as a whole school problem.
    2. Teachers are trained, children watch the obligatory video and 'discuss' bullying and feelings in PSHE - bullies are given victim status. The bullies already know what a bully is (they saw the same video last year) and that it hurts others, the good kids know as well and resent that they are forced to be there.
    3. A whole school assembly is called, it is announced that bullying won't be tolerated and the threat of punishment is made. Some members of year 9, 10 and 11 find this funny.
    4. Bullying becomes socially unacceptable (especially in younger year groups and around popular but nice older students). Bullies still bully but are more careful about when, where and how they do it.
    5. The school is innundated with bullying paperwork as children report incidents.
    6. Bullies attend circle time with their victims, everyone is forced to shake hands and no threats of punishment are carried out. Groups of mutually daft petty cussers also attend meetings, they miss lessons and love the attention.
    7. Victims don't see the point in reporting bullying anymore. Petty fueds are considered more important than lessons by many of the students. Bullying becomes socially acceptable again.
    8. A viscious incident means that bullying is flagged as a whole school problem.

     
  6. rosiecg

    rosiecg Occasional commenter

    We had a similar problem in a yr3 class last year. With the boy concerned we took time, just 5mins, each morning to reiterate the class rules and expectations. At the end of the day the whole class got together and the children could contribute something good/nice that the boy had done during the day. If he got 5 in a day then he earnt 10mins reward time for the next morning. It was a long process but this did eventually start to make a difference as he realised what he had to to, and how simple it is to make people happy, even if it's just by holding a door or smiling at them.
    As for the kids not talking to you about problems - we have an email system in school where the children can send anonymous emails to the central inbox to let us know about anything good/bad they want to mention. We schedule it into the ICT time so that it's not obvious that any one child is writing something - they all have to send something, so there's no stigma attached to being the one to send something in. We get all sorts of messages but occasionally something does come up that we weren't aware of, and we can then deal with it appropriately.
    Stay positive, it will get better!
     
  7. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Not really sure you 'got' what I was trying to suggest here... I'm not imagining for a moment that the class bully will recognise themselves and have an epiphany, decide he's a bad person and become a good person.... but rather that the quiet, good majority of the class will be given, not only a voice, but the tools to deal with him. These are young children in a primary school and therefore less exposed to all the Anti-bullying mantra of the secondary school kids. The idea is to empower the majority to use peer pressure to end the bullying themselves.
    I note that you go to great lengths to debunk my suggestions but haven't actually offered any help or advice yourself.
     
  8. I presume you are referring to me.
    If the adults are having trouble enough controlling bullying do you seriously think it is a sensible idea to try and let the kids sort it out?
    For pity sake the quiet, good majority of the class don't need a voice here they need adults to step in and take control of the situation so they can learn - why should they have their time wasted on this?
    I don't think your recommendations will solve the problem and therein lies my advice.
     
  9. I don't agree with you. Why does this mean I have a negative experience with kids?
    I've never met a strict teacher who would suggest the solution to bullying you just did.
    If you expect them to abide by your expectations why do you have a discussion about it? What's to discuss?
    But you just said you expected them to meet your expectations.
    I don't recall saying anything about shouting at kids here?
     
  10. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Mr Leonard I didn't intend to offend but I'm trying to fathom what you would actually suggest the OP actually does to help deal with his situation. It seems that you would just tell the children to stop and expect them to blindly do so without reason or understanding of why. That strategy hasn't worked since my father was in short trousers (he's 85 now)... In fact I'm not sure it did back then but it certainly doesn't now.

    Your strategy might be fine if we are trying to raise a class hoping to emigrate to China as they leave school but I tend to think that before you weigh in with the 'Do as you're told because I say so' it's quite a good idea to try giving the kids a reason to do the right thing... we don't just teach our subjects we teach behaviour too and even more so in a primary school. So many parents don't give children the kind of direction they need and even really good parents will struggle to teach a child how to behave in a crowd when they don't have one to hand (a crowd).

    Surely you can see the benefit of teaching the children why it's poor behaviour to make someone feel bad about themselves for whatever reason, and to teach the victims that there is a support system for them to turn to for help. If you read carefully I did suggest adult intervention if a bully was caught in the act but we all know that kids can be very efficient at hiding incidents from the adults around them. Surely this is the kind of situation where we need to try and empower the kids a much as possible.
     

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