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New class with difficult behaviour

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by kimalexrose, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. kimalexrose

    kimalexrose New commenter

    I’m due to start a long term supply placement at a school for the summer term. However the class that I have been placed in have issues with behaviour. Their previous teacher hasn’t really put any behaviour expectations in place and as a result behaviour is very poor. I’ve only spent a couple of days with the class but want to start the new term off well.

    Behaviour issues are across the board really. One of the major issues is transition times and low level disruption. However there are also bigger issues with children being disruptive and disrespectful in lessons.

    If anyone has been in a similar situation any advice would be great. Also, any behaviour management strategies that have proven to be successful (especially with “difficult” classes) would be great.

    pepper5 likes this.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Kim

    Much has been written on this topic and there are no easy answers nor magic cures. The problem you have is that to change challenging behaviour in a school, changes must come from the SLT and it has to be a team effort. What you can do, however, is try to ensure you lead from the front in your own lessons and try to encourage a team effort from the beginning in your classroom. You are also a supply teacher which involves another layer of problems: the attitude students have towards supply teachers being one and the fact that you will be new. Expect the volley shots to come your way which no doubt they will.

    Get a copy of the behaviour policy and ensure you understand and know it inside out. That is the first step since you have to work within that.

    Next, think through very carefully the expectations and routines you want to see in your lessons. This is a routine I would suggest ( this is for secondary. If you are in primary, then perhaps you will have to tweak it somewhat):

    Routines for entering and leaving a room are important since it creates order. Have students line up outside the door until they are invited in. When they enter, greet them with good morning etc, have them stand behind their chairs until you invite them to sit down. They are to get out their equipment in silence while you take the register and while you are taking the register, they can write out the title, date etc or do a starter you have on the board. Or perhaps study spellings or read quietly - a task they an do while you get set up. When they leave, the order is reversed: dismiss the class by rows and tell them well done if they have worked hard.

    Have a seating plan for every lesson. Boy, girl, boy, girl works well and once you see the class dynamics you can move people about or change it every half term or so.

    Tell the class your classroom rules. I use these:

    1. Follow instructions fast
    2. Stay on task
    3. Work without disturbing others

    These three rules cover most things. Ask the students to write them in the back of their books. Make a poster and stick it on the wall with some images and put it up somewhere where you can easily refer to it. When someone is off task, you just point to the rule with a look.

    Try to encourage a team effort - everyone is important and your expectations are that everyone contributes. Have class monitors to give out books etc and to help you give out equipment.

    Do a survey and ask them what rewards they would like the most, but do not use material rewards or sweets which they enough of already. Rewards could be: sitting in the teacher's chair, postcards home, tea and biscuits on a Friday, computer time etc.

    Never use putting names on the board when people are misbehaving as it only creates more conflict and drama.

    You will have to devote some time to teaching your students the principles and behaviour you want in your classroom. If you tell them that you want X done a certain way because it will benefit them, then they may be more receptive to it.

    Don't worry about fun and engaging lessons - aim for calm, order and learning.

    Tell them "To leave it all on the field" which means to do their very best each day in each lesson.

    You have to model what you expect by being organised, on time and insisting on high standards.

    If you put those things into place in the spirit of encouragement and not punishment, then they may respond.

    Also, get as much help from your managers as possible as you cannot do this alone.

    All the very best for the new term. It is not going to be easy, but if you have a plan at least you have tried your best.

    Also, check out the Pivotal Education web site for free tips on behaviour management.

    Also, if you go over to the Supply Forum, there are many supportive people there who may have other tips for you.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    esther30 and tianjinjustice like this.
  3. install

    install Star commenter

    1 Mark their work regularly and give great lesssons as far as possible
    2 Begin with simple tests to guage what the class are good at
    3 If in class support is available - use it productively
    4 Check school protocols, systems and expectations. Know what you are allowed to do and not do as the teacher eg phoning home, letters, informing tutors and heads of year
    5 Praise the good ones and those that are motivated
    6 Let the students know that you are there long term and what your expectations are
  4. englishdragon

    englishdragon Occasional commenter

    @ pepper5
    @ install

    Simple, effective, functional and to the point. No doubt, wisdom comes with years of practice.
    Thanks a lot!
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You are welcome englishdragon.

    Hope you found some of it useful.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    I'm guessing that their last teacher was a bit weak and they have not had a very good experience in your subject? Often seems to be the way when someone takes over a class for a term. The students will be a bit insecure and that's where a lot of disrespect comes from.

    The new term gives a nice clean start. Be honest with them:

    "You don't know my behaviour expectations, they are a bit higher than you are used to. So for the first few lessons I'm going to focus on those so we have a really good working environment."

    I aim to give the whole class rewards for tasks (like working in silence) which they individually loose if they break the rules.

    And aim to phone a couple of parents after each lesson. Never take the line of 'your son was very poorly behaved..." always try "Your son isn't getting the best from his lessons at the moment. How do we work on that?"

    I wrote this a while ago - hope the link still functions:

  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, the link functions. Thanks for posting.
  8. joyanadia38

    joyanadia38 New commenter

    Having some decent rules in place seems reasonable, but I think being too harsh will not do any good, they are just so reluctant.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. smarthappydigit

    smarthappydigit New commenter

    Get a job abroard. It worked for me.
    pepper5 likes this.
  10. Greyfalcon1

    Greyfalcon1 New commenter

    Having the ground rules is essential, but knowing how to respond when pupils start to challenge the expectations is crucial.

    If anyone has any tips on what approach to take after the 'honeymoon period' please let me know.

    pepper5 likes this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Being consistent is important.

    Yes, it is very important to know how to respond to individual instances of misbehaviour. Sometimes, the child may look tired and they are being grumpy and not complying quickly because they went to bed late. Sometimes, just letting them take that bit longer in getting started will "fix" the problem and they will then stay on task.

    On occasions the right approach will be a gentle answer. In another situation, the tone of voice might need to be much firmer. Firmer, but never cutting.

    It takes hours in a classroom to know how to respond and you pick it up by practise.

    We are human and during the course of a single day teachers are making hundreds of decisions ; sometimes you will get it right, sometimes not.
  12. hamjam

    hamjam New commenter

    Liking what folk are saying in here, so here's my bit:

    Your lesson starts outside the classroom, so make sure you do the following:

    1 Set the expectations
    2 Straight line
    3 Shirts tucked in, ties pulled up
    4 Enter 5 at a time
    5 Meet and greet
    6 Smile!

    “We’re going to start in 30 seconds”, a phrase I used all the time. You are giving the students notice and time to get themselves ready. “20 seconds, 15 seconds etc. As you’re doing this, acknowledge those who are getting it right: “well done table 2”, “well done Barry and George who are telling me they’re ready” etc. Then it’s “hands free facing me in 5,4,3,2,1”. By doing this, you have their full attention and again acknowledge those who are ‘doing it right’.

    There is the ‘passive’, ‘assertive’ and ‘aggressive’ approach to classroom management. Always be ‘assertive’ and use language such as “I need you to turn around” NOT “Can you turn around” which is passive. Try and incorporate the word ‘need’ into your instructions and you’ll see a difference.

    Have the school visuals that outline the school disciplinary plan on display or create your own as I did (if school does not have on):

    1 First warning
    2 Final warning
    3 Moved or re-seated
    4 Break/lunchtime detention
    5 After school detention
    Go over this with them and your reward system.
    (Check school protocols)

    Remember, it's about choices so if they choose not to follow the instruction(s), it then escalates to the next level.

    Have the class/school reward posters visible for all to see or if they don’t have any, make your own.

    Have a seating plan and be prepared to alter it depending on behaviour.

    With particularly challenging classes, set up a reward system, for example at of my first school I had each class name displayed on the wall with a plastic tube below it. The aim was that if the whole class achieved a positive lesson, the class earned a marble which was put into the tube (nominate someone to do it, as they loved to do it). They had to hit target by the end of a certain time (end of term say) and were competing with other classes with they enjoyed. The reward consisted of me going out and buying chocolates, crisps, pop etc to have on the last day of term.

    Most of the time, teachers will focus on the negatives when it comes to behaviour so focus more on those who are ‘doing it right’ and acknowledge it! You will find that other students will follow.

    Be consistent and fair when dealing with behaviour and always project confidence, positive body language and with tone of voice. Using comedy that can help deflate a situation but use it where appropriate.

    Remember, a lot of behaviour is about getting attention, so shouting to a student in front of the whole class is giving he/she what they want. So, approach the desk/table, kneel down to their level and quietly talk to them and remind them of your 4 steps (as above) and emphasize about taking their own responsibility and making positive choices.

    I’m a firm believer in having parental contact, so call as and when as much as you can. Sometimes by giving a positive call home to a parent who never gets one about their child can have a massive impact, on both the parent and child. Not enough teachers call home for the good things as it’s always the negatives, so this is good practice. When I was teaching, I’d call home to one boy and one girl from very class every day that deserved it.

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. cys2017

    cys2017 Occasional commenter

    I’ve recently completed my pgce and have trained with young offenders which have recently come of of prison etc and students who have been excluded from many mainstream settings. There was a lot of inappropriate behaviour and we related it back to the workplace saying they wouldn’t be able to do that then. However they also got paid for attending so we would tell them we wouldn’t pay them for the week or day if it happens again
    pepper5 likes this.

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