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NQT Behaviour Issues

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by HobanWashburne, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. Hi Tom,

    It all started out quite well for me, I have had plenty of observations (more than neccessary) and I have been given an overall OFSTED grade so far of a good. Many staff have praised me and I have even been called to see the head who has congratulated me on my progress so far this year.
    However I have two problem classes both bottom set year 10 science and year 11 science. By far the bottom set year 10 has the worst behaviour I have encountered so far and my PGCE year has not prepared me for this in the slightest. The students walk into the class room and sit wherever they like every lesson and mess around the minute they step through the door. I have to spend 10 minutes getting students to sit where they need to be every lesson and that is after having SLT in to remove students who were unwilling to move just recently. They mess around, won't stop talking and the behaviour of some of them is appalling - I tried to have one boy removed for something I cannot even mention on here and no students would take the revelant form to the school office.
    Constantly out of their seats, messing around and making silly noises makes it impossible to teach. Then I have some students who do mess around and do no work shouting at me when I bring them up on their behaviour telling me 'to get control of my class' and to 'teach' them, which I find impossible to do as I'm always trying to even get them quiet. Some of them who do want a good grade even!
    I have shared everything which has been happening with my head of department who has been quite supportive however I have not been given any type of advice in terms of techniques which is what I need leading me to think there is very little I can do having set detentions and having had students removed. I have even stated to my head of department that this class is making me want to leave, even though I am apparently doing very well.
    They are taught by another teacher who has been helpful but even having had 4 of the worst offenders removed on Friday this had very little effect on the other 20 or so.
    The interesting thing to note though is when they entered the classroom and the other member of SLT they children went silent and pretended to get on with the work, indicating to me they have no respect and just won't behave for me *sigh*.
    I have even had to have a meeting with the head of dept and a girl in the class who I had removed for shouting at me in which we had to talk though the 'issues' which even though was useful for that one student and her behaviour which has improved , this was highly embarassing for me and useless in getting control of the other 24.
    I am getting more and more frustrated about this each day I have to teach this class, and it is becoming more and more stressful. I just don't think I am being given any practical advice for dealing with this and I am getting fed up with having to attend meetings at the end of day where I have to talk through the issues the misbehaving student to try and improve the situation which never works. Whoever thought 'sharing' the blame of the situation with the teacher and student is appropriate all the time is not doing teachers a favour really, sometimes students misbehave and it is entirely their fault.

    Any tips or advice or positive comments are welcome!

    Thanks!
     
  2. Hi Tom,

    It all started out quite well for me, I have had plenty of observations (more than neccessary) and I have been given an overall OFSTED grade so far of a good. Many staff have praised me and I have even been called to see the head who has congratulated me on my progress so far this year.
    However I have two problem classes both bottom set year 10 science and year 11 science. By far the bottom set year 10 has the worst behaviour I have encountered so far and my PGCE year has not prepared me for this in the slightest. The students walk into the class room and sit wherever they like every lesson and mess around the minute they step through the door. I have to spend 10 minutes getting students to sit where they need to be every lesson and that is after having SLT in to remove students who were unwilling to move just recently. They mess around, won't stop talking and the behaviour of some of them is appalling - I tried to have one boy removed for something I cannot even mention on here and no students would take the revelant form to the school office.
    Constantly out of their seats, messing around and making silly noises makes it impossible to teach. Then I have some students who do mess around and do no work shouting at me when I bring them up on their behaviour telling me 'to get control of my class' and to 'teach' them, which I find impossible to do as I'm always trying to even get them quiet. Some of them who do want a good grade even!
    I have shared everything which has been happening with my head of department who has been quite supportive however I have not been given any type of advice in terms of techniques which is what I need leading me to think there is very little I can do having set detentions and having had students removed. I have even stated to my head of department that this class is making me want to leave, even though I am apparently doing very well.
    They are taught by another teacher who has been helpful but even having had 4 of the worst offenders removed on Friday this had very little effect on the other 20 or so.
    The interesting thing to note though is when they entered the classroom and the other member of SLT they children went silent and pretended to get on with the work, indicating to me they have no respect and just won't behave for me *sigh*.
    I have even had to have a meeting with the head of dept and a girl in the class who I had removed for shouting at me in which we had to talk though the 'issues' which even though was useful for that one student and her behaviour which has improved , this was highly embarassing for me and useless in getting control of the other 24.
    I am getting more and more frustrated about this each day I have to teach this class, and it is becoming more and more stressful. I just don't think I am being given any practical advice for dealing with this and I am getting fed up with having to attend meetings at the end of day where I have to talk through the issues the misbehaving student to try and improve the situation which never works. Whoever thought 'sharing' the blame of the situation with the teacher and student is appropriate all the time is not doing teachers a favour really, sometimes students misbehave and it is entirely their fault.

    Any tips or advice or positive comments are welcome!

    Thanks!
     
  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Sorry to hear that you've been having a difficult time. But do remember that by the sounds of it, most of your lessons are going very well; you mustn't lose sight of that. It's strange, and sad how easily we focus on the things that go wrong, when often, all around us we are surrounded by successes. Ah, such is Human Nature, I suspect: we see disasters looming large.
    Practical matters: you say that you set detentions- good. But one thing that you may not have realised is that they do not, by themselves, solve the problem. There is at least one missing ingredient here: time. It takes time, often a lot of it, for the detentions to have the desired impact. Right now these kids (who sound like they're a bit tougher than average) are testing you. And testing you. And they're waiting to see if you'll crack, give in, or relent. It sounds like you're close to doing so.
    You absolutely mustn't. Not now, of all times. Keep going; keep handing out the detentions, keep making your expectations clear, and with time, the weaker vines will wither; gradually, the others will too. There may be a few persistent offenders, but every teacher with a new class has a few nemeses. It's a mark of your obstinacy.
    You are, of course entirely correct; it's not your fault they're misbehaving, it's theirs. What are they, robots? No: children, even so young, must be heald responsible for their actions, otherwise we can kiss good bye to the idea of free will and ethics in general. Of course you are responsible for how you deal with their misbehaviour, but that's not the same thing. A plague on Line Managers who make newer teachers feel it's their fault if kids act like apes- all new teachers have to run the gauntlet at first- it's axiomatic of the professional rookie's experience.
    A kid tells you 'You can't teach.' How the Hell would they know? They're children. I have no doubt whatsoever that you can teach, so continue to do so, and believe in your abilities. It will take time to bring them to heel, but it will happen. So make sure it does, even when the days seem a bit dark and progress seems microscopic. This happens to us all; it certainly happened to me.
    Good luck
    http://behaviourguru.blogspot.com/
     
  4. This sounds like a class I once had, though mine was only about 12, not 20 odd. I found that instead of doing a standard three part lesson I could distract them with five ten minute activities. I made sure I had all and any resources ready and on their desks when they came in, minimising any pauses in what I was doing.
    It was tiring but I only had to keep it up for a week then I slowly started to give them longer activities and after a month they were much better and they started to calm down a lot.
    Are they a low ability class? Is there no chance you could get a classroom assistant in to work with a smaller group within the class?

    Above all, keep flyin' ;-)
     
  5. My bottom set year 10 have been very similar, and I am in virtually the same position as you as an NQT in Maths. The first lesson I taught them they refused to respond to me in any way, and I talked to myself for a full 50 minutes before the bell went and they left.

    One of the things that keeps me going is remembering the class at their very worst, and comparing every lesson with that one. My classroom is rarely covered in the chocolate and crisp packets that were on the floor, they don't spit their chewing gum across the room and they mostly respond to me speaking if it doesn't mean they have to do anything. Remind yourself of how far you have come, even if these things seem trivial.

    Since it is a bottom set you are struggling with, it might be helpful to try to do a lesson or two without expecting them to write anything down. That way you don't have to punish them for not doing it, and you will have an opportunity to try alternative methods of communication. One of my favourites is to give them something extremely simple, with instructions to follow, and just tell them to get on with it. Try to make it so they are finding something out very quickly, often they will get into competition with each other and you can stand back and observe. The first time you do this you can only expect 5 or 6 pupils to get involved, but reward yourself for that, and focus on them, not the pillocks that waste your time. Eventually the group will grow, but you can't force it.

    I have also found that pretending I didn't want to talk to them anyway made them more interested when I did speak. I hardly ever speak to the whole class at the same time. I have a starter activity on the board at the start of the lesson, which has given the class a routine. The activities are staggered so that those that are willing to work get the instructions first, and those who are chatty have longer to settle, and waste less of the other pupils time.

    You said you were having difficulty getting them to sit where you want them. Have you considered making a seating plan which sits them where they want to anyway? That way they are more likely to do it, and the pupils who want to work can push each other on rather than being distracted by the toerags. You will still be stamping your authority, and this way you will be seen by the pupils to win.

    My class aren't perfect, and I still have a long way to go, but I at least no longer feel guilty about the pupils in there that want to get the grades. You can't win them all, and you certainly can't expect bottom set year 10 to have much motivation. I know how hard it is to get practical advice, and how frustrating it can be to hear that you are doing everything right! If you have any tips, or anything you find to work, please let me know!
     
  6. All advice given so far is good advice.

    For a slightly different approach, you may enjoy this: http://www.teaching-strategies-for-classroom-discipline.com/status.html
     
  7. Mu advice was to go back to assertive discipline basics. Anyone can do that with a bit of professional engagement. It isn't about hints and tips that can be offered in a post - it requires the OP to find out about it, investigate the various options and tailor them to their own situation. I'm not about to say "try marbles in a jar" because that will immediately be jumped on by people bleating about how it didnt work for them, often in situations were it wasn't appropriate in the first place.
    Whenever I have offered advice on behaviour management strategies - in a much more conducive context than a notice board - I've never had any complaint. Why don't you come along to one of my CPD sessions rather than expecting edited highlights on a noticeboard.
    Only after you gratuitously called me a wallah.
     
  8. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    Minivan - if you've finished th eplayground debate with Mr L can I please ask you to return to the "A call to action against poor behaviour in schools....." thread.
    I'm intrigued (and a bit shocked) that you seem to think that new teachers in some schools should be expected to put up with behaviour that would get the perpetrator locked up in other situations.
    If so, how can you possibly justify this?
    If not, where has the misunderstanding come from - I gave a list of things teachers have to put up with that (eg) a shopkeeper wouldn't (because they are criminal), you said 'teachers have had training in dealing with misbehaviour' - implying that being a victim of some crimes is part of the job, and expected to be tolerated because they've had training in behaviour management.
     
  9. Do not ever accuse me of expecting teachers to "put up" with any particular type of behaviour - that is just a petty misrepresentation: what I do expect is that all teachers professionally empower themselves and do something about it
    Criminal behaviour should be treated as a crime. However, whether or not a child's behaviour is a crime is not the teacher's decision, just as it is not the shopkeeper's; it is the decision of the police and law courts. It is therefore simply within the power of the teacher to report it to the relevant authorities.
    Given that this is a process which takes an extremely long time, and remembering the judicial rule of "innocent until proven guilty", is it not better that the teacher and the school authorities also have a plan to deal with it, or perhaps choose to deal with it in an alternative way that might provide a solution more speedily than a protracted legal process?
     
  10. If your actual advice to the OP was 'go away and sort it out yourself' why were you boasting about the classroom routines and rewards you teach your PGCE students to use?
    Despite all you claims and your failure to expand on any of it you ludicrously invite me to a CPD session. You won't even tell me what sort of rewards system you claim to teach your PGCE students to use. Why on earth would I want to go to CPD session run by you?

     
  11. To begin with you say that only the the police and the courts should decide about crime and punishment. You then suggest that, because the judicial process is slow, that schools try and deal with serious and likely criminal misbehaviour in an alternative way - is this not deciding about crime and punishment?
    If justice is supposed to be about getting what you deserve can you not see that failing to report serious behaviour to the police and dealing with it in a way that is likely to result in appeasement is unjust?
     
  12. There are so many invalid assumptions and misrepesenttaions in that sentence that it is hardly worth addressing it.
    However
    1. "Justice" may be only one of the crietira upon which we act. We may also consider a workable solution that gets the educational process back on track - something which justice may not necessarily supply or may even work against.
    2. I did nt say that criminal behaviour should not be reporetd. I said that while schools are watining for the wheels of justice to grind ever so slowly, they may want to invesigtae alternatives which will address the siutuation in the emantime.
    3.
     


  13. There are so many invalid assumptions and misrepresentation in this sentence, it's hardly worth addressing. However:
    <ol>[*]&ldquo;Justice&rdquo; may not be the only criteria we take into account. A school which has to deal with all of the practical issues of teaching children may feel that another important crietria might be finding a solution that works and allows education to continue as smoothly as possible &ndash; something which isn&rsquo;t necessarily guaranteed by &ldquo;justice&rdquo; and which might even actively work against it.
    [*]You have now defined &ldquo;serious behaviour&rdquo; as your frame of reference. I thought it was &ldquo;criminal behaviour&rdquo;. There is a difference. And when you say &ldquo;serious behaviour&rdquo;, do you actually mean &ldquo;serious misbehaviour&rdquo;?
    [*]I never said criminal behaviour should not be reported to the police: I suggested that schools may want to investigate alternatives which deal with the situation in the interim, while they are waiting for the wheels of justice to grind as slowly as they do.
    [*]You assume that all strategies which are not built around reporting children to the police and throwing the judicial book at them can be characterised as &ldquo;appeasement&rdquo;. That is an invalid assumption typical of those who argue from your shade of the spectrum. If a non-judicial strategy works, gets the kid back into school, makes the teacher feel safe and secure and improves the relationships in the school as a whole, who or what has been &ldquo;appeased&rdquo;? Other than your own pompous sense of self-righteousness (&ldquo;justice is supposed to be about getting what you deserve&rdquo;), what has been offended?
    </ol>I get the feeling you're making this up as you go along, which is why you come away with nonsense like your last sentence.
     
  14. Apologies for the partial post - the server did something odd.
     
  15. 1. You clearly said that only the police and courts have the authority to decide whether a pupil has behaved criminally and, of course, if a criminal act has occured they are the bodies responsible for making sure that justice has been served. My problem is that you then proposed the possibility that teachers can choose to ignore the police and courts and deal with the situation themselves - can you see how no one is being treated justly by an individual who chooses this course of action.
    2. You said only the police and courts can decide whether serious behaviour is criminal behaviour or not - I am neither. I guess I meant 'serious misbehaviour' to be an umbrella term for behaviour is serious enough to consider reporting to the police.
    3. You suggested interim actions then added another statement where you suggested that schools may choose to take alternative courses of action. Presumably when you say an alternative that is in fact what you mean.
    4. By your own standards schools are not able to do anything other than report a serious incident to the police. If the law says an individual must be punished for committing a criminal act then I expect them to be punished accordingly, I feel the same way about children who break school rules. Please correct me if I am wrong but you appear to be saying that it is OK not to punish wrongdoers as long as some attempt is made to rehabilitate them instead. I think it far more self righteous for individuals to cherry pick if justice is served or not.

     
  16. Further to my last post. In this statement you clearly hint that schools have a plan to deal with students who have committed a crime in school while the justice system proceeds...for assault a permanent exclusion sounds like a good strategy to me.
    You then move on and say 'perhaps choose to deal with it in an alternative way that might provide a solution more speedily than a protracted legal process?' (my italics).
    You'll need to be much more specific here if you don't want people to think that this alternative approach doesn't involve schools ignoring the judicial system and dealing with criminal acts in school - which is something that I am led to believe already happens in some schools. Its also a bit rich for you to call other people self righteous for wanting justice when you are proposing that schools take matters into their own hands.
     
  17. garyconyers

    garyconyers New commenter

    Do not ever address me as if I was a shy, quiet child intimidated by strong words, or a wet behind the ears young naive PGCE student impressed with bluster. I am neither and will accuse any poster of anything I think fits. If you think I'm being unfair say so and explain why.
    Having said that I do in hindsight appreciate that saying you expect teachers to "put up with" behaviour that would get kids arrested outside school is harsh. I apologise. I was wrong, I'm sorry. Okay?
    I think its more accurate to say that you expect teachers to deal with criminal behaviour as part of the job - behaviour that other wprkers wouldn't have to deal with. Is that fairer?
    (Will continue answer later, the call of offspring........)
     
  18. From the OPs comments only:
    The children cleary have no interest in the subject your teaching.
    This makes being in your classroom boring for them.
    Some of the children have decided to play a game with you.
    These children show more skill at playing this game that you, perhaps from previous experiences.
    Switch techniques etc ONLY continues the game playing. As the smart little monkeys will recognise the switch and counter. Afterall they probably have more experience of such techniques than you.
    Trick is not to play the game if your a teacher. Make the game playing as boring for them as your subject. By responding your providing lots of interesting entertainment.
    The OP has already received the best adivice locally, don't take it personality and ignore the lures or baiting.

    The best positive response would probably be to concentrate on making the subject more interesting to THIS particular group - what does the subject mean to them, concentrating on your techniques is diverting - and accept that much of the problem is really not within your control - obviously the children have been attuned to expect the subject to be boring. Like a super tanker turning this around is going to be a serious problem for any teacher and would take some time - ie no silver bullet.
    In short the children are responding not to your subject but to your behaviour, because the latter is more 'interesting'. Don't play this game, you'll lose becuase the game is heavily baised towards the children - that's why they selected this game.
    Adults behave in exactly the same way if placed in similar environments with the the same preceptions.



     
  19. Thanks for the advice, I will definately look to not get involved in their petty games, in future I think I will just use the school sanctions availiable without discussion and hestitation.

    I thank a lot of people here for their feedback but this thread certainly shows what is wrong with current systems, this is obviously a topic which is very close to many peoples hearts as it deals with some of the major issues a lot of teachers face in schools today.

    I think the fact that a lot of advice stipulates WHAT I should be doing rather than HOW makes it very difficult and the advice from minivan just explains that. It also is very conflicting to what I have been taught, calling detentions MISbehaviour strategies I think just forces more pressure onto teachers. I use reward and behaviour strategies but though effective at KS3 they lose effect at KS4 as the rewards do not relate with students (they are not interested in stickers, postcards and certificates). Detentions are there to act as a deterrant and as a rehabilitation strategy, students who lose their time on a regular basis will learn that they must change their behaviour. To state to teachers that having to give a detention is in someway a slight on their behaviour management techniques and strategies is very harsh. Like I have mentioned sometimes at no fault of the teacher/teaching children will misbehave no-one else should be blamed but the person causing the issue in the first place - the pupil in question.
    Its exactly this attitude which I believe is ensuring that 50% of new teachers leave the classroom. Their does seem to be a blame culture - I think we need to remember that society is not perfect in any way and this WILL transfer into the classroom and to think otherwise is just being naive. There is no doubt in my mind that there are pupils who have gone through their childhood having no consequences for their bad behaviour from their parents, and to state to teachers that bad behaviour should be used as an opportunity for CPD is just ridiculous. Bad behaviour should be the exception not the rule (and don't mix this with behaviour management which is constantly occuring in lessons - I am referring to more than just low level disruption which in my experience is what most behaviour strategies only control) and I believe that it is not unreasonable for a teacher to assume that the children attending their class in Year 10/11 (with exception of students with BESD and similar) should know appropriate behaviour for a classroom. I undertstand that it is my classroom and I also understand and take my responsibilty for controlling the class within it very seriously which is why I am concerned and asking for advice but on the other hand why should I feel stressed by management when I am doing what I have been advised to do to the best of my ability and it is not having an effect. Especially as I speak to well established members of staff about certain pupils and they state that they encounter similar difficulties.
    The problem with that is I am being observed as part of my NQT year...therefore their behaviour will have me fail whereas the other teachers who deal with the students although they may be observed it does not necessarily mean the end of their careers!
    As in terms of actual behaviour I can see where gary is coming from, this is one of the only professions where it seems someone can be held responsible for the behaviour of others. Again I believe that there is a certain level of behaviour that teachers should be expected to be able to deal with and counteract as part of the job description such as low level disruption. However for someone to be told that the behaviour management in their classroom is unacceptable with students who are aggressive to other students or members of staff ESPECIALLY when they follow the school procedures for such behaviour is silly. I do not own a mind control device therefore if a child wishes to be aggressive there is little I can do except follow procedure - but still equates to an unsatisfactory lesson grading if the lesson is being observed.

    Students can harrass teachers at their workplace - if this happens in any other profession this can lead in people being dismissed from positions (very few students are excluded or expelled), as already mentioned in this thread agressive students are not dealt with in the right manner either - again this would be seen as criminal anywhere else maybe leading to a custodial sentence. A teacher in the profession should not have to teach a child who has been aggressive to them and caused physical injury - a criminal offence - nor should a teacher be told that they will lose their job if they report it.

    I already try my best to make the subject as interesting as possible but at the stage I am at with the resources availiable to me this is difficult. The schemes of work aren't much help and having to create 6 extremely engaging lessons in Science is difficult and I am working flat out as it is... especially as practical work always ends with students burning books or bits of newspaper in Bunsen Burners (which they are punished for). But as you say it would take time regardless so its a long term strategy I will need to put into place.
    Regardless I now digress having offered the opinions of a teacher only into their first term and one who so far is meeting all the standards... but becoming slightly disillusioned as you can tell!
     
  20. OP,
    I think this is a very well written and genuine summary of the position you find yourself in. You are also very wise to ignore the advice of those that falsely claim that 'interesting lessons = well behaved classes'.
    Science alongside English and Maths is one of the hardest subjects to teach. It is more academic than most subjects but is practical as well, it requires students to have at least a functional level of literacy and numeracy, students need to be capable of abstract thought, ideally they need to have some prior knowledge and experience of the world around them. Finally like English and Maths you have to teach the whole range of abilities and attitudes in Year 10 and 11 whether they like it or not!
    As far as I can tell your problems are not your fault. The main fault lies with your Head of Department and whoever has control of timetabling and setting in your school. The best core subject departments I have seen remove disruptive students from their normal classes and make them work in silence from a textbook on their own - not for one lesson but for as long as it takes for that student to agree to behave in class. Sometimes said students never return but that is their choice and normal classroom teachers should not to blame themselves for this.
    If you are worried about passing your NQT year see your professional tutor straight away and ask if there are any areas in which you need to improve. If behaviour management is one of them then document everything you can - it will be increasingly difficult for them to fail you if you have followed school policy and tried a range of alternative strategies.

     

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