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Nqt cannot get behaviour management right

Discussion in 'NQTs and new teachers' started by bennetharri6, Dec 3, 2019.

  1. bennetharri6

    bennetharri6 New commenter

    Hi all
    I'm an nqt who got pgce in July. I teach secondary scienece and got 9 classes in total. Out of the 9, there is one year 10 class that is making my life hell. I cannot control their behaviour in class and I fear that it's too late to do anything about it. I have a supportive department and everyone keep giving me the right advice but the thing is I seem to be shooting myself in the foot by not following through with the behaviour policy.
    My question is, is it too late to turn this around because I started off really soft with them? Can I get fired because I can't follow through with behaviour policy?

  2. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    why don't you follow the behaviour policy?
  3. bg31rr

    bg31rr New commenter

    As above, why not? Especially as you know that this is what is stopping you from gaining some control? Maybe try it and see what happens? Probably not a magic fix but a good start.
    agathamorse likes this.
  4. Kartoshka

    Kartoshka Established commenter

    You are likely to find it more difficult to regain control now than if you'd gone in tougher in September. But it's not too late. A new year is coming and it's a good excuse for a fresh start.
    agathamorse likes this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Always follow the schools behaviour policy. If not for your sake, then for the sake of your colleagues. Consistency is incredibly important.

    But this is not a bad time to re-draw some boundaries. You don't need to be nasty about it. Is a speed camera nasty? No. It just records behaviour and sends out fines. Nothing personal. And you should also put your head on the floor and kiss Beneficent Mother Earth that you have a school which supports you doing this. If you ever end up in a place where SLT don't support the staff, you will know why.

    So how do you do it?

    One good way is to look at the work you're setting them and make sure it's easier to police that with the behaviour policy. For example - if you a set them a lot of individual work which must be done in silence, they have no excuse for talking. You can then very clearly follow the behaviour policy of strikes, removal, whatever - every single time they do.

    However, if your lessons leave a lot of scope for pair work and discussion, it can be harder to identify what's off task conversation and what's appropriate work related conversations. So we let the students get away with it.Benefit of the doubt and all that. So - can that type of work until you have them where you want them.

    Another approach is to sit down with a coffee and a colleague, and make a list of what you consider to be unacceptable behaviour. For example:

    Shouting out - unacceptable - warning, removal.
    Not completing work (with no valid excuse) - unacceptable, warning, detention
    Arriving late with no excuse - unacceptable - clear up classroom at the end of the lesson

    Then keep a list of the offences, and write the students names in when when do it:

    Shouting out - first offence - 'Billy Smith, John Carter,
    Shouting out - second offence - 'Billy Smith' (removed)
    Distracting others - no one
    Arriving late - no note - 'Tom Briggs, Lucy Brown' (Lucy walked off - lunchtime detention)

    By focusing on the action, on the student, you again 'automate' the behaviour policy. If you can remove your relationship with the student from the equation and keep it as "You knew the rule. You broke the rule. You know the consequence of breaking the rule. You are now receiving the consequence" you will probably find it easier to enforce the sanctions.

    A lot of NQT's (and way too many experienced teachers) believe that if the class like you they will work hard for you. This is not the case. Two of the most successful teachers I know were dreadful human beings who will reincarnate as Candiru fish (look 'em up), but progressed through the profession because they had a very thick skin and were only focused on results. One clearly took great pride in being disliked because he considered it an important step in making progress. I don't go that far, but why are the students in the classroom? To work. Is something stopping them working? Yup. Its your job to deal with that.

    But above all else, remember that each time you 'go easy on a student', you're making life more difficult for your colleagues. And you're making life more difficult for your students. And you're not actually doing the student you're going easy on any favours. Sometimes you just need to 'Old Yeller' them.
  6. bennetharri6

    bennetharri6 New commenter

    Thank you so much for your replies.
    Why do I not follow the behaviour policy for that particular group? I think I'm scared of them for some reason. I know it sounds ridiculous because I have 3 year 11 classes, middle sets and top set, and deal with their behaviour issues just fine. But with this class, they are so arrogant and rude and always take each other's side and make me feel like I'm the one in the wrong.

    I will follow your advice, come up with a new seating plan, and when they say "I'm not sitting there!" , I'll make myself say well tough!

    My problem with them is, as soon as they walk into the class, they bring a negative vibe with them, like they're telling me no matter how I meet and greet at the door, have a starter ready or anything, they will just challenge me and gang up on me! I really need to toughen up and be firm with them I know. But i just don't know why I can't do it with them!

    I find that it's mostly the boys that challenge me I don't know if it's because I'm the only male science teacher.

    I'll let you guys know how I get on.

    Thanks a lot.
  7. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    they are enjoying bullying you.

    If you get upset or angry, or seem intimidated, or need to call in another teacher for support, they will count that as a win,

    stay calm, show no emotional response, follow through with the behaviour policy unemotionally. look bored. If you issue detentions then see if you can get someone to support you with that, with the other person sitting with the group, while you take individuals out into another room, (leave the door open) and talk to them one on one. Don't be friendly and don't be confrontational, just unemotional and bored,

    tell them is xyz happens again, you will be ringing home, than if xyz does happen again, ring home.

    They will have told their parents that "you can't control the class" etc. so for each child, make sure you have specific details of THEIR behaviour. If parents challenge you by saying they understand that there are a lot of children misbehaving, play down the numbers, say yes, you are having to ring home for 2/3 children in the same class, ( no names) implying heavily that there are a small number of people who are out of order in the class, of which their child is one.

    I will pm you.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    "Why do I not follow the behaviour policy for that particular group? I think I'm scared of them for some reason."

    That's an incredibly honest comment and it takes a lot of guts to admit that. Thank you. You have my respect.

    "they are so arrogant and rude and always take each other's side and make me feel like I'm the one in the wrong."

    Kids can do that. But is it all the kids? Be careful of souring a potentially good relationship with the class by assuming its everyone. I have a similar group where it's actually just four students who can be quite rude.

    "I will follow your advice, come up with a new seating plan, and when they say "I'm not sitting there!" , I'll make myself say well tough!"

    You could - but what's the policy if they don't follow a direct instruction? You don't need to be confrontational. Just let them know the consequences then enforce them.

    "Fred, that's where you sit now. That's a direct instruction. Are you going to comply? No? Ok, step out of the classroom, I'll get everyone else into their places and you're now in isolation. No, I'm not having a conversation, you were given a choice, you've made it, now you have to accept the consequences. Right, Tom, that's where you now sit...." etc etc.

    Don't make it personal. They have a choice over their behaviour, you do not have a choice over your response. Don't apologise, negotiate or argue. Just respond appropriately.

    "My problem with them is, as soon as they walk into the class, they bring a negative vibe with them"

    Take a mental step back from that. It doesn't matter. They are there to follow instructions and work. If they choose not to do that, then that's their problem, not yours. They can whinge, moan gripe, whatever. As long as they do it in silence...

    " But i just don't know why I can't do it with them!"

    My guess is that despite being horrible and arrogant, they never do quite enough to clearly deserve sanctions. No one likes to punish a gcse student for just having a bad attitude. But every time they fail to follow an instruction - "Dufrane - you're mine now..."

    I totally agree with the advice in the previous post.. But personally, I'd get straight onto the phone to the parents and have the conversation now. Just - don't talk about negatives, tell the parent that you are worried about their little darling because they should be achieving more than they are, etc. Ask the parent for their input, but end the call by saying something like "0k, I'll try that. I'll also try putting them under a bit more pressure in class to make sure they are really working, so they may well end up in detention etc, but it would be great if you could support that because I think it's crucial that we crack this - the exams are realistically only a few months away." Never whinge to parents, get them inside. Kids hate that.

    One last thing - 'when seas are calm, all ships alike show mastery in floating.' Don't look on this as a negative experience. All these kids are, is a chance to hone your behaviour management skills. Every lesson should get you closer to changing their behaviour to the kind you want. That's why they pay us teachers the big bucks.
  9. bennetharri6

    bennetharri6 New commenter

    Wow some really helpful advice thank you so much I appreciate it a lot. I have this class on Wednesday and I'll let you know how I get on.
    I have actually made some notes from your replies and stuck it to the fridge so that I can keep reminding myself and be ready for a great lesson with them.
    Again, thank you.
    Keep_hope_alive likes this.
  10. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Good luck! We will be thinking of you. Let us know.
    ( and remember, its them, not you)
    bennetharri6 likes this.
  11. bennetharri6

    bennetharri6 New commenter


    So today I had my nemesis group. Had a new seating plan implemented and as the students came in, some went to their seats, sat down and got on with the starter. 2 moaned and winged, didn't go to their seats and really started to annoy me. I said it straight to them " this is my classroom, my rules. You've been a given a choice, make the right one." Still moaning and not getting on with it. So their name went on the board. One of them went to their seat, head on desk, and the other one cursed and left the class. I reminded the one with head on the desk that if they don't get on with the work they will be removed. But if they do, their name can be removed from the board.
    It worked .
    I've never had such a positive lesson with them, ever.
    The school policy really does work. And I have been working on being tougher with this group. Now, I have them again on Friday and have to follow the exact same routine.

    Thanks all for your help.
  12. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    well done. There will always be ups and downs, but you are doing the right thing, and will get the best out of them. xx
    agathamorse and CalypsoDalma like this.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Well done you. It's really tough to change children's expectations like that. You've clearly not the right mark.

    Keep on them. Don't let up. Butnshow them how much their work is improving lesson by lesson.

    They will probably turn out to be your favourite group in the long run.
    Keep_hope_alive and agathamorse like this.
  14. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    bennetharri6, I'm not a teacher / TA (yet) but I noticed one step you mentioned " ... So their name went on the board." AFAIK that can be something they desire, ie to be noticed and ranked, so rather than track them in plain sight, keep their details on a sheet on your desk so there's no "look at how bad I am" value attached to what they've been marked-down for doing.

    Just a thought.
    402will402 likes this.
  15. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    @MathMan1 - as you say you are not a teacher - in some schools it is the policy to write their name in the board so they know they have been given the warning so there are no arguments when they carry on with their bad behaviour and the next stage of the policy ( be it removal or detention) takes place
  16. MathMan1

    MathMan1 New commenter

    Thx for the "from the coalface update"; I'd read both ways were used so felt it useful to comment about that version too.

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