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Out of control pupil

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Rachie2011, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. Hi, I have recently qualified as a teacher. I have just started at my new school which is in an underprivileged area. My class mostly all come from difficult backgrounds and are quite challenging. The problem I have is with one particular student, a 5 year old girl. I understand that she has serious family issues at home - although I don't know to what extent. She is completely out of control, in the past 2 days she has tried to escape from the classroom several times. She has ripped down the displays, she has hit me, spat at me and shouts at me and the other students constantly.

    My TA is new and as such she is not in a position to help. I have spoken to other teachers at the school including the deputy head and I have just been told to try and reward her good behaviour. I have done this, but to no avail. Because of the background that most of the children come from, the school has a policy of no shouting. We are not allowed to raise our voices or get angry with the children in any way.

    I have tried giving her extra responsibilities to make her feel more special and important, but this has just served to inflate her sense of self importance and she is becoming worse. The other children are not learning and are starting to become more disruptive as well.

    I am at a total loss as to what I can do. I have no support from the TA, the staff don't know what to suggest to help and the school's policies mean that I am fairly restricted as to what I can do. Any suggestions or ideas would be very warmly welcomed.

    Thank you.
  2. You should be getting support from your Head and Deputy, never mind just telling you to 'reward good behaviour'. It is quite clear this little girl is beyond just that, although obviously you do need to do it but I'm sure you didnt need telling. In this situation my Head would have frog-marched said 5 year old out of the classroom.
  3. RaymondSoltysek

    RaymondSoltysek New commenter

    Sounds like a terrible situation - you have my sympathies.
    I also have some sympathy for the girl – she must have a hell of a
    life if she is behaving like this. She's obviously an unhappy wee
    soul – and it doesn't diminish us or our authority to acknowledge

    It's obvious that this child may have a specific behaviour
    problem: has she been assessed by the school psychological services?
    An individualised programme of support and socialisation may have to
    be put in place, and she will need to work with specialists to begin
    to tackle her issues. Keep asking the questions that need to be
    asked about the diagnosis of her problems

    However, that is not your area of concern. Of course,
    the management is half right when they talk of rewarding her, and you
    are right to keep on trying to give her responsibility and include
    her in the classroom. She probably isn’t getting that kind of
    personal input at home - it's absolutely appropriate that you try to

    But the other half has to do with sanctions. Presumably, you
    have a well-defined behaviour management system that includes
    classroom sanctions, and a system that can escalate to management
    level when necessary. For instance, being spat at is clearly
    the kind of thing that requires management involvement. Work
    that system. When you are making some progress with those
    basic expectations, then you can think about being part of the wider

    Basically, the message is the old positive assertive discipline
    one: consistently recognise her when she does what you want and
    consistently sanction her when she doesn't. This is a girl who
    probably lives a life of mixed messages; you can help giving her
    structure by being totally explicit about what you want and what will
    happen if she does what you want and what will - WILL - happen if she

    I'm sorry this is such a basic answer to what sounds like an
    enormously complex difficulty, but it might give you a place to start.

  4. joedoggyuk

    joedoggyuk New commenter

    [p]Sounds like a hippy school run by a drip.

    [p] With kids coming from this background they need--and thrive on-- rules. The school's attitude that the kid's background consigns them to a life of failure, and therefore you shouldn't punish them, leads to a self fulfilling prophecy.

    [p] Carrots are nice and should not be forgotten, but sticks are a greater incentive. Don't over use anger/shouting, but don't smile and sticker her up when she's rude: admonish her, and if--following the warning, she continues-- punish her in steps-- 5 mins break, 10 mins break, naughty seat, phone call, isolation. Every. Single. Time.

    [p] Stand firm in front of a mirror, stare at your self in the eye, and rehearse what you will say, what your body will say, and what you will do when she is rude. Plan for her bad behaviour; knowing what you will do means you don't have to think on the spot when she does it--you just (as Nike says) do it.
  5. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi Rachie2011
    Sorry to hear about your troubles. You are totally correct to identify this child as being the pivot upon which the classroom now rotates. I'm always amazed how easily, and how often we allow ourselves to blinded by the needs of one pupil, and neglect the needs of everyone else. I certainly don't blame you for wanting to do everything you can for this child- in many ways, it marks you out as having the DNA of teaching excellence, because you possess at least one of the credentials of the professional educator- you care about their well being.
    But that compassion mustn't be allowed to over rule practicalities. If this child is endangering the educational well being of, not just themselves, but everyone else, then this child needs to be removed from the classroom in a variety of ways in order to minimise the damage done to the majority. This child has rights, of course, but right now this child is destroying your mental well-being and the educational space of your room. That can't be right. The needs of the many must be weighed against the needs of the few, when needs and rights conflict.
    I must say, I think that the approach recommended to you by the school is well-meant, benevolent, and totally wrong. What they have advised is for you to, in essence, tame this child with love. Isn't that sweet? I nearly cried. But the problem is that not all problems can be solved with mere compassion alone. They have you trying to catch this child being good- but what happens when you need an elephant gun and a herd of trackers to do so, so rare and elusive is your game? They have you trying to motivate, inspire and persuade- but this child doesn't want, or doesn't care for such persuasion.
    Of course, every child needs to be shown some love- but in this circumstance, it isn't the most important thing for it to be shown. It needs to be shown boundaries.
    So I suggest that you can the responsibilities, and the praise a little, and get the sanctions out.
    For a start, every time she goes ape, you need to take her (or have her taken by the TA) out of the room. This will at least minimise the impact on the others. After all, they have every right to an education, which is being denied them by the actions of this one child. The student could be taken to another class, to the Head, or to a quiet space with the TA. Younger children especially dislike social exclusion, so this is a sanction with teeth that isn't cruel; merely effective.
    You don't need to shout. If the child comes from a difficult home, they probably get worse there, and shouting is just seen as a way to remind them that adults are shouty. Say what you want in a voice slightly louder than conversational level to get your point across. If you mean what you say, it's all you need.
    Pursue any sanctions available; detentions; call home (if you can, or if there is any kind of adult with influence on the child), and if these don;t work, then the school MUST pursue more punitive measures, because this girl, right now, isn't being given any boundaries. She's being allowed to be disruptive and destructive, and it sounds like she hasn't met with anything like a meaningful consequence to those actions. Can you imagine what she could be like when she's even older, and no one's emphasised to her that actions have outcomes?
    The most important lesson she can learn right now is that her behaviour is destroying her future, and that of others. To sympathise with her situation is human; to allow that to excuse her actions, is to condemn her to a hellish life of chaos and dissolution. She needs you right now- she needs you to be tough. She needs you to stand up to her, and to show her love by doing so. She needs you to be an adult, in short, and that she has a lot of growing up to do. It might be that she doesn't get much tough love at home, just tough. So you might be the only person that gives her what she so desperately needs at this crucial stage in her life. You might be the person who can help her turn a corner.
    Or you might not- we cannot save everyone, or even most. Try, but remember that there are twenty or thirty other souls in the room who are looking for you to help them too. What will you say to them? Her actions are extreme- violence, vandalism...these aren't actions explicable by youthfulness. Most five year-olds I have encountered know the difference between saying please and spitting on you- she's obviously been exposed to some horrible influences in her life, and that's a tragedy. But you can't fix that- you can only hope to set a better example, both by your own conduct as a role model, and by reacting to, and anticipating her behaviour. That means praise, my God it does, but it also means showing her some teeth. Right now she probably thinks that teachers are all soft as custard, and that means you're all to be ignored or tormented. In many ways, she might be replicating awful behaviour patterns at home. Who knows?
    You're not a social worker, by training or designation, and you;re not a psychologist. What you are is a professionally trained educator. So educate as best you can. And in some circumstances you will find that some children need more provision than you can provide in a mainstream classroom, in order to achieve any kind of literacy and numeracy. Part of becoming a professional teacher means wanting to help them all, but accepting that some of them are beyond your powers. Accept it, and pass them on to people who can help them more specifically. Anyone except, it appears, your senior staff.
    If the school won't support you with sanctions, then they don't deserve to have you. I'm serious- do your best, and then move on once you can. But I hope you can influence matters where you are, and make the best out of the situation.
    Best of luck to you, and congratulations in your new post.
    Read more from Tom here on his personal blog, or follow him on Twitter here.
  6. There are two policies they have, that all schools have, that should focus their minds.
    1. Safeguarding the children in their care. If this child hits or kicks or otherwise injures another little 5 year old, after they've been informed that she has the inclination to do so, they are failing in their prime duty of care. Safeguarding this particular child also means that a way must be found to stop her from running away - if she manages to get out of the grounds and onto a road, the consequences could be awful.
    2. OHS. You've already been hit and spat at. The fact that she's little is of no account. Anyone of any size or strength can accidentally hit a head or the side of a knee or otherwise cause serious injury by mere happenstance. And she's only going to get bigger, and probably stronger. And if others follow her example you, and any other staff, are at greater risk. Now and in the future. (They also are only going to get bigger and stronger as they progress through the school.)
    Record everything. In duplicate. Make sure you email copies of any such reports to your own computer at home.
    You're the one at the school. Only you know when/how/whether you should send such reports instantly to 'responsible' senior staff. But you should make sure you've got a good record of both the dangerous behaviour and of your attempts to deal with it and to report it. Might also form a good basis for a referral to psych/social worker.
  7. xmal

    xmal Occasional commenter

    Hi Rachie
    You spend the first 3-4 lines listing excuses for bad behaviour (background and deprivation). I'll hazard a guess that this is an ideology from management rather than your own opinion and this belief, rather than the children's upbringing, is probably the biggest barrier to behaviour. If you are not in a union then join one - you have been abused and your management has effectively condoned it.
  8. [​IMG]
  9. Thank you all so much for your fantastic advice! I will let you know how it works out.

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