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Personal Remarks

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Tom_Bennett, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Hi there. Sorry to hear about these young ladies. A lot depends on context here:
    If they make comments that are clearly directed at you- and that might mean by name, or it might not- then they need to be tackled. For example, do they say something as oblique as, 'Here comes Ms X, can anyone smell something?' or just something more ambiguous, like, 'Can anyone smell something?' and you know it's directed at you?
    If you're pretty certain that it's aimed at you, because they always make the same comments as you pass, then if you don't tackle this then they get the message that they can victimise you and nothing will happen to them. This is bullying. The deliberate intimidation of a staff member by a group of students, and it's foul.
    I certainly don't think that the advice from your mentor or tutor is very helpful. It's very easy for people at a distance to dismiss someone else's troubles and say, Ignore it,' when it isn't happening to them. Far, far too many people involved in the training and welfare of new recruits develop a selective memory about how it feels to be new, uncertain and vulnerable in a strange environment. To you, I'm sure, its very upsetting. The old adage about sticks and stones is all very well until we consider the damage that workplace bullying can cause.
    'Just ignore it.' What an appalling breach of their duty of care. If it happened once, maybe. If it happened on your last day in school, maybe. If you weren't sure it was aimed at you, maybe. If it affects your mental well being, to the extent that you alter your own personal schedule to avoid them? Never.
    The solution to this is fairly simple, but will take a bit of effort.
    Tell your mentor/ tutor what you've said here. Tell them that it's really affecting you, and that ignoring it isn't working. Tell them you want some support that looks like this...
    • Find out the names of the girls involved. Then have them summoned to the office of the Head of Year/ Form tutor ONE BY ONE. As a group, they have a collaborative courage, a tribal consensus of opinion. Alone, they're just young girls. Make sure you have someone else (preferably Head of Year) present, so that they see that your authority is linked to the school authority.
    • In the meeting, point out that you have heard rude comments as you walk by, and ask them if they were directed at you. They will undoubtedly make the predictable noises of dissent. Fine; let them (after all, you never know, it might be true..but from what you say, I don't think so).
    • Then ask them do they understand why you might have taken offence by hearing the comments? That way, you aren't directly accusing them any more; simply establishing that it was reasonable for you to be offended. Unless the pupil is a ***, they'll assent.
    • Then finish the conversation (with the support of the HOY/ HOL) by saying that you don't want to hear comments like that as you walk past, otherwise you'll assume that they are directed at you, and repercussions (i.e. sanctions) will follow. Is that clear? etc....
    • Repeat for the lot of them. If you feel like it, you can get them to sign behaviour contracts to the effect of the above, although it's not necessary.
    That way, the next time you walk past, if you even hear another comment from them, you can simply put them in for a detention with the HOY/ HOL, knowing that you've achieved the level of proof that you need to pursue it.
    These girls are being vile; they're picking on a vulnerable member of staff who isn't sure of the ropes yet, and they know it. Now turn up to school whenever you damn well please, because you're a teacher and they are children. They should be worried about YOU, not the other way about. And the more you do something about about misbehaviour, the more confident you become. You will be, I'm sure, an excellent teacher.
    Good luck.
  2. The only bit of this I disagree with is calling them 'young ladies'.

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