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sneering year 9 girls

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by pzlucas, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. Dear Tom,

    I am currently in my nqt year at a lovely all girls catholic school on which the majority of the pupils are very well behaved and a joy to teach.

    However, I have been having problems with a group of girls in my year 9 period 5 on a Friday class. It started off as one main ringleader who I picked off earlier on and sanctioned. However the next lesson, it merely got worse and her 3 friends joined in. I feel that I am being dragged into their petty teenage angst but cannot seem to get a result with them. I dread the lessons as I'm not a strict teacher but have found myself constantly shouting at this group which seems to fuel their giggling and behaviour for the next lesson. I feel that they have discovered how to wind me up and I cannot move forward with it.

    I spoke to 3 of them last lesson individually at the end of the lesson (I had sent them out during the lesson to avoid them having an audience). I don't feel they are taking me seriously and when I talk to them individually they are smirking. My school is outstanding so there is added pressure as the girls should be pushed and I feel this group are affecting the whole class (who are bright).

    Thanks for reading!
  2. kittylion

    kittylion Established commenter

    As they are bright and the school is good and the majority are well-behaved, then I assume that these will take seriously any threat of parental involvement or escalation of sanctions - I hope that is correct.

    I think you need to meet with them along with another colleague - maybe your HOF or HOD - and have to hand exact examples of what they have said/done - with dates if poss (or approximate dates anyway).

    Make it clear to them that you will accept no more comments about x or y, no more giggling etc in class and that if they don't concentrate or don't allow the lesson progress or others to learn you will escalate the sanctions (use those terms).

    So not only will they lose breaks and after school time but you may well involve parents (sometimes the threat of this is enough). Try not to get drawn into justification "Well you said that .... and I wasn't ... and she didn't ..." Just say that you are not getting involved in their silly quarrels or sulks - you are there to teach the whole class, you care about all the girls in your class - INCLUDING them - and that it is your duty to ensure they achieve the highest possible grades they can; and they won't do that if there are 4 silly girls basically showing off. So it's nothing personal, but if they won't heed a reasonable warning from 2 members of staff you will have no choice but to involve parents.

    Then your HOD will say to you "So will you let me have a list after every lesson Miss ... if ANYONE hinders the learning of anyone else in this class, and we will ..." then it could be "involve parents" or refer the matter to xyz etc.

    It also looks good if one of you takes notes - writing down the date and the names of the pupils and mentions something about putting the warning on file.
  3. Try ringing their parents. I find that usually works in that type of school.
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    These charmers can smell the newness of you, like a fresh packet of biscuits, and they can sense that you're unsure. So get sure. Bring some certainty into their lives. They probably just need to see that you mean business. So do more than merely have 'the talk' with them, because how will that deter them? All they have to do is endure your conversation for a few minutes, and then they're free.
    Bring some pedagogic infallibility into the situation. If they behave in ANY way that deters or diminishes your attempts to educate them or others, then they spend half an hour doing extra work at the end of the day, separated. AND call home to advise their parents that there are behaviour issues. It might well be all you need.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
  5. Thanks for the excellent advice. After I wrote to you, I spoke with the head of pastoral care who the children are scared of. She spoke to them individually taking them out of lessons and they knew what she was going to say and apparently accepted their actions. One girl brought me an apology note and the next lesson, with a new seating plan in place, the ring leader was more focused, not snide, coming up with intelligent answers, the other 3 were quieter too and more focused. It's been much better for 3 weeks however in yesterday's lesson I could feel the old problem returning; one of the girls greatly dislikes music lessons and always has through year 7 and 8 which means she makes no effort, is constantly complaining and does no work. This is like a disease that I'm afraid has dragged that group under again. Also due to misplacing my now found memory stick I didn't have their seating plan to hand
    so they felt more in control as I cant remember where 31 pupils sit as I only have them once a week.

    So I've had to contact the pastoral head again to help me! I'd love to ring the parents as this definitely affects the children's behaviour in a positive way but my school likes everything to be done through heads of year and the pastoral head leaving me to need their help.

    Thanks again and I will keep it up! I'm actually moving to primary music in September so i think I will be much happier.
  6. It is hard to comment when you don't know the exact circumstances, but these kids sound as though they are effectively attention seekers. Remember the wise addage: never give the attention seekers attention. I know it is not that easy but try and keep it in the back of your mind and then try to use alternatives - by giving really positive attention to others. Think about the others in the class and highlight any bits of initiative they have used - celebrate others success. This shows the troublesome ones they are not winning; it allows you to turn your back on them to some extent and enjoy the good parts of yoru teaching with others. It could also make these troublemakers feel left out.
    Forgive me an anecdote. I was doing presentations with a group and almost all of them had some really inventive aspects so we were being delighted in a variety of techniques and ideas. We had a teacher who was using one of the computers to create her own presentation and you could tell she was desperate to be part of this group who were celebrating each others achievements. She was an adult - a head of department - but she was still envious because she felt left out. I feel sure that you can get the same desire. Some girls can be very manipulative and I wonder whether they were answering and behaving after their bluff was called to lull everyone into a fasle sense of security.
    Assuming you have internet at all computers at school consider something like dropbox - a place where you can put all your resources online so that a lost memory stick doesn't cause a problem because you have a back up. Do you have your seating plan up on the IWB whilst they walk into the room? I find all I have to do if someone sits in the wrong place is raise an eyebrow (with an amused smile) and it makes everything calmer if you don't even have to say anything.
    Good luck. It is many years since my first attempts at teaching but I can still remember those moments of panic when it did not go quite right. Then of course you get some lessons which work well against all the odds. Many schools are not the best at supporting young teachers - you get the feeling even if they are doing things that seem supportive that perhaps they are really critical. Just remember it is the job of those above you to manage your progression constructively. I find the maxim that there are no bad workers just bad managers a good one. And I believed that as I went up the career ladder. It is a strength to recognise your own strengths and weaknesses and to seek help to reduce the latter.

  7. Have you by any chance seen the film 'Mrs Carey's Concert'? If not, my I suggest you try to get hold of a DVD. It's brilliant and inspirational. Mrs Carey has to deal with a group of intransigent sixth formers.
  8. It still amazes me how 'doing extra work' is given as a punishment. Why? And yet we expect them to enjoy 5 lessons of this 'punishment' each day. Beggars belief really.
    Surely you must see that this is not the way forward?
  9. thanks for the advice! the rest of the class are great, enthusiastic and musical so focusing on their positives is definitely the way forward.

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