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Struggling student teacher

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by nini18, Sep 26, 2017.

  1. nini18

    nini18 New commenter

    I am a 25 yr old student teacher in my 2nd year of training. I get a lot of supervision of groups during my spare hours when Im not teaching but struggle to keep the students under control. Last Monday I took another teacher's class group, in my own subject, and was going to try to teach them. when I asked them to take out their books they point blank refused, and throughout the whole lesson they spoke over me. I could not even ask them to be quiet because they just kept talking from the moment they entered the room and saw me. Things got quite out of hand with students shouting across the room and throwing stuff. It was embarrassing because I could not get their attention, trying to shout over them. It was like I wasn't even in the room. I don't have this problem with my own class groups, just those I supervise. It's embarrassing and upsetting for me, and it makes me question my ability as a teacher going forward.

    I am looking for some advice/comfort/ support - has this happened to anyone else? How can I motivate a class that are not my own to work? How can I get their attention when all 20 or so are talking? I don't want to approach colleagues about this as they have all said in the past they have no issues with the students in question so I really feel it's all me :(
     
    install likes this.
  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Approach your colleagues. They will all have experienced similar situations even if not recently.

    You need to plan for next time this happens. Pupils refusing to even get books out would be an SMT call out in my school - no matter what else, the expectation is that they are ready to work and will co-operate with the basic instructions. There are lots of strategies you can use for motivation but this is just wilful disobedience and their needs to be a clear and swift sanction - use the school policy and ask for help. Don't doubt yourself. Demand support rather than seeing it as admitting failure.
     
    GrahamLawler and 576 like this.
  3. install

    install Star commenter

    The big issue is that they are NOT your groups. They are SUPERVISION groups and are not expecting a lesson.

    So.....don't try and teach 'em. Just supervise and leave it there. :cool:
     
  4. elder_cat

    elder_cat Established commenter

    I am a 25 yr old student teacher in my 2nd year of training.

    A. I was 45 when I entered teaching, and I got many of the issues you've raised here, so age has
    nothing to do with it.

    I get a lot of supervision of groups during my spare hours when I’m not teaching but struggle to keep the students under control.

    A. You are not the only person who has had this problem, although I suspect many others would not
    be prepared to admit to it.

    Last Monday I took another teacher's class group, in my own subject, and was going to try to teach them.

    A. When you say "try" to teach them", it sounds like you have already decided the outcome would be
    negative. If you have had this sort of problem before, then I can understand why you might feel
    that way, but you need to take a more positive approach.

    When I asked them to take out their books they point blank refused, and throughout the whole lesson they spoke over me.

    A. Did you ask them to take out their books, or tell them to take out their books? If you ask
    someone to do something, you're making a request. If it's a request, compliance is optional.
    When you tell someone to do something, you're giving an order. If it's an order, compliance isn't
    optional, it's expected.

    I could not even ask them to be quiet because they just kept talking from the moment they entered the room and saw me.

    A. You could ask them to be quiet. Whether they actually decide to comply with your request is
    another thing. In my experience, I found that for some students, there is no special significance
    in the fact that you are the teacher/tutor.


    Things got quite out of hand with students shouting across the room and throwing stuff.

    A. 'shouting across the room': Depending on the students you have to work with, and what the school
    or college view as 'acceptable behaviour', then this is probably not as uncommon as you might think.

    'Throwing stuff across the room': Again, if by 'stuff' you mean pieces of paper, etc, then the
    same applies. If 'stuff' refers to anything more significant, such as a chair, then there are real
    health and safety issues there, which you should raise with your line manager, before someone gets
    injured.

    It was embarrassing because I could not get their attention, trying to shout over them.

    A. Don't even try shouting over them. If that's the only way you can get their attention, then you have already failed.

    It was like I wasn't even in the room.

    A. I dare say as far as the little darlings were concerned, you weren't. Effectively, you
    left the room the moment they walked in.

    I don't have this problem with my own class groups, just those I supervise.

    A. Developing a rapport and a relationship, with students you deal with all the time, is one thing. Being able to do the same with groups you do not have regular contact with, is another thing again.

    It's embarrassing and upsetting for me, and it makes me question my ability as a teacher going forward.

    A. The things you've raised here shouldn't make you question your ability as a teacher. They may
    make you examine your ability to manage classroom behaviour. That's only one part of 'being a
    teacher. A big part, yes, but only one part. If this is the only area you are struggling with, then
    you are in a better position than some student teachers I have seen.

    I am looking for some advice/comfort/ support - has this happened to anyone else?

    A. If you received £1 for every teacher who had been in similar situations at one time or another,
    you could probably retire early.

    How can I motivate a class that are not my own to work?

    A. "A class that are not my own" does not really come into it. The class does not belong to you.
    The decision as to whether they behave well or otherwise, is their decision, and you have little
    say in it.

    How can I get their attention when all 20 or so are talking?

    A. I suspect you won't. You could try the 'divide and conquer' technique. What I mean by that is
    that in any group there are 'leaders' and 'followers', and students are no different. Students who
    are easily led will take their queue from those they see as leaders. Those are the ones you need to
    focus on. Win those over and the rest will follow on.

    I don't want to approach colleagues about this as they have all said in the past they have no issues with the students in question so I really feel it's all me

    A. I had classes where I had problems with students, yet strangely enough they seemed to behave
    differently when with other tutors. There will always be certain groups or individuals that you gel
    with, and others that seem to fight you all the way. I think that's just par for the course.

    It's not inconceivable that some of your colleagues would rather arm-wrestle a gorilla, than admit
    to ever having had any kind of problem with the groups in question.

    You seem to have established a way of working which works well with 'your class'. But each class
    you take is different, so that way of working is not necessarily going to work with other classes.
    Speak to the people who work with those classes on a regular basis, and see if there's anything you
    could introduce into your own teaching style when working with those other groups.

    Don't be afraid to experiment. I'm not suggesting you do this, but with one of the groups I had, I
    used a rubber dog's toy. It was actually a rubber pig, that made a grunting sound when you squeezed
    it. Instead of trying to make myself heard over the general caffuffle, I simply gave a few grunts
    on the pig, and they would shut up and turn around. After a short time they became conditioned to
    it, and it worked rather well. A bit like the 'pavlovian dog syndrome' I suppose. You'd be
    surprised how effective it was. Small things amuse small minds.

    I'm not saying that would be right for every class, but you need to work on developing a clear
    'modus operandi' for each class. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution.

    Lastly, I know this may sound difficult, but you need to try and be more relaxed about your
    dealings with these groups. Students are a lot like wolf packs. They can smell fear and weakness a
    mile off. The more they sense they are getting to you, the more they will pile it on. Once they
    realise they are not getting the desired result, they will get bored with trying it on and not
    getting a reaction. That will not happen overnight, but you need to stand your ground.

    Some people find it easier to manage classrooms than others. The ability to manage a classroom
    of students isn't something you're born with. It takes practice, and the willingness to adapt to
    changing needs. Some people find that relatively easy, others don't. I didn't. I struggled when
    I first started teaching, but it got easier with time.

    In the words of the song..."pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again".
     
  5. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    It undermines you with your own classes if you don't expect and get respectful behaviour from other pupils.
     
    Pomz and pepper5 like this.
  6. muso2

    muso2 Occasional commenter Community helper

    Excellent advice and thoughts above.
    I totally understand it feeling embarrassing (though got to say it happens to everyone sometimes and it's even more mortifying when you've been teaching a long time and/or HoD!)

    Totally loving the image of a teacher using a squeaky grunting pig toy to get attention :-D

    Please ask for help and support from your HoD or colleagues so that you have a strategy for if this happens again. If you know what you are going to do in the future, it will hopefully feel less daunting and you can feel more confident.
    Good luck.
     
  7. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    Hi, Much sympathy. But I'm puzzled, if you are a trainee teacher you should not be unsupervised in lessons whether you are teaching or not. ( Though that funny Teach First thing might be different). These classes should have a qualified teacher supervising them in my experience/ understanding of the training process. We would not allow a trainee under any circumstance to be alone with a group! Get in touch with your Awarding body, tell them you need support; what are you paying £9000 a year for? Certainly not to suffer unsupported.
     
  8. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    As a PGCE student I was regularly given cover groups. I was also seconded into another college as a full time teacher (covering staff illness) for over a month. In the second college I had staff to support me - but not in the room. In my main placement I taught under supervision for about one and a half terms and then left to my self. By the end of the year I was being used as an unpaid cover teacher. I wasn't asked, I was told that I would be covering lessons.
    Recently, I was looking at rate my teacher(lol) and found what the PGCE student after me thought of the placement and my mentor.:D:D. It was not flattering:p
     
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  9. SEBREGIS

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    They are behaving like that because they have no fear of the consequences. They don't yet see you as part of the department and do not believe that you will be supported. They think they can do what they like. It suggests that the school does not support it's supply teachers either, which is not good.

    What SHOULD happen is this:

    The HoD explains to the students that their regular teacher is away, but work has been provided and will be marked by their regular teacher.
    The member of staff covering may not be known to them, but is a member of the department and must be given the same respect. Or else.
    If any of them step out of line, they will be removed from class and face dire consequences for their actions. I believe the line 'I'll come round your house and stamp on all your toys' would be appropriate.
    Aim to remove at least one student early on, so that the others can see the process works.
    Then their regular teacher looks at the work they have done and persecutes them if it is below standard. Next time they will know better.

    (Taken from 'Teach like a B*****: The Gene Hunt guide to classroom management, 1975)
     
    saluki and blueskydreaming like this.
  10. golden_gloves

    golden_gloves New commenter

    You should not be placed in this situation. It is a failing of the host school and certainly not a problem with anything you are doing. May I ask what type of course you are on?
     
  11. kirstygemmell2809

    kirstygemmell2809 New commenter




    Please do not doubt your ability- You will be an amazing teacher and you have already proven this by surviving in the job for two years! Many people don't last 6 months at the moment- so praise yourself for the things you are doing and not the things you are not.

    Like some other people have said, use the back up that is provided and know the system well! As you soon as the students realise you know how to work the school system (be that it is a good one) they will soon come to the realisation that they have no where to go!

    Something that has worked for me in the past is when teachers are telling you they are usually good across the whole school, use this to your advantage. Make comments like " It's funny how Mrs so and so tells me you're a great student in History..." Once they know you have an interest in what they are like across other subjects/extra-curricular... I have found this shows them you are serious!

    Investing some time to phone calls home also works wonders, although sometimes an annoyance- the word soon spreads that you have done this to a select few and this allows the others to know there will be further consequences if this continues.

    I hope you resolve the issue soon as it must be taking its toll on your confidence and probably usual upbeat nature.
    Don't give up :)
     
  12. Sanz1981

    Sanz1981 Occasional commenter

    It all depends on the behavioural practices in place. At mine, the pastoral staff mollycoddle the students when the students have been verbally abusive, in some cases physically. Therefore, I'm always undermined.

    Who do you think I should mention this to? My 'mentor' laughs it off... I've only had one 'formal' meeting all half term.
     
  13. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Are you saying a pupil has physically assaulted you?
    I'd be straight into SMT with that one, screaming for union support if nothing was done. Your employer has a responsibility to keep you safe in the workplace. Ignoring physical abuse is not fulfilling that obligation.

    Of course, if your school is that crappy anyway, they may just blame you for not enforcing good behaviour but you need this dealt with. Mentor, HOD, SMT, union rep.
     

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