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Student bullying teacher

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ibrahim10, Mar 24, 2018.

  1. ibrahim10

    ibrahim10 New commenter

    I'm working in an overseas country in a rather small private school..aaaand there's this class which gives me grief every day of the week. The year group in general is known to be the worst in school, however this particular low ability class tops it as it has all the numpties in one!

    We started the year well but slowly and steadily tensions began to rise as a result of their non willingness to learn and poor attitude/behaviour. I followed the behaviour policy closely and logged everything as it came by. Then by November a boy started showing a real lack of disrespect and treating me as if I was his dog - using hand gestures to signal to 'move on' when having a serious confrontation with him! By January the class' end of term test results were poor. A parent emailed to express their concern and that the students were not given a revision list nor sufficient notice for them to revise (which is obviously all lies as they were given more than 2 weeks notice). Classroom atmosphere wasn't helping as students were rudely pointing the finger at me and complaining. I hear them under their breath saying 'he does not know how to teach'. It reached a point were the students created a Whatsapp group to get me sacked. They were even planning to get a petition going round, but one honest and sympathetic student exposed them so I took it to senior management and the issue was dealt with. I lined up meetings with parents one day after the other - some left angrier than others. One senior leader truly supported and came to all my lessons with them and gave me excellent feedback - as in my teaching skills are good.

    Back to this particular rude boy who yells at me when I challenge his behaviour or issue him a sanction - he apologised after meeting with his parents and bought me some chocolates only to ruin it a week later when he was asked to stay at lunchtime because his homework was not handed in. He disrespectfully put his feet on the table whilst talking to me. This continued 2 weeks later when he hurled the most filthiest swear word at me in front of his peers, simply because I tried to take the blu tack off him when he was playing with it during the lesson. I collected two statements from 2 students whom I trust and passed it on to SLT. This time, I got the finger pointed at me by the deputy head because I 'was not consistent with the behaviour policy'!! I don't know what that has to do with the insult I got! This was dejavu for me as a similar incident took place few weeks ago when I gave a straight detention to a girl in a lesson without a warning as she was showing total disrespect in that moment (she also had a detention the day before and she did not turn up). She raised her voice at me saying 'I will go speak to Mr....and he will have a word with you' while she stormed out of the classroom! This deputy head ignores her lack of respect and blames me for my inconsistency! Back to this boy - His parents were called and apparently the mum claims that 2 statements are not enough! Now mummy's little boy is moving up to the higher class so as I do not have to deal with him anymore - I don't know if that is a reward or a sanction?!

    I feel management is poorly managing the situation as other teachers have told me that they also tend to have been blamed for some minor issues and that parents slaughter teachers and senior management sit and watch. The head tried to bribe me by offering a responsibility with a TLR but I gave a vague response.

    I feel I am being bullied by this class as I have lost all relationship and they dictate the environment in the room. They are adding increasing pressure to get me sacked. I have a 2 year contract and hesitant to break it. Or should I? 3 Teachers have just handed in their notice i.e. breaking their contract due to the over poor behaviour from the kids and management of the school. Should I be the fourth?

    Thanks for reading my rant, I know it's long but any advice is appreciated :)
    george1963 and pepper5 like this.
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Sounds more like a class which has got out of control than anything to do with bullying. The way you describe the pupils (numpties, mummy's little boy, etc) do not suggest complete professionalism on your part.

    The main protagonist is no longer in the class, so work your guts out to get the rest on side. Plan excellent lessons, show no tolerance for any poor behaviour and follow the policy to the letter. (Trying to actually take blu tack from a pupil is a definite mistake.) Give plenty of information to parents about the curriculum, study ideas, notice of tests over the term and the like. Give them absolutely no room for complaint. It'll be bloo dy hard work, but worth the effort.

    You might have a two year contract, but that shouldn't mean you can't hand your notice in at any point and work whatever the notice period is. If you want to stay then work hard and get the class on side. If you don't then hand your notice in get through the notice period as best you can.
    pepper5, tall tales and Flanks like this.
  3. Camokidmommy

    Camokidmommy Established commenter

    No job is worth that, time to look elsewhere! Good luck!
    tall tales, les25paul and pepper5 like this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Agree with post 3. Ensure you give the correct notice and find somewhere better managed.
  5. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    You might want to go to the overseas forum. There might be someone there who knows something about the set up in your location. Middle East?

    Difficult to justify a breaking of contract for bad behaviour in classes. The school haven't actually broken the terms of their contract with you and a broken contract on the overseas circuit can be difficult to explain on a CV..

    However, staying in a place where there are ongoing issues, isn't going to do you any good either.
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Management like this hover over a fine line-they are on a tightrope of pleasing parents and keeping staff.
    They are not interested in behaviour because they don't see it as something they own.
    They own their suits, their offices, and their kudos for being management.
    It seems from your post that in your situation they have fallen over that line away from pleasing you, and have decided to please parents more. Ergo their propensity to place blame for the behaviour on you. It is not about the behaviour, it is about who they want to please.
    In my experience, managers who have made the decision to view you as secondary to parental whim and student voice are never going to cross back over that line to a place where you will find their support.
    Ergo a fantastic time to leave before they make things even worse.

    Having left, you will see more clearly that the poor behaviour has actually been caused by such poor management, because they were the ones empowered to either allow it or stop it.
    You need to value yourself properly and no longer be enslaved by this, because the children are not going to show you more respect by this stage, are they? They know they can always find approval in their shoddy behaviour. Do you want to continue in a school where talking to you in the way they do is approved by those who carry greater prestige than you?
    How much do you value yourself?
    henrypm0, saluki and george1963 like this.
  7. george1963

    george1963 Occasional commenter

    I'm glad you got it out. Saying all that out loud (or posting it on a forum) is a good way to start to accept the issue or address the issue. Sounds like you've been trying to put up with it. Can you keep maintaining the situation? I ask as it's not your problem alone, if they are like this with you they'll be like it with others - to a greater or lesser extent.

    Or do you need to lay the law down to the powers that be and say what you need to do the job. This may mean you end up walking away if your demands/requests aren't met. Demands sounds a bit harsh but I guess that's what they are if you're saying you really need them.

    I worked in a school for two days. It took me that long to realise the class weren't teachable. Year 3 in a primary school. I said to the head that something needed to change - expulsions, me going part time and job sharing with another. I could stand it half of the week but not full time. She declined both options and 2 years later the class has had 12 teachers. :) I know I shouldn't smile.

    So I guess what I'm saying is, know yourself and trust your judgments. Are they manageable/ teachable? Do you need to teach them less, remove children from the class, have senior support? Say what you need and why then if you dont get it, move on. Best of luck with it.
    henrypm0 and NotAPowerRanger like this.
  8. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I'm afraid I would just pick up my bag and walk out. I couldn't work in that sort of atmosphere. I'd rather do any other work than put up with that. Let them get on with it - they're not worth the hassle.
  9. Cooperuk

    Cooperuk Senior commenter

    I disagree with your assumption that professionalism is at question here, based on 20 years of hearing staff calling classes the same sort of things and worse. Have you never referred to anyone at work negatively, using some form of mildly insulting language?

    Being unprofessional would be using such language in front of them, but not when it is being done anonymously on a forum, as a release valve, after being bullied by pupils (yes it happens) and shafted by SLT (definitely happens).

    I also disagree that taking the blutak was a mistake. I doubt very much that the child was allowed to have it in the lesson - it may distract him and others. In the same way I would confiscate a phone / laser pointer / whatever as something not allowed in a lesson. Allowing the child to keep an item which he should not have sets a precedent.
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I agree with you, in a sense. However...
    Doesn't quite sound like confiscating the item in a calm and respectful manner, as per the behaviour policy. I totally agree about confiscation, and I have done the same many times with blu tac. But 'tried to take it off him when he was playing with it' suggests a more forceful manner. Collecting statements from some pupils and not others also concerns me.
    I don't think the OP is being shafted by SLT. Or at least not from what they have written.
    SLT dealt with the WhatsApp issue.
    SLT came to lessons with this class to support.
    SLT have moved the pupil causing the most problems to a different class to prevent the OP having to teach them anymore.
    SLT have offered a TLR to the OP, implying they rate him highly.

    What else can they do?
    Some classes are just a pain.
  11. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Been there. Done that. I left. The students are still behaving the same with new members of staff. Staff retention is a problem.
    My only regret - the students who wanted to work that I was unable to help because of the disruptive students.
    The situation is unlikely to change - so get out and save your sanity.
    les25paul likes this.
  12. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I would agree if this was the case for all classes which the OP teaches, but their post suggests it is just the one.

    You would seriously leave a post because of one naff class?
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    That's a shame.
    That does not exactly show that you see where OP is coming from.
    To analyse their behaviour management and then be critical of it ignores the bigger picture, that it is the student behaviour which instigates the whole palaver.
    Strong managers who support classroom teachers in dealing with would do two things here-firstly they would demand of the student "why were you behaving so poorly that this teacher had to remove an item from you?"; but they might also talk to the teacher and remind a more rigid adherence to the policy.
    You have only focused on the latter, which in effect is blaming the teacher for the behaviour.
    That's the sort of nuance in management which shows the difference between supporting and undermining. This is the issue OP has raised.
    It ought not to be about technicalities in procedure as much as it is about understanding the context, and above all, understanding how pressured this situation is to what is, in fact, a fellow human with human responses.
    Sorry, you wont have meant this (I hope) , but your post is the kind of response which actually makes things more difficult for a teacher, it's just criticism before understanding and managing.
    -myrtille- likes this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    No, you are right, I didn't mean exactly how it has appeared to you. And your post has rather stung...not yet sure if that's because you are right and I deserved the censure, or if it is because you are being unnecessarily critical. I fear it could be the first. :oops:

    I do believe teachers need to be reflective when things go wrong. I definitely have days when I think "Yes, ok maybe I stuffed that one up somewhat." And even there are incidents when I have to think "Ummm yeps, maybe I caused that as much, if not more, than the pupil involved." There are even days when my fantastically supportive, patient and professional DH has to point out fairly bluntly that I haven't handled things in anything like a proper manner. (Though absolutely there are also days when it is entirely the blinkin irritating so and so who has totally caused utter chaos, despite me handling everything perfectly.)

    The OP's SLT do appear, from the OP's post, to have done an awful lot to try and support with this class. And I honestly think to leave a school because of one horrible class isn't sensible. Maybe the OP could try talking to the HOD over the next term, to explain the problems caused by this low set and discuss having two parallel lower sets to split them up a bit. Or speak to the SLT about employing a TA to support in the class, even if just so the OP doesn't need to rely on pupils for witness statements. Maybe the OP could go back to the SLT member who came in before and ask that they pop in more regularly to support.

    Setting often causes these sorts of issues. Pupils who are carefully split up between various forms often all end up in the same set, so d's law, and some poor teacher has to try and teach them. So long as HODs ensure staff take it in turns to have the class each year, and even make them a shared class with two teachers, it doesn't have to be the end of the world.
    GirlGremlin and sbkrobson like this.
  15. ibrahim10

    ibrahim10 New commenter

    Thank you everyone for your comments, suggestions and advice. I think I have reached the end of my tether. However I just to clarify a few issues raised here:

    1. Blue tack - the student was playing with it while I was the board explaining and questioning the class. I asked for it to be put away which he did for few minutes before taking out again fidgeting with it. I went over to confiscate/remove it from his possession. He refused twice - so considering our rather unhealthy relationship due to recent events I de-escalated it by giving him a choice of putting away or detention at lunch. He put it away and as I was walking to the front of the class I heard the foul word.

    2. The 'SLT support' did not come from the head nor the deputies, it came out from the pastoral lead who I have good relationship with. He suggested to come in and poor him they (deputies and heads) tried to give him tasks during my lessons so he wasn't always available but tried to come when he can.

    Today the boy's parents came in and to my surprise I now stand accused of tampering his test paper and not giving him feedback. I am also accused of using foul language directly including the word 's***'. The head said that she will 'investigate' and I was questioned after that. The head has now decided that the student comes to class as normal with the addition of a TA sitting next to him. No apology, no sanction, no isolation, not even a simple confrontation to talk things out and shake hands so we could move on..! If anything, there are other students who actually deserve a 1 to 1 support in that class, but they would rather offer it to this student who is actually one of the brightest but the worst attitude.

    I asked for a small meeting with the student before entering the class, the head refused until I insisted three times!

    The student is now a victim of 'stress and anxiety' and his parents have stated that he regularly sees a psychiatrist. However I am 'the adult' and that I 'should put up with it'. With that kind of response I feel I should take a whole week off.

    That sums it - time to move on..

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