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Students targeting my room: feeling threatened

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by shd132, Jun 23, 2012.

  1. shd132

    shd132 New commenter

    I work in large secondary school and on three occasions this term, I've had water bombs thrown into my teaching room, soaking displays and important documents. On each occasion, the students have scarpered before I've been able to identify them.

    After the second incident, which occurred at lunch, I reported the situation to management. However, it was decided that it was the responsibility of lunch time supervising staff to make sure students did not have the opportunity to be in the vicinity of my room, which incidentally is next to the student toilets.

    On the third occasion, I was really upset. think it was more the realisation that this was my life and there was nothing I could do about it, short of trying to find another job elsewhere. It happened on the changeover between lessons in the morning, so there was no lunchtime supervising staff around, and the other teachers on my corridor were already in their rooms and teaching. Obviously, the perpetrators were the stragglers arriving late to lessons, if at all.

    Last week, at the close of day on Friday, I decided to lock my door. The atmosphere in the corridors felt a bit crazy. I think most of SLT were out on a course. About two minutes later, I became aware of someone shoving themselves up against the door, pushing the door handle down and finding it locked. 'Oh my God, she's gone and locked the door on us!' cried one boy, and before I could get to the door to try and see who it was, there was the sound of footsteps as they all scattered.

    I know SLT investigated the third incident, but I don't think they ever found out who was behind it. Meanwhile, I have been asking for a security camera to be placed in a discreet location in that part of the corridor, as it it quite remote and students have ready access to stairs and the exit door should they wish. To date, however, I have been told that no camera is going to be installed. There is already one on the stairwell and in the loos, although neither have picked up on anything unusual.

    What should I do? It's reached the stage where I no longer feel safe in my own teaching room, and it's really getting me down.
  2. How dreadful for you that you feel this way. You are quite right to lock your classroom - I would do the same. I would continue to press for support from the SLT, especially as you are feeling threatened. You have the right to feel safe in your environment, and this behaviour is tantamount to bullying. This matter could perhaps be brought up as a whole school issue regarding safety and security - without pinpointing the specific behaviour - and discussed more generally in PSHE or tackled in Assembly. Will your HoD support you, and/ or your line manager? You should not keep quiet on this issue, nor should you retreat into yourself. Fight back and protect your environment and belongings by locking the room, and don't let them see that the perpetrators are bothering you. If they can't get in, they can't do any damage. Good luck, keep strong and fight back.
  3. Definitely locking your door makes sense.
    If it happens again and it is a lesson changeover and you believe everyone else is in their lesson, it should be quite straightforward to ask for a list of students who were late to that lesson, and ask for the CCTV in the toilets to be checked for who was in there and also late?
    You feel bullied and threatened, but only because you are allowing yourself to. Try thinking of them as *** kids who will get found out.
    You have no reason to have your door open unless you are teaching (and believe me, kids will tell you who has tried to throw a waterbomb into their room while THEY are in there). If you are not teaching, I would avoid staying in my room (not because I was scared to!) and walk the school with confidence.
    If students believe you are cowering in your room and feeling worried, unfortunately, like birds of prey, they will swoop down.
    Continue to inform SLT about what is going on, and what you are trying to do to sort it out as well.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi there
    Sorry to hear of your ordeal.
    I agree with all the previously posted advice.
    Are you in a position to move schools? Perhaps you could find one that is a bit smaller where the SLT care about what happens to their staff. Perhaps the school leaders should consider budgeting money for trained security guards to patrol the corridors. Asking lunch time supervisors to try and control crowds of unruly students is not a good idea. I have seen the behaviour you describe working as a supply teacher and it is, sadly, all to to common in some schools and morevover, when experienced is very, very frightening.
    It is the job of the SLT to put a stop to this behaviour and to deal with it. If they can't/won't then you I hope you are in a position to look for a better place to work.
  5. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    This is appalling and there is no excuse for it. Maybe consulting your union rep and / or the health and safety rep at the school with a view to acquainting the slt with the provisions of section 2 of the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 would be a good idea.
    Section 2.1 says, "It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees."
    Section 2.2 (e) extends that duty to "the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work."
    This is not negotiable. Have a look at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1974/37/section/2.
  6. shd132

    shd132 New commenter

    I'm in the process of applying for a similar job elsewhere at the moment, so hopefully that'll come good. Still, one of the criteria on the person spec is 'to be able to remain calm in a crisis'

    The last time students waterbombed the room, SLT did investigate but I don't think the caught the culprits. If they are still unable to catch the students behind it AND they still refuse to put a camera in that section of the corridor (which to me, is the obvious answer), then that surely is neglect under current health and safety legislation?

    It looks like at the moment, I'm going to have to lock my door at all times except when I'm teaching, as until the culprits are found - if at all - this is going to continue to be a problem. After initially feeling very shocked and threatened, I'm starting to feel like 'OK, bring it on'. Up until now, I've been afraid of rocking the boat because it's my first year at the school and I still have a mortgage to pay, but no pathetic little child has the right to make me feel unsafe in my own place of work.

    I'll let you know how things progress.

    PS, am not in a union. Was in one in my last job, but when it came to me really needing them (redundancy), they were about as helpful as the proverbial chocolate teapot. In fact, I genuinely believe the contributed to my final dismissal, for reasons best explained elsewhere.
  7. shd132

    shd132 New commenter

    PPS, I do write in paragraphs, but for some reason, they don't display them!
  8. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Does that not ring any alarm bells about the school?
    The legislation has been there for 38 years. They can't walk away from it, much as they'd like to.
    Exactly. And it is the employer's duty to make sure that you are safe. As you are not in a union, there must be someone else in the school - staff governor, health and safety office - to whom you can turn.
    You do not go to work to be treated like that.
  9. Hi shd123,
    Im so sorry to hear of your situation.
    I too have found myself in a situation similar to this where I have been personally targeted. I have had students throw things into my room and generally aimed at me, but am not able to identify the culprits. I have had mints, rubbers and other objects thrown at me, some have been extremely close misses and some have hit me. Only last week I had chewing gum thrown at me. I literally felt like I had been spat on. It's made me feel worthless and that I'm a faliure as a teacher.
    I'm sorry that I don't have any specific adivce for you, but you're not alone in this.
    Fingers crossed that your application is successful and that you can move to a place where you will be truly appreciated.
    Best Wishes
  10. What comes to mind: WHAT ARE YOUR COLLEAGUES DOING.... or rather, from the sound of it, NOT doing.... that these brats get away with this kind of thing?
  11. shd132

    shd132 New commenter

    My email to key members of SLT was circulated among the whole of management. The head has nominated two people to investigate and take action, but no one has spoken to me today about the matter. Meanwhile, Year 9 have absolutely done my head in. Oh, what I wouldn't give just for one bearable, enjoyable day.
  12. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Under the guise of "students first" (they are not students, for God's sake) as clients/customers and all that moronic rubbish, the visitors to the school are getting away with bedlam while the buffoons in offices sit and let it happen. There is only one cause of appalling, loutish behaviour in schools: the failure / refusal / inability of SLT to deal with it.
  13. Dear shd132
    My advice to you is this: Threaten to go on the sick. It works. They'll hate you for it as it's a pain to cover your classes but you will get the support you need if ony to reduce them having to cover your class. It is your final protest in an uncaring - I'm alright Jack b*****..r you type school and there are many of these. Tell the SLT that the stress is getting to you and you hope they will intervene before it get to you too much. I too have been abused, pushed over photo of me taken by students who are supposed not to use their phone - in short any school rule will be broken if there are no effective consequences. SLT should be doing their job - they get paid to do it and have the time. You are preparing and teaching back to back classes - giveing preformances from your very soul for hundreds of pupils. This is just not possible unless you have support. You are not a one man band so don't expect yourself to be. If SLT convince you not to bother them and you fight alone you are not doing yourself any favours and above all the kids learn that no adult is worthy of respect. I speak from experience. When you make a decision ask yourself who will have the most to lose - is it going to be you or them. If you fight by yourself and lose ie- STL do the handwringing nothing they do best and the kids are laughing at you - you will get a false sense of your own lack of worth. Don't give in. You are worth more than that. Write to the local paper headlines "Kids rule....etc if all esle fails then get out rather than have your confidence hammered into the ground. I'm praying for you. Lesley
  14. This is exactly how i'm feeling firght now and all of these and worse have happened to me in the last 2 months!!
    I'm so angry at the moment I really am afraid I'm going to hurt myself because I don't know how to deal with this stress!!!!
    I feel like a failure and that I'm going into melt down and it's all my fault.
    I need help but don't know where to go or what to say if i did get there
  15. So sorry to hear it. The good thing is its nearly the Summer hols. Take a full break. The worst thing is the lack of sleep - they get into your head. You need to get out of that situation for your own sanity. You could be in danger of losing it completely and perhaps hitting a child in which case you would not get support. Don't let them do that to you. Take time off tomorrow. Lesley
  16. I keep checking back on this thread in the hope that it has been sorted out for you. I am about to start my PGCE so can offer little advice or help, just want to say that I really hope this gets sorted for you as you should not be being treated like this. Best of luck x x x
  17. shd132

    shd132 New commenter

    Nothing has happened over the last few days. SLT have supposed to investigated it, but as I said before, I'm unlikely to get a camera as a protection measure. I don't think they've found the culprits, either.
    I just keep telling myself that it's the holiday soon and then I'll have the time to look for a new job.
  18. Joeyriles

    Joeyriles New commenter

    Had a similar situation when I taught EFL in Korea (try getting support out there!) Two punk kids would come to my office, throw in some amalgamated slop leftover from their lunch tray (rice, kimchi, dregs from the soup etc) and run away delightedly as I tried to catch them. Little ****s
    The thing that also used to scupper my chances of reprisal was that I didn't speak enough Korean to tell their homeroom teacher that the culprits must have been in her class (I caught a glimpse of their class numbers on the second bobming mission.)
    Eventually I set a trap: got a P.E teacher to hide in the store-room opposite my office. When they arrived he swooped down on them and bashed their heads together, made them apologise and made them do detention for 2 weeks, after probably hitting them with a stick, too.
    This was intended to make you smile, I'm aware that this isn't a practical solution for your situation. Though having an ally who can act as your second pair of eyes would be invaluable.
    Start my PGCE this year, have a feeling I should pack a super-soaker in my knapsack.
  19. You probably don't want to hear this, but stick with me for a moment...
    Are we talking about a few water bombs (little balloons with water in them) thrown not at you, but just in your room?
    You sound like you need the summer holidays to get a bit of perspective on this one. It sounds like you are pretty het-up with your SLT, feel a bit victimised and some self-doubt. I don't think things are as bad as all that from the way you've described events - it sounds like kids trying (admittedly successfully) to get a rise. Do not confuse this with a sophisticated plot against you - they are after all children and therefore a bit thicker than you, and you are an adult and therefore a bit cleverer than they are. Children as a rule are not well-organised co-conspirators, and can be foiled I hope with the following plan
    1) Lock the door (problem solved)
    2) Don't take it personally (easier said than done)
    3) Definitely don't 'give up' based on some water balloons (that would sound inexcusably feeble every time anybody asked you why you quit)

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