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That student who takes an instant dislike to you....

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lovemaths321, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. lovemaths321

    lovemaths321 New commenter

    Firstly I'd like to thank all the contributors to these forums sharing their stresses and problems - although it's terrible that teachers have to put up with so much it's comforting that I'm not alone. We're in it together!

    I've just started my NQT year at a new school. I'm currently and desperately trying to build a reputation and relationships with children which I'm finding exhausting and challenging - I do love my subject and when it goes well I love teaching it - I get tremendous job satisfaction. More so than in any other job I've had (I'm in my early 40s and have had a couple of careers....)

    My problem is that I have one student who is making my life hell. For the first couple of weeks I didn't even notice her in class then one day she made it very clear that she didn't like me. She's very bright, articulate, and a ring leader. I've spoken to her a couple of times over the last couple of weeks and she twists everything I say and puts it out of context, repeating what I said to other students who are consequently not respecting or liking me (making my reputation building harder!)

    On Friday she made it very clear that she didn't understand what I was teaching (implying that I was a bad teacher - which I'm not as I had an unofficial "outstanding" for my observation). I then spoke to her, asked her what she didn't understand and asked her how she found the recent assessment, and asked her if she generally found the classes. Ten minutes later she burst into tears and shouted "Sir called me stupid" and ran out of the classroom. 5 minutes later another student (one of her gang) also burst into tears after I had asked her to focus on task.

    In the next period all of my students wanted to know why I had called this student stupid.

    This is the latest of a number of episodes - she really seems to have it in for me for some reason and I really don't know why. It's almost like some kind of urge to discredit me, in quite an obsessive way. As a side note her brother urinated himself so that he didn't have to go to lessons. One does wonder about the parents?

    Consequently I feel completely awful - the lesson tomorrow is going to be very difficult. I just don't know if I can or even want to put up with this nonsense from students for much longer. I love maths, I want to teach maths, I don't want to put up with this!

    Any thoughts on how to manage this would be great!
    anzoumana likes this.
  2. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Drama queen seeking attention...

    1. Check with pastoral support if there are any issues around this pupil you need to be aware of, recent bereavement, problem for other teachers, home life.

    2. Follow the behaviour policy. If this is disrupting your lesson then remove that pupil from the class.

    3. Lockdown any extraneous discussion. Don't engage in any discussion over unfounded accusations based on gossip.

    4. Ensure your line manager is aware of the issue.

    5. Contact the parents and invite them in for a discussion, if they are a bit 'different' then ensure you have support. Record the meeting [on paper] and pass to relevant people.

    Sometimes I wish CCTV recorded all lessons just so we could play their antics back for parents... ah well.

    Best of luck
    Nancy2010, JL48, MELCH1ZEDEK and 6 others like this.
  3. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    Does someone usually do it for him?
  4. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    All of what lanokia said.
    One thing to consider is that she might actually fancy the heck out of you.
    Regardless, you need to be straight up and down professional in this and be careful what you say to her. In particular, do not be alone with her.
  5. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    A good point by @irs1054 . I had a pupil who kept acting up for me, never getting anywhere.

    The pastoral support officer had a chat with the pupil. Turned out they fancied me. I completely changed the way I approached them [not that I was being inappropriate but just way way way more cautious] and the problem evaporated.

    Sorry @lovemaths321 didn't catch if it is primary or secondary you're in so not sure if any of that is relevant.
  6. lovemaths321

    lovemaths321 New commenter

    Thanks guys!

    I never thought for a moment that she might fancy me - she's year 8 (I teach secondary) and I'm 41. Is her fancying me even possible?! (Although I am a dish. And single.)

    Fortunately one of the lessons last week when she was acting up was recorded (for L&D purposes) and she was told just before the lesson by her tutor that this was going to be reviewed with her (I've been discuss her with her tutor - I'm not the only teacher she has taken a dislike to!) which is why she may have "upped her game" with the tears.

    But I think @lanokia summed up the situation - she's a drama queen seeking attention. Just need to some how turn that energy into something more positive. And no more 1-2-1 discussions with her.
  7. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Do not engage with the liking/not liking stuff or comments about how good a teacher you are. Don't pin your self esteem on observation grades either - one bad lesson or biased observer and your confidence will be shot.

    Start each lesson with a clean slate and no preconceptions. If she talks abut not understanding, focus on "okay, maybe there's a different way I can explain it." Remember that even on your best days some kids won't tap into your explanations and activities - maybe she's genuinely struggling and using this to deflect from what she sees as her shortcomings.
  8. lovemaths321

    lovemaths321 New commenter

    I wouldn't be surprised.
  9. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Oh yes, hormones just starting to come on song.

    I'm married, 61, overweight and going bald. As one year 9 girl put it a few years back "There's God, Simon Callow and you"

    Now I don't rate the other two but I understand the sentiment. Its just one of those things that happen. You need to be aware that it can.
    lovemaths321 likes this.
  10. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    Some excellent advice here. The idea about her being a bit besotted by you crossed my mind too.

    I think you are placing too much importance on this pupil. It sounds like with your conversations on a one to one with her, and your asking of her views on your lessons, that you are actually legitimising her opinion and subsequently her response (in her eyes anyway) what will only exacerbate the issue.

    We all want to be liked and seen as a good teacher, that is natural. Don't let this girl shake your confidence though. There will always be some who like you, some who don't.

    Just play the lesson the way that you would any other time.
  11. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    What @DYNAMO67 said...

    There are 29 other pupils in that room... not all of them in this social group. They are your focus, that's the job you are there to do.
  12. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    Don't let one child's opinion be the measure of your worth. Equally don't tie your success as a teacher to arbitrary lesson observation grades.
    1. I wouldn't engage in her crazy.
    2. If she doesn't understand something then tell her to have a go, give it her best and if there's still misconceptions you'd be happy to reteach the content at break/lunch (then arrange another colleague to 'just drop in' as you're working with them.
    3. Make pastoral support aware of the issues. In my experience when I've spoken to them, they've heard/seen it all before with a different member of staff.
    4. Have a quiet word with the followers sometimes works - suggest you're concerned that they're so preoccupied with whatever drama's going on that you're concerned they'll not make progress. Say you know they're great students who want to achieve, which is why you're giving a head's up that if they end up off track, then you may be forced to contact home. That usually removes the audience and drama queens without the audience are powerless.
    5. Call home - inform home that their child clearly has potential and is very self-aware so it's a shame that when you see potential, their child is intent on creating drama in a way that you feel is quite a concerning pattern of behaviour. If the child has had lots of calls home that are negative, then coming across as a little bit positive but concerned can sometimes get home onside - however ineffective they may be, some support is better than none.
    6. If in doubt. Ignore her. Be ruthlessly consistent. One nudge, one warning then she's out.
    lovemaths321 likes this.
  13. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    The behaviour you described reminded me more of Year 10, I have taught a top set girl like that not too dissimilar, she was unquestionably intelligent but knew exactly which buttons to press.

    It is possible but by no means certain as other posters have alluded to that this girl has a crush on you. As she obviously can't come straight out and declare her love for you, if she does, the behaviour will manifest in quite a twisted way. (Notice how teenagers use banter and put down to declare they like each other, partly as open, confident expressions of love are so....un-British?) Although good professional practice anyway, never be in a room alone with such a student, particularly if they are known to twist things.

    I would guess this is a top set. This can make it all the more annoying as the (often incorrect) perception is that top sets are always easy to teach and bottom sets always a challenge. Which of course makes the chances that you can ask your HOD to move this girl down a set if she is very bright less likely.

    One does wonder about the parents? Does your school support a phone call home policy? If so you must try this strategy or at the very least the threat of it, the majority of parents will support teachers to some extent and a few can be the solution! And again to destroy the mythos, kids in top sets do not always have 'better' parents, in fact, top set kids, particularly in some grammars, high achieving schools, can have the sort of parents that pressure children too much.

    Unfortunately you have discovered possibly the main challenge of what can be a wonderful profession - managing the children themselves!

    In the meantime I would not rise into any escalation with the girl. Try the broken record technique (I have seen a HOD at my school break down one of the worst kids in the school with it!) And good luck!

    Ultimately as well, the girl may be going through a phase and may 'come out' of it better behaved!
  14. lovemaths321

    lovemaths321 New commenter

    Many thanks for all of your replies - I shall certainly be following up with suggestions made. You've certainly made me feel better and stronger to face the music tomorrow!

    I find it very difficult to get my head around the idea that she might have a crush on me, but that possibly seems to be the most logical explanation as her very difficult behaviour started very suddenly.

    And yes, this is a top set class. They were a dream to teach until this student started making problems - it's very frustrating when one student disrupts the whole lesson when most students are keen to learn.
  15. lovemaths321

    lovemaths321 New commenter

    What is that?!
  16. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
    It's where you repeat the instruction.
  17. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    but that's not fair
    I understand you think it's not fair and it's where you repeat the instruction
    but I don't want to do that
    I understand that you don't want to do that and it's where you repeat the instruction
    but they didn't have to do it
    no, they didn't have to do it and it's where you repeat the instruction...
  18. lovemaths321

    lovemaths321 New commenter

    I'm so going to do try that tomorrow! I often repeat instructions but I don't acknowledge that I've listened to them. that might make instructions more effective.
  19. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Good luck today.
    Rhoswen77 and Dragonlady30 like this.
  20. anzoumana

    anzoumana New commenter


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