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The "Know it all"

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by GirlGremlin, Sep 30, 2019.

  1. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    Hello all,

    I have a recurring (fairly minor) issue every year, that seems to keep cropping up. I am 6 years into teaching now, 7 if you include training, and every year I seem to have at least 1 student that just really, really hates me and thinks I'm stupid. A new student every year, not the same one just getting older! This is usually a male, usually a sixth former, and right off the bat seems to assume I am stupid and know nothing. At first I thought this might be something to do with my age and body language subliminally sending out the message that I am unconfident, but now in my late twenties this still keeps cropping up.

    Annoying behaviours of this "student" that appear include moaning under their breath about how useless of a teacher I am, trying to correct me (even when I'm right), putting less effort into my lessons compared to my partner teacher who has 25 years experience, and making less effort with my essays and homework tasks. It used to really get to me, and I have posted about it before usually around this point in the year, but I'm learning to brush it off a bit more now. I've had consistently good results... whether they believe it or not, I can't be completely hopeless!

    I was wondering what might be giving off this impression, as it is a regular pattern. I am young(ish), blonde and slender, so not really any sort of scary character them... is this it? The fact that I am not scary enough? Is it a personality clash, and we all have some variation of this every year? Or should I be working harder to change their perception of me? If so, how could I go about doing this?

    Sorry for the rambles...
  2. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Only one student a year? It's not you, it's them.
  3. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    You have, I assume a degree in the subject you teach or a loosely related degree. You have, I assume undertaken a post graduate course of study (PCGE), you passed your probationary period and when you started teaching the current student with the issues you mention was a very wet behind the ear year 7 student.

    If challenged again on your knowledge and/or ability I would simply respond that when they've got their degree, teaching qualification and 7 years teaching experience then you'll discuss it with them then. In the meantime, unless they have something positive to contribute then they can just shut up or perhaps they'd like to discuss your ability with your (hopefully supportive) HOD or Head.
  4. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Stepping away from my inner educationalist...
    You say you are young, blond and slender and you say that certain young males on occasion purport to believe you are stupid and they will always know more than you irrespective of the context.
    I'm not sure that's new.
    Piscean1, blazer, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  5. madcatlady

    madcatlady New commenter

    FWIW this is my twopennyworth.

    Deal with poor behaviour and rudeness as you would normally.

    Ignore / pretend you cannot hear the odd comment.

    Ask the student to stay behind (leave the door open though!) and ask them clearly if they are ok with the work, or is there another issue they would like to discuss? Look caring and slightly puzzled when you ask. (I do this a lot when kids are naughty, it always throws them)

    OR go all Judge Judy and tell them clearly to get over themselves.

    This will pass with time........
  6. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Firstly stop apologising.

    Secondly call 'im out on his rudeness.
    Perhaps start with "if you have something to say, stand up and say it".

    For any student who want to publically criticise you offer to return the favour. If they can't take it then they shoudn't dish it out.

    If they offer substandard work, fail it.

    Other things to consider are...is there some link between these students.

    Finally, is a colleague undermining you? Consider pointing out that there are two ways to try and make yourself look better. The lazy way is to criticise others, the hard way is to be better. Which way are they choosing.
    chelsea2, jlishman2158 and Marshall like this.
  7. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    I advise against this.

    I have dislike for being publicly criticised and then getting a private apology. I advise against this as a strategy.

    Whilst this might work, is it not for everyone.
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Rather than the prescriptive advice offered in the posts above, and bearing in mind that you work with a whole spectrum of pesky children, how about "don't be annoyed" for then the behaviour is no longer annoying.
    Deal with it if t becomes destructive, either to you or to him, but if it's merely annoying...tough, goes with the turf.
  9. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    Very good point.

    I forget this sometimes and take it too personally - they are teenagers who are forced to be there, it's never going to be sunshine and rainbows 24 7!

    Thank you for giving me some perspective.
  10. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    I would LOVE to be able to pull this off convincingly, however I fear that my mind would go blank after backing myself into such a corner and I wouldn't be able to come up with the appropriate withering insult on the spot if challenged... I also fear the inevitable complaint, as little perfect Johnny has had his self esteem shattered and is now too anxious to attend school ever again etcetc... Respect to those that can utilise this though.
    Marshall likes this.
  11. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    Ahahaha well not just one that hates me. A lot probably hate me. But this is that special kind of venom, the kind where I imagine they have a voodoo doll of me to chuck out of the window.
  12. alex_teccy

    alex_teccy Established commenter

    It's not a gender thing. There's always at least one know it all in a senior class. Sometimes they have a load of personal stuff going on, which they project onto you.
    jlishman2158 and phlogiston like this.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    At least they aren't sticking pins into said doll!

    You aren't there to be liked...if they hate you then so be it. They are some weird teenager and you are an adult, you don't need them to like you.

    Try to concentrate on those who do like you and rise above whatever else comes along. As someone else said, one a year isn't a bad number.
  14. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    Great advice!

    It's not so much that I worry they don't like me... I'm a massive introvert, I've never been hugely popular in life and wouldn't expect it as a teacher either. But it's being thought of as doing a bad job which hurts, I try so hard! I hate being labelled as bad at teaching, when results indicate otherwise, and I've worked flat out for years! It's the injustice aha.
  15. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    Very aware how mopey and pathetic that sounded as well! But I won't apologise for it to follow earlier advice ;)
  16. powerpointdave

    powerpointdave New commenter

    I’m old, brunette and fat and have lost count of the number of students who think they know better. I always tell them that once they’ve done their degree and MA I’ll be happy to let them take over
  17. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Stop criticising yourself. Run a positive inner script.

    Project your strengths. Keep your inner self doubts to yourself.

    Practice beforehand. Ask colleagues about what rejoiners and comebacks they have for smart ar.sed sixth formers.

    Also ask yourself this, if you lack confidence in yourself and project this, why then do you expect students to have confidence in you?
    Work on projecting the confidence that want the students to have in you.
    Stop criticising yourself. Run a positive inner script.

    Project your strengths. Keep your inner self doubts to yourself.

    Practice beforehand. Ask colleagues about what rejoiners and comebacks they have for smart ar.sed sixth formers.

    Also ask yourself this, if you lack confidence in yourself and project this, why then do you expect students to have confidence in you?
    Work on projecting the confidence that want the students to have in you.

    Having said all that, students shouldn't be rude to staff but some are.

    You seem to feel somewhat unsupported by your school (academy.. whatever). That is unlikely to help your self esteem.
    jlishman2158 and alex_teccy like this.
  18. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    YOU are the teacher. HE is the student. Could it be a male/female thing?

    Whatever - don't rise to it. If he mutters then ask him to voice it out loud and then dismiss it. Don't enter into a discussion - that way you won't lose what you want to say.

    He is trying to undermine you and he is succeeding.

    Ask him to voice his problems to someone else - HOD?

    DO NOT let him destroy you - as others have said you have education behind you, he is a jumped up teenager - slap him down (metaphorically!).

    Let us know how you get on!
    jlishman2158, phlogiston and pepper5 like this.
  19. sparks

    sparks New commenter

    You could try some flipped learning - give the class a topic each to present on, ask for peer assessment after each presentation and give constructive feedback. Ask a really good student (or several) to go first to set the standard, then when it's your particular student's turn, it should be evident of a lower standard of homework, you'll be able to pick holes and offer feedback quite openly as you have done to others. You may find your student isn't quite so brave when it's their turn to present too.
    Just a tack you may wish to take ;-)
  20. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    When I used to get the grumbles -"we already know this" "You don't know what you're doing" etc etc.
    I used to say "Oh Good. Do you want to take over the lesson?"
    No-one ever took me up on the offer.

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