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Tips for a 1st time TA- advice on how to deal with a difficult pupil.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by tomstevo2001, Jan 16, 2020.

  1. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    Hi- new to the forum, but thought it would be a good resource to try and gain potential tips off others in the profession.

    Have just started a TA 121 post at an International Boarding School, which will see me through til the end of this academic year.
    Am a 121 with a Y9 boy who has been at the school since the start of the academic year. At worst, he just acts very teenagery (answering back, ignoring instructions), but the behaviour is frequent. He also has a privileged background, and acts that way too. I am trying to develop a reward/punishment system in order for him to get on task, which sometimes can be challenging.
    So was wondering as to whether anyone had any tips as to how I could go forward with the system, and try and steer away from punishments such as seeing the headteacher and giving him an afterschool detention on a frequent basis. All of which I feel will not benefit him in regards to his education.

    Many thanks!
     
  2. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    You may be one of a long line of different people who have worked with this child, you will need to build a relationship, and convince him you are in for the duration. Not easy, don't try to be his friend, do be calm and patient. Use sanctions as appropriate, he must follow school rules etc. Try to engage his interest.
    Don't allow things to become personal. You will probably have good days and bad days.
     
    Pomza and agathamorse like this.
  3. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    Thank you for responding :) Unusually, I think I am the 1st TA he has had, so I guess it may take time for him to fully understand the situation. Tending to get him to focus on reward points seems to get him more motivated to behave well instead of reminding him about his "strikes"....
     
  4. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    good, there is an approach that is sometimes used in coaching. Rather than telling the child what they did wrong, they already know this, or what to change, focus on the how to improve aspect of their work.

    When things go wrong you could also use the 'positive sandwich' approach. E.G.
    Three points
    What they did well / What didn't go well / How to improve
     
    tomstevo2001 likes this.
  5. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    Very useful advice given so far. I'm sure that a positive approach whenever possible - focusing on rewards rather than sanctions - is the best way forward. Finding out as much about him and his history will also help you, so talk to staff who know him well. Building a relationship with him is very important (while always remembering that you are the adult and in charge here, you're not his friend). What are his interests and/or hobbies? If you can find out about them and show an interest - find time to talk about them, so that not everything is about academic work - that might go a long way.
    Good luck with your new role!
     
  6. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    Why does he have a TA? Who is paying? are you funded by his parents? How do they see your role?

    How intelligent is the boy?
     
    Pomza and tomstevo2001 like this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Sometimes, framing behaviour as a series of choices can work, particularly framing consequences of behaviour as something that has been chosen, rather than authority "picking on them".
    Good luck.
     
    tomstevo2001 likes this.
  8. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    You just have to be really positive and make a big thing out of it when he does the right thing. You seriously need to develop a good relationship with him, have a laugh, get to know his interests, let him see that you care.
     
    MissGeorgi and tomstevo2001 like this.
  9. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    Thank you- I had thought about incorporating some of his hobbies as rewards, but the lessons are quite tight-packed, so sometimes finding time for him to have a reward is a bit tricky if it is activity-based, but trying my best to make them varied :)
     
  10. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    He has a TA due to his disruptive behaviour in class- I am there to keep him on task (last chance saloon, in effect), and his parents have partly funded my wage- though, I don't have any direct contact as it stands.

    What would be useful to find out is as to whether people have tips on how to deal with pupils who act up as if they are unintelligent.
     
  11. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    Thank you everyone for the responses- the advice has been greatly appreciated :)
     
  12. sunshineneeded

    sunshineneeded Star commenter

    @tomstevo2001, you sound to be doing a great job and really working hard to support this boy. I have no experience of working with this age group, so am clutching at straws here - but I have had teenagers of my own. He must be 13 or 14? That's coming up to a time when he will need to start thinking about the future. Does he have ambitions? If, for example, he wanted to be a footballer - could you visit a stadium and approach the club to find out if it was possible for him to meet a player? Someone who could say it's a great life, but the sport will have no interest in someone who has no qualifications and a record of not being able to apply themselves to learning? Will be harder if he wants to be a doctor or a lawyer, but there might be a way!
     
  13. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    Could you show his parents some of his good work?
     
    tomstevo2001 likes this.
  14. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    I’d definitely build a bond. Ask him what interests are, spend some time with him not doing work, but letting him show you what his hobbies are.
    I’ve worked in international boarding schools are some of the problems with the kids can be very unique. They may be very used to having “staff”, no behavioural boundaries, no sanctions, very spoilt (i’ve seen £2,000 pocket money *per weekend*). They may also not see much of their parents. Good luck!
     
    caress and tomstevo2001 like this.
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    "He has a privileged background, and acts that way too."

    Which is one of the types of student you will encounter at an International boarding school - in the same way you could encounter them at private schools here. As @MissGeorgi says, there will be students there who are used to ordering around staff and spending what to you is a month's take home pay on computer games and clothes.

    The fact you feel the need to mention this indicates to me that it bothers you. But, having worked in a private school, I found students who would wear a pair of trainers to school that cost more than my entire wardrobe, and and who if they so much as scratched their iPhone 10 would get a new one immediately. But as they were frequently going home to empty houses, with no one but the au pair to talk to about problems and homework, I felt rather sorry for them. As others have said, build a bond and find out what he likes to do, what his ambitions are.
     
    caress and MissGeorgi like this.
  16. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    Yep- he is around the age mentioned. What I do struggle with dealing with is the fact that he has the mentality of someone a lot younger. I have to brand some activities as games in order to enthuse him about tasks. In regards to jobs, I think it would be even harder for his suggestion, as it does not exist :), but I like the thinking behind it.
     
  17. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    I didn't mean the quote in an offensive way, and apologies if it has caused anyone offence- just sometimes he'll say things in a sense in which he will see me as one of his "staff". But I think he may see school as a way to get away from the strict culture of his home country, which may be as to why he expresses himself in lessons. I additionally do feel sympathetic towards his situation and that of other boarders, given that he has ongoing personal issues.
     
  18. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Ps one more thing- there is a huge underdiagnosis of SEN in this type of environment, for cultural reasons. If the lad struggles to focus, although you may consider SEN reasons for this, your best bet may be to just work with it and give him frequent breaks. Parents may be very opposed to any kind of SEN discussion.
     
    tomstevo2001 likes this.
  19. tomstevo2001

    tomstevo2001 New commenter

    I won't lie in the sense that I think there is some underlying SEN issue, and I believe that's something that needs to be discussed more and potentially incorporated into plans.
     

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