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Tough class, any ideas/advice would be appreciated

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by macmods, Jun 23, 2011.

  1. I have a VERY difficult year 9 group, its small but all pupils are very disrespectful, totally disinterested and I know this is a big thing to say but totally un-teachable. I've taken them over to see If I can do anything different but I am at a loss as to what to try next. I have done cultural understanding lessons and do manage to get their interest from time to time but as soon as any work (however simple and always in english) is set they are totally unwilling to do it. Behaviour is the biggest problem (these pupils really shouldn't be all together in the same class) Even when I show videos (which I don't like to do too often - I am there to teach no?) concentration is very poor. I am sure some of you guys have had classes like this before. How have you tried to make the lessons appeal more? They are not interested in language any more (it's gone too far for me to even go there!).......any help/advice really would be appreciated. I know that there isn't long left until the end of term but I take the responsibility seriously and don't see why a group like this should be able to get away with behaving/dictating the course of lessons the way that they do. Thanks in advance.
  2. whapbapboogy

    whapbapboogy New commenter

    I would have a look at what they have been doing this year so far, and obviously really avoid covering the same topics.
    Have you only got 4 weeks left with them? If so, it's not really worth trying to 'break' them. I would realistically look for something that would make them better citizens/develop a better attitude/be better learners ( cliche!). If you only have them for another 4 weeks. In the context of MFL, show them a ppt or two showing them the importance of learning MFL/ anything to do with different cultures (festivals for example), give them some quizzes (there are quite a few here in the TES resources- try the Cilt/ EDL websites as well). I think I would give them a load of 'learning' strategies as well (I have a list of memorisation strategies- if you look for 'memorisation strategies' in the TES resources you will find it), some of which can be transferred to other subject-learning. Are they going to be doing a MFL next year? If not, I would go down this tack- this is what is useful in learning a MFL, and it's transferrable to other subjects as well.
    If they ARE doing MFL next year, give them a questionnaire what they have enjoyed/not enjoyed about doing MFL so far, what they would like to see more of, what THEY would appreciate/see the point of doing for the next 4 weeks if that's all they have left, etc- you will get some stupid comments, but here and there a thoughtful individual will express what he/she would benefit from , and at least you can be seen by that kid to make efforts to help that kid.
    Practical topics go down well- you could get them to research festivals/traditions around the world and make projects/displays/carnival masks/ppts- even if they don't all join in, some will. Don't forget to praise/send postcards home etc. for the good kids who make an effort- they will value this.
  3. marmot.morveux

    marmot.morveux New commenter

    Have you found out what they are like with other teachers? I once had a group who was 'on the turn' in year 9. I spoke to the food tech teacher who had the majority of them. I then did a series of lessons on food, (we did kitchen equipment, food, imperatives, recipes) which culminated in their going into the food tech. room to make a 'tarte aux pommes'. They had to behave to earn the right to cook. Other ideas might be car-related... also mini projects involving a target language film or making a newspaper. Search under TES resources - there's some good stuff there..... project on Paris is quite good too.
  4. I have 2 ideas which have gone really well - 1 I used yesterday with a hard going Y9 class. You could either do a topic on Paris (we teach this as a module in Y9) or, as I found yesterday, make a lesson around a detective game: choose murderer, victim, weapon etc. We first played it together where they had to randomly pick ideas, and see if they matched mine at the end, then now I have given them vocabulary to write in French about musderer, victim and 6 witness statements.
    Email me if you want a copy
  5. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    We've all had the misfortune to teach classes like this at some point, so I sympathise! A couple of things I've found that have worked fairly well have been:
    1. In pairs/alone/groups, whatever you think would work best, give them a French-related topic or get them to choose their own, and do a project on it - research on computers and create a powerpoint/poster to present to the rest of the class. You can easily spend half a lesson discussing ideas for topics (ones that my pupils suggested were sport, fashion, music, films, food, animals, a particular city/country, famous people, famous sights, etc) and where to look for info. Mine were very motivated when I told them that I'd let the best ones come into one of my Y7 classes to do their presentation for them.
    2. Again in pairs/alone/groups, give them a vocab topic and ask them to create a set of games suitable for Y7s on this topic to introduce and practise it. This went down really well with my difficult classes. Again, I let the best ones come into a Y7 class to play their games with them - both Y9s & Y7s love this!
    3. If you speak any other languages, do a few weeks of a language they haven't done before - our pupils mainly study French, but I speak Spanish as well so I often spend the last half term of Y9 doing Spanish with the classes who aren't continuing French to GCSE. It's a new thing, it's easy because it's beginner level, and I ask them what topics they'd like to do so they have some choice in it. I've also combined this with #2, by doing a couple of lessons on basic phrases in Spanish all together, then giving each pair/group a topic (numbers, food, animals, colours, sport, etc) and asking them to find at least 10 words in Spanish on this topic then create resources to teach them to the rest of the class - they have half a lesson to be teachers, and they absolutely love it. This has been by far the most successful thing I've done with very difficult Y9s - I had a dreadful group a couple of years ago but they really went for this! We spent some time discussing what sort of resources they could make and what they need to think about if they're planning a lesson (I made them do a lesson plan like teachers have to!) then they got on with it, and took turns to teach their lesson to the rest of the class. It was a really positive way to end the term.
    Good luck!!
  6. ianj6

    ianj6 New commenter

    Best bit of advice I've had about rough classes from a Head in a VERY VERY rough SM school that was turning round, (and I've taught in prisons aswell as inner cities)
    "When did you last mark their books?"
    Don't like to prejudge, just trying to keep things simple. (clearly singing and dancing lessons are good as well)

    Hope it goes well!


  7. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Same as Rosa, if you can I'd go down the road of another language. I once taught a little bit of Russian (I don't speak Russian - had to teach myself the 4-5 phrases I wanted to teach), it was really fun because the alphabet is different but not completely impossible and you can present yourself as a language learner, on par with them, which my pupils liked. It has enough links with European languages that you can find cognates which kids then have to decipher (a bit like breaking a code).
    All of that was sparked because I had told one kid from that class that I knew how to say hello in Russian!
  8. msw


    Could you try some music-related lessons? Maybe play them some recent/ current songs and identify types of music/ get them to express some simple likes/ dislikes? They could even do it X- factor style and be the jusges themselves. If they go for it, you could do a more in depth work on a particular song- comprehension/ gap-fill. Talk about the similarities/ differences in popular music. Maybe a study of an artist they may find interesting?
    Good luck with it!
  9. mpc


    Two ideas that have worked for me with difficult classes
    Praise chart - doesn't have to be on display - class list where you put a colour dot every time a student does something right. Phone parent of best student that evening.
    Raffle ticket - for every simple piece of work produced (plus bonus points for behaviour), put a raffle ticket in a box. Draw prize winners every week or at the end of term as you prefer. More frequent draws will keep their interest.
    Good luck - we have indeed all been there!
  10. cna1

    cna1 New commenter

    Google m6 x factor France. They are down to the final two and one of them is a British guy called Matthew! he sings in English and in French. There is a lot of stuff on YouTube aswell. You could get them to evaluate the performances and compare the judges with the English judges etc.

    Good luck. We have all been there!

    I do agree with the previous post aswell. If this were earlier in the year, I would mark books and give small targets. The students make out that they don't care but if they think you don't care ( by not marking their books), then you will never really get them on side. I saw my worst year 9 class in history change overnight because I had marked their books, given lots of praise for the smallest amount of writing, smiley faces etc. They all had a target to 'focus on writing accurate sentences'. I then gave plenty of opportunity for this the next lesson and the turnaround was miraculous!
  11. marmot.morveux

    marmot.morveux New commenter

    ...again, this is not about prejudging...but I remember mistakes i've made with tough classes...
    Dare I say it, it is quite often the last set of books you mark, it may also be the lesson that you leave until last because you can't stand teaching them....
    However, back to basics is often the best method;
    1) ...look at your table layout, 'do you have your back to any of the least well-behaved kids during significant parts of the lesson.. have you put mega chatty kids together? I sometimes allow them to sit by one friend but then they are boy boy, girl, girl. Some rough schools have a boy, girl seating plan in all lessons.
    2) Are they in a seating plan?
    3) Do you know all their names off by heart...a tough class I once taught were shocked that I knew all their names by the second lesson of teaching....do you know their likes and dislikes?
    4) They do read your comments....give them a chance to respond to them...in a directed way of course. We often think they don't care, at least teenage attitude makes us think that, however, they do...marking the books on a lesson by lesson basis can calm them down slightly....
    5) I was often more innovative with this kind of class....though often played very, very safe!
    6) Everything planned and second-guessed....
    7) Follow up all consequences, be strict but fair.....
    8) Try out everything before you teach it, have the listening exercise and all powerpoints, resources ready, including bunched in the formation of the seating plan, so they can get given out quickly.
    9) An engaging, differentiated starter, with everything from painfully easy, to more challenging to give them all confidence. It could also be a puzzle or wordsearch now and again because they'll be surprised to be getting it at the beginning.

    I'm sorry if you find any of this advice patronising but from experience, I know that my attitude towards this kind of class was often; 'right, time to go into battle', when often you need to have a smile painted on your face because it's difficult to grimace at a smiling teacher or someone who tries to joke or banter....

  12. Been reading this thread with interest - some of my Yr 9 classes make me want to give up teaching! Your music lessons sound great - I'd love a copy. My email is bijou63@hotmail.co.uk Thanks in advance Bijou
  13. Are they good at any other subjects? Drama, music,art? I tend to go cross-curicular when it's like that. Act a play they wrote, draw and describe planets in French (simple language-there is..., it is...), cook pancakes, work on songs... you might have tried all that.

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