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Undermining students...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Bonnie23, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter

    Hi all,

    Last year I had a lovely group of year 9 (they start their GCSE's in year 9 at my school) however this year my lovely year 9 have turned into undermining year 10's. I teach Design and Technology with the majority of my class being male.

    That sounds like I'm blaming the entire group when I realise it's only 3-4 students causing problems. I should also mention I have just started my second year of real (not training) teaching.

    The main source of my problems comes from three pupils.

    Problem student one: Undermining questions. This boy will ask any question to get under my skin. Even when I shut his behaviour down he will continue in 'quiet mutters'. For example I was in a position last year where I was going to leave the school and the students found out. Rather than accepting that I was staying this year he asks questions like 'So Miss are you going to get fired last year?' 'Why were you leaving last year? Weren't you good enough?'.
    It's enough that he's getting under my skin and rather than shutting down his behaviour I'm starting to argue back which undermines all of my teaching.

    Problem student two: The cocky student. This boy seems to have a problem with female staff. He's a capable student but seems to be lazy. It's not that he's not engaged; he just can't be bothered. Whenever I pull him up on his behaviour, which is often distraction techniques that he uses to get out of work, he laughs about it, mocks any techniques I use with him and again seems undermining and prefers to attempt to make fun of me.

    Problem student three: The unaware. I can't tell if this boy just wants to argue or if he doesn't realise what he does. He often has low level behaviour, shouting out, singing, 'oooo'ing when a student says something cheeky towards me. I can set him detentions for his behaviour and nothing changes. If I ask him to do something he will constantly ask 'why' and even if I give a reason for him he will start to argue. It's almost like he wants to be the rebellious child but doesn't quite know how.

    If any of you have any advice I would be so grateful. I'm in a school that has a lot of pressure (like many) and it feels like if you admit there's a problem you're basically a failing teacher.
  2. mark6243

    mark6243 Occasional commenter

    They're all boys. The girls in the group, 14-15 physically, have mental maturity of about 17-18. The boys, 8-9. It's biology, don't take it personally.

    We all deal with the little turds in our own ways, but with questions like 'are you no good, will you be sacked?' I'd probably retort with something like 'whatever happens, dick, I'll not end up stacking shelves with you a Nettos'; but that's me.

    As for the other two, pass it on to someone else, let the sh1ts become someone else's problem. Once they've done a few 45min Friday Night Specials, they'll fall into line. You will need supportive SLT if you've exhausted all your techniques as class teacher.
    sbrumwell and sabrinakat like this.
  3. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Student No.3 "why?"
    You "Because you need to know this to pass your exam".

    Student No.2 - contact the parents if he's capable but not bothering. Tell them he's not bothering and he's more than capable but if he continues not bothering he will not get the results he is capable of, and wouldn't that be a shame... if you need to, call them in for an after school meeting to discuss his attitude - he will be less cocky if you discussing him, in front of him, with his parents.

    Student No.1 - try just giving him 'the Look' when he says something silly, and then turn away and continue to address the class. Don't answer anything personal or try and engage in any sort of dialogue with this sort - they always have the smart-aleck answer at the ready and what he's doing is trying to belittle you in front of the rest. Don't let him. Treat his comments in the same way as you would if a 4-year old ran up to you and said "you're a pooh pooh". the Look, the Ignore, and getting on with the lesson. If he persists then treat him like any other persistent classroom disrupter and see if a colleague will have him for a couple of lessons to get on with bookwork (the equivalent of the naughty step) - and if he asks why it's because he is disrupting everyone else's learning.
    sbrumwell, Dragonlady30 and mark6243 like this.
  4. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Don't let them talk to their audience. silence is your friend.
    "If you have questions you can stay behind and ask them then - otherwise, silence please." If they actually stay only confront one at a time and send the others away, don't give them time to get a word and assert that this is your classroom, you are trying to teach them and that regardless of their personal feelings they will act in a respectful manner towards you. Dismiss them without giving them a chance to reply. Keep your voice low pitched, calm but forceful.

    And all the time remember that you are not failing. They are.
  5. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Behaviour management was never my strong suit but even I can give fairly good advice on it in principle!

    Student 1 - As Mark says, one option is to outblaze said student and some teachers would take this track but it can be risky, if you work in the sort of school where management do not back you up all it takes is that student to run off complaining about the comment... A possibly safer strategy is either utterly blank them until they get bored or just set a 'Friday night special detention!'

    Student 2 - These can be a real problem if it is a cultural thing, which happens with a minority of kids. Kids like this need 'the b1tch' and firm, no swerving sanctions and possibly a phone call home.

    Student 3 - A seating plan moving them as far away from 1 and 2 as possible?

    Although I know actually dealing with such kids is far, far easier said than done!
    sbrumwell likes this.
  6. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    Student 1- offer to discuss their personal take on your employment situation in their own time. When they don't take you up on that, close all conversations down. Then ring home and say you're slightly concerned that a child with so much potential appears to be willingly throwing it away due to some very childish and inappropriate comments (with examples)

    I might also question school culture in my head if students feel they can act like that and make comments about being sacked etc.

    Student 2: make an intervention plan, ring home and be able to outline everything you are offering and how you know that we all want what's best for Billy so you feel confident that with positive home-school relationships, he'll be on track. End with saying you look forward to giving a positive update soon.

    Student 3: sit as far away from the other 2 as humanly possible.

    Fundamentally do not engage with their discussions/questions. Clear expectations of what will happen 'ive offered to discuss that at another point as you feel so interested, but for now you're working in silence doing...'
  7. Bonnie23

    Bonnie23 Occasional commenter

    Thank you for all of your replies. Behaviour management isn't my strong point, I never wanted to go to work to get annoyed at the pupils I teach or have to shout. I don't want to become the shouty teacher that looks like she's losing control.

    I'm going to try all of the suggestions in turn, we'll see what sticks. Thank you for your support!
  8. mark6243

    mark6243 Occasional commenter

    Whilst you do need to pick your battles wisely with this tactic, it's worked for me in many situations. And venting anger at a little turd isn't 'losing control'. As Bill Gates was quoted as saying 'if you think your teachers are tough, wait till you have a boss'.
    Dragonlady30 likes this.
  9. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    I would agree with PP.
    I have a louder than normal voice, quiet unimpressed voice, an I'm seriously unimpressed voice and (for backup and rarely used) a 'what they hell is going on' voice. Loosing your cool is very different from having a range of vocal strategies. What makes you look like you've lost control is your demenor.
    monicabilongame and mark6243 like this.
  10. Bsprout

    Bsprout New commenter

    I don't want to become the shouty teacher that looks like she's losing control.

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