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Unsupported with Year 9 - what new tactics can I try?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by biodust, May 1, 2012.

  1. Hi all,
    I have been teaching for 4 years and am generally considered OK at behaviour management - I get the bottom set Yr 11s for example as we manage to scrape through BTEC etc qualifications without too many problems.
    Having said that, I am having huge problemns with a shared Year 9 class. The class has 4 Science teachers (1 period per week per teacher) and are horrific for all. I appriciate this should make me feel better that it's not 'just me', but it doesn't.
    Out of their 4 teachers, the students say they behave well for me and one of their other teachers (who happens to be an AST). My HoD also says that, for them, they are OK for me. They do not behave well - anybody with any sort of standard in the classroom would say that. I know that I would fail an observation with them.
    There is a core group of 8 (6 girls, 2 boys) who are vile and behave like animals. They wander around the room, snatch each other's books, answer back if challeneged, barely do any work unless stood over, shout across the room at each other, ask me if I'm serious when given a negative comment in their planner, swing on chairs etc. I could go on. There are then 10 students who can go either way - they are not as rude as the original 8 but still poorly behaved. On top of that I have a schizophrenic student who has a useless 1:1 (he is not violent but hard work).
    I have tried the following:
    Adding minutes onto the end of the lesson - 1 minute per minute I have to wait for them to shut up. The 8 nice students in the class leave on time, everybody else works off their minutes. Interuptions during this time are kept behind for longer.
    Calling home to discuss the student's behaviour - parents are nice but rather useless - their comments are along the line of ' I don't know how you teach X, I cant do anything with him/her'
    Getting 3 of the worst on department target card. I had to nag my HoD to do this as he is unwilling to help.
    Following the school sanctions policy as rigidly as possible - stuff slips through as I can't keep up with that many poorly behaved students but I get as many as I can per lesson and I ensure the worst students get as many negatives as each other ovber time
    I have asked the AH in charge of behaviour (a joke - all pally pally with the bad kids) and the HoD to drop in as much as possible. They have been very occasionally and not really been effective - a word outside does not help.
    The icing on the cake with this class was that before Easter it was found that they filmed one of their teachers for my subject on a mobile and posted it on facebook. The culprits got 2 days exclusion.
    I have got to the point where I am worried about teaching this class. I do not wish to be filmed and mocked as my collegue. I am pregnant and feel my blood pressure rising as I think about teaching this class.
    Any suggestions what to do next? I have run out of tactics and I can't allow a group of 14 year olds to effectvly bully me.
     
  2. Hi all,
    I have been teaching for 4 years and am generally considered OK at behaviour management - I get the bottom set Yr 11s for example as we manage to scrape through BTEC etc qualifications without too many problems.
    Having said that, I am having huge problemns with a shared Year 9 class. The class has 4 Science teachers (1 period per week per teacher) and are horrific for all. I appriciate this should make me feel better that it's not 'just me', but it doesn't.
    Out of their 4 teachers, the students say they behave well for me and one of their other teachers (who happens to be an AST). My HoD also says that, for them, they are OK for me. They do not behave well - anybody with any sort of standard in the classroom would say that. I know that I would fail an observation with them.
    There is a core group of 8 (6 girls, 2 boys) who are vile and behave like animals. They wander around the room, snatch each other's books, answer back if challeneged, barely do any work unless stood over, shout across the room at each other, ask me if I'm serious when given a negative comment in their planner, swing on chairs etc. I could go on. There are then 10 students who can go either way - they are not as rude as the original 8 but still poorly behaved. On top of that I have a schizophrenic student who has a useless 1:1 (he is not violent but hard work).
    I have tried the following:
    Adding minutes onto the end of the lesson - 1 minute per minute I have to wait for them to shut up. The 8 nice students in the class leave on time, everybody else works off their minutes. Interuptions during this time are kept behind for longer.
    Calling home to discuss the student's behaviour - parents are nice but rather useless - their comments are along the line of ' I don't know how you teach X, I cant do anything with him/her'
    Getting 3 of the worst on department target card. I had to nag my HoD to do this as he is unwilling to help.
    Following the school sanctions policy as rigidly as possible - stuff slips through as I can't keep up with that many poorly behaved students but I get as many as I can per lesson and I ensure the worst students get as many negatives as each other ovber time
    I have asked the AH in charge of behaviour (a joke - all pally pally with the bad kids) and the HoD to drop in as much as possible. They have been very occasionally and not really been effective - a word outside does not help.
    The icing on the cake with this class was that before Easter it was found that they filmed one of their teachers for my subject on a mobile and posted it on facebook. The culprits got 2 days exclusion.
    I have got to the point where I am worried about teaching this class. I do not wish to be filmed and mocked as my collegue. I am pregnant and feel my blood pressure rising as I think about teaching this class.
    Any suggestions what to do next? I have run out of tactics and I can't allow a group of 14 year olds to effectvly bully me.
     
  3. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    A quick response, and that's all it is, is to use your pregnancy as you trump card. You must ask for a risk assessment of your situation with regard not only to your own health and wellbeing but also those of your unborn baby. You are entitled to a healthy working environment. This is where union involvement and support are crucial.
    And as for the parents, your HoD, and that AH, they're part of the problem, and that's putting it mildly.
     
  4. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    This is awful; my full sympathies. I agree with the above- nothing is more important than your health and that if the life you contain. If it's really affecting your well being then speak to your line management and say that it's becoming a problem unless you get more support. While I never endorse spurious sickies, if you go to the doctor and ask for advice, I'm sure they would support signing you out of school for a while for your own good. Does the school want that?
    Or, if it's not getting to that point yet, what can you do in school? Well, the management structure seems spineless, and that seems to be a large part of the problem here. If bad students are indulged and placated, they learn nothing: nothing. Or rather they learn that poor behaviour has no consequences. By the time the consequences are felt in their lives, they'll be long gone from school. Tough on everyone. But at least senior staff had an easy ride.
    Don't bother with puny minutes. If they muck about, set half an hour detention, no 'earning off'. If they muck about in the detention, or don't show, or get another detention in the same week, escalate it to an hour. If they don;t show, etc, escalate. As you move up each step, get line management involved to back you up. There must be some kind of internal exclusion process (God save us, there should be an external one, surely) so use it. It will take pressure from you. But when they see you mean business, they will confront you at first, and then start to wither. But it will take effort, time and persistence.
    Also, try to get the ring leaders removed, taught somewhere elsewhere. Perhaps this could be the target for line management to achieve? The dynamic of the many can be massively affected by the removal of the few.
    Good luck
    Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
     
  5. OK First of all take deep breath and think about things from their point of view. They have no consistency in this subject at all - 4 different teachers, all with different standards and teaching styles - you don't say what level they are at but I'm guessing they're not a top set. Giving a top set to 4 different teachers would never happen. I'm guessing they're at the bottom end of scale - not really that important to results, etc. There are several things that you can do that do not have to resort to the 'stick' to make life better for yourself and others.
    1. You need to get together with the other teachers and completely decide as a group how you are going to teach and classroom manage these young people - they need consistency, they need to know that the same teaching styles will be followed by each teacher - and the same management strategies, what is the point of you adding minutes or ringing home if no one else is willing to do that.
    2. Look at your attitude to them - I know you are down but looking at the language which use in the post is quite negative 'scraping' BTECs - no one scrapes BTECs, you need to celebrate what you do mrs. Kids are mirrors and reflect back what we are giving them - have you developed a negative spiral with this group? We've all done it - I know I have and still do but recognise if you have done this and try and change it. Hard to paint a smile and have a laugh with them but think about what motivates you - someone who nags or someone that raises your spirits a bit.
    3. Identify the ring leaders and get them on side - they will control 5-6 of the other trouble makers. Find out what they're interested in and exploit it, talk to them in the corridors, on duty, ask them how their day is going. It's the rule of recipricosity (probs spelt that wrong) it's harder to be nasty to someone who is nice to you.
    4. What are you doing in the class with them? REally look at it, is it fun? Relevent? Interesting? or is it something that you endure for an hour a week. Get some competition going - prizes etc. Not all will buy in but some will and you should reward their good behaviour. Even 10 mins of fun will lighten the lesson for you all - even if the rest is awful.
    Even as a classroom teacher I never relied on SLT to come and sort my difficult classes for me - I was the teacher, I was the person in charge, not them. That's not to say I didn't follow proceedures and was an island, I just preferred to deal with things myself.
    Good luck and take care of yourself - hope this advice and others will be helpful.
     
  6. Absolute nonsense.
     
  7. I'm interested to know why the entire post is deemed absolute nonsense - I think it's the bread and butter of teaching: consistency, planning for your class (whatever their behaviour/learning needs are) and positive relationships with a bit of basic behaviour psychology thrown in for good measure. Also if SLT and HOD not particularly supportive she's pretty much on her own - what's the point of relying on people if theyve proved themselves unreliable?
    Also we can never ever control what another human being says or does, never mind a child. All we can do is create the circumstances in which they are more likely to say and do the things we would like them to - would you agree?
     
  8. Agreed - I was in a bit of a hurry.
    Some of your post makes sense (consistency etc.), but much of it is the sort of idiotic drivel spouted by those foolish enough to fall for every fad going; unfortunately often from positions of authority, from which they can then impose their 'emperor's new clothes' ideas on the poor teachers in their departments.
    An example (from my own experience): It's period 1 and I'm on supply. A pupil is eating crisps during my lesson. I send her out and explain to her exactly why that's never going to happen again. Along comes the HoD. I explain the situation, foolishly expecting that the pupil will receive more unpleasantness. "Oh dear, have you come to school without having breakfast", coos the HoD, completely undermining me. The pupil immediately latches onto this weakness and any authority I have begun to establish, disappears, never to return. All because when I needed to be supported, I was shafted by someone who didn't understand how things are in the real world.
    When I've worked with people who don't accept any nonsense, behaviour problems have been fewer and less extreme than where other members of staff try to 'get them on side'.

     
  9. I'm sensing some hostility in your posts - can I suggest some camomile tea, reiki massage and deep mediation sessions to refocus your chakras. Sending you positive chi through the power of the universe.

     
  10. No personal hostility - I don't suppose we've ever met. If I'm hostile, then my hostility is directed at ideas that I know to be unworkable in the classroom.
     
  11. "3. Identify the ring leaders and get them on side - they will control 5-6 of the other trouble makers
    5 .... I was the person in charge, not them ..."
    Hmm.
     
  12. From everything that you've said I don't think that you can actually do any more than what you already do - especially considering youre still relatively new. Take heart in that they are better for you than they are for anybody else, it shows that all your hard work does pay off (not as much as you want, or deserve, but at least it's not for nothing). You're also doing better than the Deputy Head and should at least have a sense of shaudenfreude (don't think that's spelt right) about that. It sounds to me like you are drowning in a sea not of your own making - who the hell timetables 27 lower ability kids with four different teachers? That, in my opinion, is poor management. Also the management are not supporting you - as you move through your career, remember this experience.
    If you do decide to go for a new job I think it would be a very exciting time for you. I changed career tack for family reasons about 7 years ago - even though it meant that my career went sideways for a couple of years it was the best thing I ever did (and allowed me greater time with my family) and completely revitalised what I felt about teaching. Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy - I personally would constantly say to kids 'you're upsetting the baby' every time they got on my nerves...that's a joke everyone!!

     
  13. I meant I was the person in charge, not the SLT. There was nothing worse than having a member of SLT show up for 5 mins like some sort of knight on a white horse, for the kids to settle, then they leave and the kids start up again. Like I say, I wasn't an island but I wanted students to understand that I made the decisions in my classroom - it certainly didn't happen overnight either, just came with trial, error and experience.
    I thought identifying alpha-male and females (not necessarily the worst behaved but the ones that the students respect and listen to the most) and getting them on your side was basic human psychological tactics. Am I wrong? My mentor many, many years ago made me watch a documentary on chimpanzees and their behaviour - she said it would really help me in understanding the teenage psyche, I don't think she meant it as an insult to teenagers either.
     
  14. Sorry if this is something you will obviously have thought of - but when I teach low set / disaffected I often start with a differentiated wordsearch and make it a race. It does work a lot of the time - altho not always. The prize has to be something they really want tho - but it need not be anything that we wd consider that good (e.g. choose a video on you tube). I guess this probably sounds a bit lame but I have known it cast spells on some classes - they start looking forward to it etc. and it does get them thinking about the key words a bit.
     
  15. "I meant I was the person in charge, not the SLT" - I know that's what you meant, and I think it looked as though you were patting yourself on the back for not needing SLT, which was a bit rich since you went on to admit that you sucked up to "the ringleaders" (pupils) so that they (not you) would sort behaviour in your classes!
     

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