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Unteachable student

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by peter12171, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    I hesitate to use the phrase, but how do people approach an ‘unteachable student’. I have one who will not engage with any lessons, constantly disrupts, won’t follow instructions - and is happy to be sent to isolation (in fact they often spend most of the lesson asking ‘when am I going to iso?’). I am at a loss about how to progress with them.

    I should add that this is common in many lessons, not just mine.
    JohnJCazorla and agathamorse like this.
  2. mm71

    mm71 Occasional commenter

    How dare you use that term! We all know that every child is just so desperate to learn; you just haven't been bothered enough to find that special thing that unlocks them. You should hang your head in shame.

    But in the real world, they exist. I've seen quite a few over the years, sadly.

    Dead Poets Society etc are wonderful films and are about as rosy as the recollections that most SLT have about their own teaching days, especially when they're giving feedback about this type of student.
    Marisha, saluki, JohnJCazorla and 3 others like this.
  3. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    Maybe have a chat with him/her to see what's going on with them. They must be very unhappy. Have they got into a cycle of this behaviour and are struggling to get out of it?
    Is their peer group one that encourages this type of behaviour and if so can the pupil be guided towards an alternative group? What is the family like - does the pupil have a supportive home? Are there any issues around SEN that might not have been identified?
    It sounds like an assessment from an educational psychologist might be useful.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Do you prefer iso to lessons?
    What do you like about it?
    Is there someone in your group you're trying to avoid?
    Is someone having a go at you?
    Sometimes people want to get sent to iso because they find lessons hard. Maybe their reading isn't too good. Maybe lessons are too noisy.
    I want to help you. How can I do that? What do you think I could do to make things better?
  5. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Have you tried unicycling? ;)
    mm71, Lalad, peter12171 and 1 other person like this.
  6. Curae

    Curae Star commenter

    Def needs refering on to SENCO Write an effective email explaining the problem. If you are a regular teacher your HOF/ linemanager/ HT needs to intervene and offer strong support. inform your year head too as they will gather evidence of this to make a case for additional funding whether internal or external. There were most certainly
    issues earlier on this child's education or it might be a recent event that caused it. None-the-less this is not acceptable for either yourself. other children in the classroom or indeed the child in question.
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
    agathamorse and jlishman2158 like this.
  7. sooooexcited

    sooooexcited Established commenter

    take your behaviour policy to SLT
    and request thst they progress things.
  8. peter12171

    peter12171 Star commenter

    I should have said that my lesson are literacy interventionwithin the SEN department. There are definitely issues from the past and from family life, and they are being given plenty of support. They just don’t care about learning, or about the consequences of their behaviour (detentions are given, but they just don’t turn up; similarly for later consequences).
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Just send them to isolation the first time they ask and don't think about them again.
    Leave those in charge of SEN and/or behaviour to sort the problem.

    (I know that isn't a very altruistic answer, but sometimes the needs of everyone else need to take precedence.)
  10. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    Is iso staffed by some poor teaching assistant who has found that the only way to pacify all the "vulnerable" students dumped on her is to let them chat or play on their phones?

    At one of my old schools they were allowed to use laptops in iso. On Impero you could take a sneaky look at what was going on on those laptops. Minecraft was popular up there at the time.
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  11. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    Well ... have you?

    He is welcome to knock on my door and I'll have a go at teaching him myself.

    Wait till the weather warms up a bit.

  12. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    You need a certain amount of self confidence to learn to unicycle.

    Kids who stick one or two fingers up to their teacher usually have that.

  13. Matt994

    Matt994 New commenter

    This may be unpopular but I don't believe an "unteachable" kid exists, or at least not completely. This child may be unteachable by you specifically, in your specific setting and at this specific time because of a combination of things currently happening in their lives/things that have happened in the past.

    The fix comes when you can work out which thing, or combination of things, is the problem. Even then it may take a lot of time, patience, understanding and extra resources beyond what you personally can provide such as moving to a new/specialist school or the involvement of social services.

    I suppose what I'm saying is that I'd think of this child as one you cannot teach right now with your particular personality, resources and the set of circumstances you and the child find yourself in. I suppose the question then becomes - are you and the child lucky enough to be in a school that has the resources and the knowledge to help identify the barriers and work to resolve them over time?

    This is a little rambling, but to summarise I suppose I'm saying that I believe no-one is unteachable over the long term if you have the knowledge and resources to help break down their barriers, and you shouldn't feel bad if you are struggling to resolve this issue alone - it needs the support of the whole system. Class teachers, Head teachers, councils, DfE, Social Services, NHS, Housing, Employment etc etc.
  14. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    Have you spoken to the others who teach this child? Do they all have the same problem with him? Are there some subjects/teachers that he behaves for? If the answer to the last one is yes them perhaps between you you can find out what he likes about those and perhaps you can work forward from that.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Honest to God, this should not be your problem.

    Classroom management strategies only take a teacher so far. Beyond that, it’s a problem for the SENCO, head of year and SLT.

    I find it hilarious that we are so often landed with students that won’t do any work for us - we’re required to differentiate, run extra sessions, bend over backwards to get that kid onside. Then they get removed to a PRU where they have 1 to 1 support and still come out with a grade 2 in woodwork and a police record.
  16. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    If this happens in several lessons and is repetitive with the pupil keep being sent to isolation, then why has something not been done already?
  17. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Firstly, I've been there with the disruptive kid who won't co-operate, doesn't want to be there and isn't going to do anything to make your life easier. I have occasionally thought harsh things.
    The truth is that your school isn't the place for them, but unless they come close to criminalising themselves, they probably won't get alternative provision.
    It's possible that they're on the autistic spectrum, possible they have pathological demand avoidance, possible they're traumatised by other stuff outside school.
    They need a quiet space and the right person to talk to them to find out what they really want or need.
    Secondary schools often aren't really geared up for this
    Good luck.
  18. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    As a point of idle speculation I wonder how they learned to become unteachable.

    If the behaviour/SENpolicy is worth more than the paper it's printed on there would be a way forward, but it's up to others decide what happens next.

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