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Utterly trapped-help!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MissPrimary123, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. MissPrimary123

    MissPrimary123 New commenter

    I've started teaching a class in January after leaving another class due to moving area. I was warned that this class had some 'characters' but their behaviour was poor due to the lack of stability at the start of the year. Their teacher had quit unexpectedly and they had received numerous supplies for the whole of the autumn term. It culminated in that class having to be split into two and taught separately in different rooms (I didn't find this out until I had accepted the job).

    The class are an absolute nightmare. I was told "oh they just need a bit of TLC, they've been neglected, no stability etc". I've attempted to be kind, patient, caring but it's not working. This class have caused me so much stress I've developed a stammer, I've always had confidence issues and with this class I feel I can't speak properly as I'm constantly being interrupted, shouted at, talk back to etc. I'm someone who is very calm usually, rarely shouts and previously with other classes I've been fine, they've behaved, we've formed relationships and had a successful year.

    This class are making me want to quit teaching altogether, I'm near tears most days, I'm constantly stressed, I've lost all passion for the job. I can't teach most days, just crowd controlling and usually repeating my self to children that just don't listen. I've spoken to parents, offered clear rewards and sanctions, all the usual behaviour techniques and some children's behaviour has improved. People have commented on how much more calm the class is and how I'm doing a good job with them but it's taking everything I've got and I'm beyond drained. I can't remember the last full lunch break I had to myself, most days I have 3/4 misbehaving children sitting with me for detention. Not to mention I was given 2 subjects to lead and have to hold assemblies too (despite this being only my 2nd year teaching).

    The problem I have is... how can I abandon this class when I was hired specifically to provide that stability? I've spoken to the behaviour lead and my phase leader about all these issues and was effectively told to suck it up. The child that causes the most problems has ADHD and doesn't receive funding but he does have a 1:1 most mornings but she flits between different classes as she also deals with behaviour in the school. As soon as she leaves that child just gets up out of his seat and runs riot. If a child is disrupting my lesson I have to fill a form out that another child has to take to the office and then I have to wait for someone to come collect that child. In the mean time my lesson has gone down the toilet.

    I just don't know what to do. If this carries on as is, I'm going to have a mental breakdown. I've never felt this low, with so little self worth and confidence. But I feel this overriding sense of guilt for the nicer children in the class who need me to stay and teach. They can't have anymore supplies. If I go off sick I know I'll be not treated kindly. They'll be mad that I took the job despite knowing they were difficult and aren't "sucking it up". My phase leader said stress was part of the job and I'm not going to receive any extra support for any of my challenging children. What do I do?
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Go to the doctor if you are ill or likely to become very ill.
    Contact your union about the lack of support.

    Don't feel at all guilty. It isn't you letting the children down, but the world at large.

    Get out of there and find a decent school.
  3. nearmiss

    nearmiss Lead commenter

    You're only in your second year of teaching and the school gives you full rrsonsibilty for an out of control situation? This is unfair to you. Your leadership should be intervening more.
    The fact that you are not getting a break or any down time is unhealthy. You're going to have to delegate.
    Get some advice from your union. They will have an advice line you can call if there is no rep in school. Many also run professional development sessions for new teachers on specifics like behaviour management. It would help to step back for a day and try out a few techniques in a supportive environment.
    If you can't keep sucking it up, don't.
    You are in demand. There are other jobs. Life could be better somewhere else..
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    It is the job of the school management to ensure that they don't get any more supply teachers. (Yes, it's your's too, but not if it makes you ill.).
    Mrs P was in a similar situation a while back, with aditional complications. She ended up leaving after not long and is now in a much more supportive school.

    I would say you need to think of some solutions.
    The three big problems you mention are:
    The 1:1 teacher vanishing anytime there are problems elsewhere leaving your ADHD child unsupported. There needs to be a strategy to manage this child (take the child with her - other sanctions if the child chooses to misbehave, a holding task the child can do unsupported)
    Long delays getting support to have poorly behaved children removed. Is there something you can do in the interim - a reflection corner.
    You losing free time to detention. Yes, you have primary responsibility to the behaviour of this class, but it is a whole school issue. (I'm not shouting at you).

    Yes, as class teacher, you do have to get on with it . (I loathe the expression "suck it up"). However, should ofsted come they judge the whole school. They may or may not be critical of your teaching, this will not feature in the final report which will discuss the whole school.

    OK, you were hired to provide stability and have worked hard to provide this. It does sound rather as if the school has abandoned you. One thing you get used to in teaching when you've been there a while is that you work with a class and then you leave them. They make their way in the world with someone else. You will probably stop working with them in July anyway.

    Good luck, others have been there before, there is good advice above.
  5. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    It's only a few weeks. If you've had an impact already then it bodes well for the future and you should have pride and confidence in what you have achieved.

    Having said that, you must put your own health first. Being told that stress is part of the job is not acceptable. I'd see your GP now, even if you don't get signed off. It can be good to recognise that what you are feeling is illness and get advice on managing it.
    grumpydogwoman and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Maybe there is a good reason why that class has had so many teachers? If they still can't support you knowing the challenges, then start looking for somewhere else. Talk to the senco about securing proper support for the chid with ADHD in the meantime. They are being failed as much as you are.
  7. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    Are you following the school behaviour management system to the letter? If yes, then it clearly isn't fit for purpose in this situation! Keep a checklist of what you do (a simple ticklist - behaviour management step down the side, children's names across the top, and tick as you apply each step). Once you reach the end, send for SLT and ask for that child to be removed.

    Could you 'buddy up' with another teacher, so you send to them any child causing major problems, and they reciprocate (hopefully they won't have any).

    Is the ADHD child without support the catalyst for the rest of the class to kick off? If so, that situation needs addressing, and the rest of the class could well be easier to manage. Talk to the person providing 1-to-1 support - is s/he aware of what happens when s/he leaves the child?

    Joining in January is always tough - and some classes really are impossible to turn around. I well remember joining a school in September as a VERY experienced teacher and the Y6 class I took on nearly broke me. At times I told the children who wanted to learn to bring their chairs to the front and taught them, leaving the rest to waste time, chat etc. Never was I happier to see the back of a class - no strategies worked.

    Good luck! And you are NOT responsible for providing stability etc - the SLT ARE responsible for supporting you and the class to enable you to teach properly. If they fail to do that, you cannot do your job.
  8. badviolinist

    badviolinist New commenter

    Sounds like a nightmare, I really feel for you. You have had some good advice here and I probably can't offer any more. In the short term though while you are trying to decide if you should stay or should go focus on the positive changes you have made even if they are small and write them down, the list may be longer than you think. Before you leave everyday make the last thing you do a positive phone call praising a pupil. I have found that by leaving work on a positive note it really helps psychologically.

    Even the most skilled, experienced teachers would struggle in this situation. Maybe look for a job for September in a more supportive school, that way if you know you are leaving you might just about be able to cope with the summer term and you won't feel 'guilty' (you shouldn't do anyway) as you'll have stayed with this class until the end of the year.

    Good luck!
    Lara mfl 05 and (deleted member) like this.
  9. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    They gave you this class because you were cheap, whereas what it really needed was a teacher, very experienced and familiar with this sort of situation. Go to your doctor is essential advice, but also get out quick, via whatever route you decide.
    ViolaClef, johnberyl, Shedman and 3 others like this.
  10. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    In this situation a class that has smelt blood (i.e. forced several teachers out) is a real challenge for anyone. With time they are likely to improve. However, if the school SLT are not supporting you fully on this journey then they are failing you and the class. They should not have given this class to someone without extensive experience. i would guess that they just want to hope that the issue will go away.
    johnberyl, Shedman and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  11. sjw3915

    sjw3915 New commenter

    Totally agree with comments. The management just want you to get on with it. Unfortunately they don't care about you or anyone else. If the class are really that difficult why get someone who's only been teaching for two years? Get out as soon as you can
  12. lulu57

    lulu57 Lead commenter

    I have nearly 30 years' experience and I've been in a similar situation to you. I was drafted in as potential long-term supply for an extremely challenging class. Within 3 days, I could tell that the school's behaviour policies were too ponderous to be workable and the SLT were often unavailable at critical times.
    So I told them the job wasn't for me and didn't go back. I could have staid but I would have been miserable. My wellbeing was as important as the children's.
    So don't feel bad that you haven't sorted them out. I was a dab hand and decided it wasn't for me.
    johnberyl, Shedman and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  13. marlin

    marlin Star commenter

    You've been offered very good advice from others, but I would like to add ...
    ... that these responsibilities should be removed from you. A relatively easy way for SLT to reduce some of your stress. If they won't do this, then they are not serious about looking after your well-being.
  14. gempy1985

    gempy1985 New commenter

    No additional advice to offer really and lots has already been given,but wanted to let you know you are not alone! It sounds like you've described my class! I'm only doing 2 days and for the first term was treated by my job share 'colleague' as a supply teacher,despite being given subject responsibility and responsibility for planning. I live out of a bag for life as there's no where for me to keep anything in school and don't get notified of anything that's going on in school! My class behaviour has improved and it's only since seeing them with another teacher I realise I have made a difference to them. I feel the same as you about leaving,I want out but feel sad for the children!
    Please take care of yourself and do what you need to do to achieve this. If it means taking some time off then so be it. You'll be no good to them if you're so run down you can't function.x
  15. gwhite1

    gwhite1 New commenter

    Oh dear. I've been there. Horrendous class that I took over mid-year. SLT offered inadequate support and I was on my own. I'm a lot more experienced than you, and stuck it out for the year, but that was because personal circumstance made it impossible for me to leave sooner. As soon as I could, I left; my health improved, my sanity improved, my family life improved...you're an attractive candidate in a market where demand is higher than supply. Get out. The kids will be what they are, whether you stay or go--it's the broken education system that has failed them. Your health and your family are far more important.
    johnberyl and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  16. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    "oh they just need a bit of TLC, they've been neglected, no stability etc"

    The first bit of that is just weird - if they've been neglected and had no stability then almost inevitably what they will need first is some firm handling, not TLC.

    Can you go to someone and say "Look, I'm getting somewhere, but it's taking all my energy and I'm beginning to worry that sooner or later that's going to get to my health - if only because I don't have enough energy to fight off colds and so on. I recharged a little over half-term, but not enough... The last thing I want is for the class to have a supply teacher just as we're getting most of them into a good routine, so please can we look at a way to take the pressure off?" Then any suggestions you can come up with.

    Could the 1:1 person take the ADHD child with them when they have to go elsewhere, or deposit them with someone else on their way? Not ideal, of course, but it sounds as if it won't reduce the learning experience for that child, and it might help a great deal for the rest of your class.

    If you do end up having to take time off, don't feel guilty, particularly if you've warned the school that things are heading that way. They have a duty of care.

    (By the way, you might pre-fill some of the lesson-removal forms for the ADHD child, to save time.)
    phlogiston, johnberyl and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  17. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I remember a couple of classes where I did that!
  18. doubledong

    doubledong New commenter

    You should never have been put in this situation. SLT are clearly at fault here; they knew the class was dreadful and didn't put the appropriate support in place - they have ducked the issue and shame on them. It's time for an honest chat with the Head. Stick up for yourself, be prepared to give specific examples, state what you want done and hinting how incredibly stressed out you are at the current state of affairs and that it isn't anything like the class you were described - and don't accept that it is because you haven't been teaching very long. Start applying for other jobs as a plan B - an SLT who didn't recognise and plan for the difficulties any new teacher was going to face are pretty clueless and are unlikely to do anything to put it right. Don't feel guilty. Get signed off if it becomes too much.
    phlogiston likes this.
  19. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Work out how many teaching days left in the academic year and cross each one off with a nice fat marker at the end of the day. Soon (if not already?) for teachers it must have crossed the point where there are more days off than on (weekends included) until September.
    sally90, Lara mfl 05 and irs1054 like this.

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