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walking on eggshells?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Happyregardless, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    I'm a primary teacher with 14 years experience that has taught in some tough schools, but tries to maintain positive behavioural techniques etc.

    I'm feeling a little like I'm 'walking on eggshells' at present. Parents at my school can be difficult - that's not just my own personal opinion - I was 'warned' about they way parents are at this school and thought staff were overacting when I first started here, but now understand what they mean. I've been grateful for such supportive colleagues and SLT on occasion when meeting parents. Colleagues have also told me 'don't worry about them (parents) as it seems to be common knowledge that they will 'have a go' at anyone they perceive to be 'new' to the school? Another teacher with similar years experience was insulted in a derogatory way along the lines of ' Just a newly qualified teacher' ( and no disrespect to NQTS) but this is what parent said, simply because they were new to THEIR school. I am quite sensitive - I do need a better work-life balance and tend to ruminate on things said at work/take comments home with me.

    I've been accused of 'shouting and screaming' when have only raised my voice on occasion to say " okay everyone ready? Okay let's listen' etc to regroup a large (sometimes noisy) class. The class respond well to signals, they get work completed and are making progress so that's not the issue. Relationships with children in the class are good overall. But I feel 'wary' of disciplining them in the way that I see other teachers/staff do, as children seem very aware and able of their power of going home and telling stories to parents (who will immediately only see their side?)

    For example I put one pupil in usual school 'playtime detention' for kicking another child and got a verbal threat over the phone along the lines of " well if you do that ( put him in detention) I will go down the route of saying that you are picking on my child" and then the phone put down on me. Relationship since with parent has been okay and positive (despite her never apologising and SLT were very supportive saying " how ridiculous it's a school sanction and they would have done the same"

    Parents routinely go over my head ( not just mine, most staff) to talk to SLT, who have been there longer/they are used to them etc.

    I don't contact parents as much as I would like, because of the fear of, if I address issues about behaviour, them taking it the wrong way and blaming me personally for it, rather than working as a partnership?

    I see entries in the 'play time' book from other classes that are 'more minor' - i.e. 'back chatting' - that I could have put my pupils in for, but warned them or took time off 'Golden time' instead or similar sanction.

    In a nutshell I feel like other teachers are seen as 'doing their job' when they discipline their pupils, but I'm seen as 'THAT woman, that ogre - she's just picking on XYZ' I was told recently by one delightful parent"If you're not up to the job, you shouldn't be doing it" because her child has been messing around - had been told off and obviously didn't like it and went home telling her I'd had a go at him.He conveniently left out the bit that I had asked to see her because I wanted to talk to her about his behaviour! After half shouting at me and then telling him off in the following meeting - said son is still faffing around in lessons because he knows mum will always take his side.

    I know we set up expectations and routines when first having the class and we get what we are willing to put up with. I had set high expectations and on the whole class follow them well. But because of this I feel behaviour currently is not as great as it could be and as much work not completed? I'm careful to follow school's behaviour policy to the letter because of this but still find myself 'being apologetic' or blaming myself, if I have to send someone out or resort to playtime detentions or said school sanctions?

    I feel naturally comparisons are being made between me and another teacher ( the teacher they had before me) A few of the children have considerable 'attitudes' and are rude and I feel this is because they think they can blame me personally as 'the new teacher'?

  2. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    My first instinct is to ask why you allow these parents to speak to you this way.... I would walk away or hang up. If they can't be civil simply excuse yourself and leave them hanging.

    If you can't I might start by saying, 'Sorry I didn't realise you were a teacher, what do you suggest?' And wait for them to tell you they are not a teacher... hopefully the penny will drop. If not ask them if they would like to read a copy of the school behaviour management policy, if they would like to accompany their child to school and watch their child's poor behaviour or ask how they would deal with the poor behaviour in a room full of other children.... etc.

    What I mean is stop letting them have a go at you and talk back, 'I'm sorry if you don't like the whole school behaviour policy... perhaps you would like to take that up with the head teacher, ' etc... the point is to depersonalise what they're saying... let them know you're not taking it personally and they, like all bullies, will get bored and stop.
  3. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    You can only control what you do, not them. So be civil, and if they kick off, remind them you want the best for their child too. And if they still won't support you, then the school- regrettably- has to do what it;'s supposed to do....even if the parents don't agree. We're not a supermarket. We're a public service, and we have a duty towards these children. Sometimes that means going against the wishes of the parents. That's tough on all parties, but it's the way we have to play sometimes.

    Good luck

  4. Happyregardless

    Happyregardless Occasional commenter

    Thanks both for the useful advice. I think I feel that while I am an experienced teacher, because I am new to this school, others are gauging how well I am managing behaviour, comparing it to other teachers and also how I interact with parents. I think I'm paranoid about being the only staff member who gets complaints from parents ( even though this is not the case!) and the comments about 'shouting' being taken seriously by SLT. To the point where I leave my classroom door open as much as possible so others can hear ( or not hear, more to the point any 'so -called shouting) I feel that some colleagues are commenting on comparisons between my management and the teacher they came from last year, although to my face SLT and other colleagues have been extremely supportive and helpful so there's no foundation for this - only a feeling and a hunch? Maybe I just really am paranoid? Parents in general at this particular school, give you the impression that they know a lot more than you could ever about managing children and I think most of them know I don't have children of my own. They seem to think that their children could never do any wrong ( so the advice Zadok1 gave about asking if they would like to come in and observe their child in class, even rhetorically, would be a good one!) I do reiterate whole school policy and make it clear I'm following the guidelines so will have to continue to do what Tom said, which basically boils down to 'Keep calm and carry on'? :D

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