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What should I do about pupils mocking my accent and mannerisms?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by roisin88, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. roisin88

    roisin88 New commenter

    I'm a secondary teacher and have recently noticed a few pupils mocking my accent (I teach in England and am from elsewhere) and imitating my mannerisms both behind my back and right under my nose. It really infruiates me as I find iit highly disrespectful and quite offensive. I am unsure how to deal with it as I don't want to provke more mocking. It's embarrassing to say the least as I am only trying to do my best but these incidents are making me paranoid and are therefore hindering my relationships with classes which in turn, has a negative impact on my teaching. I would really appreciate any advice on this. Thank you.
    Seval likes this.
  2. C.Brewer

    C.Brewer New commenter

  3. internationalschools

    internationalschools New commenter

    I knew a teacher who suffered from this, and she solved the problem by pointing out that the students are being racist. She was from France, and she pointed out that, if she had been African or Indian, this would be racist, and therefore it is also racist when directed at another white person who is from another country. For some reason, even badly behaved kids quiver at the thought of being seen as racist, probably because racist bulllying is taken farm more seriously than bullying for other reasons than race
    Alice K, pepper5 and primenumbers like this.
  4. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Roisin
    Agree with the tactic described by the post number 3.
    I also am from another country with an accent. In the beginning, I felt the same as you. Now I just state that if I hear mocking etc., it is classed as racist behaviour and it is highly offensive and the person involved will be disciplined. Simple as that. Don't waste your time about explaining about good manners etc.. State it at the beginning of the lesson. Tell the class it is offensive and it won't be tolerated. No need to feel embarrassed. Stamp down hard on it. First sign of it, give the offender a sanction. They will soon see you mean business. Just say it in a calm manner and then do it.
    As you say, you are doing your best for these kids. Even if the parents do not teach their children good manners at home, you do not need to be on the receiving end of such behaviour. Stand tall and be proud of where you are from! Be proud of your accent - it is your identity.
    Enjoy your week. Let us know how you get on.

  5. roisin88

    roisin88 New commenter

    Thanks very much for your advice guys! Really appreciate it and I'll let you know how I get on. Any ideas about what to do about my mannerisms/gestures being mocked?
    pepper5 likes this.
  6. When a pupil mocks you in this way,wait a couple of minutes and then send the offender on an important errand to fetch a "racist incident report form" from the main office, or wherever they're kept.
    With luck, the pupil will realise that it's so that you can report their behaviour and will know that they're in trouble. If they question you about the errand, tell them you'll discuss it at the end of the lesson - put a little psychological pressure on.
    Keep the offender behind and explain that the form is for you to report their behaviour. Hopefully, they'll promise to stop the abuse and you won't even need to fill in the form (or spend any more time on the matter). It's all about who has the upper hand and minimising your workload.
    If it continues, then of course you'll need to report the situation.
    Alice K, NotAPowerRanger and pepper5 like this.
  7. roisin88

    roisin88 New commenter

    Thanks for that, whacko! Will definitely give it a try :)
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  8. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    What are the mannerisms and gestures they're mimicking? Sometimes we do things in the classroom that we're totally unaware of, but that children and observers pick up on. Depending on what it is, you either need to embrace it as it's part of you and be proud, treat it as any other behaviour issue as it's showing lack of respect, or try to minimise it if you can. It's also part and parcel of your whole issue, because if and when you have the respect of the class and are confident and assertive, they won't mimic you, whatever you do. There's nothing wrong with being mildly eccentric and saying and doing things the pupils don't hear and see from their parents, as it's part of being a teacher (I'm talking about going off at tangents and upholding grammatical standards here, that kind of thing). I think we've lost a lot of "characters" from the profession over the years as lessons and teachers have become more uniform, which is not always a good thing, so hang onto your individuality and be proud of who you are but make sure you're the boss of your classroom.
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  9. roisin88

    roisin88 New commenter

    Hi Kate, it's really only two girls, who are friends, who do it and it's usually when I'm speaking to a small group or individual-they nod their heads when I do, mimic my hand gestures and little things like that. Thanks for your advice.
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  10. kate2521

    kate2521 New commenter

    I would keep them back, in that case, and tell them in no uncertain terms that it's disrespectful, rude behaviour and you won't tolerate it. Don't even let them speak or argue that they're only joking etc. Give them detentions and call their parents if they don't stop. Girls can be a nightmare at that age and it can be so undermining and hurtful, but DON'T take it personally. They're teenagers and are trying to find a way to crack your armour. Be impervious, and stand up to them. Good luck.
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  11. because if and when you have the respect of the class and are confident and assertive, they won't mimic you, whatever you do.

    Oh, there are people who will. Not just school kids. It's all to do with what's considered 'acceptable' these days (no use talking about upbringing). Racist behaviour in a social context is just an extension of the kind of trashy lack of respect that seems to be indigenous in popular culture nowadays; the only way it was brought under control (to the extent that it is) was by campaigns to make it be seen as 'UNacceptable'. So until people see bullying & simple nastiness as 'abuse', I guess it'll just go on. And on. & after all, lots of adults (many of whom consider themselves 'educated') think this kind of thing is ok... just a little joke. No wonder the kids are the way they are...
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  12. Tom_Bennett

    Tom_Bennett Occasional commenter

    Whatever you do, don't ignore this. Once they realise that they are tacitly permitted to mock you in this way, they won't tire of it. Rather, they'll be tempted to greater acts of intimidation. As with many misbehaviours, it's best nipped in the bud.
    Do confront thes epupils, but try to do so in a one-to-one situation, so that they lack an audience. Tell them, without aggression, that you;re concerned they're mocking your accent. Of course they'll likely deny it. Fine. Say to them that's great, because you wouldn't want to think that a pupil was being rude (and possibly racist?) to a teacher, because then you'd have to take action. Tell them not to 'do the accent' anymore in front of you so that you don't worry that they're mocking you. Leave it at that, and see what they do.
    If they continue to do the accent, then sanction them as you would for any other misbehaviour- you've warned them not to, and if they do, then they've crossed a clear line, and you don't have to justify that it was intentional. They have, after all, been warned.
    And absolutely make sure that you report this so that line management have the opportunity to support you. If you don't confront this, they'll think they can pick on you, so for the sake of your authority in the room, step up.
    Good luck
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  13. rrickarr

    rrickarr New commenter

    Without any emotion you should point out to them that their behaviour is not very nice. People all over the world speak english and we all have different accents--even within England!!!! Have them ponder the fact that you speak another language, whereas they are probably unilingual.
    I am Canadian and must teach in German (in a German speaking country)--kids mock my accent in fun--and in fun I point out to them that their English accent is pretty strange---and that the purpose of speaking is to communicate. I point out that in any major Canadian or American city one can find almost every country of the world represented and that I must be able to understand anyone and everyone when they speak. I even ask my students to help me pronounce certain words--and they are very helpful and they have matured from this.
    I find that addressing these things head on in an unemotional way usually takes care of things.
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  14. roisin88

    roisin88 New commenter

    Thanks very much for all your input guys, I really appreciate the advice. I have spoken to the girls in the way you have all suggested and moved them as far away as possible from each other in the classroom and it seems to have stopped!

    Thanks again :)
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  15. PeggyDee

    PeggyDee New commenter

    I am also from elsewhere, with a foreign accent. I don't know why but I do not get mocked for my accent, or at least I don't see it as mocking and don't take offence. In my case I think the pupils have latched on to a lesson delay tactic but I feel that if I make a big deal of it they will use the tactic more often.

    There are times when I say a particular word "wrong" or use a turn of phrase that is not familiar to pupils and it sets them off in fits of giggles. They repeat it, question it, have a huge giggle and then I firmly guide them back to the task on hand. I repeat my word firmly, or use a different word to give my meaning, sometimes I will write my word on the board and then continue. I don't make a big deal of it so my pupils no longer seem to. They've learned that the delay wont work with me.

    Perhaps you could let your pupils know a little bit about you (as far as you are comfortable with) to make them used to the fact that you are foreign, so used to it that it no longer becomes an issue. When I started teaching at this school my accent stood out for the pupils, so I was prepared to answer spend a little time answering questions about my home to satisfy curiosity. Now my pupils seem familiar with my accent, have had their questions answered and understand I am not going to be distracted from my lesson plan. I can even occasionally bring up my home if it illustrates a lesson point, which might provoke some relevant questions and discussion and I believe helps me to build up a relationship with my pupils, but I am firm about not allowing the discussion to become about me, but rather about the point I am illustrating, and my pupils realise this.
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  16. I remember an occasion when I was supply-teaching at a primary school in the East Midlands. A little girl from the class came up to me in the playground & said: Ah yew Aresh, Mess? I said, Yes, I am. She: Es tha' wa yeh tok funneh? Me: Probably.....
    Wad some God the giftie gie us....
    Alice K, NotAPowerRanger and elorac21 like this.
  17. Hi,
    I'm originally from the UK but kids won't accept it because I have travelled a lot and my accent has become very Americanised in a way...
    I had the same problem of kids mocking me and calling me foreign even though I had made sure to tell all my classes about my origins and travels...
    When they mocked my hand gestures, I would just make my gestures even bigger and when they mocked my accent I would tell them that I was so bored of it, that it was rude of them, and that I doubted they wanted me to mock their accent. Followed by me saying that I wouldn't mock their accent because I wasn't rude.
    I hope that helps. :)
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  18. bobbycatrules

    bobbycatrules New commenter

    I teach in a specialist SEBD school. If you let the kids know that something really gets on your nerves, they will do it even more. The staff at my school are really good at giving banter back to the kids. Next time the kids mock your accent why not seize the moment to ham up your accent and say something jokey to them. It shows the children that youre not bothered by their mocking and that you are human with a sense of humour. This would work at my school.
    hammie, Mermaid7 and pepper5 like this.
  19. I would stop dead and raise my eyebrows - they would 'get it' I expect.
    If not, I would speak to them individually and say how I had noticed them mimicking me, and ask if they would like to come to the staffroom and repeat it for everyone to watch. Tell them next time it happens it won't be an invite, it will be where they will be spending breaktime - if they want to put on a show then the entire staff would like to watch.[​IMG]
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.
  20. dllcooper

    dllcooper New commenter

    What a great thread! Both ends of the spectrum here are present. I talk with quite a 'posh' accent ad I have found one particular group pick up and mimick it, repeating words I have said in a posh way between a small group of them, during the lesson. It isn't always disruptive but they have latched onto it, changing the words which they repeat with a silly accent from lesson to lesson. It is a new problem I haven't had to deal with before but they know now that it gets under my skin which is not good. I spoke to one of them today that I had noticed he was mocking my accent again and that we had spoken about it before. Different people in the group mimick at different times and it isn't every lesson, it is a bit tiring to be honest as it does really agitate me. Form tutor I have spoken to says oh they do something similar to me but I just laugh it off, maybe that is what I should do, it is a bit late now as I have tried to deal with it in the more serious route. Maybe I should try the laughing off route to see if that works better as the more serious route isnt backed up in the school culture where I work I dont think.
    Alice K and pepper5 like this.

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