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What to do when a student clashes with their teacher?

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by brookes, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. What do you do when a student repeatedly clashes with their teacher? Do you insist that the student falls in line and remains with that teacher or do you ignore their potential/ability and put them in a lower or higher set? I'm interested in both personal opinions and faculty policies.
  2. What do you do when a student repeatedly clashes with their teacher? Do you insist that the student falls in line and remains with that teacher or do you ignore their potential/ability and put them in a lower or higher set? I'm interested in both personal opinions and faculty policies.
  3. DM

    DM New commenter

    Not sure there can be a general rule - every case needs to be considered on its merits.
  4. But what would your general rule be? If you go down the route of moving students then you run the risk of the challenging pupils always landing with a strong teacher who than has a much wider ability range to accommodate. Or students getting it in to their head that if they run to mum/mentor/Deputy Head etc they can decide what class they're in and over-rule the class teacher.
  5. Agree with DM

    No general rule

    Every child, every teacher, every relationship, every incident is different
  6. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I am currently going through a similar issue. How do you insist that a student falls in line? We have tried many methods but in reality, persistant low level disruption can be very hard to deal with.
    We are going to agree to a move upwards dependent on compliance with a behaviour contract.
    I just wish I didn't have to deal with students whose parents have taught them that disgusting behaviour can get them their own way. Grrr! [​IMG]
  7. Ok, I guess I'll have to accept there's no hard-or-fast rule. But how do you deal with the situation were a strong member of staff (say, teaching a middle, intervention set) ends up with challenging students from above and below as well as their own fair share?
  8. yep
  9. And in the situation Bombay describes, the naughty kid moved in to top set is taking the place of a well-behaved student who would have that place if based on ability.
  10. googolplex

    googolplex Occasional commenter

    Like DM says, there cannot be a 'general rule'. You have to judge each case on its own merits. Of course, you don't want to be seen to reward poor behaviour by a move to another class, but sometimes it is the best option for all concerned. In other cases, I sometimes take my work and sit at the back of various classes, and intervene when necessary. We do lots of internal departmental sanctions, such as isolation, report cards, etc. As HOD, the one thing I have always firmly resisted is a shopping list of punishments for various offences. I positively hate standardised letters, and have finally weened my department off formal weekly HOD detentions. Instead, we have opened the department for kids to come back and get extra help with their maths - a far more constructive use of our free time...
  11. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    Yep - makes you sick doesn't it? This is considering the best for all concerned.
    We are also ensuring that a report is maintained so that if the persistant disruption continues it is well documented.
    In my situation there isn't going to be a spread of abilities landed with one teacher though. Surely if this is an intervention group then the students who should there should be the priority?
  12. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    My school would refuse point blank to do it. We will not move children based on their attitude. If their attitude is bad it is reflected in their grades which means that their freedoms become severely restricted. If the situation continues unabated then there are a series of steps that can be taken leading up to expulsion, although this is pretty rare ( I will hasten to add that I teach in a private school not in the UK so this obviously may not be applicable ).
    The case where a student genuinely has a personality class with a teacher is, in my experience, very rare and even in the cases where it is occuring their is scope for mediation between the student and the teacher where a common ground can be established along with agreed upon rules of behaviour from the student. From my own personal experience ( this happened to me in my second teaching job ), this common ground gradually expands until the student acts no differently from any other student in the class.
    None of the schools I have been in - from my PGCE till now - would ever countenance moving a student into a set that their ability level was not equal to. The school decides where the student should be, not the student and certainly not the parents.
  13. Karvol's thoughts are closest to my own gut feelings.
  14. So, when you say clashes ... You mean that the child is misbehaving and that it has been established that there is no reason behind the behaviour ... Not that there has been a relationship breakdown

    I would not advocate a set change because of that
  15. Tandy

    Tandy New commenter

    Hi Brookes

    A very familiar situation!

    First things first though, there is only talk of the "what" at the moment. What the child is doing is being disruptive in the class. The real issue though is the "why". You need to work out why that child is behaving the way they are. And yes, it could just be because the parents have brought up a child in a way that means if I stomp and shout I get my own way. But there could be numerous reasons. Is the child like this in other classes? Are you sure the setting is right - maybe they aren't clever enough or indeed too clever and therefore the work is either scary or non-challenging? How long has the problem gone on? Has anything changed? Has the relationship between teacher and student broken down? If so, how can it be repaired? What other factors are in the class - this is particularly relevant if this child behaves well elsewhere. Is there a particular child also in the class with whom there are problems? Are there children who live in the same street? Is the child acting out thier street persona?

    These questions go on forever... but without knowing the reason why the child behaves as they do, you can't solve the problem.

    Having said all that, the overwhelming thing that you have to consider though is the fact that there are 30, say, other children whose education is being adversely affected and this is simply not acceptable. The needs of the one do not outweigh the needs of the many, no matter what the parents might think. So, all of the above has to be dealt with swiflty.

    Remember though that you are not legally obliged to have the child in ANY class. It is sometimes helpful to remind parents that when they start with the old "we know our rights" malarkey. You have a legal obligation to provide access to the curriculum for that age group. That's all. So a short term response may be to simply remove the issue altogether by taking the child away from the class temporarily.

    What this will allow is for the teacher to have some positive experiences with the class again, and to build up their self-esteem and the group dynamic. It also sends a very strong message to the class teacher that you put their welfare and the rights of all the other children in the class in very high priority.

    If you were to take this action, it is vital that the removal of the child is handled correctly. Get the parents in, sit with them and the child and just be honest - your kid is ruining education for 30 kids, we can't have that, it will not be allowed to happen at this school. We want your child in the class again, but we need to work out why things are going wrong and we need to sort it, all of us, together.

    A lot of the above is pretty generic, because it is hard to comment on the situation without actually being there and experiencing it, but if you want to describe more, then maybe we can have a collective scratch of the head and chip in some more ideas.

    For me, the main action is that you act in a way that says to the classroom teacher: you are important, your class is important, and I will take firm action to support you all.

    Hope some of that is useful.
  16. Firstly, my heart felt sympathy to anyone in this situation, it really is terribly wearing and one of the things that contributes considerably to stress all round.

    In my school we have no hard and fast rules on this so I can only relate some of the actions taken.

    A first port of call would be to remove the pupil from the lessons for a fixed period of time, say a week to two weeks. That at least will give the teacher a chance to re-establish themselves with the class. As Tandy points out, the pupil must be provided with access to the curriculum but generally sitting them at the back of another (carefully selected) class with some work to get on with is sufficient.

    As a longer term strategy, you really do have to at least try and get behind the reasons, which could well be a complex mix of work/personality/home circumstance. There might well not be any one reason. In some cases, the pupils home life can be very chaotic but school needs to have firm boundaries, it's often the only place the child gets some semblance of normality.

    Ideally, moving a child to higher set just because of behavioural problems would be something to avoid but if it means that the maximum number of pupils can get on without disruption then sadly that might have to be the route taken.

    Best of luck in solving this and I can but concur with Tandy, it's vitally important to support the staff member and class concerned.
  17. Thank you for your time and thoughts. I'm sorry I don't feel I can go in to more detail, other than to say I feel there are a range of reasons for the various clashes. Your thoughtful replies have reassured me that my motives for addressing this are right and that it's ok to be struggling with the problem.
  18. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    I have had conversations with parents in the past that have gone like this:
    Mum: "He got a personality clash with Mrs X. Mrs X is always picking on my boy."
    Me: "In what way?"
    Mum: "She has a go at him at the start of every lesson. He's in detention every week. ..."
    Me: "Mrs X has a history of this."
    Mum: (getting excited) "Really?"
    Me: "Yep - she has a history of 'personality clashes' with certain pupils. People who arrive late for every lesson on purpose, who are wearing coats/hats/scarfs and listening to iPods. She has a 'personality clash' with all of them. (You are aware that this is against the school rules and that your son does this every single lesson?). She has a 'personality clash' with people who don't do their homework - departmental policy on this includes detention..."
    At this point there are two ways the conversation can go.
    1] Mum: "Oh. I can't do a thing with him at home, he's always out, never listens to me." (starts to cry)
    2] Mum: "Right. So what are going to do about this personality clash then?"
  19. lol
    for a while i helped run a church youth club, till i was in charge one evening when a 13yo did a runner and took a friend, who was new to the club with him (didn't help we didn't have proper conatct details, home-club contracts or any of hte sensible precautions tho i had been asking for them to be institutedd form the start)
    when the youth leader went to visit the boy's mother the mother suggested without missing a beat that the boy and i probably 'had a personality clash'
    'ah' said i - 'he gets in trouble a lot at school then?'
  20. Nazard

    Nazard New commenter

    Nice one!
    We had a family of kids through our school who were all a nightmare. Never did homework, parents refusing to let them do detentions after school, always stroppy in lessons, etc.
    Dad ran a football team that one son played in. After training one day I collected my son from his group and heard son behaving towards father in the same way he did at school. When father started swearing at son I laughed out loud. Ain't schadenfreude wonderful!

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