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Where has my ‘presence’ gone?

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by hana54, Jan 30, 2018.

  1. hana54

    hana54 New commenter

    Hi all,

    I posted about something similar a few weeks ago but I am having no joy so was wondering if anyone had any extra ideas to try. This might be slightly long so please bear with me!

    Basically, I have returned to teaching after having my children (part time, just teaching English and maths). I am having a real problem with my English set. They are a small group of all (lower ability) boys who are incredibly difficult to manage and reluctant writers. There is constant low level disruption and a complete lack of respect: calling out, not listening, grinning when sanctions are applied, arguing, randomly getting out of their chairs, off task behaviour. I find myself stopping every minute or so to try and regain some form of control. I feel like I completely and utterly am lacking any form of presence in the classroom and it’s really getting me down.

    I feel like I’ve tried everything: I apply the sanctions the school sets but thy are often ineffective and it doesn’t seem practical to send all 10 kids out of the classroom. I’ve tried focusing on the positive behaviour, incentives, discussing rules, working in groups, working in silence, seating plans. Nothing seems to be having a real, long lasting effect. I try engaging, differentiated lessons: they don’t seem able to cope with it.

    I was always praised for my positive behaviour management and engaging lessons. Now I feel like a rubbish teacher; they don’t like me, I hate coming in, I feel like I teach boring lessons and I feel embarrassed and humiliated every time they blatantly ignore me. I’ve mentioned this to other members of staff (although to save my pride I probably downplayed it slightly) and I either get agreement that they are very difficult or get told to be tougher with the sanctions. Which is all well and good but Can I actually send 100% of my class out? Any help would be MASSIVELY appreciated as it’s keeping me up at night! Thanks.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    This is a very difficult dilemma for sure. There are thousands of classes all over the country just like the one you describe, so be assured it isn't just you.

    Part of it is that they are badly behaved and part of it is they are being extra badly behaved because you are new.

    Perhaps your line manager should go in hard on them and phone the parents.

    What praise system do you use? If they are old enough, ask them what rewards they would like for excellent behaviour and effort. For example, extra computer time, tea and biscuits on Friday, an occasion DVD, postcards home anything but sweets or material rewards like pencils since they probably have enough of that sort of thing.

    Could you do anything around football?

    Try three simple rules

    Follow instructions fast
    Stay on task
    Work without disturbing others

    You can't send everyone out, but you can send the first three out and phone the parents.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    It's obviously ridiculous to send 100% of your class out. I would send the good ones out and keep the bad ones back. From the sound of it, that's 98%, but don't alienate the good ones.

    "Bill, Jenny, why don't you go out to the library for ten minutes. You classmates need some attitude adjustment because what we have here is a failure to communicate...'

    Nothing annoys bad kids more than seeing good kids rewarded in this way...

    Don't worry about being a 'boring' teacher. Your job is to teach them, not entertain them. More importantly, you can't engage children who don't listen and won't try. Get their behaviour nailed first.

    Another trick might be to set a 'minimum standard of work.'. Basically, they have to complete X amount before they get to leave (pick lessons when you don't have to release them.;

    Above all, don't beat yourself up about it. They are testing you. They want to see if you are prepared to law down the law. Show them you are. Then be really nice to the ones who are genuine, completely doing what you want.

    Some of my comments here might help: https://education.media/straightfor...80.695443230.1515869320-1571606109.1508508341

    Best of luck!
    NotAPowerRanger and pepper5 like this.
  4. MissHallEnglish

    MissHallEnglish Occasional commenter Forum guide and community helper

    I’m definitely not a guru...! But just from my experiences...

    Firstly, we all have one of these classes - maybe a variation of but that one class which we don’t look forward to each week!

    Kids like these are terrified of failing and it comes out as negative behaviour, the more terrified, the worse they behave.
    Be human with them - build rapport. I find ‘text book’ lessons work well to establish a routine: set a couple of questions for them to answer, discuss answers, saying things like, ‘Now’s a good time to note the answer down, if you didn’t quite get round to it.’ This way, you’re offering another chance without blasting them for not having done it in the first place - after this if they still don’t comply, use the sanctions.

    Once they’re used to working in a routine fashion, you could start to introduce pair work again. Gently hand some responsibility back over to them.

    Pick a student off a week - be determined to find out how their weekend has been, who their footy team is and whether they won at the weekend, how they did when they played in the school team, how their music lesson was etc...they notice this. If you can win a student round, they will act up less and usually adapt their behaviour in lesson. I’ve got a student who was a nightmare, but I found out he rears pigs to show and he can’t tell me enough about it...whether I’m interested or not.

    When I teach low ability sets, I always tell them about a time when I’ve failed at life... I usually recall my Maths exam failures.

    Timers and an element of competition work well too, especially with tangible rewards: can you get a ‘free item’ ticket for the school canteen? Or get some petty cash money and buy a couple of selection boxes?
    It’ll be exhausting but don’t let your expectations slip.

    I like the idea from above, where you send the ‘good’ ones out, however I’d be wary of them seeing is as an opportunity to muck around. It may work infrequently as a reminder to the others though.

    Last but not least, you’re not rubbish - tricky kids will always be tricky kids, it’s finding that nugget that makes them tick. I doubt you’ll win them all over, who does, but I reckon you’ll find a way to win most of them round to your way of thinking!

    Chin up!
    NotAPowerRanger, M8x and pepper5 like this.
  5. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    MHE' kids like these are terrified of failing and it comes out in negative behaviour...'hmm I thought like this for several years. Then I gradually arrived,sadly, at the conclusion that most of them really could not give a monkey's. Maybe this is what is known as burnout.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    John Hattie says that when he was teaching outward bounds, kids always learned how to put on their absailing kit correctly. What he should have gone on to mention is that they did this because the alternative was plummetting to their doom.

    The kids I see don't face any consequences for not doing well:

    a) We'll go somewhere because there's always a course at some kind of college
    b) It won't be our fault, we can blame it on bad teaching.
    c) If we don't get any qualifications, we can still just chill around on the dole.

    Nope. Very few of 'em care. We have to do their caring for them.

    Inigo_Jones and tonymars like this.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    It is now going on in Year 11 classrooms up and down the country - everyone knows the scenario:

    The teacher is explaining an important concept or skill in their subject that everyone needs to know to do well in the exams that are looming in just a few months. There are several students in the classroom who are

    A. Continually talking over the teacher so the teacher has to stop to give them the obligatory warnings before they are thrown out.

    B. On their phones texting about nonsense.

    C. Throwing paper aeroplanes and cutting up paper and scattering it over the floor like nursery children.

    Then when they get their poor grades they will say: "I didn't pay attention because the teacher/lesson was bad."
    No my friend, you got the grade you worked for.

    In the day of the Internet, there are resources of every kind to help with any subject with a lot of it free apart from paying for the internet connection. There are study aids which cost about the same as two cups of coffee or tea in a café.

    A lot of the time, some students take the resources and the teachers for granted. Perhaps when there is no one left to teach because they can't put up with the entitlement attitude and the awful behaviour in some schools, then things will change.
    gingerhobo48 likes this.
  8. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I think you've lost this particular bunch of ( add your own derogatory term here). Take strength from your other classes that do go well. Just bash on with this lot, using all the strategies you have at your disposal. It may get better, it may not. Nothing lasts for ever.
  9. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    Yes, I think we’ve all been there with these classes.

    The proper answer is for line manager support in the sanctions.

    Failing that you have to change your pedagogy. So, fewer activities which require student autonomy and more activities which they find it easier to be conscientious in. E.g. easy quizzes, timed micro writing activities, that knowledge retrieval stuff through lollipop sticks, etc.

    One thing I’ve seen which is quite good is a displayed class list where you append a small sticker by their name if they have displayed good B4L. On the fifth sticker they get a positive phone call home and return to zero stickers. You would be surprised how quickly they got to the third or fourth one and how slowly it moved from there to the fifth one. They made three phone calls home a week and just manipulated the chart to deliver three people making their fifth sticker a week. Proper teacher!
  10. NotAPowerRanger

    NotAPowerRanger New commenter

    Sorry, what are MHE kids?

    And yes, there are some children who just couldn't give a ****.

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