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Year 10 difficult mix

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by SleepingGrumpy, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. I'm in my second year of teaching and finding I am having some difficulties with my 10 set 2 class. First of all, they are quite a strange mix as 60% of them are very quiet and rarely ever speak. Several of them have complained of/said they have social anxiety issues so I feel reluctant to ask them questions for fear of making them uncomfortable; I feel quite bad when I do.

    Most if not all of them are very self conscious and secretive about their grades. They don't like peer assessment and do not like other people to hear/see their grades - even though they are mostly very good! This makes group work and cooperative learning and reflection difficult.

    They don't seem to like each other! I have some that will not speak to others. One boy literally will not speak to anyone else in the class or take part in group work as they are not his usual social circle and he feels out of place - he's a handful in other lessons but the students around him are very well behaved. I feel like it's a bit of a social minefield and I don't want to let them just sit with their friends but I am concerned about what will happen come speaking and listening time.

    A small minority - 6/29 I would say are very arrogant. One has openly questioned my teaching and seems determined to undermine me. This student recently moved from the set above due to behaviour. This minority seem reluctant to work with me or really care about anything I say. They are constantly looking for me to make a mistake which makes me feel on edge because naturally mistakes happen. With these students I feel like I wouldn't be able to laugh about it but instead feel embrarrased. A couple of them are boys and are very much able underachievers because they rush work to get finished - they have apathetic towards the lesson and would rather stare into space than ask me for help!

    I must say there are many of them who are lovely and really work very hard and it is by all bad at all it is just a strained atmosphere which I really want to sort out and put everyone - including myself - at ease. I feel strained and awkward in this class despite the fact it's a top set and everyone else says I should be happy with them but I do think they see me - some of them - as incompetent and too young to be teaching them.

    Any advice on how to create a better atmosphere and overcome the awkwardness would be greatly appreciated. Also - it would be helpful to hear of anyone else having an experience similar to this so I know I'm not just socially inept!

  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi grumpy

    You mention several areas you want to work on, so perhaps you could make a list and work on each area at a time. If I were you, I would start with the group who are trying to undermine you.

    It appears to me that the teacher in the group above where this student previously was placed, has conveniently passed him onto someone else to deal with. This student is now probably even more challenging since he is has been moved down a set.

    What you could do is to meet with this boy with the head of department and discuss the issues about his rudeness to you when he questioned your teaching. Find out from the HoD what strategies have been tried to work with this student. Surely there is a record of incidents and interventions somewhere; you shouldn't have to start from scratch. What is this student's home life like? This minority are challenging you as they perceive that you are new to the school and young. What you must do now is to act confidently and deal confidently with these arrogant students. Treat them like you would any other students: if they are rude to you then you must address it and speak to them about it. Don't be on edge about mistakes. If you do make a mistake, and they make an issue of it, then speak to them. Ask for help/support from your HoD as you shouldn't be left alone to deal with these arrogant students - especially the one that has been moved to your class from the set above.

    I do a lot of supply teaching and I do find that the top sets sometimes awkward to deal with despite the fact everyone says "they are lovely" and I won't have any problem with them, so don't think it is just you.

    As far as the other issues go about them being secretive about grades and the other things you mention, just relax about it and perhaps don't worry too much about the peer assessment. If you keep your eye on the assessment and know they are making progress that is all that is important.

    No one is ever going to have the perfect learning environment, yet the way to create a better atmosphere is for you to be happy and confident. Remember this: it is your class and you are in charge. You make the rules for the benefit of everyone including yourself.
  3. Although I no longer teach in classrooms, I have experienced insurrection in the classroom before (!) and found that I shouldn't take seriously what is said that is undermining. Rather, brush it off and regain your own power by moving on decisively with the lesson or making a funny (but not undermining) remark to diffuse the tension and restore order. Throwing an incisive question back may be helpful if you know how it is going to play out. At any rate, it is worth having a few ideas up your sleeve, and practising what you would say before the event.

    I agree with pepper that the belief that you are in charge is key, and that you foster your own confidence outside the classroom. There are many tools out there to increase self belief, but even the notion that being challenged by a pupil is out of the question, allows for you to feel more empowered should such a moment arise.

    At the same time, for the annoying pupils and the very quiet ones, I think all kids are wanting to know they are liked, so I would recommend finding ways to praise the kids in different ways for genuine reasons. With the louder pupils, I would still retain some clear boundaries however. The quiet ones are also looking for a safe environment in which to speak out, which may not exist just yet, so small group work may give them a voice, and reduce the voices of the loud mouths. Hope that helps.
  4. re

    re New commenter

    Under no circumstances accept this students challenging your teaching. Explain to him that this is what he will be doing - if he doesn't like it - hard luck. When he has A levels followed by a degree and then a teaching qualification he will be able to question your methods. Squash this one quickly.

    The others - don't attempt to show sympathy/understanding. Unless there is a clear diagnosed reason for them not wanting to talk in front of the class they must learn to do it. It's part of the course - and part of an adult's skills.

    It really sounds to me as if you're being too accommodating and gentle with them.
  5. Thanks for the replies - I have tried to be less accommodating and while I still have the lazy intelligent boys and many reluctant speakers, I am making SOME headway. 2 of the boys have worked a lot harder recently - even VOLUNTEERING to speak in class and talk through work. The challenging student had another major flare up last week due to a changed seating plan - currently being managed through report and detentions. STILL questioning my ability to teach but that will be my line from now on: When he has A levels followed by a degree and then a teaching qualification he will be able to question your methods.

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