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Year 11 class from hell

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by alyourpal91, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. alyourpal91

    alyourpal91 New commenter

    Hello all,

    I've just started at a new school and I have an awful year 11 class. They are rude, disrespectful, talk constantly, do not work, do not care about their work, talk about inappropriate things, swear, generally horrific which is also surprising given that across the school overall behaviour is not too bad.

    My head of department and head of year are aware that they are not the easiest, but I don't feel they are truly aware how much I am struggling. It's making me so stressed and dreading the thought of going into work tomorrow as I have them period 5. It's also making me consider other careers as this just doesn't seem worth it. I've tried the calm and clear instructions/expectations approach, didn't work. Tried being a bit more shouty but they either didn't really care or just answered back or found it funny. Tried being consistent with behaviour policy but nothing seems to work. It's just so so awful and a waste of everyone's time.

    I'm planning on going in tomorrow morning and being far more frank and honest with my head of department about that class than I perhaps have been as I feel they need to be aware so they can put in place proper support. I want more support from SLT. Ideally I'd like another adult in the room as much as possible as it's impossible for me to deal with behaviour and help those kids who are working at the same time. I want the kids to know I mean business and this cannot stand as they are far too old and this year is far too important.

    Does anyone have any other hints or tips that could help my situation? Either something I could use in the classroom or advice on how to approach it with HoD and SLT?

    Many thanks.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    I only saw your post this morning, so you are in school now.

    I can assure you that you have taken the right approach with this dilemma as you are going to need SLT to support you and the idea of having another adult in the room is the best approach as two people can support one another and keep everyone on track. You won't be able to solve this on your own.

    Explain exactly what you have written on here to your HoD.

    When you have another adult in the room in the next lesson, go over one more time your class rules. Have just three simple ones.

    Follow instructions
    Stay on task
    Work without disturbing others

    The swearing, inappropriate language etc... Is off bounds and tell them.

    Don't make a big dealmabout it or lecture - just explain and get on with the work.

    Call the parents of the ones not falling into line. It is their responsibility to ensure their children are behaving and learning.

    You and your HoD must take control. Two of you will show a united front.

    Give praise to the ones whom are working and call their parents too to give praise.

    It is extremely unfair to you if your school does not offer you support. The very worst thing you can do is say nothing and soldier on.

    Never show this class they have pushed your buttons. Stay calm.

    In would set up a routine with them. Have booklets they can work from the first ten minutes while you are taking the register and getting them settled.

    A TA in the room would also be a help since some of the misbehaviour might be from the fact they are struggling with the work.

    Of course students will test you since you are new, but what you describe sounds extreme and the SLT need to deal with it and also the parents.

    In class keep a log of what students say/do so you have specifics when calling parents. Just log it mentally and then when you can note it down. I carry a small notebook in my pocket.

    Trust you get thIs sorted since I have seen this extreme behaviour and it can be stressful; not only for you, but also for the students who want to learn.
    sebedina, gravell, neddyfonk and 3 others like this.
  3. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    pepper5 likes this.
  4. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    It's especially important not to just carry on or try to cope with it on your own. At this early point in the term, it can feel so dispiriting to be fighting a class. But it can change.

    Consistency is important and perhaps in just a few weeks, you have tried too many techniques? I second pepper5's three simple rules. It works well. It covers everything - stay on task, follow instructions, don't disturb others. State these rules, display them and then point out when they are infringed. Calmly and politely follow up on these infringements.

    Definitely get support. The students need to realise you are not acting alone and that their actions have consequences. However exhausting, make the phone calls home for positive and negative feedback as often as you can. Praise students through tutors and make use of any additional staff who have relationships with the most difficult characters.

    In year 11, a lot of focus will be on what happens next for these students. Make use of that if you can. What do they want to achieve and how can you work together towards those goals? Make it really clear that you won't tolerate some students ruining the chances of others - but try not to repeat the lecture too often. (I always do!) Give warnings, then send students to another class/give detentions/call home etc as per the school's policy. If you can remove key players when it is justified, that can sometimes have a positive impact.

    In terms of speaking to your HOD, make sure that you emphasise the loss of learning and your willingness to put it right. You're not complaining about a challenging class. You're being honest about the fact that things are not going well and you are putting effort into changing the situation but that it is not effective without their support. Try to be very clear about what you are asking of them. For example, don't say you want "support", ask to look together at the timetables to see which lessons someone could come in to. Specific requests such as this, or asking a member of SLT to meet with one or two students or to also call parents, will be more likely to be done than asking generally for help.

    In addition to this perhaps you could think carefully about seating plans and types of activities you offer. After a few weeks of term, you are better able to predict their behaviour and spot key challenging students. Would they respond positively to a mock exam done in exam conditions (again you'd need SLT support) to highlight the topics they have still yet to cover and are missing out on because of their behaviour? Some kids respond negatively to feeling there's too much work ahead but it works well to motivate some. You'll need to judge that.

    My favourite is to photocopy pages of class books when insufficient work is done and post it home with a note stating the time they had to complete it and the reason it wasn't done. Often gets a reaction from home when the parents see scruffy work with clear lack of effort.

    Don't give up! In the evenings, try to focus on the other classes or elements of work that are going well. You can and will change this class but try not to take it personally. Good luck. Let us know how it's going and we'll think of other things you could try.
    gravell, muso2 and pepper5 like this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    Get the focus off the behaviour and onto their goals - perhaps even having short meetings with them and another teacher to find out their goals and what difficulties they may be having.
    neddyfonk likes this.
  6. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    What the OP describes is all too familiar in many schools today; SLT and the HoD knew they were a very difficult class but were happy to let you start without any support in place and without helping you get established with the right tone, and now it's too late. The class is wearing you out, you simply don't have the hours in the day to deal effectively with endless transgressions whilst trying to follow the school's behaviour policy, and whilst phoning home is a good idea, the whole process of doing so, following it up, logging the call and letting other teachers who need to know for even a few students is too time intensive and exhausting. You can keep calling on the HoD and SLT to support you to deal with serious incidents and to help get the class on task, but it wastes a lot of teaching time and plays right into the hands of those playing up. This is what they want to happen and they get you to see they are in charge, not you.

    Give up. Even after three weeks, it is clear you are going to struggle massively. Accept that you are going to be very unhappy and drained each week with this class and keep an eye out for jobs in grammar or independent schools, and perhaps some better bog standard schools, but try to visit and talk to teachers before applying. Once you see a suitable job, apply. It may focus the HoD's efforts once they realise you are seriously and actively thinking of leaving so soon after starting, although it is unlikely any real help that changes anything will be forthcoming.
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Although binaryhex's post is somewhat pessimistic in connection with your your situation, but much of it is true.

    Perhaps give some of the strategies suggested a try, but have a plan B as suggested and outlined by binaryhex.
  8. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Trying to get through to those in high spirits can be depressingly slow but a steady trickle of reminders of what will be expected of them if they ever get a job might percolate through eventually. Having a bad attitude to their employer by swearing, arguing, answering back, chatting to colleagues, lateness, not following instruction, absenteeism and fighting can result in being sacked or stop a promotion. I might even (time permitting) be inclined to invite a local businessman/woman do a bit of role playing to reinforce the message.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. sarah_dann1

    sarah_dann1 Occasional commenter TES Behaviour peer advisor

    I know it feels like it pointless but it's not! Remember why you became a teacher and keep trying! You're doing a worthwhile job. You care enough to be asking for support so I hope you will hang in there. Of course, keep an eye out for another position if that's the right thing for you personally but I don't think it's healthy to leave feeling defeated if you can avoid it.

    As someone who went to a state school and has so far worked only in them, I do hope the independent sector doesn't drain away all good teachers. I don't know if it's better to work in one or not, and would be very interested to find out actually! But all kids deserve good teachers.
  10. alyourpal91

    alyourpal91 New commenter


    Spoke to HOD and they were amazing. Came and rollocked them and said it was a zero tolerance situation. Ended up having a really good lesson (compared with the previous lesson). This week things are still not too bad. Am able to see now it's mainly a few key players and there are some really hard-working kids in there too who are pleasant. Was impossible to see that before! Still having issues with a couple of pupils who just don't understand how to speak to a teacher appropriately but I think things are on the up overall. They responded well to a "move around the room" task which I was a bit sceptical about before doing. Thanks for all the above advice I found it really helpful! I'm going to use a lot of it with a year 10 class who, while not being anywhere near as bad, still suffer from a lack of motivation/respect and need pulling into line.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi alyourpal91

    That is a brilliant update. Thanks for letting us know what worked and it is great to your here that you have an amazing HOD who took control of the situation. It goes to show that it is worth at least asking for some support.

    I could have cried when I read your update post...I am so pleased you are having a better time since it can be AWFUL when you have a class that is difficult to control.

    You will have learnt so much from this that you will be able to use in the future and help others.

    Well done for being brave and going to your HOD who turned out to be brilliant.
  12. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    Well Done alyourpal91, but keep blazer's advice at the back of your mind. You will always find that a lot of the kids are good but never get a look I because of the disruptive ones. A situation which I hated. They deserve better.

    Pepper5 - I have had my first update from the inadequate college where I was on secondment last year. The present English teacher lives 40 miles away so may not last long. All of the students who were disruptive for me are disruptive for the new teacher too. Skipping lessons etc. Who would have thought it?? As far as I know management hasn't improved.
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi saluki

    Poor teacher. A 40 mile trip each way ...must take them an hour there and then an hour back. Then when they arrive have to teach poorly behaved classes. You know what I would do?

    You are 100% correct about the poor management. In the OP's case, his/her line manager took CHARGE.

    If students are skipping lessons, they should get warnings and if they continue to miss lessons, then they can't continue.

    It founded more like a social club where you worked rather than a school/college. You are too good for that place, but it is a total shame the hard working kids lost a first class teacher.
  14. dog_walker

    dog_walker New commenter

    sounds very similar to my situation,

    trying to get someone to help me and it's left down to me to sort.. Kids having issues across the school and nobody will deal with it..

    I have controlled assessment to do and they don't have the basics to do it, nor are they willing to. Spend 2/3 hours trying to differentiate a lesson to make it accessible and they just refuse to work. I've emailed my concerns to AH/DH/HOD etc, So with my hours commute... I'm off soon...
    pepper5 likes this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi dogwalker

    Sorry to read about your dilemma.

    If someone just took charge, those issues could be easily sorted.

    It is so frustrating to hear yet another school where SLT can't/won't help.

    Hope you find something better and closer to home.
  16. Thetwelfthofnever

    Thetwelfthofnever New commenter

    When I found this thread, I was relieved to find others in a similar position.

    I also have a very difficult Year 11 class and the relationship between us has broken down. I followed behaviour policy, I phoned home, I gave detentions, and in the end the HOD and SMT got involved but too late in the day. I was extremely anxious about going in to teach them and stupidly, started to take things personally. The students are incredibly arrogant and dismissive and if told to do anything they will either A) put their heads down and sleep or B) Start arguing. This then escalates into a verbal battle which I know is a waste of time and never good to do. It's frustrating when you want the best for students but their attitude and dislike of you and the subject takes over.

    To cut a long story short, they've now taken the class off me. The principal says its is nothing to do with my performance (which I don't entirely believe) but that they want the best exam results possible for them. In my place will be a member of SMT who is also an English teacher. The students are frightened of her so maybe it's a good solution. However, I will still be marking their homework. I am personally quite happy about this because the anxiety of walking into the classroom was getting to me.

    I have good relationships with my other classes but this experience has made me question myself, my ability and my worth. It has made me question whether I want to continue teaching. This will be my 9th year teaching and never have I had such an awful class. I'm glad I had some support but my HOD doesn't really understand my issue, it was mostly SMT that helped.

    Sorry for the rant!

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