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Year 11 girls - silly games

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by kstring24, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. I have a Yr11 RE class once a week, they are a fairly large, all female class and I'm teaching a subject that is not my specialty (several teachers in this school are given extra subjects, due to staffing a timetabling. I also teach Yr8 History, which is far better).

    I feel like there is a bit of a 'pack mentality' with these girls. I'm female as well, and they have very little respect for me and the subject and don't take it very seriously. We got off to a terrible start, and I made several phonecalls home, which narked them off and they seemed to play up even more. In lesson, they were almost trying to 'out do' each other with their behaviour. The head of behaviour know this is a 'hotspot' class and has done his best to help (speaking to the girls individually, giving me tips on building relationships etc.) I felt like I was getting somewhere with the class, but then this week they decided to start playing games. This included, one girl yelling "sniper on the roof!" while the class hid under the tables. Another was to start doing 'We Will Rock You' on the tables, and then humming until everyone joined in. All very mature for Yr11s! I ignored the behaviour as I felt they were doing it for the reaction, I also couldn't pin point the ringleader(s). I had quiet words with some girls, but did not want to stop the class - partly because, I have trouble getting them quiet anyway and I did not want them to think their behaviour was getting to me.

    My plan is to come down on this next lesson if it continues. I was hoping it wouldn't, until one of the girls told me in her normal lesson with me that "everyone takes the p*** out of me, and some people torture me". I laughed at the suggestion and shrugged my shoulders. I tried to create the impression that I didn't care and made reference to the games in the RE lesson, but if I'm honest I was a little bit gutted inside and I'm worried that I was a little too slack in my response to her and the class's behaviour.

    I can let most things wash over me, and tbh I have a pretty good relationship with a lot of kids that I teach. But I don't like the feeling that some classes 'plan' to misbehave and make my life difficult. Does anyone have any advice for dealing with these games in lesson? Especially if I can't pick out who is starting it. Am I overreacting?
  2. I think you need to ask your SLT for some support in getting this class into a seating plan with expectations about how much work they need to get done in a lesson. You don't need tips on dealing with individuals as much as you need support with managing the entire class (or 'pack' as you rightly describe them).
    You can't ignore them effectively taking over the lesson - it's appalling that they are doing this, but if there is no comeback then they have no reason (apart from their good natures, and it sounds like they don't have them) to improve.
    Even though it is RE, as it is Year 11, can you give this more of a 'moral dilemma' style twist? Then you can get them working out how they would respond in different circumstances etc? www.goodcharacter.com has dozens, and even though they are American, are easily adaptable etc?
    I would ask for help with planning a seating plan, getting them in the seating plan, and re-focusing the class. There will be some ringleaders, and you need to work out who they are - for example the one calling out 'sniper' - be aware of what is going on and you will have a good place to start.
    Good luck with this lot - I have a hunch that you won't win them round, but you can make that lesson more bearable.
  3. MisterW

    MisterW New commenter

    Do you need to know who the ringleaders are? Not being a ringleader is not an excuse for poor behaviour. If the whole class is diving under the tables, then why not punish the whole class by keeping them in at break/ pulling them back for detention after school? If there's the odd kid who doesn't get under the table (and it will be easy to identify who!) then let them off. Ordinarily whole class punishments are unfair but if it is literally the whole class doing it then punish the whole class. The kids know full well that they are misbehaving, hence the comment in the other lesson, so I think you have to sanction them.
  4. Thanks, I'll have a look.

    Unfortunately, the yr11s in this school are the last remnants of a bad regime. The school is in SM too and to top it all off, last year the Humanities department had issues with staff absence. I agree that I may be fighting a lost cause, it took me all of last year to get the pupils to take my own subject (music) seriously because of the old teacher being on the sick for 3 years. However, I do not want to spend the year battling with them every lesson. Fighting fire with fire sometimes doesn't work, which is why I decided not give these girls the reaction they seemed so desperate for last week. However, anyone even joining in will be punished next lesson.

    Thanks both of you for the advice.
  5. Fight fire with water. Stay calm- they want an emotional reaction. If you calmly state the punishment and then move on, that could be the good middle ground.
  6. Sounds like you have a really tough class, especially difficult in a subject area that isn't your own. You have my sympathy. I'm not sure what you think constitutes 'fighting fire with fire' but
    it sounds to me like a 'softly, softly' approach isn't working, and I
    would go with a more conventional approach.
    I would ring the
    parents of every single student involved and explain exactly what the
    behaviour was. I would explain how grossly inappropriate this behaviour
    was. I would also explain that while the student will be being punished
    accordingly in school, you would appreciate their support in
    communicating to the children at home, how damaging misbehaviour can be. I would point out how
    especially damaging behaviour of this sort is in year 11. Explain to the parents that poor behaviour
    rarely isolates itself into one lesson, and that if they are behaving
    poorly in Religious Studies, it is only a matter of time before that
    poor behaviour spreads to their other subjects, which will, of course,
    have a huge impact upon their examinations. Ask for the
    parents support in dealing with this very worrying pattern of
    behaviour. (If you can phrase your communication with the parents as
    concern, and as a request for support it is very unlikely to be
    dismissed, don't forget these parents care about their children a lot
    more than you do!)
    It sounds to me as if you're going with a
    'I'm letting you off this time, but don't be naughty again approach'.
    For individuals who are genuinely contrite this approach can work in
    some circumstances, but I would avoid it for such a serious case of en masse defiance. If they joined in with the 'sniper on the roof'
    nonsense, even a little, they get dealt with. If you can identify
    ringleaders, I would personally expect those students to be excluded,
    and would expect SMT to support me in that. If the school is in SM it
    should be hot on behaviour.
    I would certainly ask for support
    from SMT in setting a detention. I would have every student involved in
    for the most serious detention your school has (1 hour after school on a
    Friday, in the case of my school.) I would ask for SMT to run the
    detention and do it in a neutral venue, perhaps the hall (as they are
    starting to claim your teaching room as their own.) You should be there,
    because the students need to see that you do not condone their actions
    and that you are responsible for the punishment, but these students need
    a very serious lecture from someone they fear/respect.
    I don't
    wish to be alarmist, but these students are beginning to distort the
    norm of what constitutes acceptable behaviour in your lesson. If you do
    not deal swiftly with this, and intervene to recalibrate the students
    behaviour I would expect the behaviour to get worse and worse.
  7. Thanks again for the advice. I hope no one thinks I'm happy to let them off for the behaviour, I've just found in the past that going in hard with this class has backfired and left a really bad atmosphere in the lesson. The head of behaviour is very big on 'building relationships' and trust me, I'm getting very sick of the 'you really need to get on side with these girls' talk which is probably why I did very little when the behaviour occurred in the first place.He has even told me to not issue a detention to a yr11 girl because she was 'tired'. I'm annoyed at myself for being so slack now, if it was any other year group there is no way I would not have tolerated it.
  8. internationalschools

    internationalschools New commenter

    Forget all the trendy waffle of trying to get these brats on side. Go in hard and get the behaviour sorted, as only then will the students start to feel that they respect you. After that, they may start to "like" you, but the respect has to come first. Don't try to be their friends, as it sounds like they don't want that at the moment.
  9. emmaushead

    emmaushead New commenter

    I agree with internationalschools. Get the school behaviour policy firmly in mind and apply it absolutely ruthlessly from minute 1 of the lesson. Don't take this rubbish - you are a qualified professional and DO NOT have to come into work and put up with these idiots.
  10. Hi, I'm joining this rather late and hopefully things are settling down for you now.
    In case they are not, I need to ask if this is an examined group? If so, they should be doing assessments to prepare for exams. My suggestion is to focus on their learning and progress.
    Set them regular assessments, make up spreadsheets even if the RE department don't already use them (if the school is in SM then this type of tracking should be ongoing). Assess and feedback with a vengeance (short term pain for long term gain), display the spreadsheets with their grades, get them competing against each other, praise any achievement and reward it (stickers and chocolate will still appeal to this age group - believe me if one gets it they will all want it - they cannot help themselves!)
    Divert attention from their behaviour and onto their attainment, and that should gradually refocus this group. I recognise the pain of the situation you describe. I once had a similar group except they were ridiculously small (only 10, all girls) but the pack mentality was just as you describe so graphically. I survived the year by taking each lesson at a time and in those days the tracking of progress whole-school was not as rigorous as it is now, so, frankly, no one cared if they sank or swam. I was just a baby-sitter (non-specialist) and won them round by re-writing the SOW onto moral issues they could engage with e.g. abortion, relationships, and eventually the Big Bang and the Argument from Design. Pulling teeth was easier some days!
    if I had such a group now, the focus on their achievement and progress would be so spotlighted that within less than a term, I, the HOD, line managers and parents would be all over these kids like a rash.
    A call to a parent highlighting 'concern about their child's lack of progress because they are not working hard enough in class - and please would you support me by agreeing an after-school DT so they don't fall further behind?' should be a useful starting point in signalling to this class that you are not to be messed with! Don't worry about ring-leaders, just go by the evidence in their books and on their assessments.
    Lastly, I know that if it's not your specialism parents can try to pull the rug by arguing 'it's RE and we're not religious' etc,' but really no parent wants their child to fail, especially if others are succeeding. So phrases like 'falling behind the other students, struggling to keep up' can be useful - just make sure you have the hard evidence in their books in case you need to bring parents in. In my experience, most (not all!) parents want good outcomes for their child whatever the subject, so it's well worth getting them on board. Some will be genuinely horrified to learn what Phoebe has been getting up to and will back you to the hilt. Word will get around, so don't be put off by the gang reaction to your first calls home - just keep doing It!
    You know that it's them, not you, because you have good relationships with your other classes. Keep that thought uppermost and smile sweetly. :)
  11. Thanks for all the help. Luckily the games didn't continue, but behaviour has remained poor. I had to place some of the girls in detention for disruptive and immature behaviour during an assessment this week, and the vast majority are currently working at a U or G. I'm not teaching them after Christmas now either, I was given 2 RE classes but I put my foot down with the school and told them that I wasn't happy teaching 2 GCSE.classes in a subject I have no specialism in. My line manager agreed it looked like I'd effectively had the classes dumped on me. Thankfully (or perhaps amazingly) I was listened to and they've been put with a specialist teacher.
  12. Hi - it was so interesting to read about you and your problems.
    I have had a similar scenario with several of my classes and it always seemed like no-one really wanted to accept that I was not doing anything but that it was the kids playing up. Handle it the tough way - you aren't on board with the class; try the softly-softly approach and they walk all over you. After accepting the colleague's view I was dumped with a mentor for well over a year with almost constant observations and - well what a surprise - always positive feedback on my lessons - but no end in sight.

    Finally I have come to the conclusion that other colleague's own feelings of inadeqaucy and inability to help lead to many of us leaving our chosen careers rather than tackling the real issue - bad behaviour for no other reason than boredom. Boredom with life, dissatisfaction with life, no purpose ... you name it - it isn't us at all. We are just the buck to which to pass it all on to.

    Congratulations for your school finding a positive solution for you. Would be interested to find out if this affects you in other areas though.

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