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Year 8 girl / Lack of respect.

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by tobyr2385, Jul 9, 2014.

  1. I've got a Year 8 top set class of 27 pupils, 17 of which are labelled as G&T. They are a nice class, and I do enjoy teaching them. I didn't teach them in Year 7, when potential behaviour problems were growing.

    I am also relatively new to the teaching profession, with nearly a year under my belt, so I am trying and seeing what happens, and then learning from it.

    My issue(s) are that I have a 13 year old girl who is very vocal in many aspects, and is in danger of ruining this class for the next year, as I will be timetabled for them next year - We are a small department of 3.

    For the sake of this post, we'll call her Ava.

    MFL in my school is not compulsory at KS4, however this class will be subtly targeted to take it and it is my hope that a lot of them do take GCSE level languages - many of their end of KS3 targets are in Level 6 or indeed 7 for some of them, ideal for GCSE, if/when they choose to take it.

    After setting her a detention back in September/October time, Ava seems to have developed a massive grudge towards me and/or my subject, as it is difficult to differentiate between the two. I'm going to assume it's my subject as opposed to me - for the moment.

    She's complained about my lessons being boring - out loud. She's demanded to be moved to the bottom set, meaning moving out of my class - out loud. Unbeknown to her that children in my bottom set struggle with literacy generally in English, let alone in an MFL.

    At times she's defiant, rude and will do the minimal amount of work possible, despite being very able and actually learning well generally.

    Vocabulary test scores are actually done well, despite the fact she lifts a finger to learn the words via Vocab Express.

    If I ask her to sort out her uniform, she will then turn round and demand that her other classmates do the same as well, as if I hadn't noticed either - out loud. Also on lessons after break, she sometimes arrives late.

    Despite her classwork being quite good most of the time, and she is learning what I'm teaching her she is in danger of ruining my lessons.

    The class is being offered the option to also study French for one lesson a week with another teacher in the department, and again this was met with massive resistance on her part. "When can we drop languages?" was her question today - "At some point next year", was my response.

    At one of our 5 Parents' Evenings this year, I chose to sing her praises to her mother, but after which things did deteriorate. I phoned mother to book an appointment for the following Parents' Evening - she informed me that her ex-husband (Ava's father) would be attending, who she didn't talk to.

    I tried to book a second appointment with Ava's father, which never materialised, as on phoning home, I was greeted with "Wrong number" before the phone was quickly put down, suspiciously in the voice of the 13 year old I've been teaching. I sincerely doubt that the number I rang was wrong, but I'd been had.

    She has also on several occasions questioned the way in which I teach her - today's lesson was "babyish, and why is he treating us like we're 2" (again, this was said out loud).

    Whilst it is not my desire to preach and convert children to my subject; what can I do in order to prevent this young lady destroying the teaching and learning going on in my classroom?

    The only thing that I have seen work so far this year is Ava has been on report to the Head of House, and also on subject report to me.

    Ava is a pupil I will need to keep onside in Year 9, even if she's not taking my subject at KS4 - simply because she holds a lot of interest within the room, and others will follow her if not.

    In fact I know who will take my subject at KS4, it's just a matter of months before they complete their Options forms.

    How can I gain respect if someone is this foul?
  2. GordonNome

    GordonNome New commenter

    Follow the school sanctions policy. I would assume that allows for detentions, follow-up calls home, etc. Clearly there is the option of being on report. Can you also send her out of the room to isolation or don't you have that option?

    Basically you need to wear her down. Be very calm, absolutely consistent, therefore very predictable. Behaviour A leads to consequence B, then C, then D. Every time. For every child.

    Sounds like she has enough conflict in her life already if her parents don't talk and won't work together. So you and your colleagues need to provide predictable and consistent stability and boundaries.

    Good luck.
  3. loranp

    loranp New commenter

    Remember that you're not there to pander to this child in particular. The other children in your class who can behave themselves deserve your attention and focus just as much as she does. Follow sanctions policy to the letter, do NOT allow her to continue to disrupt the learning of the other students or speak to you with such complete rudeness. She is behaving like this because you are allowing her to - you must not let her get away with anything. You're not there to be liked by her, so make sure that you calmly and consistently pull her up on every single thing.

    It probably also wouldn't hurt to remind her that she is very able and that it is a shame that she is wasting her talents - everyone likes to think that they're good at something!
  4. re

    re New commenter

    Never get into an argument with her in front of others. When she kicks off, ask her politely to be quiet - say that you are happy to discuss grievances at break/ lunch/ after school, but you have a class to teach. Apply sanctions when she is rude/loud/distracting others. Don't worry about keeping her on board - does she really have that much influence on the class?
  5. Elsasupport

    Elsasupport New commenter

    Sounds attention seeking. Have you thought of trying to give her attention in a positive way? Agree about boundaries and never getting into an argument in front of the class. Could you invite her for a chat one lunchtime and see if there is a problem at home? You never know if there is more underneath this behaviour. Kids like this generally act like this because they get a reaction. Ignore and politely say you will speak to her later. End of!
  6. nandos33

    nandos33 New commenter

    I send out pupils who say my lesson is boring/I'm a rubbish teacher etc. as this counts as verbal abuse - can you do this? Sounds tough - good luck!
  7. catmother

    catmother Star commenter

    She sounds like your average attention seeking little madam. What to do about her, I wish I knew. However, every schools has got a fair few of them. They were probably like that at primary school and they probably will be like that later on in life.
  8. scienceteacha

    scienceteacha New commenter

    This might come across as judgmental to some but......EX husband. Says it all! No proper father figure! Prospective parents should me made to sign documents agreeing to stay together for the duration of the children's upbringing.

    Rant over.if I was HOD i would move this child down. Setting should be about behaviour as well as ability.
  9. Here's the advice I would give - although I probably haven't taken it in similar situations myself.

    Persist with the attempts to contact home. You've had 2/3 goes and not been successful. Write a letter if you repeatedly cannot get through on the phone at a time convenient to you. (Although run it by colleagues before it is sent. And start with the positives)

    Is moving down a set actually possible? She might get a view of the grass on the other side of the fence.

    Are there jobs she can be given? our LEA's behaviour person actually recommended inventing excuses to get children out and around the school carrying spurious notes to colleagues as a way to help them feel valued.

    Perhaps you could fake a focus group? Is there someone who could act as mediator, invite a few students to a lunchtime session to brainstorm problems and improvements in your teaching?

    Do you have a system where you can park her in the back of someone else's classroom with a worksheet - a few lessons without an audience might get her back into the right frame of mind. That will also let you rebuild the damage with the remaining people in the room. She's clearly one of those students who takes a disproportionate amount of your time and who is difficult to see past. You might find that she is not as well liked as she thinks she is - and that may be part of her problem.

    If she's able to complete all the work without being too taxed, are you differentiating up enough? Can you start her on GCSE work with praise? Or set her something too hard and encourage her to see the value the smaller steps you are all taking? With MFL you can always set more vocab, a wider range of verbs, more sophisticated connectives, idioms, the sort of proverbs you can crowbar into essays - "Il faut appeler un chat un chat, mais je n'aime pas ma soeur. / j'aime faire mes devoirs mais j'ai toujours d'autre chats à fouetter" If she needs to get attention could you set work where she goes to find the extension vocab to share with classmates?

    "Doing the minimal amount of work" - you could refuse to mark anything short of her best.

    If being on report is working, keep going with that. Have you discussed with head of house / tutor / pastoral team / other teachers your concerns?

    You are clearly not getting sanctions right if she is persisting as you are not making life uncomfortable enough for her. Can you discuss your own sanctions steps with more experienced colleagues to see what tweaks you could use to get better results?
  10. Dear all,

    Thank you very much for the time you've taken in replying - it is very thoughtful of you.

    Back to Ava...

    I've spoken to my mentor about this young lady before now, and he's suggested that if all else fails (I refer to the phone calls and separated none communicative parents), then write home. However, I've not done that yet, and it's not something I've actually done at all this academic year, but it's not something I would discount doing in the future. I'm saving this for next year.

    I've met Mum (despite not being priority contact on our system) and she is supportive, but I've not met Dad.

    My mentor has also suggested differentiating either way, which seems to me quite an unusual approach as from what I can see she is a very able pupil. From recollection, when extension work is available, she doesn't do it - out of choice. She simply doesn't see the value in my subject because of x, y or z.

    Where indeed lies the issues are that many of the topics I am only just teaching for the first time, and as such my teaching and their learning is still a work in progress. PGCE only offers a certain amount of classroom time.

    Our school sanctions are very clear

    1 - Verbal Warning. 2 - Moving to another seat in the classroom (I have 3 spare seats - so a second verbal warning does the trick here). 3 - 5 minute timeout from the room. 4 - Detention (20 minutes at the end of the day). 5 - On Call (removal from the classroom, with a 45 minute detention).

    They know this, I know this. It's on the wall. The problem is that there are many chatty pupils in this class, but the issue is that Ava is one of the loudest (There's probably about 6 in total). Ava had a long holiday during term time back in January and the classroom was certainly quieter without her.

    I wondered into her class whilst they had English today, and the impression I get is that she's only really liked by the other girls in her clique (of 7 girls) rather than the class as a whole. The other girls are dividable and indeed conquerable if indeed they were to play up. This was of course after she bellowed at me "What's the date today?" after I'd just walked in.

    She also seems to be under the impression that they're my worst class (I quietly reserve that judgment for 9yFr1 and 9xSp2) which is actually the opposite - they're my best and possibly favourite class, provided they actually close their mouths more frequently!!

    As a department, we are investing in new textbooks for her class going into Year 9, which will present more of a challenge for her and her peers, and looking at the topics, they will have to be presented with more advanced structures akin to the GCSE.

    I think I will call her bluff about the lessons she wants me to teach her next year, just to see if she can come up with anything beyond Slapboard...

    So for example, the first topic is Media (Internet), which refers back to the Present tense and frequency expressions - they can all do this, so this will need to be adapted to give them more of a challenge - such as "One can download". I've also taught them Direct Object Pronouns before now, which is what I taught on practice to Year 9, over 2 years ago now.

    Our subject report goes on a 2 week cycle, and that was effective whilst she was on it, but she's reverted back to normal after coming off it.

    My HoD is aware of the situation as are some other teachers within the school. Her tutor predicts that her behaviour/attitude will get worse as she goes into upper school. Head of House has not been particularly helpful with any emails I've sent him so far.

    I've devised a new seating plan for September and I'm going to implement a behaviour tracking system as well, so that I can monitor both positive and negative behaviour.

    I think what essentially I'm dealing with is a loud, lazy, very intelligent girl with little confidence in her abilities as a student and possibly low self esteem - covered up by the amount of noise she makes?

    Any other ideas for next year?

    I've only got 1 lesson left with her before September. They've got group work...
  11. spannaintheworks

    spannaintheworks New commenter

    I would ask for a restorative meeting with an adult who can find out what her problem is with you and you can express your frustration at her vocalising her dissent in a class. Then make agreements on how to move forward. The relationship with this student needs to be repaired and it is a good way to build respect. She may be uncomfortable talking so directly about why she feels it's OK to comment on your lessons and you can explain to her, away from your 27+ audience how it makes you feel. You can give her an olive branch by acknowledging how bright she is but specify quite clearly that you have the right to go about your job without continued digs and questions. It's quite an effective way of dealing with 'revenge' behaviour problems if done intelligently and sensibly and in a solution-focussed manner. If it breaks down write to the parents and summon them to school with support from your line manager if necessary.
  12. So, we're back to the new term and I had 9z1 for the first time this afternoon.

    The carefully constructed seating plan I spent a good half an hour doing was left at home with a few other bits and bobs today. So my best option was to get them in and sat down. On this the main culprits (girls) were put in specific corners of the room, so that I can reclaim my classroom.

    They'll be going into this seating plan tomorrow morning, because they weren't good today. Ava and Kyle's names were on the board - simply for silly calling out across the room. Weirdly, these two were on report to me at the end of last term!

    I went through my classroom rules / expectations and the following was included:

    "I will consider how my behaviour affects my and my classmates' learning" - basically a carefully worded statement to target those that will potentially ruin this academic year, because it's not just Ava, but at least 5 others as well.

    I also explained that this year was an important year, because the work done in Year 9 is beneficial for GCSE - if they choose to do so, especially considering I'd handed out a G grade to an unnamed Year 11 student, probably because he did no work at all in Year 9.

    Ava then of course pipes up "When do we drop Spanish?". I told her that I wasn't going to discuss this at the moment and got on with the lesson.

    Checking the books at the end of the lesson after they'd gone. She and her friend (Georgina) did not complete the final activity I'd asked them to do in their exercise books.

    My HoD has given me a behaviour tracker to keep a note of everything, so it's time to implement that and also I think it's time to get a parent of Ava in, and this is also the advice of a colleague as well.

    Updates to follow over the next few weeks.

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