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Year 9 Behaviour Management Battlefield

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by Mitch1985, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Good afternoon,
    I wonder if any experienced forum members would be kind enough to offer a frazzled GTP student some advice on a subject that is fast becoming the proverbial thorn in one's side (to put it nicely).... Year 9 students with challenging behaviour.
    I am currently training to teach MFL on a GTP training programme in a secondary high school in Kent . As I suspect may be fairly common for some trainee teachers these days, I have been having severe issues with one of my classes and feel that I have unfortunately hit a brick wall with them. Issues in the lessons vary from rude and offensive language (somtimes directed at me but, would you believe, that when picked up on this, they invariably offer the 'I ain't done nuffin, I never said nuffin or summink' standardised response ); to feral and almost pack-like behaviour; to a blatant disregard for classroom rules (that I have tried relentlessly to impose and follow through with consequences for those darlings that find this concept just impossible, bless them) and no comprehension of R-e-s-p-e-c-t for anyone or anything around them (books; tables; classmates; teachers...)
    I can understand that some pupils may find MFL more dfficult and that this can sometimes be a root of their challenging behaviour, but I am trying to teach them in as clear a way as possible, bearing in mind they are studying the GCSE syllabus now. Most of them are capable and fairly intelligent (one pupil in twenty-two is classified with AEN) I have shown my lesson plans to my Subject Mentor, who has said they are well- thought out, with a good level of differentiation and with good, varied and well sequenced tasks that all pupils are capable of (if they are not 'too tired to pick up a pen after playing the Xbox 'til midnight, Miss').
    I have tried seating plans, removing the temptation of distraction. I have tried sanctions (following the school's BM policy) with detentions, letters home, lunchtime catch-up sessions, phone calls home, subject reports........... All to no avail. One 'challenging' student may begin to show signs of encouragement, yet as soon as this happens, another decides that ' Spanish is s**t' and that 'all teachers are **** anyway' etc etc.and the problems are perpetuated.
    I have tried to be firm but fair and feel awful that the 6 hardworking, polite and nice pupils are being held back by the remaining 16 who seem to intent on educational suicide. I have been incredibly patient with them so far but this is beginning to affect me, as my usually chirpy and persevering self is becoming increasingly down beat and resentful. (Perhaps this is partly because I spend hours preparing their lessons, only for half of them to 'c*ss me down' and 'mug me off' - their words, not mine)
    I am not sure what else I can try! The class teacher with whom I share the teaching is having the same problems with the class and although I can appreciate that having two teachers may be incredibly difficult for them to understand, we have worked tirelessly to maintain continuity and try to improve the environment we are having to work in.
    Does anybody have any suggestions that I could maybe try to implement? Any techniques that have even the most 'streetwise' kids with their bums on seats and pens in hand, poised to participate? Or am I asking too much?
    Any advice would be gratefully received. Failing that, a bottle of vodka and a month of snow days should do the trick ;)
    Many thanks in advance
     
  2. I don't have any experience of working with secondary students but I can just imagine the difficulty you're having. Something I used with my Primary school pupils in Spain was that if they didnt like the lesson, I asked them to stand up and teach it, and I sat in their seat, not making any comments. They were good enough to listen after that.
    Good luck
     
  3. musiclover1

    musiclover1 New commenter

    No, I wouldn't try that! I'm also MFL, and haven't got any magic answers for you, I'm afraid. I think you need to keep trying out different strategies that might work for this group, without taking any failures personally, and without spending disproportionate amounts of time preparing activities which probably won't work. If you have them before break, then a list of activities that they must finish before they're allowed to leave might persuade them to work - or perhaps a treat at the end, such as a clip with a Spanish song from youtube if everyone has completed the work (or even a few minutes of watching a film). You could have a list of (simple) activities on the board (or on a sheet), that way the 6 who want to work can get on with it - without waiting for your explanations. I used to do a short listening activity at the start of each lesson with an impossible year 9 that I once had - when they were still fresh - that way they at least got to hear the words that they were learning - and then the rest of the lesson didn't require too much teacher input.What topic are you covering?

     
    ManicStef likes this.
  4. kittylion

    kittylion Established commenter

    Aaaarrgghh - time for a riot!

    OP - feel for you, have been 23+ years in the job and still have classes from hell. Am a bit pushed at the moment but will ponder and come back to you - but you do seem to be doing a lot of the things you should be.
     
  5. It looks to me like they've realised that they can overwhelm you if enough of them refuse to cooperate. This is the main problem that needs to be addressed. I suggest having selected pupils (ringleaders) removed to work in another room with the HoD or senior management for a couple of lessons. This must be done such that they dislike it more than they dislike your lesson, otherwise it won't work. On their return, you then hold a more powerful position.
    As others have said, asking a pupil to take the lesson is to be avoided.
    Other issues, such as bad language followed by denials are their attempts to draw you into debate, thereby lowering your status. In order to overcome this, you need to find a way of dealing with it that is inconvenient for the pupil, can not be debated but causes you no work - e.g. "Johnny, bad language, do it again and it's a lunchtime detention." Don't await a response, carry on working with another pupil. If Johnny then goes for the debate, it's: "I'm busy now - I'll speak to you after the lesson/at break/at lunch" (this should shut him up because he doesn't want to be kept back or to lose face about it - ideally, he'll hope you forget), then back to the other pupil - if he continues, ignore if possible; send out if necessary. Try to avoid debates with pupils about behaviour.
     
    matcardinal likes this.
  6. Thanks for these great suggestions - they are a tricky bunch! We are still covering quite elementary topics at the moment as unfortunately, this group have been a bit of a handful throughout Key Stage 3 and have therefore fallen quite behind...
    Most recently, we have re-capped introducing ourselves; family and friends; describing physical and emotional characteristics etc...Hopefully once we have gone over this and some of it sinks in (very optimistic!) we can progress to using sentences and opinions to create paragraphs...incredibly basic I am afraid but we have to start somewhere!
    Thanks ever so much for all the suggestions so far... although I think asking them to teach the lesson would be opening a whole can of worms I would rather avoid !!
     
  7. That's another factor - if they think they "already know this", they'll see re-doing it as punishment, boring, unfair etc.
     
  8. I can see that this would be a factor for many classes but I am not sure it is the case with this class. Unfortunately, their level of Spanish is so low due to lack of exposure (only 1 hour a fortnight) in KS3 that they haven't really covered anything and cannot actually introduce themselves yet, so their main class teacher had to start with this. Although it is elementary and basic, if they cannot recognise colours and days of the week, I do not think they are quite ready to progress to the more in depth topics required for GCSE level.
    They, mostly, think it is unfair that they have to do Spanish at all as they cannot see any relevance and are annoyed as we used to offer NVQ Spanish in a Business Context, but due to recent reforms, they are now obliged to take the 'harder' GCSE. I can understand that MFL is very challenging and some of them find themselves out of their depth, but it is the 'I can't do it so what's the point?' attitude that prevents them from actually seeing their own improvements.
    Continual praise and encouragement has been given to the students when they make even the smallest step forward, but this becomes incredibly difficult to lavish on certain pupils who are intent on ruining the lessons, tell me to 'f*** off' and generally are making my life a bit too difficult at the moment.
     
  9. I so echo your sentiments I hate to see someone having such problems especially at the start of their teaching career! I think its time to involve either your HOD or the SLT. Show them your planing. However by what your saying this is not the problem . What is the behaivour team like at your school if it exists? Try get them involed. At my school we have a white board in the staff room, this is used to place difficult groups that you are teaching and someone "senior" pops in. I'm trying to give you some ideas as your resolve must be waining. I thought I'd lost it with a bottom set French group Yr 9s however I took them to cook omeletts and turned some of them around. I not sure what else to suggest. Their are quite a few amazing professionals on this forum so this is my 2 pesetas! beat of luck.
     
  10. I'm not a teacher, only a support assistant, but it sounds like a Year 9 Spanish class I support, with 4 kids on SEN register and several more with behavioural issues. Hidden away in the middle are about 4 or 5 girls who are as quiet as mice and the teacher rarely gets a chance to speak to them. The teacher does her best to keep behaviour under control, with the 2 loudest lads seated on their own at opposite ends of the front of the classroom. She uses lots of short exercises to teach vocab and never teaches more than about 20 words in each lesson with lots of re-enforcement - its seems to work as I'm picking up quite a lot myself. Often she asks them to repeat back to her several times in a loud/quiet/high/low voice, which keeps most of them well behaved. She also splits the room into 2 and has teams where they have to run to the board and write down a spanish word - even the most disillusioned tend to have some competitive steak. Sometimes they have to write down words on mini white boards and see who is first to hold them up (although I usually police this to stop them drawing on each other!)
    I sit in between a lad needing support and a really badly behaved lad. When he kicks off I move and stand behind him and constantly remind him to get his pen out, open his books, look at the exercise, not swing on his chair etc. She deals with the two at the front and I cover a group of silly but fairly bright lads who can get a bit rowdy. I usually join in with the teams and exercises and have found it boosts the participation of the kids I support (mostly!)
    I hope this is use to you, but please don't take offence if it isn't. I was kind of hoping to get useful tips for this group when I clicked on this thread.
     
  11. Hi, I am having a very similar problem with one of my year 9 classes. I do not have it with any other of my year 9s and do not know what to do about it. I am a PGCE student.
    They are a very bright but hostile group, they push the boundaries constantly and it doesn't seem to matter how I deal with the situation they continue to be disruptive. I exited two students in one lesson and they still did not calm down or take it seriously. I have been firm but fair, nice and in one lesson very strict. Still no change.
    I have found the best way to deal with this is to follow to the letter the schools behaviour policy. I have been logging behaviour on sims and making sure that their form leader and head of year know about the situation (although this did not even stop one student from making rude comments along the lines of "go on, I don't care, you do that Miss"!!!!!). Other than that the only other options I have are letters home about behaviour and after school detentions. These may work but I have my doubts.
    I feel your pain, year 9 seem to be the most challenging year group to say the least.
     


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    I spend 15 years in FE with its own problems with the 16 to
    19 year students and plenty of training telling me how I should change my behaviour
    to manage students. This past year I moved to an academy and now have year 9,
    10, 11, 12 and 13. My year nine group has 5 SEN students and others of varying
    need. It's been tough this past year and I've been playing catch up with the
    swings in behaviour and the advice I've been given to solve the issues. I've
    decided that DT's are a waste of time unless work is given to complete in the
    session. I think I've solved some issues in the past few months. I put into
    place some fixed rules that I firmly believed were acceptable behaviour rules I
    thought I could work with and that were clear. I call these my “rules of
    engagement”. I do not falter from the
    rules no matter the circumstance. A students behaviour changes throughout their
    school life and I think it's ineffective to chase the changes with different
    strategies, as across the group the picture becomes unnecessarily complicated.
    Students need simple clear rules as I believe we do. Students have
    changed since I started teaching, as I have changed as a teacher. They seem to
    have so much technology at their fingertips these days. They are bombarded with
    interactive this and that. My year nine students have iPhones, ipods and smart
    phones to add to the tech. The culture of flicking from one stimulus to another
    adds to the problem I feel. Sitting and learning for 100minutes as they do
    where I work is not fast changing or stimulating enough it seems. We are
    competing with multi million pound production devices and media which is hard
    going. But with all this, students do respond to rules if they are clear and consistent.
    I believe after time they will see the rewards and feel the benefits of a set
    environment of boundaries, well at least for the time being. Good luck, remember
    it’s not you and your behaviour, it’s changing their behaviour to you.
     
  13. BRILLIANT! I would just like to say a big thankyou to all those who have suggested advice and tips for me in my quest to improve behaviour in my year 9 class. I was not expecting a miracle and I know it is going to be a long.....long challenge but thankyou very much for the expert suggestions and supportive responses I have received since posting on this forum.
    I am starting to put some of the techniques into place and have my fingers crossed that this does make some difference: if it does not improve the pupils' behaviour, at least I can be safe in the knowledge that I have made every effort possible. Although phone calls home last week made a difference for all of one lesson (!!) this class is still a 'battlefield' - dramatic maybe but try period 5 on a friday afternoon with 22 disaffected teenagers!!
    I will keep trying, hope for the best and wait and see...and once again, muchas gracias a todos!!
     
  14. Mitch, et al
    I've been re-reading my Teacher's Toolkit recently and am reminded of many of the good suggestions there about managing poor behaviour. I even got out my Bill Rogers.
    The most important, it seems to me, is not to be drawn into secondary debate or discussion.
    Deal immediately with the behaviour you want to address - say poor language - and don't then be drawn into responding to any under breath mutterings. They want you to be an adversary. They feel safer when engaged in battle - after all their hormones are racing through their bodies telling them to get ready for the battle.
    It's so hard not to be drawn into the secondary issue but if you can mange it makes a huge difference to you because you are not wasting your own emotional energy on a situation where success will be limited.
    If you had one successful lesson following a phone call, then that's good and is a sign that change can happen. Focus on the kids who want to learn and the quick snappy multi faceted lesson sometimes is a good suggestion, tho time consuming in preparation. I teach maths and sometimes touch on 2 or 3 topics in a lesson(not when Ofsted is in, tho) so that hopefully in a lesson there is something a student can relate to(or in the case of maths, feels less negative about)
    teach in a PRu - so you'd think we were the experts at sorting behaviour - but each class is so different - each year group has it's own idiosyncraciues that there is no simple, fit-all solution.
    Best advice I can give - keep your own self safe and nurtured so that you have resilience and confidence even when the kids don't want to listen or learn.
     
  15. derekdalek

    derekdalek New commenter

    I also teach MFL. In my NQT year I had bottom set yr 8 French with many SEN students and many behaviourally challenged students. In other words a tough group! My stomach used to be in knots thinking of them coming in to my classroom.
    I decided to start each lesson by standing at the door to greet them, exclaiming loudly how happy I was to see them and that they were my favourite group. I figuerd if I said it often enough I might start to believe it and I actually did. By the end of my time with them, they really were my favourites.
    I also did a raffle for small prizes every half term. Nothing big, a Toblerone or something plus a small sweet for those who didnt win. In the lessons, if they sat still for 10 seconds or did anything good at all I would write their names on the board with a tally mark. One mark per ticket. They would all complain about their name being on the board until I said what it was for.
    I put someone in charge of the raffle ticket book to write the names. I wrote 'the raffle is on' in a cloud on the board and if things slipped in the lesson, I would start to rub the words out from 'on' backwards. This would have them saying 'miss, can we work it back?'. I would hum and haw, saying I couldnt possbily reward poor behaviour etc, but they would promise fervently. Eventually, they started to police thier own behaviour.
    On raffle day, I rigged the raffle so the really good, quiet kids won. (Crumple their tickets as you put them in the draw and dont draw out a smooth one) Even the worst behaved seemed to approve of that.
    I used to end every lesson saying how much I loved to teach them, even if I had to go round and speak to small groups or individuals. It was a rollercoaster ride to be sure, bu I did love them as group and I still think fondly of them. The good times outweighed the bad.
    In fact, I still love the bottom sets and have given up a free period this year to take my bottom set Yr 9 Spanish for all 4 of their lessons instead of them having another teacher for 1 of them. I must be mad [​IMG]
    Good luck with them. It really is great training to learn how to handle groups like this early in your career. Just remember sometimes you have to act the part even if its not what you are feeling!




     
  16. HI had a quick read through the posts and think i did not see that you have had parents in yet? If not i would make appointments with parents and child and run through a written report of the list of incidents of any bad language etc during that particular week. I feel if you start talking about something that happened months it will have lost its effect on parents.

    Be totally honest with the language and behaviour and read it out as you heard and observed it. Be clear that it was this particular pupil and in no way are you uncertain, unless you are of course! Remember to start off with a positive such as your child has so much potental but will not achieve theit potential unless they start to so and so.

    Have done this myself and it might take a week or two to get to see them, thats if they want to go into school? You might have to make yourself available a little later than you normally would but it might make the effort worth it. Make sure that you have another teacher available with or within ear shot. Good luck!
     

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