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Year 9 girls / Pack mentality

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by tobyr2385, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. Hi all
    I'm dealing with a class of very able, but very chatty students.
    However, currently I am dealing with about 5-6 girls in this class who talk constantly.
    My dilemma is that whoever I deal with, another one (sometimes two or three) pop(s) up in their defence!
    Form tutors of these girls say this isn't worth the trouble with the paper work I'm generating, and are obviously having to deal with these girls' complaints. My HoD has intervened as has their HoY to no avail.
    How do I deal with this 'pack' mentality?
  2. Hi all
    I'm dealing with a class of very able, but very chatty students.
    However, currently I am dealing with about 5-6 girls in this class who talk constantly.
    My dilemma is that whoever I deal with, another one (sometimes two or three) pop(s) up in their defence!
    Form tutors of these girls say this isn't worth the trouble with the paper work I'm generating, and are obviously having to deal with these girls' complaints. My HoD has intervened as has their HoY to no avail.
    How do I deal with this 'pack' mentality?
  3. Enforce a seating plan which means that they are seated as far away from each other as possible. Explain that it will stay that way for as long as they disrupt lessons. Make sure you point out that they are stopping other people in the class from learning and that it is not acceptable.

    Be consistent and calm.
  4. emmaushead

    emmaushead New commenter

    Lesson wreckers. Deal with by (1) enforced seating plan; (2) one word out of turn and you activate the behaviour policy (e.g. three strikes and you're out of the classroom); (3) hard, but try to give them something that will engage them - at least for a 10 minute starter when they are allowed by you to talk; (4) insist that YOU DO NOT TRY TO TALK OVER ME and go back to (2) again; (5) be excruciatingly polite, but utterly firm. This will tire you out, but after a while they will get the message that you WILL NOT BE OWNED by a bunch of Y9 girls. What a useless load of form tutors, HoY and HoD! They should be backing you to the hilt - what do they think their job is???
  5. Muttley_in_the_Midlands

    Muttley_in_the_Midlands New commenter

    I am not a trained teacher (yet), I am on a PGCE. Some years ago I realised just how awful I had been at school. Now I am in schools again, I have realised that my behaviour was excruciatingly terrible at times. Sorry, but I WAS one of those year 9 pack girls.
    We were allowed to sit where we liked. Because we were clever we were rarely sanctioned.
    I was SO hacked off when I was moved within the classroom - rare because they were always packed full with big classes. I was also not impressed at being told to stand outside and then wait to talk to the teacher afterwards, even for 30 seconds.
    Being split up around the classroom would have helped I'm sure. Being properly sanctioned would have been the second effective measure. I doubt if it would have taken long for us all to conform, especially since I was the ring leader and the others were honestly quieter without me - oh how I cringe!
    We were also far better for the stricter teachers. We had one in year 7 who did not smile until Christmas - in fact I think he smiled around the 15th July, when he saw us off for the holiday.
    What I am saying is to do exactly what the previous poster said. It would have worked with us I'm sure
  6. I think what's happening is that they're pushing their limit as much as possible. I'll freely admit that because the children were naturally better behaved in my second placement school, I didn't have to focus on my behaviour management at all, I could just learn how to teach.
    Now my teaching has gone to pot, as well as my behaviour management.
    I'm using a new book, and a new SoW. My current textbook (Mira 2 Express) assumes that you've completed all of Mira 1 Express beforehand. Not so!
    My predecessor set up Spanish within a carousel system. Up to 8 groups per academic year are given four and a half months of Spanish in Year 8, before they decide whether to study it further in Year 9. If they learn Spanish at the beginning of Year 8, they forget everything by Year 9.
    For example, because they haven't learnt how to tell the time in Year 8, I will now have to teach it for the first time to them after Christmas.
    In reality, with the way the whole system is right now, I'll have to start from scratch with Year 9 next year, because what I have currently isn't working - at all.
    The teaching they received was largely fun and games also known as "chaos", so they've arrived in Year 9 not being actually able to do a lot of Spanish. This has been especially apparent in some of the skills tests I've done. Whilst they can read and listen well, they're not able to say or write independently. There's no shared resources on the school's central system, and I realistically do not have enough time to prepare everything myself.
    I've had three form tutors speak to me or e-mail me about these girls' concerns/complaints and after the third one stopped me in the corridor I wanted to tell her "You try and teach them!". The form tutors are obviously getting fed up with the amount of paperwork I'm generating and I'm getting very mixed messages about how to deal with it.
    I have high expectations of my students, and the general ethos I seem to sense is that being satisfactory is acceptable. There is no natural enthusiasm and they're lazy. "These girls do talk, but that's not important".
    My HoD's comments have varied from "Keep doing what you're doing" to "Don't be so sensitive", the HoY has not mentioned anything at all to me in person. Annoyingly, if anything the form tutors seem to be taking sides with their students for an easy life, when perhaps they should be offering me some helpful hints.
    Of course these form tutors don't teach MFL - but Art, Drama and PE where perhaps the outcome of a lesson is very much different. I'm teaching possibly one of the most difficult subjects to teach, and to a large majority of the class who may not continue with it at KS4 because it is not compulsory.
    Even preparing what I think was a fairly fun lesson went down like a lead balloon today. The new topic is about television - my Year 9s say they don't watch television...
    Colleagues keep telling me the students in general are "Giving you a hard time because you're new", but this is not something I'm willing to believe or accept at the minute.
    My lessons are poor and the enthusiasm I had at the beginning of September has very much faded away. I resent going in and performing the figurative head-banging I seem to do on a daily basis.
    Annoyingly, I'm being observed by my HoD tomorrow, so they will automatically snap into line with their behaviour and do everything they're told...

  7. I am sure that many MFL teachers have stood in your shoes. Much of what you are 'suffering' has less to do directly with behaviour management than the way MFL is set up in your school, as you are aware.
    The 'carousel' is totally counter intuative to MFL teaching. Where the ideal is little and often over a very extended period. I cannot understand why schools think that, despite the fact that many students find MFL challenging, it is such a wizzy idea to have students studying more than one language simultaneously. What percentage of students end up being dual linguists? Contrast that with the number of students who are simply confused by 2 or more languages.
    Weak linguists when asked to opt tend to go for the last language they have learnt. This is because they have yet to encounter 'the difficult bits' in the new language. It is usually the wrong choice on their part, as they have more to learn in a shorter time.
    The other problem MFL teachers suffer is the attitude of colleagues. You also see it in spades on this forum. So much antagonism towards languages is passed on by teachers to students, when they are assured that, 'it is not important it's only MFL' .
    I am reminded of a story related by an MFL colleague. When her school was designated a language college, there was a celebratory assembly. The head began his address to the school by saying, 'Don't worry we are n't expecting you to start speaking foreign languages'.
    If I were in your shoes at the moment I would reflect that your HOD thinks that you are improving the situation and ask for help in that direction. Do you talk through lesson plans, get tips from others? Have you observed colleagues with similar classes? I would also throw the SOW out the window. They will never get anywhere unless they know the basics. So there is no point just bashing on and ignoring the foundations. If they opt for KS4 Spanish you will be in an even worse situation with them in Y10.
    So to summarise use other MFL teachers as a resource. Go back to basics, keep it simple and engaging.
    Phone parents. I have often found that many parents regret not having studied MFL (seriously) and have felt the lack in real life. They are often great allies in this. My adult classes are packed with adults trying to make up for lost time in MFL.
    ....y buena suerte
  8. Thank you for all your support.
    I'm the only specialist in my subject within the department, and I'm a none native speaker as well so I have no-one else to turn to if I need to check something.
    I will have to throw the current Year 9 scheme of work out of the window next year and implement a new one or at least try and convince my HoD that the current carousel system isn't working.
    Asking my Year 8s yesterday if they think they've learnt quite a bit of Spanish, not many of them actually agreed. I had a girl back today from 9y for a detention and I said to her that the way things are, it assumes that we've covered Mira 1. I also said she needed to be more proactive in asking me to explain things if she didn't understand. She seemed to nod in agreement - I think we built a bridge.
    With this particular class, 9x, my HoD did observe me yesterday and she said it wasn't just these girls that were misbehaving, but in fact a large majority of the class. It's finally put things into perspective, just weeks before the end of term.
    I think I passed the observation. They had a variety of activities, reading, writing, and a survey activity - but they didn't actually speak any Spanish at all, and I know I didn't either.
    She's suggested that I put the whole class on "report", on a spreadsheet and then reward the pupils who are working well with a credit, and it'll give the naughtier ones a clear visual example of who is talking too much/not on task/being rude etc, setting them a detention accordingly.
    Homework was set for 9x as well, vocabulary learning. Some of them have left their exercise books at school.
    I'm in two minds as to deliver their books to them, or just wait for them to fail and then phone parents - a 6 day warning is enough for the proactive student to come and collect their book!

  9. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Apologies for no paragraphs /. What is the sanction for not doing homework? For those who do not know the vocab put it in place /. A lovely MFL teacher in my school had a very badly behaved class so she told them she was not going to teach them but that they could do independent learning from a textbook until they learnt to behave. It took two lessons. Now they are pretty good in her lessons. Not perfect but reasonable. Using the school behaviour policy rigidly calms them down when they get too raucous. /. Another teacher very calmly tells disruptive children that she's just writing their name on the board to remind them to stay focussed. It works very well with a particularly disruptive class. /. Good luck
  10. You may be the only hispanist, but that should not stop you talking through lesson plans, observing with other MFL colleagues. I learnt alot through working with a native teacher of Japanese who spoke almost no English. The techniques she used to get over this lack of English were brill.
    They will not be back for their books. If they left them it was to either show their opinion of your homwork or to give them an excuse for not doing it, or both. I suggest you get them to the students concerned on Monday morning. Perhaps put them in registers plus note to tutor to explain what had happened. Then phone home and give detentions if the work is not done.
    Have you tried a league table for completed homeworks? Display at plenary/ when you give out homework. Have a reward for the regular doers. Does your school have a 'congratulatory postcard' that you can send home? I have found these very effective in motivation of students and support from parents. So many students are only on the receiving end of bad news.
  11. I think I would rather my teacher give back my exercise book, and attempt to build a bridge rather than deliberately set me up for a fall. Luckily there was only a few left behind, and those were my typical [chatty] culprits! Notes can be written to tutors and detentions can be given to those that don't learn enough vocabulary to a good standard.
    I've told them many times effective ways of learning vocabulary and may just do this in the future, rather than resort to a worksheet or piece of creative writing which can get lost or put through Google Translate.
    Having spoken to my Professional Mentor, she handed me a huge pile of "Well Done" postcards, and I have been forgetting to reward the motivated and interested learners.
    One of them in 9x even tries to get me to give her a credit, even if she hasn't got 10 stars! 10 stars = 1 credit in my lessons. She's also been very vocal about a new seating plan implemented a few weeks ago. She's an ideal student, but it's very clear that not many people like her - at the other end of the spectrum in comparison to her chatty peers.
    Thank you for the advice. I'll get those books out on Monday!
  12. An update.
    I've put the whole class on report - in effect. Each student's name is listed alongside 5 criteria which they have to meet.
    The whole class starts off on green, for good. If they don't meet those criteria, they get an X in the column next to their name, and that box turns red.
    Three crosses equals a detention, and as my HoD pointed out, it's not just one or two kids! She also agreed that those form tutors that have been annoyed at me, just want an easy life rather than raising the bar in terms of their expectations.
    I had three (of the girls) stay behind today, and they couldn't argue that there wasn't an X in that column next to their name. After school I phoned a boy's mother and got her full support as well.
    Another update coming tomorrow afternoon.
  13. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    Well done. It's good to have support isn't it?
  14. Another update.
    I saw them again this morning, and launched my Positivity Report for them again.
    There were significantly less crosses and red boxes on the grid today, but it's still clear that some Form Tutors are not doing their job properly. One of them had painted nails for the second day running.
    It was all going well until the vocabulary test. Only 4 of the 27 of them scored more than 75%. The rest were a spread of disappointing 0-10s, so clearly they need to learn how to learn vocabulary instead of a fun lesson with Christmas based activities?
    What is infuriating is that if they scored less than 10, they weren't even getting "un/una" or "el/la" correct.
    More exercise books for vocabulary learning were left behind today, so they'll be dumped on Form Tutors tables in the morning, perhaps with a little note explaining effective methods to learn vocabulary.
    It's Review Day tomorrow, so perhaps that will make for a very interesting conversation with their form tutors and parents.
  15. dozymare1957

    dozymare1957 Occasional commenter

    I wonder if your behaviour management will be picked up by others?
  16. Thanks for the advice.
    I'm not quite sure whether this class would be able to identify what gender nouns are in Spanish, simply because I'm picking up where a previous teacher left off.
    Teaching according to the current SoW is a mess. Whatever they pick up in Year 8, does not guarantee them a place in a Year 9 Spanish class (with this current carousel system), so in effect the current Year 9 SoW will also need rewriting.
    The style of teaching they received last year is very different from mine, and I have explained that the only way they're going to get better is by practice.
    I'll give the other methods of testing a go, in the New Year. I think we're heading towards Christmas worksheet / DVD mode next week...
  17. hi i am new to this. i teach British Sign Language and i am a native BSL user. i regularly use my language during class, using lots of images and gestures and body language to convey what i am saying. of course, i occasionally turn to spoken english for clarification purposes.
    it is a good idea to vary the methods of testing their vocabulary skills - DVD, worksheet pairing english and language, encouraging a story to be made that can turn into a presentation. e.g. personal information or such like.
    i sometimes use this website for ideas for my classes - www.mes-english.com

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