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#31 Anna Wells

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 09:02 PM

Hi Anne - This is the first time I've put a message on the this site and have been helped by it a great deal in lots of different ways. However, your message has pushed me into a reply!!
First of all think of all the students you teach in a week 100s and 100s I'm sure. This bunch have to be a tiny minority of your total number of students. You are a fantastic teacher :teacher: - 95% of your lessons are very successful you teach in a varied and thoughtful manner, planning your lessons to suit the kids. You must keep this first and foremost in your mind. These Y10s sound like a well known bunch of challenging kids it's not just you. You are a great teacher don't get preoccupied with this lot focus on the predominantly successful lessons you have. I'm sure most (all?) of us have had similar experiences :crazy:
We have quite a formal behaviour procedure at our school - with a series of sanctions. Although there will always be a very small number of kids who might push this right to the limit the majority will buckle down as they accelerate through the system. The other thing that I have found helpful again in the majority of situations is contacting parents. Many are horrified when confronted with word by word commentary of what their offspring have been up to and will be very supportive. Your HoD/SMT sound very supportive and I am sure will continue to work with you and be supportive.
Hold your head up high, know how good a teacher you are and keep talking to colleagues. You'll get there
Take care
Anna :king:

#32 alison denton

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 09:11 PM

you are doing well to stay so upbeat Anne - don't let them upset you.

Would it undermine or strengthen your position to have someone (well-respected by the pupils) from SMT/ your department to observe an entire lesson with them? I remember a really yuk class a few years ago, and an observation by the (excellent) Head of Year gave me a few pointers which saw me through a few more lessons. It also made the pupils aware that I was not on my own - he was on my side.

Unfortunately, although the work of Bill Rodgers et al is excellent, you are rarely in the position of dealing with one incident at a time, it is more like fire-fighting or a tour of duty in the trenches.

You are doing your best to do a professional job in a caring way. You are self-critical. the pupils must also respect you as a matter of course. Being abused at work isn't part of your contract. I think the pupils need to be made to fulfil their side of the bargain, and you are outnumbered. Time to call for reinforcements maybe?

Is it the whole class who are causing problems? If it is 5/6 pupils really, maybe they could be targeted - behaviour modification programme etc. etc. but I think you need to strengthen your own position with more than just a sympatheitic word afterwards from SMT or whoever.

What is being done about the abusive letter you received?

#33 Anne Piper

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:30 PM

I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who responded to my plea for help. The boy who was abusive is on an internal exclusion. The parents who wrote the letter have been contacted and have retracted their statements. I have been surrounded by caring people who have done nothing but offer words of encouragement, and faith in my ability.

I ahd an observation earlier in the week, and the report was very positive, so I feel much better about myself.

I have decided to offer the video at the end of the lesson as a reward and I have asked my HOD to observe me teaching them., to see where I am going wrong. Her response was that it probably is nothing I am doing wrong but she would be happy to reassure me.

The Bill Rogers stuff is excellent, and I must rememebr to use it. I do with other classes, but this one cause me to react differently. I guess I am a bit 'scared' of them. Silly really, they are only children after all. I have to remember that.

Thank you all again!!!! :teacher:
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#34 A Finemess

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 02:09 PM

Excellent news Anne! Glad the little "character" who abused you to your face is being sorted out and also that your colleagues are giving you the support you need and deserve. Every, repeat every teacher , experiences lessons like that and not always in the first couple of years in the job. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar.

A wee suggestion - if the class has a lot of SEN kids why not let them match up the cards and then stick them in their work books? Or cut them out of a sheet and then stick in after shading them with crayon to colour code the category?

Writing is not only boring for many of these kids but also reminds them of their inadequacies. It's often a good idea to find alternatives but not always and as a matter of course.

Good luck and remember "Nil illegitimis carborundum" (Never let the b######s grind you down!)
“All men dream; but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act out otheir dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”.(T.E. Lawrence)
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#35 Andrew Field

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 03:18 PM

This is indeed excellent new Anne. Well done. Things like this do happen and you can be following all the best advice in the world and still encounter them. It is great to see the situation has been sorted - the individual certainly now has the ability to "'take up time' to do as instructed".

I have a horrendous Year 9 last thing on a Friday who have had me very tested today.

In some ways, looking back on such incidents does give you confidence as a teacher as you progess on. You look back and see the long term impact and are able to see the eventual outcomes. This really helps you put things in perspective.

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#36 JohnDClare


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Posted 26 September 2003 - 10:18 PM

I think I have said this before but you will look back on this dreadful Year 10 and say: 'That was the class that taught me to teach!'

Don't let them be abusive or rude - put such pupils out immediately.
As for the rest:
1. Spot the troublemakers (almost certainly not the pupils you think).
2. After each lesson/setback/disaster/success, go home, analyse, plan and plot your next move - then go back and try again.
I know that it is a painful process, but you will see your teaching skills advancing faster than ever before. If classes didn't question our teaching, there would not be as much incentive to explore different strategies.

Just one small matter I suspected from your letter.

Yesterday, I had planned an activity that I thought would appeal to them, a card sort based on the reasons for reform, which we could also use to place the relevant factors into political, economic and social elements. This was a total failure. Only one group managed to match each factor to its relevant examples....

Today, I got them to copy from the text! This was a bit of a cop-out I know, but I am so worried that they will not have enough information to get through the GCSE...  I didn't know how else to get the information down.

These pupils may be trying it on, trying to con you that they are too thick to do the work. But whether or not they are, always fit the teaching to the pupils, not to the syllabus. Make sure you are matching the lesson content and tasks to the pupils' ability - even if it means that not one of them gets the GCSE (if you have correctly matched the tasks to their ability, then they were never going to get one anyway). Do not be frightened by the syllabus. Make sure that your tasks are DO-ABLE - much pupil un-settledness is due to tasks which are too hard, or they didn't listen while the task was explained, or are not explained properly.
Try teaching a fairly-but-not-too interesting lesson, but when it comes to the task, give them two alternatives. For those who have understood, they can... [the task you intended]. But if you really aren't understanding, don't worry, IF YOU WANT you can do this [easy alternative] instead, and all will be ok in the end.

At Greenfield we have mixed ability GCSE Options classes, so I get a range of pupils from genius to illiterate. I always encourage them all to try the 'GCSE' work, but I have 'extended' activities for the more able, and fall-off-a-log activities for those who do not feel they can manage the GCSE work.

For these pupils, I tell them that I will not enter them if they don't want, but will give them a 'Greenfield certificate' instead. The difference between the two, I tell them, is that, for the GCSE, they have to understand the work; for a 'Greenfield certificate', they just have to do it.
Less confident pupils are usually very happy with this. I give them a 'certificate' (which I mock up on my computer - just a list of 'subjects covered') every topic. And often, if they have done this faithfully for the course, they are ready by the end to be entered for the GCSE and go happily on to a lower grade.

#37 Dave Wallbanks

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 07:04 PM

I was talking to a few colleagues the other day and the old chestnut about bad discipline came up again. I know it's a topic we've covered before but I think we might need to have a recap about what you do to help improve discipline in the classroom and what do you do when it all goes wrong? How do you get pupils to behave in your class when they obviously aren't behaving elsewhere in the school?
In particular what do you do when senior management turn round and say it's all your fault? (I'd guess the person I'm talking about knows it IS NOT their fault but being told this cannot be right) I think that new members in particular might have something really productive to say here. What's the training in this discipline now?
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#38 Rachel Jones

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 07:26 PM

Not totally sure whether this is the place to put this, but this only happened this afternoon so it's fresh in my mind.

This week my mentor has been off, so her lessons have been covered by supply teachers. Today, I was in two of these lessons as I'm going to be taking these particular classes after half term and I wanted to watch them.

One lad was unbelievable. Just couldn't get him to do anything. He knew there was a supply teacher there, and (I'm thinking that) he took that to mean that he could do as he pleased as there'd be no repurcussions.

And in effect, he was right.

He was threatened with a detention, but didn't get one. He was held back for about 5 - 10 minutes and spoken to (all the while answering back) and that was it.

Don't know if I should have done or not, but I thought that although it wasn't really my place to do so, I should make a note of tis. So I've left a note with the HOY for this pupil (who is also a history teacher so I know quite well) explaining what had happened. Otherwise, I'm not sure that he would ever actually have heard about this. It's an unofficial note, hand written on a piece of paper acquired from the photocopier, but at least now I know that his actions have been noted.

As I said, I'm not sure that this even belongs here, but I guess I'm trying to say that there was a definite "it's ok to mess about for some teachers, but not others" attitude going on today.

The main things that we get told about classroom management is Fair, Firm and Consistent. Positive comments and praise are also big. I think that they work really really well. It did at my last school and they were desperate to please you and have you say nice things about them. They were gutted if at the end of the lesson you said that they'd let you down for some misdemeanour.

Erm... and that's about all I was going to say. If I think of a way of making this a bit more relevant, I'll come back and edit... :unsure:


Edited by Rachel Juckes, 10 February 2004 - 07:28 PM.

Que sera, sera

#39 Carole Faithorn

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Posted 10 February 2004 - 07:26 PM

I think that new members in particular might have something really productive to say here. What's the training in this discipline now?

I think this is very true, Dave. However it might be a good idea if new members of the Forum knew what has been said previously.

This thread on Classroom Management began with an excellent post by John D Clare.

Edit: Thread now merged together.

Edited by Andrew Field, 10 February 2004 - 07:42 PM.

#40 Anne Piper

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Posted 11 February 2004 - 08:15 PM

I wanted to add something to this thread, well give an update really! I think I am getting through to my year 10 group! They have been causing me terrible problems, and I really didn't know what I was supposed to do. However, since Christmas things seem to have changed. Although they can still be noisy at times, and some of them only work some of the time, the core of the group are becoming quite nice to teach. Two of the lads stayed behind one lesson, to finish some work (voluntarily I might add) and said that although the class could be noisy, they felt they were really learning. One of these lads will even come up to me in the playground and chat, and some of them come into my room just to say hello!

I don't know what I have done. Some of it is that I feel a bit more confident, and I have been using some of the advice given earlier in the thread. The tasks are easier to begin with, so everyone can do something, and then they get progressivley more difficult, to challenge those that need it.

In the last lesson, two pupils, who are rarely in class, turned up and caused a lot of disruption. Despite the presencwe of two TAs a PGCE student and myself, they couldn't be contained. They were removed by the HOD and another teacher. But, only one other pupil joined in, and he was so sorry afterwards! In fact one of the lads who was removed shouted back, 'What is the matter with you lot, has she put a spell on you or something?' :sorcerer:

So, all in all things are looking up. It is (or was for me) a case of sticking with it, and reflecting on what works and what doesn't. Of matching the teaching to the pupil

always fit the teaching to the pupils, not to the syllabus

and not letting them get to you!

Just year 11 to sort out now ;)
Let no one think of me as humble or weak or passive ...

#41 JohnDClare


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Posted 11 February 2004 - 10:48 PM

In the last lesson, two pupils, who are rarely in class, turned up and caused a lot of disruption... But, only one other pupil joined in, and he was so sorry afterwards! In fact one of the lads who was removed shouted back, 'What is the matter with you lot, has she put a spell on you or something?'

When I have to take action against a pupil such as this, I always apologise to the rest of the class when they have gone.

Firstly - as I say to them - I remember, as a child, how upset in my tummy I got when there was trouble in class. Often, the pupil in trouble doesn't give a damn! It's the rest of the pupils who are upset by the atmosphere in the classroom! So I'm sorry if they were disturbed in any way.

Then I ask them to realise that I wasn't angry at them, and that I hope they understand that I had no alternative in the circumstances. And then I carry on nice as ninepence with them as though nothing had happened.

What this does is:
a. it recognises what is a truth.
b. it wins over the critical mass to your side, and turns them against the 'troublemakers who are spoiling our happy time'.
No need even to lay it on thick.

Of course, this does not work where a whole class is being silly and antagonistic - they just think you're mad. But in a situation such as you describe, it's a good tactic.

#42 Carl Fazackerley

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Posted 01 March 2006 - 09:09 PM

I wish I'd found this thread before meeting my current year nine set! I posting here to bring it back to the list of recent posts in case there are any other PGCE students like myself who badly need a summary of this nature!
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#43 Dan Moorhouse

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Posted 10 September 2007 - 07:38 PM


Feel rather odd reading things I wrote 4 years ago... but in a new school with a higher than average % of troublesome kids the refresher course was much needed. Lots of things in here make a hell of a lot of sense and JDC's list of ideas is brilliant advice to any of us who find ouselves with unknown kids who exhibit challenging behaviour. I've had 7 or 8 pupils in some classes who have made life very interesting so far. Plans: Seating already sorted but will be rejigging the layout of the room to improve things a little; target sheets for any pupil who has been spoken to more than once; display and reiteration of procedures - warning, move and copywrite then removed from room with x long detention etc....

Hardest week I've ever had. I've met lots of troubled kids before but rarely so many at one time without support assistants etc. Can't believe I'm contemplating bed so early on a Monday.....

#44 Mr. Porte

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 03:20 PM

This is a really interesting post. I think behaviour management is something that is left behind at PGCE.

They refer to it but practical training is non-existant. I think classroom management is something that can certainly be practised and taught. I feel that I have had to learn as I went on.

Luckily (in some ways) I went to a very very hard school on my second placement and to keep myself sane I read lots about management techniques and employed them non-stop until something worked. That was not a particularly nice time of my training, and a few hours of training led by a mentor with a group would have been much nicer.

From my limited experience I have found that students often mirror how you are. If you are visibly grumpy and raise your voice constantly, they will do the same. My school doesn't have a great deal of behaviour issues, but as with any place has its students that can be difficult to handle. I have found the inability to be wound up, and speaking in a calming voice at all times can help.

But I'm only just out of my NQT year so its hardly the voice of experience (unlike John's fantastic post).

#45 Tom A

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Posted 11 September 2007 - 06:24 PM

Thanks for resurrecting this thread, Carl. So many useful ideas - and I remember reading it on PGCE three years ago and thinking that I'd never be able to keep all those balls in the air at once...

But am now in second year of VERY tough school (2 years of Special Measures, 2 teachers down after the first two days back in the classroom last week etc) and am gratified to see how much of the above has become just a standard part of usual classroom practice.

I remember last year one of the year 8s asking me if I was a strict teacher, and replying in a very Boris Johnsonish way, "erm, yes, definitely. strict, that's me" with a slightly sinking heart. I got the same question from a year 7 yesterday and it was so nice to be able to respons in the affirmative with real confidence!

Best thing I ever did, working in a school that almost drove me mad for a year! B)

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