Never had a class like it.

(34 Posts)
Lizziegeorge Fri 07-Mar-14 08:11:59

We're now 6 months in and I still haven't warmed to some of the children in my class. They describe themselves as very clever and like to to talk. Only one of those descriptions is true. They are the rudest and most arrogant group of children I've ever taught and I feel so sorry for the 2/3 who are delightful, engaged etc etc. I also swing between feeling sorry for myself at having such a class and feeling I can't do it anymore. I used to be quite good (got a few outstandings!!) but now feel I'm failing. Their last teacher almost had a breakdown and ended up leaving because of them so I know it's not just me but I feel useless. Management are lovely but not hot on behaviour and school is full of very liberal middle class London parents whose children rule the roost. Be very grateful for some advice.

daytoday Fri 07-Mar-14 08:19:40

Firstly, I think that systemic class problems are actually the responsibility of the school. The school really need to tackle the class dynamic.

The children may all be confused about 'expected behaviour' in school. If the school isn't setting clear boundaries then that is a massive failure.

Also, I find the presumption that the scho

daytoday Fri 07-Mar-14 08:21:09

Oops- I find the presumption that its full of middle class kids 'who rule the roost' a bit strange? Isn't that a bit of a stereotype?

I think the school need to support you more.

PastSellByDate Fri 07-Mar-14 10:22:18

Lizziegorge:

I'm just a parent and worse yet middle class academic - but it seems to me that control/ behaviour in classroom is all about who's boss. You've got to be boss.

You're top dog and they're your pack. What you say goes.

However - it's easy to say possibly harder to work out in practice:

Some resources:

TES behaviour advice here: www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storyCode=6175180

my brother teaches in US and finds Class Dojo brilliant for his 10/11 year olds: www.classdojo.com/en-GB - he uses it by having them agree as a class in advance what is good behavior and what is bad behavior for a task/ field trip in advance. The scores are reported to their parents (which terrifies the kids) - and if they all do well - there reward is things like: longer break/ class outside/ Popsicle surprise (if they've been great - my brother buys his class posicles in the spring/ summer months when its good weather - he says it costs him $10-$12 but they worship him for it - so its money well spent)

REWARD THE WELL BEHAVED. Too often teachers focus all attention on those misbehaving leaving the well behaved to it. Flip your behaviour so that the well behaved get your attention (those sitting nicely/ those raising their hands/ those who have been working hard at their table) and those who have been wandering about/ chatting/ messing about are told you'll see to them last, because clearly they're not interested in learning.

TALK TO THE PARENTS - Yes spoiled middle class kids who are used to getting their way are awful (it is a stereotype but it does exist) - but most parents would be mortified to find out their children are behaving badly. And most precious middle class parents want their children to be well educated. So hit them where it hurts: Ye olde - Johnny is clearly bright but I'm afraid he's expending all his energy on being the class clown rather than his work. I'm very concerned because if he would concentrate he'd probably be a sure fire thing for XXXX independent or the 11+, etc... I've tried to manage it in class and of course will continue - but it would really help if you could reinforce with him how important it is to settle down to work during key times like literacy/ numeracy hour. He's really holding himself back with his behavior.

Finally - consider sanction. If you have children who are constantly being sent out of class for poor behavior, you've spoken to the parents, etc... - then maybe it's time to withhold their right to the 'perks' of primary school: school trips/ special assemblies/ recess/ etc... Maybe it's time to assign extra homework - which if not complete will have to be done in the HT's/ Deputy HT's office before rejoining class. Warn the parents this is the final straw before exclusion - but basically - the reward for conforming is return to access to the 'fun bits'.

HTH

DeWe Fri 07-Mar-14 10:25:02

What age?

Depends really on the way you want to go about it, and how good they really are, and the parents.

My dm taught someone who was very arrogant about his maths ability. She realised why when his parents told her at parents' evening that they couldn't imagine any child could ever be better at maths than him.
She sat there not quite knowing what to say on the basis that yes, he was going to get an A at A-level maths-but was only predicted a C/D for further maths (top in class). She eventually said "Well, the grades A and B are awarded to many people every year, you know!"
This did actually get through to him and improved his attitude considerably.

You could try and get them to work more as a team. Do lots of things that rely on them working as a team, not proving that they individually are the best.
You could get them to do things that they will find hard, and need to ask for help. Perhaps a skill that doesn't come naturally.
If it would work, have a day when they have to teach something to the class. They have to research it, find out about it and give a 5 minute presentation and answer questions. Then end the day with a quiz on all the things they've talked about. That way they have to listen to each other and remember something new.

PastSellByDate Fri 07-Mar-14 10:29:38

OH - one thing that does occur - especially with boys - is that sometimes a kid just has too much energy to sit still. With these kids sometimes organised sports (and lots of it) is the solution. They can release that pent up energy - and it naturally calms them.

My brother also swears that he can instantly tell the difference between kids drinking lots of sugary drinks/ eating lots of sugary foods & those who eat well. This will be tricky - but since you describe you're dealing with fairly privileged kids - you may be better able to suggest that they consider cutting down on fizzy drinks/ processed or sugary foods - and increasing healthy eating options (fruit, water, vegetables, fish etc...).

Taffeta Fri 07-Mar-14 10:34:46

"Management is lovely but not hot on behaviour " and therein lies the issue.

Forget how liberal an upbringing they are getting at home, the school has to set the scene and expectations for acceptable behaviour.

Would you be likely to make any headway with discussing public behavioural reward processes with management? Eg prizes given out once a week within the class and at assembly for those who are constantly modelling the behaviours (previously set out and examples given to children ) that you want to see? Eg thinking of the other person, letting the other person have airtime, valuing others contributions, listening to understand etc.

columngollum Fri 07-Mar-14 10:35:00

Have any of your managers ever offered assistance and then failed to provide it? Could you help them?

Menolly Fri 07-Mar-14 17:21:37

school is full of very liberal middle class London parents whose children rule the roost does that mean they are likely to complain if you are strict and start introducing new sanctions? and not support you if you write to them?

I would go with some form of extra reward scheme and explain to the children exactly what will stop them getting rewards (i.e. being rude and arrogant)

I was in a similar class as a child (and I suspect I was one of the ones you wouldn't have warmed to) we had a teacher in year 2 who bought a load of pencils with rubbers on and then award them to children who behaved, only people who won them could have a nice pencil and the colour/pattern she bought changed every so often, everyone else had black and yellow striped pencils with no rubber on them and it became a matter of pride to have a special pencil and to collect them all. In the last month or so she gave out handwriting pens, which you usually weren't allowed til year 3. no idea why but we were desperate to get those pens even though they were the same ones given to everyone on the first day of year 3 and Mum (who was also a TA at the school) says we were all much nicer after the teacher started it. Badges that they are allowed to wear on school uniform for a week might work and be cheaper, I think part of the appeal with pencils was you used them every day so everyone could see who had won one, we were very arrogant and competitive so knowing we had a certificate wasn't enough if people weren't reminded of it constantly.

I would also write to the parents of the children you are having issues with and tell them that their children are disrupting the other 2/3 of the class and what needs to change, and explain to their parents that all the time they are behaving this way they are unlikely to fulfill their full potential, then tell the parents what will happen if things don't improve (depends in age but things like missing out on the fun stuff or not being allowed to sit with people they talk to or set homework to write about why talking in class isn't good/ways to be polite and kind)

TeenAndTween Fri 07-Mar-14 18:47:57

Perhaps you should show them the penultimate episode of Outnumbered? Sounds like you have a class full of Karen Brockmans!

Ferguson Fri 07-Mar-14 19:04:34

If you do write to parents, as Menolly suggests, do you need to advise the Head about it as well?

AllergyMums Fri 07-Mar-14 20:39:55

grin Teen. Love that show.

LurkingCinners Sat 08-Mar-14 13:38:28

Pastsellbydate, thanks for that link. It made my bed time reading and was so useful!

pixiepotter Sat 08-Mar-14 14:15:20

No point threatening that sort of child with telling/writing to their liberal parents because liberal parents will just take the kids side, and teh children know this.

tethersend Sat 08-Mar-14 14:28:06

I think Circle Time- proper Circle Time could help here.

It's a good way to establish some ground rules which are agreed by mutual consent. Ask them what they think makes a good teacher, and then how they can help you to be that teacher. Ask them what makes a good student, and ask how they will help each other to do that.

It's very hard when presented with a group of seemingly confident, arrogant children- but, for your own sanity, you have to remember that this is just a front. They have no substance to their claims, they are just repeating what adults around them say. Write some things to remind you of this inside cupboard doors and go and read them/seethe when they've said something really eye-watering and you're 'getting the scissors' wink

If there are lots of large personalities vying for attention, make up jobs/roles in the classroom which carry prestige, and divvy them up.

If they are REALLY getting to you, send one of them off to next door's teacher with a coded note which basically means 'I need a break from this one for a minute'.

I'd also try the kill them with kindness approach. At least at first, then start to get firmer. IME this obtains much better results than coming in strict and relaxing over time.

tethersend Sat 08-Mar-14 14:30:43
pixiepotter Sun 09-Mar-14 00:22:19

Splitbthem up on different tables arranged as much as possible so they can not make eye contact with one another.
Out of interest ,how long have you been teaching

pixiepotter Sun 09-Mar-14 00:24:08

* kill them with kindness approach. At least at first, then start to get firmer. IME this obtains much better results than coming in strict and relaxing over time.*

really? that goes against all teh conventional 'don't even smile until after xmas' teacher wisdom

tethersend Sun 09-Mar-14 00:35:05

I know it does pixie- but I honestly have found the opposite to be true, particularly when working with challenging children.

In fact, I think the 'don't smile until Christmas' thing is one if the worst pieces of advice given to training teachers.

clam Mon 10-Mar-14 09:16:31

You sound a bit intimidated by them. How old are they (not sure it makes any difference but I'm interested to know).

The first thing is to know that you're the boss. You have to exude that from every pore. I'm very nice to my class (year 4), and we have lots of fun, but they know from the first minute in my room that they won't get one over on me. The first arrogant look or remark would be met with a raised eyebrow and "the look." If you're confident within yourself, it shouldn't need much more than that.
It's even more important the older they are - Year 6 are renowned for being a bit big for their boots, although it's creeping in a bit earlier these days.

KitKins Thu 13-Mar-14 12:51:48

As a parent of a delightful one in a very similar class I would suggest focussing on those.

My daughter is currently losing interest and can't see the point of doing any of her school work, because she doesn't receive any form of recognition as the teachers are constantly trying to discipline the hoards. She also came home in tears the other day because her class were told that they were widely considered to be the worst class in the school. She took that personally.

I am not a teacher, but just maybe a bit of parental psychology could be used here. Shower the delightful ones with praise, raise their self-esteem and the others might see what they miss out on. Last years teacher did just this and my daughter flourished. They also had less problems and need to discipline the others. The best bit; not once did that teacher raise her voice, she had "a look" and took the time to get to know each child and somehow seemed to be able to predict/distract some of the more disruptive ones before their trigger.

Unfortunately for us, new year, new teacher, old habits die hard!

frumpity33higswash Thu 13-Mar-14 13:25:59

Good luck, it sounds awful But there is good advice here.

rrbrigi Thu 13-Mar-14 13:29:05

When I was young in another country if I was bad they kept me in at lunchtime to tidy up the classroom, put the chairs where it should be, watering flowers etc� Sometimes he kept the whole class in if there were lots of bad children. We also had a desk called �sheep desk� and those who behaved very badly were sent to there, everyone knew they sat there because they are naughty, we were not allowed to speak to them until they were sitting next to that table. The teacher also was very strict about his rules, so if we did not follow the main rules (speak nicely, behave, listen, etc�) he thought we forgot it and we needed to write down X times the rules to make sure next time we remember. E.g.: we needed to write down a hundred times at lunchtime that �when the teachers speak I will listen�. There were lot longer sentences if you still did not want to follow the rules. (Imagine our spelling was very good within a year!) We learnt the rules very quickly. There were always a few children who did not behave well, but my teacher always gave them lots of work (not just school work) so they did not have time to be bad.

Glasshammer Fri 14-Mar-14 20:25:09

Management has to step up in this situation. Start involving parents more. I expect they are cocky too or have no control over their kids though.

Glasshammer Fri 14-Mar-14 20:26:04

Arrange a meeting with the head. You need new tactics.

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