A SN child at school is hitting me! WWYD?

(58 Posts)
Nokidsnoproblem Wed 20-Mar-13 10:17:37

I work as an English teacher in an Asian country. I teach elementary students at a small school (around 100 students). My classes are completely in English because I cannot speak the language of this country.

In my grade 3 class there is a boy with SN. I don't know what exactly is wrong with him because of the language barrier, the most I've been told is that 'his brain is not working properly'. He comes to my after school class and is an absolute nightmare. He cannot speak a word of English so I cannot control him at all. As soon as he comes into my classroom it is like a firework has gone off. He will scream, shout, annoy the other students, and just recently he has started to hit me. I was very shocked when he first did it as I had never known him to be violent before, I took him straight to his teacher, she told him off and brought him back five minutes later. The same thing has happened two more times since then.

Today his teacher spoke to my boss and told her that I should deal with this child by myself. According to her it is my responsibility if he is in my classroom. I understand her POV, but me and this child cannot speak the same language and he hates me!

His mother cannot speak English so that conversation is out of the question.

I would really appreciate some ideas on disciplining this boy. I honestly have no idea what to do!

WorraLiberty Wed 20-Mar-13 10:20:55

Poor thing must be so frustrated.

Assuming you're learning the language, how long will it roughly take for you to know enough to be able to communicate?

mumarchy Wed 20-Mar-13 10:23:11

maybe you could make cards with words written in his language and show them to him when he starts misbehaving. have a chat with the mother with the help of an interpreter? provide him with drawing, painting materials to express himself.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 10:23:35

I would try to find out what is upsetting him and causing him to kick off as soon as he enters the classroom. Could be something sensory about the room.

Can you ask the teacher what he likes doing? If for example he likes colouring in get him some English worksheets to colour in.

Ask the teacher to observe the lesson to tell you how to handle it?

It's a bit tricky if no-one is actually dealing with his SN in a meaningful way.

I would focus on his behaviour disrupting the other students so you need some advice on how to work with him.

Archetype Wed 20-Mar-13 10:27:03

its a bit weird that you don't know the language, are you learning it?

Catchingmockingbirds Wed 20-Mar-13 10:27:39

You should speak to the head teacher and find out exactly what his diagnosis (if he's been dx) is, what issues he has and how it impacts on him and his school day. Once you find this out then it will be much easier to come up with a plan to deal with him lashing out at you and his behaviour in class and to work out his triggers (is it due to sensory needs, communication difficulties, motor function issues, etc).

bigTillyMint Wed 20-Mar-13 10:31:37

If there is a language barrier, is there any way you could use visual cues - pictures that show what is happening - to make a visual timetable, explain what is now/next?

What are you actually teaching hi? You say he cannot speak a word of English - is this because he cannot speak at all/much in his home language or is it that he is finding it very hard to learn English? Why is he in your group - wouldn't he be better doing something more appropriate?

anewyear Wed 20-Mar-13 10:43:49

Grade 3? how old is that?

Just a few thoughts, sorry if this offends...

As someone else said make up some flash cards.

Words in both languages and a pictures ie book, paper, pencil, pen, TV, house, Mum, Dad, cat etc etc just basic stuff.

Teach yourself basic Makaton and use daily with him.

Talk to his teacher see what hes intrested in and take from there.

And as some one up post said prehaps teach yourself some words in his language ie NO, STOP, Sit Down, stand still,

No expert or experience teaching a language, Just that quite a few years ago we had a 10yr old boy with Down syndrome join us at the mainstream school I was volunteering at,
None of the teaching staff had any experience of his particular special need, I was asked If I would take over his 1-1, What Ive mentioned above is some of what I did with/for him.

MNetBlackpoolLE Wed 20-Mar-13 10:51:11

I've taught in a school with 75% ESL and agree with anewyear completely.

MNetBlackpoolLE Wed 20-Mar-13 10:52:12

Is grade 3 year 4? 8 and 9?

KellyElly Wed 20-Mar-13 11:18:29

its a bit weird that you don't know the language, are you learning it? Many people who teach English as a foreign language in other countries don't know the language. It's pretty common.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 11:38:43

i would hazard a guess that he is maybe upset because he can't understand the language being used in this classroom at all and finds it scary.

aldiwhore Wed 20-Mar-13 11:44:04

Can only echo the others.

The problem is not that he and his mother can't speak English but that you cannot speak their language.

You need to tackle that issue. Are you learning?

Also agree with anewyear it sounds frustrating for both of you, your first job is to try and build some form of basic communication.

Nokidsnoproblem Wed 20-Mar-13 11:51:10

Thank you very much for your responses.

However I'm not quite sure that I explained this boy properly. He knows that I can't speak his language and he understands what my class is about. I have tried speaking his language to him, but he just laughs hysterically which distracts the whole class. I have tried asking some of the brighter students to translate, but they don't want to go near him because he lashes out at people.

He really does not enjoy my class, which is why he gets so hyper I think. However I work with a set curriculum which I am not permitted to change, thus I cannot adapt my class to make it more 'fun' for him. His mother has signed him up for this class and he does not want to be there.

montage Wed 20-Mar-13 11:52:21

Are there any teaching assistants in your school who can provide support for him while he's in class?

I'm not sure from your OP if he is only in your class after school or all day but if he has any other teachers, then talking to them about how best to approach and support this little boy would be a good starting place.

Are you teaching in an international school btw?

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 12:31:12

You did explain properly.

But you need to try to find out and understand what his issues are.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 12:40:42

He isn't just a naughty disruptive boy who needs discipline, he needs to be taught in a way which suits his particular SN and at a level he can understand.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:00:13

Not adapting your class is not that acceptable if he has SN IMO.

Do you feel his mother signed him up but he shouldn't be there?

He should be able to go there and have his needs met like everyone else in the class.

The school sounds very useless about SN.

StanleyLambchop Wed 20-Mar-13 13:02:28

I think you need more support from the school on this. You cannot communicate with the child, he does not want to be there so is disruptive. The school know this, yet they allow it to continue to the detrimant of all concerned.

If they are continuing to insist he is in your class and that you have to deal with him without help from other teachers who can communicate, then they should be allowing you to change your lesson slightly to account for his difficulties.

I taught EFL abroad for several years, I was never expected to have children who could not speak English in my class- as a native speaker teacher I was there to provide total immersion in English. The school were not desperately supportive of me learning the local language either as they did not want me to 'translate' for the children, they had to be able to follow everything in English.

I think you need to ask for more support, or agree strategies with the head teacher. YANBU to not want to be hit by a pupil!

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Mar-13 13:06:50

Of this is an after school class and not a compulsory one, I would tell the school that you are no longer prepared to have this child in your class.

Is the head of the school likely to support you, or are they the type of school that will bend to whatever parents want?

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:08:33

I was waiting for someone to say that.

Insist the school refuses a place in a class for a child with SN?

That's just wrong.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:16:44

Now should prob leave thread before more people start advocating the removal of a child from a class open to all because of his SN..seen it all before.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Mar-13 13:17:13

It's wrong that OP doesn't have support from her school to deal with a child with extra needs. If the school is prepared to support her, then of course the child should be included in the class, but if not, it's not fair to the OP and the other children to have an unsupported, violent child in their class.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:17:46

Well then the thing to insist is that he is supported not removed.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Mar-13 13:19:23

I have a child with SN, and work with children in school who have SN. I stand by my comment that OP should not be expected to teach a class at the same time as being hit by an child.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:20:22

Well clearly she shouldn't. So someone should be there to stop him hitting.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:21:06

Or other methods put in place. Not just removal.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Mar-13 13:22:49

Absolutely, but if OP isn't getting even getting support from colleagues on the same level as her, and she has been told that all of this is her responsibility, despite the fact that they don't even speak the same language, then what else is she supposed to do?

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 13:26:11

The school sound awful.

But removing a child with SN from a class because of his SN is just fundamentally wrong to me.

BiscuitMillionaire Wed 20-Mar-13 13:27:08

"The school sounds very useless about SN"
Welcome to Asia.

Greythorne Wed 20-Mar-13 13:29:11

I don't think it is the OP's responsibility to learn the local language. It is the school's responsibility to find an appropriate teacher for the boy with SN. Which may or may not be the OP.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 20-Mar-13 13:31:59

It sounds wrong to me too Fab, but the OP wouldn't be removing the child because he has SN. She would be removing the child because of the lack of support, and because she cannot effectively teach him because of the language barrier anyway.

ImTooHecsyForYourParty Wed 20-Mar-13 13:38:12

That poor child. He is being horribly failed. Why is there no support in the class for him? It's clear that he simply isn't coping.

Does the country you are in have anything similar to sn code of practise? or rules on support? Or funding for support?

You need to be insisting that this poor child isn't just dumped in your class but actually gets the support he needs. It is unacceptable that he is being put in a position where he is able to lash out like this or is so stressed that he responds by lashing out. And there is no reason on earth why you should accept being hit, regardless of his needs. I say this as the mother of 2 children who get full time 1:1.

It's a failure in the school's duty of care.

To him AND to you!

ArtVandelay Wed 20-Mar-13 13:56:13

My friend had a similar situation so I understand a bit how stressful it is for you. A big part of what upset my friend was that she cared so much about the boy and really feared for his future as there is no statement system here and she had no support in how to work best with him because the parents and the school were in so much denial about his needs. She managed to find out his interests and motivations and also buddied him up with a very caring and confident boy in her class. She also did a lot of work with the whole class about supporting and caring for each other.

My friend's pupil is 8 but had the abilities of a 3-4 yr old so she went back to absolute basics. It was a lot of work but she acheived some real milestones with him through very basic exercises. I hope this story makes you feel less alone? I think its probably quite common in international schools and other countries.

FabOeufsFromLaChocolateries Wed 20-Mar-13 14:00:22

The OP was asking about "disciplining" the boy and not teaching him and helping him, which I found a bit sad, your friend sounds wonderful.

ArtVandelay Wed 20-Mar-13 14:34:04

True Fab... OP is your background primary teaching or TEFL? I just ask because my lovely friend is a v. experienced state school primary age teacher that has had a lot of DCs through her hands. I can teach TEFL but I wouldn't dream of teaching school because I simply haven't got the paedogogy (spelling!) knowledge or experience. Maybe some extra reading around special needs or an online course could help? Who can recommend the OP some resources?

anewyear Wed 20-Mar-13 15:44:18

montage - that was gonna be my next question grin do you have teaching assistants or the like OP?

Agree with StanleyLambchop..

Which country are you teaching English in OP? that may give us a little more understanding prehaps?

PolterGoose Wed 20-Mar-13 16:07:29

Please don't refer to him as A SN child as that is quite offensive shock

I agree with everything fab said, you asked how to discipline him, well, until you make yourself aware of his needs, which might mean you have to persuade someone to act as translator, I don't see how you can. Different SNs and disabilities require different techniques, and they generally require pro-active strategies rather than reactive discipline.

Please, find out what his needs are, learn from his other teachers and parents, do some research. You absolutely cannot meet his educational needs until you address this.

JustinBsMum Wed 20-Mar-13 16:16:33

Well, how does he behave in other classes?

If it is only this class (which seems unlikely if other children are frightened of him) then perhaps speak to the mother to ask what he does like doing so that you can incorporate some of that into his lesson.

The other teachers sound uninterested so perhaps the mother might be more helpful as she will no doubt want her child to be included.

JustinBsMum Wed 20-Mar-13 16:17:43

Using a translator to talk to Mum

MrsExcited Wed 20-Mar-13 16:24:39

I love the way the second SN is mentioned on MN everyone starts being experts - I am not claiming to be one btw but i have been a teacher in state secondaries for a while.

The fact is this school is in a different country, even different continent and therefore what we expect to be normal is different.

"School's duty of care" - Is a very British concept - rightly or wrongly - most other countries in the world do not expect the school to adapt to the pupil but the other way round!

OP - I suggest you need to talk to other people within the school to find out what is wrong, whether there are any ways to put this right, whether your class is the right place for this child to be, whether there is any support available.

You absolutely have the right to work without physical violence which is what this is whether or not said child has SN - So this needs to be sorted and yes if that means said child being remove so you can carry out your job without being subject to violence (even if from a child) this should not be frowned upon.

Please remember that even when Education relies on Inclusion there needs to be support and limits for those working with SEN

Floggingmolly Wed 20-Mar-13 16:28:21

What could he possibly be learning in your class if he doesn't speak the language? confused

lljkk Wed 20-Mar-13 17:51:41

Do you live in a country where you are expected to smack him, OP, because reading between the lines, I think that's more or less what your colleagues expect if gentle treatment doesn't produce results. You are expected to harangue and bully the boy, otherwise. I suspect that's how difficult children are generally handled.

Sorry, but it seems to me like they expect you to be much tougher. Smack him back, shout with fury, wrench him around physically, etc. If you're being laughed at you're being humiliated (culturally in their eyes) and losing Face.

Floggingmolly Wed 20-Mar-13 21:50:36

What?? Would you expand on that a bit further, lljjkk? Are you actually advocating that as a method of handling a child with additional needs who doesn't even speak your language??

anewyear Thu 21-Mar-13 07:06:18

I think what lljkk is trying to say that prehaps some countries would still do this, countries that prehaps are not as 'enlightened' as ours?
Think female circumcision/mutilation, foot binding etc etc
sorry its early, all I could think of as examples.

RubyGates Thu 21-Mar-13 07:17:57

Could you try something like Makaton, which you could incorporate into the other children's learning, and would make it possible for him to communicate with you (and everyone else) using the symbol/sign for basic needs/vocab for both his language and English.

Perhaps you could also incorporate a theme on schools in Britain where you demonstrate how children (including those who have SEN requirements ) learn; identifying differences between the cultures.


RubyGates Thu 21-Mar-13 07:20:08

I forgot to say, we use it in our setting with great success for both children ho have SEN requirements, and those who arrive in the school with absolutely no English.

It really does help overcome the frustrations of not being able to communicate.

Smudging Thu 21-Mar-13 07:34:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AmberLeaf Thu 21-Mar-13 07:50:38



ImTooHecsyForYourParty Thu 21-Mar-13 08:04:58

"I love the way the second SN is mentioned on MN everyone starts being experts"

I don't start being an expert, MrsE. I have 2 children. one of them has autism and erbs palsy and the other has autism and adhd. I don't suddenly become an expert when sn is mentioned. I know about sn and I damned well know a description of a child being failed when I read one and I don't give a shiny shit if it is considered culturally acceptable to treat a child badly because they have a disability. It isn't right. And there is no reason on earth why the OP can't make a few changes in that child's life for the time they are in her class.

duty of care may be a british concept, but so what? It's the right way to treat a human being. What is the reason why someone can't do things differently to the way they're done in a particular country if they feel that that way is really unfair to a vulnerable child?

PolterGoose Thu 21-Mar-13 08:08:51

What Hec said

anewyear Thu 21-Mar-13 09:46:19

I agree Hec,
In my limited experience, some people just dont care enough, would just like to brush any problems like SEN under the carpert.

lljkk Thu 21-Mar-13 18:02:26

I am not advocating that OP smacks or bullies a child, so sorry if it sounded that way.

I am suggesting that I think that's what her colleagues expect, and that's why she's stuck in this messy situation with poor support. sad I have no idea how she fixes it, although she may need to find some way to be tougher in general if she wants to stay in this job; it may be culturally what the children expect, too. Perhaps cannot do her job properly without being a HardAss.

sukysue Thu 21-Mar-13 20:32:34

Bribe him with sweeties, toys or try some sort of reward system. Am actually surprised you are asking this question surely this is semester 1 in uni teacher training course stuff they teach you asap ?

raisah Thu 21-Mar-13 20:53:59

lots of asian countries do not manage / view sn like the west. Some communities have a very medieval take on it, viewing it as a product of witchcraft, parental sin & as op said 'brain not working'. There may not be support structures in place like in the uk. As language is the barrier you should use a visual time table for the whole class. As each activity starts/ ends a different child should take the picture down & put it in a bag/box.
Make a magic box/bag & fill it with cheap tactile toys/ bubbkes etc & let everybody have a turn pulling/ putting in & out of the box.

The boy seems to be frutrated at hus lack of social communication skills hence the anger and disruption.
Try sparklebox, c beebies parent site, majaton society & national autistic society web sites for help & ideas.

raisah Thu 21-Mar-13 21:01:54

use music, nursery rhymes, bubbles and create a sensory rich environment for him. Messy play etc to keep hin engaged & connected rather than discipline. SEN is not ackniwledged in asian countries and this boy has a tough life ahead of him. Use stickers & create a reward chart where he is rewarded for participation rather than for good behaviour.

Yfronts Thu 21-Mar-13 21:17:29

Get a translator and talk to the mum. There is no choice.

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