to desperately want to leave my job (on verge of walking out) because of this?

(190 Posts)
woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:07:13


I do hang around here, mainly on the weight loss chat boards, but I've had to name-change due to the content.

I am a teacher and I am hugely struggling with one of my classes, to the extent that I am going home crying whenever I have them (three times a week.)

It is a GCSE class. For some reason they have no respect for me and treat me like i'm a big joke. It's very hard to put into words - constant smirks, shaking with laughter, covering mouths, looking away (as clearly looking at me would be so hilarious they just wouldn't be able to cope.) Shouting across the room, then when I follow the school system arguments ensue - "OH MY GOD, I was only TELLING x that I wanted to lend his pen off him!" then discussions with other students about the unfairness of it "She just gave me DETENTION for asking x to lend his pen!" which leads, sometimes, to arguments from others - "You're being unfair!" I do follow the system we have (two warnings/detention) but we can only remove a child in extreme cases and I'd have to go out, phone for help and fill in a referral form and to be honest it's difficult (impossible, really) to do that with four/five kids.

Have contacted home, to no avail. It worked temporarily - most things have a temporary effect - but while I can deal with the more obvious disruption (shouting out) it is the more insidious forms of behaviour that are really upsetting me just now - the constant laughing at me, the mocking of my voice, the accusations that I don't teach them well.

I have them twice tomorrow - I hate Wednesdays.

I will have them this year and next unless they all leave or I do and I just don't know, I have had the most awful year and came close to just walking out Monday. I cannot cope with it any more. Please help me sad

FortyDoorsToNowhere Tue 10-Dec-13 21:10:24

I would say speak to the headteacher.

don't let these small group of teenager force you out of a career which i suspected you loved before this.

5Foot5 Tue 10-Dec-13 21:11:52

Is it just this class? Do you have other classes to teach and how does it go with them. How long have you been teaching? is there a senior member of staff you could talk to?

Sorry no answers just lots of questions to try to get a clearer picture.

IceNoSlice Tue 10-Dec-13 21:13:32

Is there any kind of support you can access? Confidential helpline? Union? A supportive colleague? It sounds very lonely. sad

Lariflete Tue 10-Dec-13 21:13:56

Only thing I can think of is speaking to the head, but other than that I have nothing to suggest, but I was in a similar situation at my place of work and just rode it out. Just wanted to do a bit of virtual hand holding, til more helpful posters arrive.

Writerwannabe83 Tue 10-Dec-13 21:14:39

Oh Woodland - the situation sounds so desperate.

I know what it's like to be at that breaking point (although in another profession) and I know how soul destroying it can be.

It got to the point where I would park my car in the morning and almost find it physically impossible to walk into work. I'd then go home and cry my heart out to my husband because I felt like I just couldn't cope anymore. I was inconsolable. He told me to just hand my notice in because he knew I either had to leave or I was going to crack.

I didn't hand my notice in but I did decide to look for another job. It may have seemed drastic to some but I'd really hit my breaking point. Thankfully I found another job but I did take a cut in hours and a drop in pay of about £400 a month. I discussed with my husband if we could afford that but he knew I had to get out my current job. It took 2 months before I could start my new job and work was still difficult in that time but it made it easier knowing I was soon going to be out of it.

I miss aspects of my old job, including the pay, but I know I made the right decision. I'm like a different person now and am in a job that I enjoy going to and enjoy doing.

People spend such a huge percentage of their time at work that it is so important it is somewhere you want to be. Reading your post made me feel genuinely sad for you because I know exactly how you feel. It is a horrible, horrible way to live.

Have you looked at changing jobs?
Do you want to stay in teaching or would you opt for something completely different??

JanetAndRoy Tue 10-Dec-13 21:16:00

The Teacher Support Network has a 24/7 support phoneline.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:16:12

Thanks. I think speaking to the head would exacerbate the problem as it would be "my fault" then - it is ALWAYS the way it goes. (Have already been told off for poor classroom management with them.) I'm in my tenth year teaching and it is just this class, yes.

BohemianGirl Tue 10-Dec-13 21:16:21

What does your HOD and line SLT suggest? Have you had up to date CPD to deal with this? What does your Union say?

MammaTJ Tue 10-Dec-13 21:18:08

In any job, if you are struggling with a certain aspect of it, you are expected to go to your line manager, so head of department, head of year, head of school! Which would be best?

You need help and support with this, to deal with these teenagers.

<thrown into guilt at what we did to one particular teacher and wondering if we made her feel the same as these are you>

Actually, shit we probably did! We didn't mean to, but she was easy prey and no punishments resulted in what we did. which was one start a gutteral sound in the back of the throat, then another, then another, but she could never pinpoint who it was

Get this sorted now, you are not doing yourself or them any favours by allowing this to continue.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:18:32

The union wouldn't be any help. Involving others would just turn it around onto me (this has already happened, but don't really want to go into any detail.)

Thank you for the teaching support line links but I don't think I can face talking about it on the phone, it would just make me cry so much and I'm already in pieces at the thought of two fucking hours being treated like dog shit (sorry for language.)

It's horrible; I wish I could leave teaching but am a bit trapped.

paxtecum Tue 10-Dec-13 21:18:48

Fairy: I do remember that one of the teachers at my school had a nervous breakdown. This happened nearly 50 years ago, we used to mock her because she had a problem with spelling when writing on the blackboard.

Of course, I felt quite ashamed about it not long after.

Hopefully some teachers will give you good advice.
Is the union any help with these matters?

Please don't have a breakdown over it, take evasive action first.

JanetAndRoy Tue 10-Dec-13 21:18:59

I found them really helpful when I has issues whilst teaching.
I knew the day had come to get out of the profession when I considered crashing my car into a tree on the way to work to avoid having to go in. I think the only reason I didn't was because my DC were in the car with me.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:20:16

Mamma, I'm not trying to make you feel awful but yeah I've had that - kids shouting something unpleasant (I won't say what) when my back is turned in a stupid voice, so I don't know who it is. And yes, it has made me feel completely shit and worthless as a teacher and a human.

However this is more a general confidence crisis thing - have had a terrible year and this class is the mouldy icing on Miss Havisham's wedding cake.

HamletsSister Tue 10-Dec-13 21:25:52

I can probably offer some practical, classroom management based solutions but is that what you want? If you are stressed and struggling, management have a responsibility to support you and to help, however they can. This might mean swapping classes with someone else, team teaching, extra training, someone sitting outside classes, parental involvement - any of these things.

I think you have to ask, in writing, copied to your union, for help and then see what is forthcoming.

But, if you want help, I am sure we can all come up with ways to help day to day.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Tue 10-Dec-13 21:26:20

"You're being unfair!" I do follow the system we have (two warnings/detention) but we can only remove a child in extreme cases and I'd have to go out, phone for help and fill in a referral form and to be honest it's difficult (impossible, really) to do that with four/five kids.

I really think you need to follow through with this - if you don't get them removed because it is difficult, that doesn't send the perpatrators a very good message.

Thanks. I think speaking to the head would exacerbate the problem as it would be "my fault" then - it is ALWAYS the way it goes. (Have already been told off for poor classroom management with them.) I'm in my tenth year teaching and it is just this class, yes.

You are hardly an NQT. I am not impressed by the lack of support from your managers.

Rather than leaving teaching altogether could you look for another teaching job, or maybe private tutoring?

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:28:18

HamletsSister, thank you, but the union won't help and asking for support will just be a fast track to capability. That's why I'm seriously thinking of leaving as my options are - put up with it (leading me to a nervous breakdown!) or demand support, which will involve management coming in, undermining me and thus exacerbating the problems and pulling my lessons to shreds.

I'm not sure which is worse.

IceNoSlice Tue 10-Dec-13 21:30:17

Please consider phoning the helpline. I had a lot of support from a confidential counselling helpline linked to my profession.

Yes, you might cry. But that isn't always a bad thing. And you can let it all out, perhaps get a different perspective and it might help you find more strength for tomorrow. Good luck OP.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:31:07

ItsAll - thanks.

The problem is that to get someone removed I have to ring down - there isn't a phone in the classroom, so I have to step out of the classroom and it then just gets chaotic. I'm not removing children because of laziness (I know that's not what you're saying!) - but it's the actual practicalities. I have removed children before, and I'll do so again, but removing one child means me leaving the classroom which can in turn mean the others bubble over with madness.

Plus, I don't feel safe leaving the 'nice' children as the difficult ones in there are mean, not just to me but to the other kids!

It's just so hard.

Chottie Tue 10-Dec-13 21:32:45

Dear OP, I can hear the despair in your post. Please don't let this group of difficult teenagers railroad your career.

Can you split up the 'troublemakers' so they are not all sitting together? Could some of them be moved into a different class / set so you don't have to teach them all?

Good luck, I'll be thinking of you tomorrow x.

ilovecolinfirth Tue 10-Dec-13 21:34:49

Oh no! Poor you! It is the school's responsibility to support you, and if they're not, THEY are not doing their job properly. Firstly, although it feels like it, I doubt every child in that class are the worst offenders. Pick out the main culprits, have them removed, and focus on getting the others back on side.

You've survived (!!!) teaching for 10 years, don't let one class get you down.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:35:43

They're all sat apart. It doesn't seem to make much difference. I can't really move anybody either.

Sorry if I sound negative at all - it's just there aren't really many (any?) options, and I just can't spend another day being made to feel so awful, I hate tomorrow. It blights my entire weekend.

ilovecolinfirth Tue 10-Dec-13 21:36:05

Remove children before the lesson starts. You have every right to due to previous behaviour.

ilovesooty Tue 10-Dec-13 21:37:53

asking for support will just be a fast track to capability

Unfortunately yiu are right. You know your HT and SMT. Sadly it may be just this class now but you know that once other classes get wind of this it will spread. And this situation is being replicated up and down the land.

Can you pinpoint in any way how/why it might have started? How long have you been at this school?

The low level disruption is the most insidious and upsetting as it's the hardest to deal with. Is there a ringleader you can isolate and concentrate on?

Having been there (and I was a strong and capable teacher previously) my heart goes out to you.

I turned my back on a profession I loved. Remember that nothing is more important than your health.

MissMiniTheMinx Tue 10-Dec-13 21:38:04

Oh dear poor you, teenagers can be very rude and arrogant, its probably not person but must feel very hurtful and undermining. I think you need to speak to the head or whoever manages that year. Its not in your interests and therefore not in theirs to allow this to continue. Its not a reflection on you. I used to work with people and a couple of them really didn't like me and me them, I had to speak to manager and it was agreed that someone else should deal with them, whilst on other occasions I was sent in to deal with difficult cases where the client had been rude/violent or threatening towards staff, because I was experienced, thick skinned and quite confident. So try not to take it personally, it only takes one or two people, or one incident to set a train in motion that effects the whole dynamic of a group, for this sort of situation to be reached. Its certainly not a failure on your part.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:38:57

Ilove - but removed where? I can't just remove them before they enter my classroom, and there are too many to send out en masse anyway. I honestly don't think I have any options. It's extreme I know, but last week I felt so awful I honestly felt like I didn't want to live, like I couldn't cope with life at all. They treat me like a sad joke, and that's how I feel when I come out of there. I am sure some people think it's pathetic for fourteen year olds to make you feel like that - but being mocked and laughed at and sneered at and jeered at is just the pits.

I'd rather they said "oh fuck off." Done, get them out, sorted. But the behaviour is as I say insidious: it's awful.

ilovesooty Tue 10-Dec-13 21:39:47

Sorry: I x posted there.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:42:56

Ilovesooty - thank you.

I think there is a ringleader but in all honesty it seems to change on a day to day basis. One girl, whom I normally get on well with, was doing the "shaking with silent laughter" routine on Monday - covering her face and shaking with mirth hmm when I asked her a question. I know she's not a horrible girl, she's following the lead of others in there, but it is still so very hard.

I wish I knew what triggered it, that's an interesting question. There was a new girl who came and left within a month, who massively changed the dynamics and attitudes of the class. She's gone now though so theoretically things should go back to normal.

Also someone (two people in fact thinking about it) have tried to support and made things worse - can't go into detail really.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:45:00

The thing is, it IS personal. How can laughing in someone's face, shouting nasty remarks about their appearance, making unpleasant snide comments about another aspect of their appearance - how can that NOT be personal?

I have been there, I know how you feel. Put every possible effort into finding a new job somewhere else. It will make you feel better.
Just fuck 'em and go somewhere for a fresh start.

answers Tue 10-Dec-13 21:47:14

Not sure if this will help but some suggestions:

Do you have a learning support department where you can send the main miscreants to work?
Are there any TA's available who can be an extra pair of eyes..?
What is your lesson start like.. do you have bell work up that they have to get on with whilst you settle the class...
Boring work ... get them heads down so no interaction ...
Keep contacting parents .. however long this takes ... tell them exactly the behaviour that is going on..
Get your HoD to flipping well do something..

I am so horrified by the lack of support you are getting ..

Phineyj Tue 10-Dec-13 21:47:24

I think you should consider changing school, because you sound like a good teacher who is not getting the support they need. I am not great at managing behaviour - I do okay but I would hate what you are describing and not cope - however my bosses/colleagues have been nothing but helpful when there have been (much more minor) problems. They have never blamed me or made things worse!

These kids are bullying you, there are no two ways about it and your school management and procedures sound ineffectual at best.

MatryoshkaDoll Tue 10-Dec-13 21:47:37

Do you know what? I think I would just leave and get another job. Life's too fucking short.

I work in a different profession but have had similarly horrible experiences in the workplace that I stuck out for far too long. Now I'm a long time out of that situation and I look back and think 'why the fuck did I stay and keep taking all that shit?'

Sure, there were a couple of hairy months after I left where I was worried I wouldn't find another job but I eventually found one easily enough and things instantly go so much better.

No job is worth sacrificing your mental health over. Really.

Someone I worked with has just been signed off sick with stress because they're going through a divorce which is happening partly because they work such ridiculous hours. I bet they're not going to look back on their deathbed and think 'I'm glad my ridiculous work life cost me my mental health and my marriage. Yep, that was totally worth it.'

Thymeout Tue 10-Dec-13 21:47:41

I'm sorry, but I think you do have to involve the HoD/HoY. There will soon be complaints from parents and you need to be proactive.

If this is the only class you have a problem with, it won't count against you. Everyone knows that it just takes 2/3 influential pupils to turn a class against you. Can you identify the ringleaders? They could be spoken to, removed from class beforehand. Perhaps arrange that someone senior is lurking in the corridor, so when trouble starts, you can just ask culprit to leave the room and they can be picked up immediately without having to phone.

You're not the only one who's had this problem. Remember that those above you are appraised as to how effectively they support teachers in your position.

Good luck!

ilovecolinfirth Tue 10-Dec-13 21:47:58

I agree with Ilovesooty that you know your HT and SMT, but I really think there should be some support there. Are you in a faculty? Is there a faculty support timetable where you can send the worst 3 offenders (pre-arranged). Do you have a faculty report system, where they are required to meet behavioural targets?

Shallistopnow Tue 10-Dec-13 21:48:56

This is very sad and I don't know how you cope. Their behaviour sounds disgusting and you really don't deserve it.

Is there not a teacher friend you can speak to on personal informal level? Or what if you wrote down some of the things you've written here? There must be some senior staff who are human enough to care and treat you sensitively.

Perhaps you should keep a detailed record of individuals' behaviour? If only you could film the bastards!

Take care, I really hope things improve.

BigToesofFrog Tue 10-Dec-13 21:51:08

Being a teacher doesn't mean you are automatically capable of dealing with all types of behaviour or should have to put up with all types of abuse. Other professions get abuse too, like hospital staff, and they are not treated as failures if they find it too much to bear.

I would go through with talking to the head/HOY or whoever is your best starting point. Instead of opening with "I can't cope / I need help" - say "a group of students are being abusive and have started a sustained campaign of bullying." Ask them to look into all the options of dealing with those individuals, rearranging classes or taking individuals out.

I understand the feeling that you will be seen as a failure and that there is that culture in some schools - but presumably the school don't want you to walk out either. Actually, don't walk out, and don't hand in notice. You are suffering from severe work-related stress, so before considering those things, you could go to the GP and explain it all and say how close to the edge you are (and cry. Seriously.) You are in a position where being signed off with stress would be reasonable.

I could not do what teachers do, I admire you and you don't deserve this.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:52:47

So sorry for sounding negative, but:

Do you have a learning support department where you can send the main miscreants to work?
No, we do have a learning support dept but it isn't for behaviour issues, more EAL/SEN
Are there any TA's available who can be an extra pair of eyes..? Afraid not!
What is your lesson start like.. do you have bell work up that they have to get on with whilst you settle the class... Yes, ironic you should mention this as I have delivered INSET(s) on effectively starting lessons! smile
Boring work ... get them heads down so no interaction ... I can't do this, I would be reprimanded
Keep contacting parents .. however long this takes ... tell them exactly the behaviour that is going on.. Am doing so, thanks
Get your HoD to flipping well do something.. It's me!

Unfortunately it will and is counting against me - this is why I am in such a state.

nennypops Tue 10-Dec-13 21:54:30

I don't follow the issue about not being able to ring down to get a pupil taken into detention because there' son phone in the classroom? Can you not use a mobile?

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:54:31

BigToes thank you. I really have had an awful time of it lately and I want to cry just thinking about it, but I'm not sure if taking time off will help, and I do also have to think of my other lovely classes, including year 13/11s who need me.

I wish I could JUST be signed off when I have this bunch, I would honestly be fine then. But I just cannot cope with it, and it makes me feel useless.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 21:54:50

Nenny, it's an internal phone system.

Meow75 Tue 10-Dec-13 21:55:05

I don't have a solution but I just wanted to check in.

I am a bit further along the road than you with this. In May I had to undergo my first disciplinary hearing, and then was off work till September with work related stress and depression.

Last week, I wanted to go home Tues with a migraine, cover manager wouldn't let me as there was no-one available to cover. Consequence of that was me being off Wed - Fri (although Thurs is my day off - went 4 days from September) with a succession of migraines.

FF to Monday, I car share with DH and drop him off at work, then 7 more miles to my work. I couldn't do it. I drove back towards home and went to the dr's instead. I spent most of Monday in tears, feeling like I wanted to end it all but refuse to put my DH in the position of surviving me. I even considered saying to him that he should divorce me, take all our assets (we don't have many!!) and I would be responsible for all the debts.

OUTCOME: I have a 20 minute appointment tomorrow morning. I am miserable. And I bet SLT & HT now think I was lying about the migraines.

BigToesofFrog Tue 10-Dec-13 21:57:08

Actually the comment about filming them and making notes has made me think of one possible approach. You could get a notebook and when the events happen get it out and write down everything in detail and naming the culprits. If/when they ask you can explain something like "There has been some bullying and disrespectful behaviour going on in this class and I have been advised to keep a diary of incidents." Make the diary itself scrupulously fair and non-emotive, just lists of who did what when - so that it doesn't matter who sees it. Then you can use it to support your case, but also it might make them reconsider what they are doing, and make you feel more powerful.

gobbin Tue 10-Dec-13 21:57:30

asking for support will just be a fast track to capability
Would it not be the case that any capability proceedings would have to detail the support given to you in order to try to resolve issues before going down that route? In which case stand strong, go back to SLT and state your case for assistance. It is appalling that they are blaming you when they should be supporting you!

How do other members of staff deal with this class? Could you observe a willing colleague teaching them? Have you been given the opportunity to attend training on strategies for managing a challenging classroom?
Have you googled for info on managing challenging pupils, bought books or guides to improve your professional practice?

Have you considered starting afresh in another school? Sometimes it can help to move on, especially if the SLT is being so unhelpful.

The bottom line though is that you don't HAVE to teach. It may be tough finding something else and it may not pay as well, but you are only here once - getting out may save your sanity.

Good luck.

flagnogbagnog Tue 10-Dec-13 21:59:08

Can you afford to leave? If so, just do it. I've said a few times lately that I could never be a teacher. I think the fact that you've done it for 10 years shows how committed you've been.

I have a feeling it would be a massive relief. You've got to look after you, if the school are not supportive then you have to make the decision. I'm sure anyone who is important to you would support and understand why.

Finola1step Tue 10-Dec-13 21:59:11

OK Woodland, I think you have made your decision. You want to leave. You hate it and you want out. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Teaching is crap at times, but it shouldn't be this bad.

You have options. You could call in sick tomorrow, get signed off with work related stress/ anxiety, then start thinking about a phased return to work. But from what you have said, this may be pushing the problem away but not solving anything.

You could resign. There are other jobs. I'm SLT in a primary school and we are now becoming increasingly interested in appointing secondary teachers with a english and Maths experience to work with the children being targeted for Level 6. Is this something you could look at?

There is always supply work. It can be as dull as dishwater at times but if you have a crappy day, you mark the work, say goodbye at the office, walk away and that's that. No emotional involvement.

Whatever you do, I think you should call in sick tomorrow. There are lots of flu like viruses and d and v bugs going around. You need some time to think. I wish you all the very best.

I dont have any real advice, but lots of sympathy.

I was in a class like that in secondary. Our teacher was male, a single parent to a disabled girl in a wheelchair. The comments he got was beyond vile. sad In the region, "no wonder your wife left, you are ugly us Fuuu.... and your daughter tooooo " And "We know where your daughter has the R genes from". Beyond reprehensible.

It was not better by him suffering mild stroke or TIA and came back to class without movement in half his face. They behaved worse than ever.

The entire class suffered from the behaviour of those 4 boys. The rest of us were so pissed off with these boys. It ruined the learning environment. But, as these boys were nasty bullies against those of us who wanted to learn, we suffered three years of this. He taught us most days. With all my heart I hoped the teacher would finally have enough and get them removed from class. It was so unpleasant to witness, and be powerless at the same time.

misskatamari Tue 10-Dec-13 22:00:47

Woodland - just wanted to say I have been there and know how utterly awful it is.

There is a lot of good advice on here and you really do need to get some support from your HoD/HT.

It is soul destroying to have to deal with such a badly behaved class and the fact that they are personally rude just makes it so much worse. In any other job you would not be made to stand for such abuse and rudeness yet in teaching you seem to be expected to suck it up and be able to deal with it.

I find the most important things in helping me deal with difficult classes is an aura of confidence and tone of voice that implies authority - however these are both really hard to manage when you have been ground down by this type of behaviour.

Are there any TAs who can support you? How are the pupils in other subjects? Could you put some of them on subject report? I'm sorry I don't have more advice, you seem like you are trying and following the policies in place and if these aren't working management need to support you.

Try not to worry about tomorrow and try to go in to each lesson with a positive attitude. I know that is really really hard to do but try not to let them get to you.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:03:01

Gobbin, I do know what you are saying - the problem is that support can be very much a double-edged sword, especially when children latch on to the fact that you're getting it.

For them, my excellent subject knowledge and expertise won't matter at all, but once they see someone else steps in because you've lost control (even though I haven't - no one is swearing or hurling missiles across the classroom or anything like that) but the children will immediately view that as a failing on my part and act accordingly.

I feel like I've tried everything. But the bottom line is this class dislike me - I don't know why, my other classes seem to think I am great (!) but this lot don't. And because of that they won't co-operate - they will to a point, but any opportunity to undermine me, they will snatch with absolute glee. Well, some will - it isn't all of them, of course.

Honestly, I think I do need out, need another career, but I don't know what. I'm single, I don't have a partner's wage to rely on while I retrain. So I am stuck, well and truly.

I hate it.

Thymeout Tue 10-Dec-13 22:03:35

Gobbin - I think the problem may be that this class behaves with other teachers. It is just a few who have decided to have 'fun' with OP and the rest are enjoying the 'entertainment'. This sometimes happens through some weird classroom dynamic and is v difficult for the individual teacher to deal with, no matter how experienced she is or how many books she's read on the subject of challenging pupils.

BigToesofFrog Tue 10-Dec-13 22:04:45

Yes I would second a day off sick, even if it is just to go to the GP, because you need to. You've said you leave crying, you've felt like walking out, and like you didn't want to live. I've felt like I didn't want to live (different circumstances) and when I said that to my GP she was absolutely fantastic and the support I've received, on the NHS and totally free, has helped enormously and brought me out of a horrible place.

Have a day off sick (which would not be dishonest if you feel like this) with a visit to the GP, tea and toast and a magazine at home.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:04:49

New posts appearing sorry for x-post.

I really do appreciate it, only I can't just leave; I'm on my own, I have payments I need to make - I have to live. So I can't just walk out, although I really did semi seriously consider it on Monday.

Pilgit Tue 10-Dec-13 22:05:31

I have no experience of teaching but I do have some experience of teenagers (I run a guide unit - so easier to exclude them than in schools but still a drastic thing). When I have had issues similar to this I have taken a step back from my feelings and observed the behaviour for a couple of weeks, recorded it and monitored the situation to get evidence. Then when I have gathered it I have challenged them with it. Called them on the bullying and asked why they think this behaviour is acceptable or funny. This may not work but it is a way of you taking control.

As it is just this class it is them, not you. You need to find a better way to deal with your own reaction to it or it will drive you down (this is not to excuse their behaviour - they are to blame for their ridiculous behaviour, not you). I wish you well. Don't let these little bullies drum you out of a job you love!

TheMaw Tue 10-Dec-13 22:08:13

I could have written your post. I had an awful time at my last job, it was so hideous and every time I spoke to my line manager, assistant head etc, it was always turned around to be my fault ie I was too strict/not strict enough. The kids could do no wrong and it was so awful. It was a private school and there was no HT dept, even a vague whiff of negativity got back to the head and they made my life so miserable. I'm even fairly sure that it was the reason I couldn't get pregnant, I felt like I was fighting all the time and losing, and I got so stressed out.

In the end I got another job (and had a baby!) and it was hands down the best thing I've ever done. I feel shaky even now at the thought of going back.

So, with the benefit of retrospect, this is my advice to you : if your school won't help you, join a union. A workplace with nothing to hide should support you protecting yourself. Request a meeting with the head and take a union rep with you. Do NOTHING you are not happy with until the situation is resolved. Put everything in writing and, if it really does come to it, speak to your GP about a stress-related sickness break.

Sorry this is so long, but I really feel awful for you. I remember so clearly how trapped and scared I was constantly and I couldn't bear to go back to that. Good luck!

FortyDoorsToNowhere Tue 10-Dec-13 22:09:07

could you give the whole class detention. when i was in school this worked .
The whole class was warned any inappropriate behavior that would happen, every single time. I think by the 3rd detention we all told the person who it was to shut up.

misskatamari Tue 10-Dec-13 22:12:23

It sounds like in this type of situation whole class detention would be detrimental as I imagine the worst offenders would just kick off and make the situation worse.

OP - when you do give detentions what do you do in them? Have to spoken to the children one to one about their actions and their unacceptable behaviour? Sometimes this can help to spell out exactly what you dislike about their behaviour and what you expect to see.

I definitely agree with a day off tomorrow though and potentially going to see your GP as they will be able to offer you support.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:16:34

Miss - individual teachers issue the detention but they are manned on a rotation basis (kids have to sit in absolute silence!) I have spoken to them individually of course: hasn't made a difference, or when it has it has made a difference for one lesson then they've gone back to the old ways.

YokoUhOh Tue 10-Dec-13 22:17:25

OP, you HoD has a professional responsibility to ensure that behaviour is acceptable is his/her department. You need to be supported with this class via observations, team-teaching and sitting down with your HoD and working out a strategy.

As for the class? They are performing a well-rehearsed script. Have you got the opportunity to observe them in other settings? You could gain insight into how they operate without having to interact with them.

Good luck, OP. If you don't get any of the help outlined above, consider moving schools (but not profession!).


woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:18:31

Yoko thanks but I am the HOD.

SprinkleLiberally Tue 10-Dec-13 22:18:39

Firstly. Take tomorrow off sick. You are in no fit state to deal with them, and you need the headspace. Start with that. One step at a time.
Is the HoY any good? Do you have monitoring report type systems?

It sounds hideous. And I think I would have exploded at them by now! When I was at school disruptive pupils were sent out of class. Teachers refused to teach them. Can't do that these days I assume.

Do you think you could change the tack with your head? After all these brats are not just affecting you - they are disrupting the teaching for those other students who want to learn. I would take that route.

Can you do icy cold disdainful sarcasm? Act it. Fake it till you make it. So one of them laughs or makes a comment. You look at them directly. Pretend you are the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey. Look down your nose and ask would they like to share their comment with everyone else.

I had one teacher who did this. No messing around in her classes. She could silence with a glance.

JockTamsonsBairns Tue 10-Dec-13 22:19:35

The stress you are under is really coming through in your posts, and I really feel for you. I'm not in teaching, but I have just left a job where I would sit outside the office in the car quite unable to go in, like I was paralysed with the anticipation of how awful it was. I'd spend weekends dreading Monday, and on occasion vomited before leaving the house. It was truly awful. I knew something had to give and that I couldn't continue in that vein. I finally left last month, and have found something in a related field - less money, but with a heck of a lot less stress. I'm a different person already to what I was two months ago.

A close friend of mine left teaching several years ago on account of very similar circumstances to what you describe. She had been utterly devoted to her career for many years, but was pushed to the limit by one of her Y10 classes. She knew when she shouted at one of them to 'fuck off' that her time was up in teaching. I know she bitterly regretted losing control like that but, privately, I'm only surprised she lasted as long as she did, given the stress she faced on a daily basis.

I've no helpful advice OP, but hope you manage to find a way through this.

SpikeyChristmasTree Tue 10-Dec-13 22:21:49

There are lots of tricks to managing a class like this, but you really do need some support.

Are there lead practitioners in your school who you could observe with a challenging class for your CPD? Are the class setted, could some changes take place?

The best way I've found to crack a class like this is to do busy work that requires minimum input from you e.g. exam questions, note-making. Then you focus just on the behaviour. You can squash it as it starts, be a machine, just repetitive in your instructions and expectations. "I was only...", response "Maybe, but get on with your work", just repeated and repeated. Have detention slips pre-printed so you don't have to get distracted to issue them.

Do not take it personally, it is mob mentality and if they can see they are getting to you they will only be encouraged. You have to show you are more persistent than them in the end.

Good luck, it is soul destroying but you can get through this.

MatryoshkaDoll Tue 10-Dec-13 22:21:51

I could never, ever be a teacher. Hats off to you OP. Give yourself a break, before it sends you under.

Curioushorse Tue 10-Dec-13 22:21:51

OK. I have a vile class once a year.

1. How are they with everybody else? Does anybody else have this exact class? Observe them. Get tips.

2. Book an inset day on a wednesday next term to give yourself a treat.....and set rubbish cover work so they kick off. Your HOD will see they're vile and you'l get support.

3. Stop interacting. Over plan all lessons as very speedy, no talking ppts. All instructions written on the slides and you just read them. Lots of test conditions and working in silence. No groupwork. I know this is anti-OfSTED, but they sound at that socially awkward stage when they're not very good together anyway. They'll probably prefer learning in this way.

4. Can you give them a test or something. What's their ability level? Normally middle sets are like this. I would say they could do with a shock of the 'well done, that's a G grade' variety.

5. Positive praise? Postcards home,

Now congratulations. You are more than a sixth of the way through their course. Don't quit.

thenamestheyareachanging Tue 10-Dec-13 22:24:23

The little shits!!

definitely speak to your line manager, or whatever the equivalent is. They shouldn't make you feel it's your fault, and if they do, then you can point out that you have nop problem with any other class. It sounds like you have completely lost confidence over this and I'll bet you're not the only teacher having issues with this class. Can the perpetrators perhaps be split up / moved into different classes? They might not be so cocky without their little gang.

SprinkleLiberally Tue 10-Dec-13 22:30:15

I agree with busywork. Classes like this need the listening to be minimal. Worksheet based tasks which start simple and get harder. You think SMT won't like it, but if behaviour is improving they can make progress.

GinAndaDashOfLime Tue 10-Dec-13 22:30:38

Hello OP
I'm a secondary teacher of 10years experience too. I taught for 8 years classes like this so I know how awful it is.
I was also in a school like yours and sadly you're right, involving SLT is a no-go.

Yes, in the long term I think you'd be happier elsewhere. Start looking after Xmas.

In the medium term, if its unbearable, leave and do supply work. I did this, money great (£150 a day after tax), although as hols weren't paid I also did exam marking and private tuition. PM me if you want more info on that, I can recommend a good website.

In the short term (tomorrow!) I advise that you stop interacting COMPLETELY with the whole class. They are continuing because you react. Go in with a pile of boring worksheets / past papers. Make sure its something they can easily do with no help from you. Hand them out and say (not shout, it doesn't matter if they're talking), that you cannot teach them until they listen, so they will be spending every lesson from now on doing silent past papers. Tell them that those who want to succeed will benefit from the practice, those who don't are beyond your help. You can bring a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Tell them you'll mark any that have been attempted (and do). Then write what you've just said on the board for the benefit of the good kids who may not have heard above the bedlam, then sit down and do your marking / look busy. DO NOT be tempted to get in to conversation. I promise you they'll get bored after 10 mins, some will start bemoaning their lack of education (at which point you point to your message on the board), others will just go to sleep / play on their phones. Ignore all. Ignore. Ignore. Ignore.

At the end of the lesson, take in all worksheets (including the ones with nothing but graffiti), and inform them that they will be your evidence for meetings with parents / SLT about their attitude to learning.
Some may threaten that they're going to complain about your lack of teaching. Smile and tell them how much you'll look forward to the opportunity to share x 's work completes this lesson.

Do it every lesson for a week, then reassess .,, it always worked for me. good luck!

ilovesooty Tue 10-Dec-13 22:30:41

The OP has already said that if she were to set boring "busy" work she would be reprimanded.

And you can't just "book an INSET day off" to suit.

afussyphase Tue 10-Dec-13 22:30:49

OK, my experience is limited and post-secondary so really just brainstorming... you sound like a great teacher in a really tough situation and I hope you can find a way out of it! Don't let them win.
Do they have any anti-bullying programmes? Would it be worth being totally straightforward - this is an asshole move and they know it and some of them are no doubt ashamed of it. This is bullying plain and simple and it shouldn't be tolerated in any workplace, from anyone.
Or what about a perverse move - give the ringleaders some kind of recognition for whatever they have done really well, or put yourself in a position where they want/need your recognition, where you have some power? Are there roles in a popular musical or play or team or certificates or awards or anything they care about? Priveledges to be won? Then in undermining you, they would undermine themselves...
Or just stay silent whenever it happens, stony glare, until it stops, noting that for every minute of silence before it stops, you'll have another pop quiz? or some other consequence that is fully in your control ..
You could show them this video: of Emily Graslie, commenting on how women get responses about their appearance. Maybe that's too direct. But you are NOT alone, re comments on your appearance. It happened to me, but it was much easier because it was on comments on student evaluations after the course. The video could be a starting point for discussion, re women and appearance and how both women and men undermine women in many roles by making comments about our appearance that would very rarely be made about men (and then would be less hurtful, because it's accepted that their appearance isn't tantamount to their worth, ability, status, judgement, ability to be in control, and all the other crap that gets dumped on our appearance).
Anyway I totally feel for you. Secondary was miserable for me at the time, pretty much, and I don't think I could manage it now!

YokoUhOh Tue 10-Dec-13 22:33:50

Ah sorry OP - then your line manager. It is a whole-school issue that a class behaves this way and should not be happening in isolation. I'm 100% certain that other teachers will be struggling to deal with the same characters, every lesson of every day.

SpikeyChristmasTree Tue 10-Dec-13 22:35:34

Yes, Sooty, but if the behaviour in the class is this bad she'll be reprimanded for that. Busy work is only necessary for a couple of lessons until she has them under control again. Anyway, exam questions and past papers are vital at GCSE, I do at least one a week with all my GCSE classes, don't most teachers?

Loonytoonie Tue 10-Dec-13 22:36:05

OP perhaps remind them of the implications of disrupting teaching and learning - potential failure of their GCSE. Perhaps remind them that you would go above and beyond your job to ensure that you support those who want to pass, but that you wont't make that effort with pupils who cannot behave and that their failure is A Guarantee.

SprinkleLiberally Tue 10-Dec-13 22:36:27

I don't see how smt will know about one worksheet lesson. Ot can still be challenging and differentiated. Just don't require listening from them.

Sorry its so hard.

If you are Head of Department, can you rearrange the schedules of your fellow teachers so that someone else takes this class from now on?

Otherwise, somehow you need to sort out the catch-22 of the internal phone that is outside the room. For one or two weeks, can you find from anywhere in the school a person who can take each offending individual out of the room and to the phone? (even if its a dinner lady or something!) (<Shows absolute ignorance of the school system!>)

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:38:15

Ilovesooty, thank you. I have already been told off because one lesson was dull, in all honesty I don't plan for much group work anyway as they can't cope with it very well. We're reading a text. I usually consider my planning very good but finding stuff they can do is a challenge - they don't want to think for themselves at all, if I give them stuff they can cope with it would be deemed boring, if not, that's when the behaviour is poor and so it's lose-lose really.

Plus, they are immature but its a nasty sort of immaturity. Something was described as 'gay" in the book we are reading the other day and they laughed which is fine - I understand the word gay is funny when you're 14. But it's nasty laughing, I'm explaining it badly as I don't know how else to put it, but it isn't the giggling typically you'd get with another group. It's as if there's always an undertone.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:40:21

They would sprinkle, they come in.

I couldn't possibly ask someone else to take this group - it would be completely hypocritical, 'Hey, I can't cope, but I expect you to be able to!' My department are known to be difficult at the best of times!

Slutbucket Tue 10-Dec-13 22:42:30

It sounds like you need some time out to get stronger. Please go to your doctor and get signed off. Tell them everything and do not go back for at least a month. You need to confide in someone just how desperate you are feeling as you really have nothing to lose. Please please please be kind to yourself. X

SprinkleLiberally Tue 10-Dec-13 22:42:30

I'm just gobsmacked that smt are sufficiently on top of things so that they know what is being taught in every single lesson. Sounds oppressive and unsupportive in the extreme.

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 22:43:58

Oh god, OP, I'm a teacher and I know exactly what you mean.

First of all, NEVER EVER walk out. Never. There will be all sorts of repercussions. If you feel so bad that you think you're going to have to go home, tell your line manager you are feeling ill and you have to go home. Don't just walk out.

Secondly, have tomorrow off. Really, don't go in. The trouble with these bastard classes are that they are so frequent, but for now, in your position, I would stay off work for the rest of the week. Perhaps really go for it with job applications, though I imagine there aren't many at the moment. Are you willing to move to go to a different job? How much further would you travel?

When you are off, I think you should write an email to your line manager and copy it to Personnel (if you have a Personnel Officer) and to the union. I, and others on here, can help you write that. In it you have to say that you love your other classes. You don't have any trouble with them. You have to say that you are being bullied by a class and that it is making you ill. Tell them you REFUSE to teach this class. It doesn't matter what they do, you are not going to teach them. However, for tonight, don't think about this. Think "fuck you, you bunch of inadequate bastards" and phone in sick first thing.

Go to your doctor's, then. I know when I had problems at home I went onto anti depressants just to allow me to cope. The idea of medicating myself to cope with everyday life was awful, but it really helped. It enabled me to kind of lift the pressure and move it away from me. It was a weird sensation but very, very useful.

Regardless of doctor's visits etc, I think you should be clear that you have no intention of returning if it means teaching that class. When you think about it, they can either pay you six months' full sick pay followed by six months' half pay, or they can have you back in on Thursday. It's their decision. If they argue, contact the governors.

Everyone knows a group of kids together can be awful. Enough to make you do desperate things.

Stand your ground. (And hope they fail everything they take grin)

Astarael Tue 10-Dec-13 22:45:12

I was going to suggest a class detention like fortydoors - if you can't pinpoint who was doing what.

I was in a "naughty" tutor group and used to get these quite regularly. Eventually the pressure from those of us who'd done nothing wrong and were still losing our lunchtime stopped the group that were playing up. No-one wanted to be the one that caused everyone else aggro.

I think you're going to have to go hardline to regain respect. As Mamma TJ I remember being in classes where the teacher had lost control and it wasn't pretty. The difference needs to be that you're going to take it back. If they think you've given up it'll just fuel them. Haul their arses in for detention for every transgression and they'll give in.

SpikeyChristmasTree Tue 10-Dec-13 22:45:47

If SLT come in, they already know how poor the behaviour is. What can you lose by actually showing that you are employing strategies to change it? If your GCSE results are poor you will be in the shit anyway.

No, you cannot ask someone else to teach the class as a whole, but you can reorganise the classes to distribute the troublemakers, or swap naughties for different naughties from other classes to break up the dynamic.

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 22:46:16

You CAN ask someone else to deal with the class. You can.

It's likely they would be different with someone else. It's not personal in that way. They've decided to bully you. If you stop teaching them, they may decide to bully another teacher, in which case maybe something will happen. The chances are, though, they'll be OK for them. Not because of any logical reasons. Just because they are randomly vile.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:47:14

Thank you.

Sprinkle, they don't. However, this class is being 'watched' (with me) because I got told off the other week for setting them unsuitable work, that's how I know they will come in. That makes me 'jittery' - I might be being unfair but I do feel very pressurised just now.

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 22:47:38

I'm a teacher; we would definitely stand in for someone else who was being bullied.

Reorganisation of classes just isn't possible at this time of year.

ilovesooty Tue 10-Dec-13 22:47:43

If you send any emails on the matter, blind copy them to your home address.

SprinkleLiberally Tue 10-Dec-13 22:47:57

Sounds like smt are as big a problem as these unpleasant teenagers. Am furious that this bullying culture can go on.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:50:04

I really can't change them all around, or get someone else to teach the class, partly because of the structure of the course but mainly because the other classes are settled and they are working, it is just mine that are foul.

I do appreciate people's replies, I don't want it to sound defeatist or negative but I have been battling with this for three months - most things people have suggested I have tried and it just is not working, or if something DOES work the effect is only temporary.

That's why I feel so desperate.

SpikeyChristmasTree Tue 10-Dec-13 22:51:10

I'm also a teacher, a HOD, we reorganise our GCSE classes all the time based on attainment and behaviour.

If you are HOD of a difficult department you can ask someone else to take your bad class. They probably will. The long-term consequences are not worth it though.

Hollyandbooze Tue 10-Dec-13 22:52:18

You sound at the end of your tether but you must find the strength and take control of this. Get angry op. You are an experienced teacher and your other classes need you!

So tomorrow...

Deep breath. Go in head high. Tactical ignoring. Praise the good ones and give them ALL your attention.

Broken record technique and icy calm for the ones who won't stop. Do the flow chart to the removal from class. Stay very calm. Keep doing it. It's the only way. You are in charge, not them.

Persevere. Be stronger than they are. Find your power. They know nothing, they're 14. You are fucking good at your job.

2 weeks til christmas...

BlackDaisies Tue 10-Dec-13 22:53:43

Your two warnings/ detention system sounds like it might be unworkable in a class like this. Because basically if you have 4/5 ringleaders, then you're going to get 10 instances of poor, rude behaviour which are effectively going to go unchecked. This must be really undermining.

As you are HOD, could you alter this? Maybe go in to senior management with an action plan rather than asking for support. Explain the behaviour you are experiencing and say how you would like to address it. Which could be speaking to the class/ listing the behaviour that is unacceptable and tell them that going through it is counting as their warning. Maybe say that as they do not seem to understand that their behaviour is unacceptable following the current system that you are changing it.

Consequences would be more effective if they were immediate/ difficult. I don't have experience of secondary - what consequences would bother them most? - could they miss a break time and complete work for you/ take home extra work to complete as they have wasted time in the lesson which if not completed would result in detention?/ have immediate detention? (no warnings apart from your whole class one).

I think your key is to decide on a consequence and pull them up on the behaviour every time. It will be hard at first but they'll start to realise you mean it.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 10-Dec-13 22:54:14

How about getting a couple of the non-ringleaders to stay behind after class. Having a friendly chat with them about how disappointed you are that they've been led astray by others, that they could do so much better and achieve good grades if they stopped messing about. Remind them that they're ruining their chances of good grades, college, etc. ask them if they really want to let others in the class potentially affect the rest of their lives so negatively? Finish off by been all motivational again.

If you can turn the non ringleaders back onto side a few at a time then things will be a lot better.

I'm not a teacher btw so could be talking bollocks though I have done college lecturing of 16plus in the past.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:54:19

Spikey, it really isn't possible. We've taught different texts, and besides, even if we hadn't, eyebrows would definitely be raised - 'the HOD had to ask X to take that class as she couldn't cope with them.'

They would probably do so gleefully, but the point is, it would reflect so badly on me as a leader, teacher, person.

I'm screwed.

Kayakinggirl86 Tue 10-Dec-13 22:54:37

Sorry have not read the full message, but read a few and knew I had to comment.
After several years of teaching I had a year 8 class (yes I know being broken down by 13 year old girls sounds pathetic!) which sound like your horrors.
Management were no good as they would only remove one at a time, after several phone calls made. I asked for help I hot spotted it ect but due to the timings of the day I no one would help.
I spent a lot of time just standing at the front of the room and wishing I was else where.
As long as they are/ where safe i did not care what was learnt.
Take the ones that are nice around a group of tables and do some small group teaching. Blank the others.

Wish I could give better advice as I understand the hell you are going through. But in the end class from hell and a few other issues managment did not support me on made me leave secondary teaching. So much happier teaching younger children now!

Loonytoonie Tue 10-Dec-13 22:55:43

GCSE past papers are a must for revision. It's worth a try, surely?
You sound at the end of your tether OP, don't talk yourself out of potential solutions. There are good pupils in this class? Can you focus your efforts on them, quiet fairness whilst you ignore the others. Divide and rule.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:57:08

I honestly have tried the suggestions you make holly. That isn't that they aren't good suggestions - they are, just don't make any difference with this lot!

Blackdaisies, I can't change the whole school system and nor would I want to really - I can see consistency matters. It's just any sanctions seem to make little difference!q

Viva, again, have tried that. Usually they are shamefaced for about 10 minutes before getting sucked into sniggering and laughing and stupid stuff, it isn't even anything that bad but does give the impression it's me against them. And there are 30 of them.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 22:58:43

Loony, they're in year 10. We aren't at past paper stage yet.

I've had to ignore some behaviour as I don't know who the perpetrators are. It just spurs them on.

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 23:00:42

OP, why don't you take the rest of the week off? Can you see that if you go in tomorrow you could end up making their day by crying in class?

One thing you could do if you go in, which I've done.

Say to them: "I've been considering your predicted grades, in the light of the way some of you are behaving." Put up a spreadsheet on the board and say, "Now I know some of you will be disappointed with these grades, because the knock on effect will mean that you might not be accepted into sixth form. It's time, though, to grow up and think about what's happening. Some of you are stopping everyone else from learning. Everyone knows that. The result of that is that all of you stand a 90% chance of failing this course. Of course when it comes to a reference for sixth form or an apprenticeship, we have to be honest and mention behaviour as well as grades." Give them a few minutes to find their fail grade, then, when they all start hollering, say, "Oh for god's sake don't blame me! I'm not the one stopping you from learning!"

Then, every time one of them does anything out of line, put the spreadsheet up on the board and say, "At what point are you going to accept that because of X, you are failing this course? I know you are young, but that is spectacularly immature behaviour."

SpikeyChristmasTree Tue 10-Dec-13 23:02:47

I'm sorry, OP, I mustn't have been clear. I don't think you should get someone else to take the class, it will make you look weak.

I think you are in a terrible position, but I wouldn't go off sick as you will still have to face the problem only they will be worse having had cover supervisors or supply.

Get them doing exam questions in silence. If SLT query this then they really are not very good teachers themselves. I'm a HOD and lead practitioner and would advise any of the teachers I support to do this.

It is a long and not particularly pleasant road, but a don't think the status quo is an option for any of you. An unsupportive SLT will be on your back for one thing or another, but the poor behaviour will ring a lot more alarm bells than a couple of lessons of working in silence as you pick them off one by one.

I really feel for you, I've been there.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 10-Dec-13 23:03:13

Hey woodland
You need a break; you need the chad holidays to rest and get someone perspective on this. I'm not intending to minimise the issues here but I think you may be do close to the matter seeing the solution is

Hollyandbooze Tue 10-Dec-13 23:03:15

Wear them down fairy. Come on, you need to raise your fighting spirit!

There's got to be a way.

Talk to hoy about specific characters, get their background info. Who is sporty, who is arty? What's gonna hurt to miss out on? Trips? Extra curr? Talk to other subject teachers. What's worked for them?

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 23:04:20

Imperial, I think that the problem with that method is that my hardcore group of troublemakers just wouldn't care. Honestly, truthfully, they wold not give a shit.

The kids who DO care would resent me because its my fault - and complain to SLT that the rubbish teacher they've got is stopping them going to sixth form. Most wouldn't actually, to be fair, but they would be upset. I need to gain their confidence, not lose it.

I am seriously considering making an appointment to see the head and asking to leave at Christmas, but money is heavily on my mind.

LadyHarrietdeSpook Tue 10-Dec-13 23:05:20

What an idiot! Xmas holidays not chad holidays.

Stupid phone!

mineofuselessinformation Tue 10-Dec-13 23:05:22

I'm too tired to read the whole thread at this time of night - sorry! But I hope this is helpful all the same:-
Could you institute an 'on-call' timetable in your department where you identify a colleague (and a second one as a back up) who is non-contact or has a decent class (top set, year 7 for the embarrassment factor, or sixth form). Then you or your colleagues in the department send to first choice and then second choice if necessary. No leaving the classroom is required. You just tell the student they are to go to X and that you will email X the time that they left your classroom so they know what time to expect them. Only allow them to take their books so they have to return and you can speak to them when the rest of the class has left.
This gives a very clear message and of course if they refuse to go this is a whole other ball game. You can potentially remove at least three students from the room doing this.... Hopefully the message will begin to sink in.
As for the sniggering etc, confront it face on: 'Did you say something to me? If you did, can you say it loud enough for us all to hear?' Let them know you are not afraid to face up to them. You will need a good amount of acting skills - keep thinking 'icy calm' as you are dealing with this group...
Good luck. You will need to work hard to get through this, but if you manage it, you will never feel this way again.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 23:05:51

Holly with respect, I have tried, I have tried and tried and tried. But nothing I have tried (parents, HOY, form tutors, sanctions, praise) has made an iota of difference. They do not like me, they really do not, and they enjoy wearing me down.

I don't know why they dislike me, but they do!

Hollyandbooze Tue 10-Dec-13 23:09:35

Ok. I believe you!

Time out then as suggested for you. Reflect, regroup and plan a way out.

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 23:09:39

Noooooooooooo don't leave! No way.

If you are at that point, then you should stay off on sick leave. However, as I said about, you should point out to your head that you are being bullied and that it's not a matter of not coping with the class, but they are deliberately destroying your mental health.

You can have a year off sick before deciding whether to leave or not. By then you will have another job to go to. Please don't leave and put yourself in such a difficult situation financially. You will be incredibly depressed if you do.

For now, don't go in tomorrow. If you can't face ringing in sick, PM me and I'll ring in for you. The doctor would sign you off in a flash.

TheMaw Tue 10-Dec-13 23:09:54

The union, OP? Have you tried that?

FunnyFestiveTableRunner Tue 10-Dec-13 23:12:30

OP am on phone so short post only but please consider taking a few days off and seeing your GP. You sound absolutely flattened by this. It is a shit situation and your SLT sound completely useless. Your number one priority needs to be your own health. I know you are worried about paying your bills but in reality you are entitled to extremely generous sick pay. Agree about the union thing join one now if you haven't already. Arrange a formal meeting with SLT with union rep. Refuse to attend meeting without union rep. It is extremely difficult for your school to run you out unless you do something crazy like walk out of school. The way you are feeling at the minute will make you more vulnerable to doing something crazy. Take some time off and see your GP for support.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 23:12:31

Thank you. Union won't help x

ShriekingGnawer Tue 10-Dec-13 23:13:35

This might sound really weird but have you thought about doing some boxing or martial arts of some kind? Confidence makes a huge difference in how teenagers treat you voice of bitter experience

FunnyFestiveTableRunner Tue 10-Dec-13 23:13:42

What do you mean union won't help?

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 23:14:29

Exactly what FunnyFestive says.

ImperialBlether Tue 10-Dec-13 23:15:06

A lot of union reps are really crap.

FunnyFestiveTableRunner Tue 10-Dec-13 23:15:07

Do not leave. Go sick before you consider leaving without another job to go to.

TheMaw Tue 10-Dec-13 23:15:21

Why won't the union help?

ShriekingGnawer Tue 10-Dec-13 23:16:01

Has there ever been a time when you have felt it went well with this class?

TheMaw Tue 10-Dec-13 23:17:00

A lo of Union reps are really good. That wasn't a very supportive post for someone who is worried about getting the union involved Imperial

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 23:17:02

It's a behaviour issue. What could the union do? To be honest, unions do little (in my experience) even when there is a problem, while here, although its miserable, classroom management is supposed to be something we can deal with.

noblegiraffe Tue 10-Dec-13 23:17:02

When this sort of thing happens in my dept, we rally around the affected teacher because we all know it could be us. If 5 kids need to be out of the class, then we'll all take one or two, just for a week or so, to give the teacher a break and a chance to establish a good relationship with the rest of the class. Can you get your dept to support you if SLT are shit?

I had a bullying Y10 class in my first year. Group humming was their thing, and all hiding under the desk when my back was turned. What helped with them was doing a coursework task with them. Minimal whole class teaching, and lots of going around the class having 1-1 conversations with them. Individually they were ok with me and once I had a good relationship with individuals, they were less inclined to be horrible. Could you plan work that's less you in front of the whole class?

woodlandfairycreature if you were in charge, there was no one looking over your shoulder and you could decide to deal with this class in whichever way you wanted what would you do?

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 23:18:49

Imperial is right, though. I have little (if any) faith in the union.

If I move round the class they get SO rowdy - that was the problem with them the other week when the SLT member came in! Department won't help really - it's taken a lot to get to the point where they have respect for me and even that is tenuous at best.

also, what subject is it?

FunnyFestiveTableRunner Tue 10-Dec-13 23:19:49

The union are there to help you deal with SLT's behaviour not your class. They are there to make sure you are given the support you need.

woodlandfairycreature Tue 10-Dec-13 23:19:50

I don't know sausage, I have no confidence left by now, I really don't, evidently I have done something to get this group to this point but I don't know what sad

TheMaw Tue 10-Dec-13 23:20:35

Nope, a union is there to help you when your boss won't. It's a way of protecting yourself so if something does happen (ie one day you just walk out) then you have someone fighting your corner. Please at least try, as I said, a good employer will expect their staff to be protected.

giggle78 Tue 10-Dec-13 23:22:33

Please get support from your head of department.

As you are a capable teacher and it is just this one class then you don't have anything to fear.

Seating plan. Boy/Girl? Nice child/difficult child?

I cried in a lesson a while ago and I just got promoted so there is no need to feel like a failure or that this could be the end of your career xx

ProphetOfDoom Tue 10-Dec-13 23:24:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FunnyFestiveTableRunner Tue 10-Dec-13 23:26:11

OP you have drawn a short straw with this class. If your class room management is good with other classes this is just one of those shitty groups that comes along and you need support with. I had one myself years ago. I cracked them and ended up enjoying the little buggers but the difference was I got the HOy on side to back me up. I was then able to tell them they would be copying from the board for 2 years unless they got a grip and if they so much as squeaked or looked crooked at me the Hoy would be all over them like a rash. With a dynamic like this you need support in a way that gives you back your confidence to discipline them hard until they realise you mean business. But first you need a break.

MintyChops Tue 10-Dec-13 23:34:59

Nasty, cruel little brats. So sorry to hear all this OP, am not a teacher but really feel for you.

Go to your GP and get some help dealing with intense stress you are under.

Tell the SLT that you are being treated for stress. They have a duty of care not to put you in a situation which would cause you further damage. If they refuse to support you - speak to your union.

Document everything. Sue them if necessary. What they are doing is not compatible with being responsible employers and they should not be allowed to break you just because they can't be asked to deal with the situation.

noblegiraffe Tue 10-Dec-13 23:39:46

If your department won't support you and SLT won't support you then you should be looking for another job regardless of this class.

In the meantime, phone in sick tomorrow if you can't face them.

They want to wind you up and see you rattled. The best way to respond to wind-up tactics is utter boredom.

homeagain Tue 10-Dec-13 23:42:13

Absolutely vile being bullied and made to feel crap at work . Am so sorry. Please take tomorrow off, and please go and see your GP. You are sounding unwell ( and who wouldn't be with what you're facing). But if they won't support you at school, you do need to find someone who will look after you for a little while. Am sending a virtual hug. Have been bullied at work and know how frightening it is and how small it makes you feel. But it will pass xxx

sarine1 Tue 10-Dec-13 23:45:57

A few quick suggestions:
Think about strategically picking them off. Can you identify any ring leaders? Who are those 'in the middle', the followers?
I would concentrate on good planning and targeting the solid middle group.
Stressful classes de-skill us and we teach defensively and often lessons become 'boring' - because we don't dare do group work and interesting active learning, pupils can become passive and it's easy for them to be hostile towards the adult in charge.
You have to embark on a process of wooing and engaging them - especially the solid middle. If they've turned against you, you need to demonstrate that you're on their side because you are passionate about their learning and, if they follow you, can guarantee that they'll succeed.
I would mark books with some intensive marking, spot things they're dong well and tell them (corridor conversations - 'I marked your book last night and really liked.... - can't wait to show you in the lesson').
Make sure that they understand that they'll get a good deal from your lessons and you know and care about their learning - that's your job - doesn't matter if they don't like you - you just need to be determined that they'll succeed and plan your lessons for that.
And a no to whole class detentions - they're the quickest way to piss off the silent majority - 'why should I bother to behave, I'm going to be punished because of others so I may as well join in'.
You can turn a difficult class round but it's hard work - especially with the planning and marking.
Is there another friendly HoD who can give you an insight into this class & their attitudes in their department?
Hopefully you're now asleep but have sent you a PM for tomorrow.

FunnyFestiveTableRunner Tue 10-Dec-13 23:52:55

There are lots of great classroom management strategies / suggestions on here BUT my gut feeling is that the OP is currently completely worn down and just needs a break and some headspace. So OP don't start fretting about what you should or shouldn't be doing. Take a day or two off and just give yourself some time to sleep / cry / eat properly / phone the union and talkline. Don't try and figure out a master plan just yet. Just take some time to care for yourself.

Cerisier Tue 10-Dec-13 23:57:30

Our department also rally round anyone who is having a hard time. It tends to be the younger teachers that this happens to, the students don't give the long standing older members of staff any trouble. Is there a deputy head or senior teacher that you get on well with that could help with this class? Can you email to them to come and remove anyone who is doing the dumb insolence routine?

The students who want to do well in Y11 will thank you for getting the trouble makers removed until they can behave.

We would pull out anyone who was not giving their all to the lesson, would give them an earful and contact parents. They would be signing behavior contracts and having to beg to be allowed in the lesson. Our school is extremely strict so this is very rare.

Cerisier Wed 11-Dec-13 00:00:49

PS another vote for hanging in there but looking to move ASAP. Don't just walk out but do look for a new post for Easter. Life is too short to work in this sort of situation, it will ruin your health.

TheWitTank Wed 11-Dec-13 00:19:02

No job is worth feeling that shit for. Get signed off as you sound mentally exhausted and unable to cope, then when you are feeling more "together" start your job hunt. Fuck it, if it was that bad I would take a job doing anything to tide me over while I looked for my "proper" job. Seriously-it's not worth it.

Shelby2010 Wed 11-Dec-13 00:40:28

Could you not get the mobile number of the person you would need to phone to get the worst pupil(s) removed? Warn them before the lesson that you might need to use it, then at least you can bypass the problem of leaving the classroom to use the internal system.

Good luck.

Curioushorse Wed 11-Dec-13 00:54:41

Is it English? Perhaps one of us has taught the text you're teaching at the moment and has a SOW? Certainly I have SOW which were planned for classes like this.....

It sounds like loads of people here have been in similar circumstances to you. This can definitely happen to good teachers. Perhaps we could share resources?

Op this is the worst fortnight of the year to e teaching year 10.

Lilacroses Wed 11-Dec-13 01:20:33

So sorry you feel like this. I have a really difficult class this year (primary age) and have been teaching for 15 years and I feel as if I can't teach eventhough I never usually have any problems like this. Thankfully others have had them and agree they are particularly hard work, ALL individually lovely children but as a group a nightmare.

I am finding I have to be very regimented in my classroomroutines (I am normally very relaxed) and I have to reiterate my expectations before almost every single activity including lining up. I keep them extremely busy and am more severe with the challenging one than I've ever been with any children. It's like you have to demonstrate that you mean business otherwise the other challenging children will take advantage.

I use our usual positive behaviour management strategies for those doing well,rewards etc and when things get really bad I send children out. Even with all this we are having difficult days...I am counting the days till the end of term. I'm exhausted but I know this happens to every teacher at some point. Next year will be better.

You are not alone, teaching a difficult class is very very hard

Loonytoonie Wed 11-Dec-13 05:50:15

OP Schmaltzing Matilda has given excellent advice.

I agree with everything she has said. It's your right to receive support here. To feel this worn down is a fucking failure on your SLT's part - to threaten you with the 'poor performer' label is an appalling cop-out on their part. It allows them to apportion blame on their staff.

Read SM's post again.

I personally wouldn't go in for the rest of the week.

Aussiemum78 Wed 11-Dec-13 05:53:49

Can any colleagues sit in the class to witness/discourage trouble?
Call their parents? Fail the crap out of them?

I think if you can't take a hard line it encourages them, as there are no consequences.

Aussiemum78 Wed 11-Dec-13 05:56:13

Can you organise students to swap classes to break up the bad group?

I work with slightly older groups, but this always works for me when i get a group like this.....
I get them to research something that they have to "teach" to the rest of the class.
They prep this during class either individually or in small groups
There is then a test set based on what they were teaching
"always puts manners on them" as someone once said!
It's actually painful watching them stand up and deliver.......and i praise them for their effort, and encourage the rest of the class to ask them questions
[evil laugh]

Really feel for you. Take care of yourself

Lovelybitofsquirrel Wed 11-Dec-13 06:36:29

Am so sorry you're in this situation. I'm sorry your SLT are letting you down, I can see you feel you have nowhere to turn.
Do you work at an academy? What I am going to suggest may be unworkable if you do, sorry.
As I understand it, if you are signed off by GP for a certain length of time then school have to refer you to occupational health, something to do with sick pay. They then produce a report based on conversations with you and on return to work your head is obliged to ask what are barriers to your successful return to duties and to do something about it.
I do think your union would be more helpful than you think, as someone else said the issue is not your classroom management but lack of slt support.
For now, take the day off. Your health is too important.
I know, as a conscientious teacher, you worry about the other classes you will miss but they will cope. Plan your cover work and ring in sick.
Good luck getting this sorted, remember to put your health first.

echt Wed 11-Dec-13 06:39:54

First of all, OP, my deepest sympathies. What utter cunts, and I mean the SLT as much as the pupils. I've been there when I taught in the UK, where a stellar berk of a student arced up in my class, I ejected the surly mare and I was immediately asked for my lesson plans by the HT. Ohhh... I hadn't engaged them. Silly me. I'd only been teaching for 27 years.


It's getting near Christmas, so energy is low.

1. Start looking for another job. Meanwhile…

2. Keep a log of all misbehaviour, make a spreadsheet so you can indicate how frequent and tiresome the interruptions to learning are.

3. In all your dealings with students, SLT and parents, do not call it bad behaviour, but behaviour that prevented others from learning. This is important as it calls attention to the effects of their behaviour.

4. Call SLT on the having to leave the classroom to phone. You are in loco parentis and if any of the monsters kick off in your absence you are responsible. Spell it out to the dozy feckers in so many words. If they do not sort it in a week, get in touch with your regional, NOT your school union rep. The rules of the school are obliging you to act unprofessionally.

5. Call a meeting with the parents right after the holiday. Before if necessary. On the last day. Insist the pupil is there. Refuse the meeting if they turn up without the monster. If they raise their voices, warn, then walk. If they swear; walk. Write it all up. Have another teacher in the room with you if necessary.

6. The two warnings and detention rule is a sign of a school in trouble. The minute they do this, the arseholes barrack room lawyers in the class start calling you on due process. Time to leave.

7. In detentions, get them to copy out of the dictionary in their best handwriting. If they piss around, give them another detention. More of the same. It's important never to teach them, as learning should not be a punishment. Make sure you are MNing while they slave.

Thinking of you.

Jenologist Wed 11-Dec-13 07:34:06

OP, there are some great behaviour management techniques being mentioned here, but you know beget than anyone what will work and what you personally can carry off.
Firstly, I really think you should have today off, you need a break from this behaviour. use it as a chance to rest, do something you enjoy doing. Do not plan lessons or spend anytime thinking about this class. make a big list of all the things you're good at and all the times when you've been a superb teacher.
Give yourself a break, you need it. Then, in a couple of days you can start thinking about how to move forward.

DoctorDonnaNoble Wed 11-Dec-13 07:43:53

I had this in my second year at my current school. Fortunately, my SMT were supportive. I gave up a responsibility point so I could focus on my confidence in my teaching and they got a specialist teacher in for those lessons.
Whilst they were supportive I don't think they ever realised how bad it was, my HoD and refused to have the two ringleaders in our subject at A Level. A different boy from that (year 10) group ended up in my A Level class, he was still friends with the ring leaders. He soon realised he needed my subject knowledge and teaching to get the grades he wanted. He became a joy to teach. Students can and do change.
Just wanted to give you a happy ending story, although from the sound of your SMT, I suspect your happy ending will come at a different school. This may mean dropping back from HoD.
Teaching is awful when you face a class like this. I regressed into panic attacks and self-harming.
Go to the doctor. Get some time off and outside support and remember sometimes you need to put yourself first.

headlesslambrini Wed 11-Dec-13 07:49:45

sorry haven't got time to read all posts but can you give them a test under exam conditions to do? I know you can't do this all the time but can you build one in for next Wednesday? Can you do a 10 min test at the end of each lesson? Get you get them all to make sure they have the equipment they need at the start.

Do you have a mobile? Can you use this to ring downstairs instead of leaving the room? Maybe tell your HoD and get their OK first. Can you request a TA to support the class - maybe pitch this to the head as you are concerned that the class are struggling with the course and won't achieve the C grades.

I'm not a teacher so have no idea if this would work or not. Do other teachers have the same problem with the class members, if so, go to the HoY with the other teacher to explain.

minifingers Wed 11-Dec-13 08:07:22

My dd has a teacher that she and the class treats with this level of disrespect. As far as I'm' concerned this is bullying of the worst sort and is inexcusable.

We recently had to attend a meeting with this teacher and the HOY to discuss an incident where dd had screamed in her face. I cried in the meeting because I was so ashamed of dd. :-(

OP - stay strong. Most of the parents of the children who are disrespecting you will be like me - mortified and angry. If they're not, they should be. I hope your school finds a way of supporting you better.

cheminotte Wed 11-Dec-13 09:19:13

Not a teacher here so can't suggest any strategies. But I went off sick earlier this year from a job that had been hell for 9 months. I had diarrhea every morning before work, slept really badly, stressed with
kids. I have now left and feel so much better. I feel I should have gone off a lot earlier as that period ws so horrendous. Don't just resign but do go off sick before you have a breakdown.

clarinetV2 Wed 11-Dec-13 09:29:30

I haven't read all the posts, just the first couple of pages. OP, is getting a job in another school a possibility for you? It sounds like the problem isn't just this class, it's a massively unsupportive management. I'm not a teacher but I know that if there was part of my job I was finding impossible, I would ask for support and expect to receive it, and that's in a job that doesn't have the interpersonal complexities of dealing with adolescents all day long. Surely there are schools where asking for help with a difficult class is not seen as admitting failure or a fast track to competence procedures? I would have thought that asking for help in a job like teaching should be seen (within reason) as a good sign, signifying willingness to learn from others - after all, no-one can know everything. I would have expected senior teachers to appreciate that more than anyone else! Are there any other more supportive schools in your locality, and what's the likelihood of vacancies?

In the meantime, my sympathies. It must be horrible to wake up in the morning knowing you have to face this class.

1charlie1 Wed 11-Dec-13 10:17:02

I'm sorry you're going through this. DH's previous school was 'led' by a dysfunctional SMT. Useless. AND bullying, which is an horrendous combination for the poor teachers working in the school. The behavioural management policies were a total joke - the SMT seemed to want to be 'down' with the 'cool kids', and were lax on follow-through, meaning classroom behaviour tended toward the nightmarish, as there were no consequences for young people removed from the classroom. Then the teachers were targeted for poor classroom management.

In response, DH's department was fabulously supportive of one another - horrible behaviour meant the student was removed, to the classroom of a colleague to continue work in there. DH got frequent 'visits' from random students, who had to sit at the back of his room in silence completing their work. He always knew he could send his disruptive ones to his colleague's rooms to do the same. SMT weren't involved.
The other thing is: this sounds like an issue way beyond 'poor classroom management', and more akin to workplace bullying. One of DH's colleagues was being regularly racially bullied by a particular student. SMT did nothing (god, they were beyond useless, just an expensive waste of space), so the teacher said, 'That's fine. But as you're not prepared to take action, I'm just letting you know I'm going to the police.' The student ended up being rapidly and appropriately disciplined, needless to say.

Nanny0gg Wed 11-Dec-13 10:24:19

If you had a choice, do you want to stay in teaching? Obviously not at this school, but somewhere else.

Lilacroses Wed 11-Dec-13 10:38:56

Hi OP, hope you didn't go in today. Just wanted to mention that I once did 18 months of supply teaching and loved it. When you feel as stressed as you do it is great to have the freedom that supply teaching brings and the money is good. Thinking of you.

sandfish Wed 11-Dec-13 10:54:59

Sometimes in teaching you can't get the support you desperately need. It is crap.

For the class - divide and rule. No matter how bad there will be some students, maybe only a handful, that actually want to pass your subject. A few quiet ones that just get on with it, and maybe a few bright ones who you know are good at the subject, and maybe even a few struggling ones who need help and would respond well to it. You currently feel really bad for these students because all the others are destroying it for them. Your duty is to them. These students are deserving of your time. Put them together in one part of the room - like near the front and your desk.

Write on the board the objective of the lesson. Find a textbook passage to read and some questions for them to do - really straightforward stuff. Start by telling them that the lesson will begin with 10 minutes of silent reading of the subject. Then they will work on the questions and exercises. They all need to finish up to a certain point by the end of lesson in order to keep on track for the exams. Do the 10 mins silent reading and tolerate no interruptions for any reason - silently write the names of those who talk (you can tell them you will do this - these get detention). After that you can let them talk quietly if you want, to complete the questions, and you can spend your time discussing the topic on a one to one basis or in a small group with those who are trying to work.

Ignore the rest so long as they are sitting in their seats and are not too noisy, but warn that if they don't do all the questions they will have extra homework.

That's your lesson. It is boring, but it means those who want to work get your attention. If you want to you can tell the class that their behaviour when you are trying to teach the whole class has been poor and the consequence is that their lessons will be very 'simple' with no class discussion, no group work, or IT etc until they can show you proper respect. Continue this approach every lesson extremely consistently until you see an improvement in behaviour. If you do - you can try again to be more creative in your teaching. If you don't see any improvement at least those that want to learn have the chance to do so and you need not feel guilty.

TheGonnagle Wed 11-Dec-13 11:08:04

Hi OP, I hope you didn't go in today.
Just another voice saying I know where you're coming from and it sounds like your SMT is failing you massively.
Two weeks till more Wednesday. Exam conditions surprise test a possibility?

ArtexTheHallWithBoughsOfMonkey Wed 11-Dec-13 11:19:05

can you send individuals out to other classes? Arrange with colleagues beforehand, and have some worksheet work that main perps can take into say a y7 lesson next door and sit in the corner with?

i feel so very angry for you. This is no way to live. I want to give you a manly punch on the arm.

ArtexTheHallWithBoughsOfMonkey Wed 11-Dec-13 11:21:48

I mean one main perp at a time. So the first one to kick off gets a dull 'power of punctuation' or some shit worksheet to take to mrs x's y7 class next door. Second scrote to start on you gets the same and goes to mr y and his y8s across the way. Etc.

slug Wed 11-Dec-13 12:45:17

Oh Lordy I feel your pain. I had a class like that once. Like you I had 10 years experience and was the go to person for dealing with difficult classes but his one group damn near defeated me. To be fair, much of the classroom dynamics was influenced by the wider community, they were from a small, quite intensely intermarried community. There were cousins, second cousins and uncles in the class, and there was a gang culture to deal with as well. However, my class had to function somehow.

You have, at least, the Christmas break coming up to allow you to gather your strength again.

Like sandfish, I got serious with the expectations. I decided one day to start again from scratch. One day I made them line up outside the classroom instead of letting them wander into the class. I had one of the security guards with me (it was that kind of place). I let them in one by one, the more compliant and keen ones first. As they went through the door I stated my expectations to each of them individually e.g. "In this class you will not speak out of turn, shout etc... Do you understand me?" <Cue the teacher glare> Any student who dared to make a fuss was taken to the side by the security guard while I went onto the next one. Once all who agreed went in I repeated by statement to the ones who had originally argued and asked them again. I told them if they weren't prepared to abide by the school rules then I wasn't prepared to have them in my class. The alternative, obviously, to skipping class was a detention. One by one they agreed to the rules and went find the class arranged with the desks facing the wall. I had also set up a few webcams in the corners of the class. It was IT so the webcams weren't noticed and were, to a point, legitimate to the session.

I then, more or less, followed exactly what sandfish suggested. I'm very good at stopping at the first squeek, turning around, crossing my arms and glaring in absolute silence. Even silent giggling will peter out if you do this long enough and consistently enough. Just stand and wait until it's silent again, raise an eyebrow if you can, then start off again where you stopped. Do this every time. Refuse to engage with any distraction or discussion. You may only get through a quarter of the planned lesson this way but the message gets home eventually. Life will be very, very boring if the entertainment of winding up the teacher continues.

It takes a while and you have to be prepared for a difficult few weeks. I eventually slackened off with the full on tactics and the class became fun again but as soon as the poor behaviour returned, the silence did also. I kept the webcams up though. It was useful to look through them afterwards for my own professional development. It was useful to see from a slightly different perspective how I dealt with students and who I interacted with less than I should. It was also verrrrry useful when one of the ringleaders made an official complaint about me swearing at him in class. So nice to be able to prove the foul language came from his mouth not mine.

fosterg Wed 11-Dec-13 17:13:39

If you can catch up with today's Radio 5 live there was a 'phone in' re discipline in the classroom which I think would make you feel a lot better about what is happening to you. You are obviously not alone and have my deepest sympathy. I think the time was between 10 and 11am.

woodlandfairycreature Wed 11-Dec-13 19:03:49

Thank you. I did go in today (I have to, we have two members of staff away) and it wasn't so bad in fact.

I think I probably haven't explained myself clearly (my fault, I wound myself up into a right state last night!)

It isn't poor discipline per se. Yes, there is sometimes poor behaviour but it's limited to (say) one person calling out or whatever. I haven't got a riot on my hands when I try to teach them, I haven't lost control, I don't feel that I have to send numerous students out. But it's nasty - it's this nasty "undercurrent." And you can't send a student out for sneering at you, laughing at you, looking down their nose at you - but it is there, trust me.

I appreciate the replies advising me to send them out but I really cannot do that. Firstly and most importantly it isn't our system at school - bypassing the system is majorly frowned upon - and plus, it would disrupt other lessons and be seen as me not coping. I need to lead the department not be begging others for help. Fair enough if you've worked somewhere for a while the odd difficult class doesn't throw you but this is my second year at the school and working with my department has been difficult to say the least. We also have other members of staff needing a lot of support just now.

So - I am stuck with it! I can see that I am probably projecting a bit (have had an awful time lately, personally) but that doesn't make it any easier.

I'm on a course Friday though so no more year 10 until Monday - this makes me happy smile

woodlandfairycreature Wed 11-Dec-13 19:04:54

Minifingers, I forgot to say my heart went out to you.

I feel so sorry for parents like you who have done all they can but their child is just rebelling terribly. It does render you sort of powerless and I just hope that your daughter comes through the other side quickly. In the meantime, just knowing parents are on the same side as you DOES help, honestly!

echt Wed 11-Dec-13 19:38:54

Dear OP. Your school has set up a system that benefits the SLT by making it difficult for you to get their help. By having to leave your classroom to call for help, the class becomes less teachable, and it's your SLT making this happen. Call them on it.

The sneering, laughing at your voice, etc. is bullying, plain and simple. Do get the parents in with the child.

What they are doing has nothing to do with your lesson planning.

misskatamari Wed 11-Dec-13 20:27:52

I'm glad you didn't find today too bad woodland. It's good that on the whole the class are under control - when faced with rudeness I have actually used the good old mumsnet "did you mean to be do rude?" A few times this year and it has actually worked to stop kids in their tracks and look shamefaced. Might be worth a try if it is more rude attitude as opposed to disruptive behaviour.

NotAsTired Wed 11-Dec-13 21:11:23

I think with a group like this where the chemistry is so poor you are going to have to work on being positive where you can, set out and maintain clear expectations on behaviour and hide (where you can) that they are getting to you. Acting, after all, is part of the job.

I would personally draw comfort that you only have one group that's like it. It is obviously them, not you! I'm also wondering if the sensitivity about the sneering is linked to your relationships with some of the people within your department - that it has a parallel with your experience there. That you feel an outsider and you are having to work hard than you should have to, to get respect?

HopAlongOnItsOnlyChristmas Wed 11-Dec-13 21:49:39

Hey OP. Not a teacher so can't offer any practical support. But I will say that you have been doing this (and enjoying it) for ten years. You must have helped hundreds of children learn, and you are still doing the same now. These sneering little shits can go fuck themselves. You are a grown up, nothing they say about your appearance etc means shit. In another year they will be out if your life forever, and you will have got through it and carried on doing a great job with the other kids. Those little fuckers will probably be assholes for a good chunk of their lives, if it wasn't you it would be someone else I'm sure. So fuck them off. If you can, just get through their lessons and focus on the things you enjoy about the rest if your job. Every time they get sneery just remember that their opinions matter exactly nothing to you. You will continue to be a good teacher long after they've failed and moved on to bully someone else.

longtallsally2 Wed 11-Dec-13 22:02:16

Oh Woodlands I am glad that it went OK - ex teacher here and I worried about you all night.

My advice to you (apart from looking for a job in a more supportive school - honestly, yours sounds awful) is

a) try to reward the good ones. So put a smiley face on the board, and every-time you have to give someone a warning, try to select someone to praise. X warning for calling out, Y name on board for focusing on the question in hand. X warning for whispering, Y warning for getting started on work quickly. It can be quite therapeutic, for you as well as for the kids, when you are giving out warnings to see the list of names under the smiley face growing quicker.

and b) detach from the nastiness and address it unemotionally, in a bored factual tone of voice, and then move on quickly to engage with/praise a sensible child.

Enjoy your weekend off and keep on posting here. MN will get you through.

evelynj Wed 11-Dec-13 22:15:32

Op, also not a teacher but echo what hop along says. If they know you are getting irritated by them, it will encourage them. There's a power struggle going on & teenagers feel like adults who don't get to make the decisions. In a way they're right.

Can you do some sort of morning meditation where you don't focus on them? It sounds like they are taking over your headspace & you need to reclaim it. The ideal situation would be for them to know that you're in control. Can you fake feeling at ease & breezy? Making some jokes for a lesson & at least look as if you're not bothered by them? (Easier said than done I know)

If not, then see doc & get signed off. You shouldn't be forced out of a job you love(d) & time off May make them behave better. Awful ad it is, we had a teacher in our school that students viewed her classes as the one to fool around in & wind her up. Sadly she had a breakdown but when she came back, kids were better behaved. Only you know what you can deal with. It sounds like your management is really rubbish not to support you so if you take some sick leave, please don't feel bad-you need to preserve yourself.

And you need to treat yourself out of school so be gentle with yourself & take care

BookFairy Wed 11-Dec-13 22:32:32

Oh woodland I really feel for you. I previously worked in Education Support at an FE college and was placed with a class exactly how you describe. It was horrendous. She was a strong and experienced teacher but those boys were awful to her and me. Neither of us was supported by our respective departments or by management. The situation improved for us when we both made our plans to leave, as we could see an end to it.

Make your plan. Don't let it linger on. Stay strong smile

Tapiocapearl Wed 11-Dec-13 22:50:50

I would phone parents every Wednesday if need be. Explain about the rudeness. Keep phoning.

Also can you spend some time getting them to reflect by looking at bullying without discussing the situations
. What it is. Different types of bullying. What bullying says about the bully etc.

For every bit of rudeness can you give them a few mins of a detention, adding up to a longer period.

Really feel feel for you. Must be so upsetting.

DirtyDancingCleanLiving Wed 11-Dec-13 23:19:06

I have scanned through the thread, not read every post so apologies if I have missed something.

Op, in a nutshell, you sound too sensitive. These kids will only continue their behaviour if it's getting the desired effect; and it sounds like you are giving them that desired affect.

They are making you feel uncomfortable and can see this. Turn it around. Make them feel uncomfortable. You need to develop a game face. Completely dead-pan, unimpressed, un-moved. Put the focus on the ringleader or ringleaders. Everytime they interrupt, shout out, whisper, have fake spasms of laughter about something you say or do...stop what you are doing. Focus on them and give them your complete attention. Ask them to share with the class...shush the others and tell them that Johnny (or whoever) has something they'd like to say so can everyone please pay attention to him.

Keep silent and focus on the individual. Keep the rest of the class focused on that individual. It takes a very short amount of time before that person starts feeling like a dickhead and shuts the hell up. I've never seen it fail, even with the most confident/arrogant of individuals.

I have seen the 'humiliation' method work on classes full of the most disruptive teenagers. I have used it myself on a class of difficult 15/16 year olds (I am not a teacher but have conducted business/career-type workshops in comps) and I have used it within a training environment in a room filled with supposed adults who are being disruptive in training sessions.

You need that game face though. The second you blush, stutter or visibly become upset or uncomfortable, they are winning and will continue.

Kayakinggirl86 Wed 11-Dec-13 23:39:01

I know you are saying that you over reacted last night, and it is not that bad. Trust me it is.
I spent several years in a very unsupportive school, however I was full of excuses about the place.
I had allowed myself to believe that yep it was not perfect but about once a week I had a I love my job moment so it could always be worse!
After 6 months from hell (stated with being pinned against a wall by some year 11s ended with the head shouting at me in front of parents) I left- yep at the time I was worried I had bills ect. But I walked in a job at an amazing school.
Your smt are brain washing you that there is no issue, that you should be able to sort it. They are paid 3 to 4 times what you are they should help you!
Really get on to tes start talking to teacher friends get your self out if there!

Halfrek Thu 12-Dec-13 06:18:33

I have an awful class this year but the difference is I have supportive management. I think in your situation I would have to leave. The stress would eat me up.

Millenniumbug1 Thu 12-Dec-13 08:56:17

Follow the discipline procedure to the letter.
Talk to colleagues who also teach this class, find out what they do & do the same.
Don't get emotional.
Here's another angle, if you're not in control & an emergency happened, how would you get them to safety? Would they follow your instructions?
You have to take control of this situation OP, you are the responsible professional here.
Be proactive, talk to your colleagues, team up with 1 if need be.
Good luck!

woodlandfairycreature Thu 12-Dec-13 16:35:29

I didn't say I wasn't in control, I said they were being nasty! Bit of a difference? And, how many times now have I said I follow the discipline system??

Slutbucket Fri 13-Dec-13 09:35:48

Why do you think because you lead the department that you can't ask for support from your team? Is it a cultural thing in your team? How would you react if a member of the department came to you and said they had a serious problem? What if you brought it up as an agenda point? Ie how are you finding year eleven because mine are a nightmare? If you can't get support like this you are in the wrong school.

SpottyDottie Fri 13-Dec-13 11:20:30

How is this class with other teachers? Is it just you? If so, how are the other teachers disciplining them or what strategies do they have in place? If it isn't just you, but others too then there must be something as a collective you can do about it? You need to find out exactly what it is and gain back control.

Good luck op flowers

Mumsyblouse Fri 13-Dec-13 11:39:57

I know exactly the kind of behaviour that you mean, I teach in HE but every now and again, have a little group, mainly girls, who sigh, huff, roll their eyes, whisper and giggle, look my clothes up and down and then laugh and generally try to make me feel a bit embarrassed about myself. I just do the silent waiting til they've finished, but the eye rolling and exchange of glances continues.

However- the trick is -to simply refuse to feel bad! Why should you feel picked on or embarrassed by some very silly childish young adults who are, to be honest, perhaps not the best students and have to find some other way to bond and look cool. They are just not all that, despite their bravado, why not just think- I'm a professional successful (HoD) woman and they are...not. I don't mean look down on them, I mean see them and their behaviour for what it is and know that you are better than that.

I also pretend I haven't noticed the slumping/eye rolling etc- I just act as if they are perfectly normal members of the class. So, if a question needs answering, and they are messing about or whispering, I say 'let's hear from this group' (the too cool for school group) in a very genuine manner - of course they have nothing to say and look right twerps in front of the class. Again, I don't mean be mean to them- just behave as if they are not doing all this stuff and you simply haven't noticed.

My own feeling is that you are feeling very delicate and upset for some reason in your own private life (sorry if too personal) and this has left you feeling vulnerable to them.

The only way back is to pretend like you are your old self who doesn't give a shit whether they like you or not while being really professional (and a bit distanced) about teaching them.

Orangeanddemons Fri 13-Dec-13 11:43:33

Our H o D has had difficult classes. We recognise that groups can interact badly. If you are HOD can't you organise for them to be moved into other groups? It's quite normals to shift kids between classes to break up difficult groups.

I have found that a class who is horrid in Year 10, can often calm down in Year 11.

I have also found with groups like this, that if I sit at the front and pick them off one by one that can help.

This too shall pass.....what happens if you are really really nice to them, and laugh at them rather than bollocking them? Also telling them openly that you are aware of exactly what they are trying to do. That often stops them in their tracks

Orangeanddemons Fri 13-Dec-13 11:44:21

Is it mainly boys or girls who are causing the problem?

Orangeanddemons Fri 13-Dec-13 11:45:14

Also telling them they are nasty often helps too....

Mumsyblouse Fri 13-Dec-13 11:50:23

Dirtydancing- that's kind of what I was getting at.

If you really don't like your job, I'd look about. But if you have liked it up til now, like most of it now, but just feel very vulnerable, I'd chalk it up to a bad class, put some coping strategies in place to get through the year and carry on.

Orangeanddemons Fri 13-Dec-13 12:19:52

Woodland Fairy, I think you can send a student out for sneering, making comments about you or laughing at your. It's a poor attitude to learning and is downright rude. In fact I think it's one of the main things you CAN send them out for.

Go for it girl...give as good as you get, they have no right to speak to you like this, and I would say have no right to have the privilege of being taught if they are choosing to sneer.

A colleague was observed by a member of Smt in our school. He sent 5 kids out and still got outstanding....can't you just send them into the corridor or email someone to come and get them, rather than going out to phone. Also have somewhere lined up to send the horrible ones to, and then warn them at the start of the lesson about their rude attitude

MaitlandGirl Sat 14-Dec-13 22:38:22

Woodlandfairycreature I have a 15 year old daughter (yr 10 here in NSW) and I read her your first post. She has friends that behave the way some of your class do and she's horrified at the way it's made you feel. She had no idea how bad it can be from the teachers point of view.

She doesn't like teachers that yell at badly behaved students, but she really appreciates the teachers that just stop and wait for the class to be quiet while staring pointedly at those messing about. She also likes it when the teacher asks if that group has anything to add to the class discussion (as mentioned by Mumsyblouse).

She says it gets the rest of the class on side as it disrupts their lessons and by yr10 they, mostly, all want to learn.

BohemianGirl Sat 14-Dec-13 22:44:36

Harsh but, I want my child taught by someone in control.

If you are the only class out of control then that is an issue regarding you.

If it's the majority of classes, then I'm moving my child to a school with discipline

woodlandfairycreature Sat 14-Dec-13 23:40:25

I was in a particularly sensitive mood last week maitland - feeling a bit chirpier now! It IS hard, as I had someone come into a lesson that wasn't going so well (as much because of me feeling unwell and rundown as anything else) and this seemed to lead to a bit of over scrutiny and dare I say micro management. It's easy to feel very stressed and anxious in such instances - I'm sure many of you would if someone was watching you doing your job, waiting for a slip up.

Your DD sounds lovely smile

Bohemian - I don't think you've read the thread. Some people have chosen to interpret it as me having no control but this isn't my complaint at all. My complaint is that I've been treated really nastily by a small group of children in a class. Sorry but it is upsetting and it is destroying to confidence over a period of time.

The problem is I didn't really start the thread asking for advice on my classroom management as it isn't a classroom management issue - I'm following the system and I haven't got packs of wild children charging about. It is more the general atmosphere.

Anyway - I think I've said all I can really, schools are different places, that's all there is to it really, so demanding to know why I can't put children in other rooms/send them out/whatever isn't helpful.

gobbin Sun 15-Dec-13 23:50:12

If control is not the issue then the only way to deal with 'nastiness' is to be unfailingly positive in every interaction and be confident in the understanding that you're there to teach, not to be liked. Chalk this one up to experience.

Addressing the behaviour, not the child, takes it out of the personal realm of 'they don't like me' which is frankly irrelevant with a class like this.

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