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Advice from experienced teachers: struggling to deal with the girls in my class

(30 Posts)
thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:01:13

I wonder if any of you can help me with this - as I've had some great advice from this board in the past.

I teach level 3 at an FE college. I have 15 boys and 4 girls in my class. They are aged 16-18.

On the whole I have gotten on fine with the class since September, but I'm now realising I have no problems with the boys only with the girls.

The girls are loosely in two groups, but on the whole get on well with each other. They are all planning on going to uni, and generally they attend and do their work.

They are just really rude and antagonist to me in the class. I don't really know how to deal with it. I get the feeling they hate my guts, and they are ganging up on me. But one on one I get on fine with each one of them.

I meet them for one on one sessions at least fortnightly where I am positive and encouraging and feel we have a good connection. But in the group situation they are appallingly rude to me.

I have been teaching for 2 years, and previously worked in an office for 15 years. So In discipline situations I act like I would in an office- and not like a teacher. 2 of the girls are 18, so in many ways talking adult- adult should be appropriate here.

But they are so disrespectful to my face on a continuous basis, it has got to the point that some of the boys have called them out on it before I can.

I am struggling as it is also underhanded disrespect, like saying nothing to my face while I'm trying to talk to them, but sneering and making eye contact with their friends either while I'm doing it, or even before my back is turned.

The other male teachers have no problem with them - and I know it is a female- female issue, which is why I haven't really asked them for advice. Also on paper the girls are great, they have much better quality of work and attendance than many of the boys. So there is nothing concrete for me to deal with apart from their attitude, much of that is hidden in sneering eye contact- so I can't even pull them up on having said something.

I feel I'm being humiliated on a daily basis - and also undermined in front of the class.

For the record I am a good teacher and have had consistently grade 1 and grade 2 observations.

Any help or advice welcome!

PurpleDaisies Tue 25-Apr-17 21:05:34

Stop thinking of it as a female-female issue. Talk to the other teachers and find out what they do fit discipline.

Presumably there's a code of conduct/behaviour management plan? You need to apply it absolutely consistently.

I'd spend time making your classroom rules clear and you need to toughen up and enforce them.

PurpleDaisies Tue 25-Apr-17 21:06:42

I forgot to say, the most important thing is not to take it personally.

thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:16:57

Thanks purple my main colleague doesn't want to talk about it with me, as he has no problem with them. We also don't have a major code of conduct that we all talk about as most of the department is sessional so we come in and out and do our own thing.

I have made a big deal about obvious rules like no mobile phones. But I don't know how I can call them out on sneering eye contact.

Today as I was trying to talk privately to one of the girls she was more concerned with looking past me to her friend so she could roll her eyes to her to slag me off as I was in the middle of talking to her. It's so rude and disrespectful and I didn't know what to say.

I agree overall with not taking it personally, as they have all left school for a reason, I just feel I'm being made a fool of in the class

Shadowboy Tue 25-Apr-17 21:21:40

Have you ever called them out in it? Girls hold grudges, boys don't. I teach FE too (19 years now and I've found with girls I have to quietly call them out on it)

If I see something, it goes a bit like this...
Me-Beth do you have a problem with your eyes?
Beth- no?
Me- oh, well I thought you had something in your eye, either that or you rolled your eyes at me.
Beth- I didn't
Me- great, glad nothing is affecting your vision.

I would do this out loud, I've never had issues with raising poor behaviour in front of the class. Make it clear you know and have seen it/picked up on it. I'm the same with phones. If I see them doing a sneaky peek under the table I as them what is wrong with their legs that requires them to stare under the table.....

If they talk while I'm talking I ask them to repeat what I just said.

However I'm quite tough in all honesty (e.g. If they don't hand in HW without prior contact I kick them out to do it)

I don't tend to have a girl issue but so find them to be trickier to 'bring round'

PurpleDaisies Tue 25-Apr-17 21:22:05

Today as I was trying to talk privately to one of the girls she was more concerned with looking past me to her friend so she could roll her eyes to her to slag me off as I was in the middle of talking to her. It's so rude and disrespectful and I didn't know what to say.

Was she actually making rude comments about you in front of you or was she rolling her eyes?

I wouldn't have students with an attitude like that in my class. It sounds like they need a proper stamping on. Who is your line manager/is there a college principal type figure? The sixth forms I've been in have been attached to schools which sounds slightly different to your situation by student just wouldn't be allowed to behave like that.

OnTheUp13 Tue 25-Apr-17 21:25:54

When I was teaching older girls I used to say things like "you understand that eye rolling and being passive aggressive with me is really rude?" Or if you can slip in "Women building up other women is the way feminism is going to grow. Not women rolling their eyes at other women and making sniping comments"

twolittleboysonetiredmum Tue 25-Apr-17 21:26:07

I would pull them up on it. Every time. Even if it was so subtle I would stop and confront it. As suggested by a previous poster, in a mild way.
You can't be adult-adult when one of them is acting like a child.
If it's between the girls I'd also separate them. Treat them as they're behaving. Harsh but they'll soon stop.

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Tue 25-Apr-17 21:26:14

If a 6th former started rolling her eyes at me, she'd know pretty quickly that l wasn't impressed. I wouldn't even have carried on a conversation with her. Or l would have said perhaps I'm mistaken but l thought for a minute you were rolling your eyes whilst l was talking to you.

I've even sent 6th formers out of class for being rude. They clearly aren't adults judging by this behaviour so treat it as you would treat any kid doing this.

SleepWhatSleep1 Tue 25-Apr-17 21:30:12

I have also sent 6th dormers out of class for rudeness. You need to call them on it every time - and it will then get worse before it gets better.

thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:34:52

Thanks purple and shadow I've got a new line manger this week who I like, as she seems very efficient and no-nonsense. I would like to bring it up with her, as I feel I've not managed to sanction their behaviour so far, as they are performing according to our usual metrics. (Usually someone is in trouble only if they're consistently not doing their work, or obviously gross misconduct).

In terms of calling them out on it, I've generally waited until our one to one, and then discussed it in gentle tones. E.g. Last week one girl was being really rude in that same way. It turned out she was holding a grudge because she felt I'd not picked some boys up on not doing their work, but I'd picked it up on her.

Can you help me on how I should raise it with line manager?

I'm sure my classroom management skills are to blame, but I'd be happy to go on a course for it etc

thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:39:46

Hmm thanks just reading other posts - ok I do need to pull up the eye rolling.

I know as I said it, one of the others would shriek with laughter.

It just feels awkward as the one eye rolling today is the stand-out best student in the class. And she'd done some amazing work which the majority of the boys hadn't done (they'd all missed the deadline) it could have seemed I was being unduly harsh on her, but letting the boys get away with something worse.

PurpleDaisies Tue 25-Apr-17 21:41:04

It's great you've got a nice line manager. I'd ask to have a chat about discipline and the fact you feel like what you're doing now isn't working. You need to know what the college can do, for example phoning parents to come in for a meeting and what the serious consequences for this consistently rude behaviour could be.

It sounds like gently gently isn't the right way to go here. I'd tell students behaving like that that they either stop straight away or they can leave. They need to know you're serious or they'll just keep walking all over you.

Moussemoose Tue 25-Apr-17 21:42:08

Front them up in the class. Calmly.
"What you are doing is rude. When you do that - example - is your intention to hurt and upset me?"
Pause and then.
"Eye rolling is a way of being rude to someone, is your intention to cause me upset?"
They deny it.
"When you do this - example - it might make a teacher feel hurt and upset, why would you choose to cause upset?"

In the class - the boys will be embarrassed by their behaviour and may start to alienate the offending girls.

I have sometimes asked "if I started crying would that make you happy?" In a genuinely curious tone. "How much distress and upset would you like to cause to another human?"

Try this with Level 1 or 2 and they will laugh in your face.

thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:43:23

Yeah thanks purple I need to see what the college can do - and what's realistic for me to do. As I completely feel like they're walking all over me every day.

I'll meet my line manager next week and talk about it with her.

thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:45:15

Thanksmouse I candefinitely do that approach!

I'm not scared of them at all - I just didn't know how to call them out on it.

Great tips! I'm looking forward to using it!

PurpleDaisies Tue 25-Apr-17 21:47:03

It just feels awkward as the one eye rolling today is the stand-out best student in the class.

It's irrelevant whether she's your top student or your lowest ability. You have to treat them all exactly the same in terms of behaviour. There's nothing kids find more objectionable than unfairness.

What are you doing to deal with those students that missed the deadline?

forfuckssakenet Tue 25-Apr-17 21:48:01

I think that this behaviour can be quite typical but it definitely needs challenged. I would do it as a group. When they are doing the eye rolling thing / whispering I would ask' ladies is there a problem?' Then wait for an answer. They won't give one or will say nothing. Carry on with lesson. When they do it again repeat. If it happens again tell them this is unacceptable and you will discuss it with them privatel after class. Keep them as a group but tell them in no uncertain terms you are not tolerating this behaviour and they are adults! Tell them they adjust their attitude or they leave. Explain you will get college management involved.

Good luck OP!

OnTheUp13 Tue 25-Apr-17 21:48:50

Or maybe the good old MN "Do you mean to be so rude? 🤔"

forfuckssakenet Tue 25-Apr-17 21:50:00

Just read mouse advice ... also a good approach but requires a bit of confidence to discuss emotions like that if you are genuinely feeling emotional!

dogdaysareover Tue 25-Apr-17 21:54:15

I would get the whole group of girls together after class (would not give them a punic arena in class as they seem to hold wrote a lot of power in your room and I find a confrontation in front of whole group a risky strategy with such a group) and lay it on the line. Don't ask them for the whys/wherefores, just bring it into the open.
Girls, you are eye-rolling at me. You know you are doing it and I know you are doing it. I am not interested in why you think it is acceptable behaviour, but I am here to tell you that it is unacceptable. It is rude and it creates a poor atmosphere for learning in the classroom, which affects everyone's progress, yours included. It stops as of now. If I have to call you out on it again, you will leave my classroom until your can prove you are able to act in a mature manner, as befits your age and position as college students. IS that clear to each and every one of you? Good, then I will consider the matter closed and we will not need this conversation again.
Even better if you can have other adults in the room, line manager or pastoral person?

Moussemoose Tue 25-Apr-17 21:56:03

forfuckssakenet you're right about that!

I just think sometimes with level 3 students a bit of emotional honesty is what they need. And if you do get upset, so what! "This is how I am feeling because of the stress, teachers are human too".

In my experience if the boys are on your 'side' the girls could end up being subject to peer discipline.

thepennyshop Tue 25-Apr-17 21:59:32

Thanksdogday that sounds a good plan too. I feel I can't send them out of the room until I'd given them a fair warning first like you suggest. Thanks- I'll have a think and put a plan together

PurpleDaisies Tue 25-Apr-17 22:03:21

When are you seeing them next? For me, fair warning would be you see someone eye rolling and you announce that you've seen it, it stops now or the next person goes out. Then you MUST follow through.

Meloncoley2 Tue 25-Apr-17 23:16:30

I understand that the behaviour is upsetting, but are you treating the girls differently? I notice that you said one of them held a grudge about the boys not being picked up for not doing work.

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