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How should I have dealt with this behaviour issue? - long sorry

(6 Posts)
Mooook Mon 03-Dec-12 19:09:44

I'm currently doing PGCE in a primary school. Last week I was helping out in an outdoor learning session for the first time with teachers I've not worked with before. It was with a mixed class from years 2-6 doing activities and some elements of the curriculum in the outdoor learning centre (a field and a few trees). This was an enrichment group, hence the wide age range, so there were children I hadn't met before as they are in a year group I haven't worked with.

A small group of the year 6s were picking on a boy and a girl from year 4. It started out with the year 6s singing marriage songs at the others because they were working together. This escalated into setting up a mock wedding and trying to force the year 4 dc to go through a fake wedding scene. By this time the younger girl was fairly unhappy and tried to run away and one of the year 6s chased after her to try to drag her back. It was only at this stage when the teachers intervened. Both of the teachers, the TA and I saw and heard all this. I feel really terrible, but because they decided to let it run its course I just stood by with the other adults feeling unsure about what to do. I feel like we should have intervened much earlier but I'm not sure how I could have done that without looking like I was undermining the teachers whose class this was. I understand that teachers can't mediate every little disagreement but this girl seemed upset and it was a group of older children upsetting 2 younger children.

A mediation session has now been arranged between the year 4s and two of the year 6s and relevant parents, so hopefully the situation is being dealt with properly. But for future reference, at what stage should I have intervened? I would instinctively have sent one of the groups to a different bit of field when the singing started, but the teachers whose class this was chose to hold back.

On the way back to school the year 6s started singing the wedding song again and I was the closest adult then so I told them to drop it straight away. At that stage they started saying that it was a joke. I explained that one of the main aims of the enrichment is that the year 6s teach the younger ones how to behave and that they were setting a poor example. At this point one of them put his hand on my shoulder and said something about how I shouldn't be upset about them playing wedding games just because I'm not married. I had no idea how to deal with this so I just told them to hurry up and walk a bit faster because they were making a gap in the line walking back to school. Should I have pushed his hand away from me? I stepped back so that his hand fell away but I think that probably made him realise that it made me uncomfortable. Does anyone have any good phrases which I can recycle next time something serious and unexpected like this happens? My supervisor laughed this off when I explained it and the class teacher of the boy concerned said she would keep an eye on it.

I'm not sure I'm cut out for this. I knew primary school was going to involve teaching social skills as well, and to some extent that's always going to be a subjective answer, but this has really got me worked up. I feel like I ignored a bullying issue because the other adults were too and that I handled the comments on the way back really badly too. What should I have done?

Kenanddreary Mon 03-Dec-12 21:15:18

Ok - first things first. Trust your instinct - you knew the Yr 4 children were not happy and you were right that this should have been dealt with. I can perfectly understand why you didn't, however, because you are a student in the school and you don't feel it was your place to intervene. Do NOT worry about this! Of course the teachers should have intervened and it wasn't your place to if they were there but just be reassured that you spotted something you didn't feel was right (and it wasn't) and your solution for sorting it out would have been spot on. smile. A great teacher in the making! (Besides - what on earth were the teachers thinking letting them play 'marriage' when they were supposed to be following educational activities? confused).

Now for your second concern - was this a pupil who put his hand on your shoulder? How did he reach? confused.

Yes - you were quite right to just walk out of his reach and mention getting back to school and not make a huge fuss out of it.

It is tough being a student teacher - but honestly things do get much better and you will become used to dealing with behaviour issues. Each situation is unique - you will learn techniques, you will know at what point to intervene, you will learn to 'pick battles' too! Plus - when you have your own class you will know how to deal with individuals depending on their personalities. One word of warning though (and don't let this put you off!) no matter how long you have been teaching you will always question whether you should have handled something differently!! grin But I think that is the sign of a good teacher. It shows you still care about your profession. Good luck! smile

Mooook Mon 03-Dec-12 21:32:21

Thank you. I'm tying myself in knots with this because I feel like I messed up. I'm not officially involved in these sessions at all, and they're not in my teaching timetable, but as I'm interested in forest school I asked if I could go along to these to observe. That makes it much harder to do anything which might be seen as undermining the teachers though.

How did he reach? I'm short :p He is a year 6 boy and probably 5'2" ish and I'm 5'4".

Kenanddreary Mon 03-Dec-12 21:44:53

Please don't tie yourself up in knots. You were right to notice something was wrong, you were also right in your judgement to leave it to the other teachers to deal with (even more so now I realise you were only there to observe). If you had dealt with it then I guarantee you would have been posting on here about how you were worried about undermining the staff at the school. So either way you would have been concerned. The joys of being a student! I would be reassured by the fact that YOU noticed something when they clearly didn't. That impresses me.

Put it all down to experience - there will be many judgements to make in your teaching career. It's great you have an instinct for what isn't right. smile

Inclusionist Mon 03-Dec-12 22:01:49

'Does anyone have any good phrases which I can recycle next time something serious and unexpected like this happens?'

1st incident: 'Oi, you lot. No thank you! Get on with your digging or whatever.'

2nd incident: 'Less of your cheek young man. Turn around and walk.'

Don't worry, it will get easier. You are in a rubbish situation right now- it will be better when the authority is in your hands. Doesn't mean you can't start working on your 'no nonsense' stern tone of voice though. wink Have a wine and try not to worry.

Mooook Mon 03-Dec-12 22:45:22

Thank you smile I feel better about it now. Thanks for the phrases Inclusionist. I need to channel you more when I'm teaching I think!
This is so hard. I was expecting the work load and the actual teaching to be tough but it didn't occur to me how much politics there would be in schools. I feel like I deserve a qualification in diplomacy rather than a PGCE.

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