Advice for difficult Y13 class please?(3 Posts)
I teach in sixth form at a high-achieving school. This year I have a class I find really difficult. It's a problem of short duration fortunately, as there are only 8 weeks or so left until study leave. However I would absolutely love any tips to make the lessons easier on me as I have other classes who need my attention and this class are simply unappreciative of anything I do!
The main problem seems to be that the group has never gelled. This leads to low-level sniping and some quite unpleasant banter from time to time. Obviously I don't put up with this, but shutting it down means acknowledging I've heard it, which seems to make it worse. It's a mixed gender class, about 1/3 male 2/3 female. There is definitely an element of boys trying to impress girls and vice versa. There are individuals in the group who seem to actively dislike each other.
Students have a relatively wide range of ability for our type of school, but they are all perfectly capable of doing the work set. The variation is in interest in the subject and work ethic. In a few cases I could be extending them more, but the constant low level disruption makes that hard to do. It makes me quite angry that I often cannot help the students that need help because of managing the others.
Since September I have had my boss come in and observe a few times (he's very helpful). At his suggestion I've put the desks into rows, put them in a seating plan and been much stricter with behaviour management e.g. of lateness, not handing in homework etc. That helped to some extent.
I've also tried a variety of ways of teaching them - lecture-style, pair and group work, carousel/competitive activities, independent work using computers etc. All of these work well for some of the students but the ones I find a problem (about 1/3 of the class) generally find some way to either not work at the activity, or to disrupt it in some way.
Today they were talking over me, talking over each other, asking to leave the classroom on spurious pretexts and then finally one (normally sensible) girl rushed out and didn't come back as a result of something inaudible one of the others said.
What should I do? Do I need to be more draconian, ask senior management to observe more lessons...or what? What's reasonable to do with only 8 weeks left, or do I just grin and bear it? There is stuff left on the syllabus I would really quite like to teach them!
What has worked for me in the past is doing an activity that they opt into. Have two activities going on, one where they are working independently then one in the middle where you are working with the keen ones, a revision session or something. Don't push hard for naughty ones to join in, make them feel slightly left out. Then clear boundaries about acceptable behavior when they start to feel left out and realize they are missing out. Begrudgingly let them join your group one at a time but with strict proviso of no talking over you or nastiness.
Hmm, I like that Noego, subtle and devious - might just work!
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