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Stroppy tutor group, advice please?

(12 Posts)
Finickynotfussy Sat 22-Mar-14 11:07:50

I'm having difficulties with a year 7-9 tutor group (8-9 students of each age group). Basically they're nice girls and all very bright (grammar school), but one of the year 9s has become really difficult recently and the other older ones are copying her, with lots of answering back and refusal to do reasonable things, which are school policy, such as refusing to sit in a mixed year group seating plan that is changed every two weeks. So far the 7s and 8s are behaving well but it can only be a matter of time before they decide they don't need to.

I have asked for help from management but am being told to take a more authoritarian approach with notes in planners, logging on the database, locking students out of classroom at break times etc. I feel this is likely to lead to more confrontation not less, especially as the latter punishment will affect students who are not causing any trouble.

The other issue is I job share the group with another teacher who's nice but ineffectual. I have no confidence that this colleague would, or indeed, could support a more authoritarian approach.

At the moment I'm thinking I'll change the classroom layout from rows to a U shape to defuse the moaning about seating plans, and speak to the key individual, a year 9, privately. She is a natural leader I think. As far as I know she has no specific problems, although a colleague has mentioned there may be some tension at home, and from conversations with her I think she is feeling stressed about the increased responsibility/pressure that is coming up in years 10 and 11.

I would really welcome any suggestions, as I'm relatively new to teaching and am a sixth form specialist - constant battling with these year 9s is impacting on my ability to teach my sixthformers, as we need to use the same room and all my resources are in there. So the locking the classroom punishment would be extremely inconvenient for me and for my year 13s with public exams in a few weeks.

Cerisier Sat 22-Mar-14 14:01:13

Are these problems cropping up in registration/tutor time or is this a lesson?

If it is registration/tutor time then a rota of things that have to be done each day to keep them busy might be an idea (apologies if you have one already, there is not much info in your OP).

Each morning have BBC news on the IWB so they can read that while you do the register/sort out any issues

Monday = planner check with girls taking it in turn to be the ones who check.
Tuesday = silent reading, last 5 mins randomly choose 3 students and ask them about the book they are reading
Wednesday = discussion on what is in the news that day
Thursday = rota for two or three students to give a 5 min talk on something that interests them
Friday = locker check or a quiz

If they answer back/don't do what they should, do not enter into a discussion in front of others, tell them to sit down and get on with their work and to come and see you at break. Write down immediately what was said so you don't forget. Follow up things at break/lunch and involve the HOY. Keep records. Follow up everything. They will soon get fed up with losing their free time.

Finickynotfussy Sat 22-Mar-14 14:06:49

Thanks Cerisier. My original OP seemed rather long so I shortened it. I am talking about tutor time not lessons. I only teach 1 of the 25 girls. We have a heavy schedule of activities for tutor time, set by management (we get at most one tutor time a week where we can choose what to do). So as a job share it is a struggle to make sure it all gets done as some of it is 'marked' (e.g. quiz scores that are recorded for house points) or statutory stuff such as PHSE that we have to do. If we didn't have so much stuff to complete it might ease things I suppose, as one of the Y9 main complaints is that it is the only time they can see their friends (this is ridiculous and not true as they can see them break and lunch, so your tip about using their time is a good idea).

noblegiraffe Sat 22-Mar-14 14:14:18

Treat it as you would treat poor behaviour in lessons, with detentions etc.

You don't have to lock the whole class out at lunchtime, just those who have lost the right to use it through poor behaviour. It's your classroom, not theirs!

It doesn't matter if you do things differently to your job share, kids will start shaping up for you .

Finickynotfussy Sat 22-Mar-14 14:19:25

Okay, I will give it a go, although I do think it would be a lot better if both tutors took the same approach. Out of interest though, how would you lock specific class members out of a classroom - do you mean sit in there and refuse admittance to those on the list?

noblegiraffe Sat 22-Mar-14 14:27:52

It would be better if you both did the same but if your colleague won't go for it that doesn't mean you can't.

Yes, do your work in your classroom at lunchtime if necessary and tell the troublemakers that using your room at lunch is a privilege that they currently don't deserve due to their rudeness to you. The other girls are copying the ringleader at the moment because they can see her getting away with it.

You don't need to take their behaviour lying down!

LordPalmerston Sat 22-Mar-14 14:40:49

MAN UP, is my first piece of advice, assert your authority, you are not their mate. Lock it at break every time they are rude - or you stay in and refuse to allow them in.

then (conversely) start telling them how great they are, how much you like them. Kids ADORE this, no matter what age. Get collleagues to pass on " ooh i heard xyz" about you messages to them.

Do speak to the troublemaker though.

EvilTwins Sat 22-Mar-14 14:46:03

If the troublesome girl is a natural leader, why not give her some responsibility? A colleague of mine has a yr 11 tutor group (as do I) and one of his boys will not wear his blazer. Colleague consulted SLT and one of the assistant heads has now asked him to accompany her to yr 7 groups on Monday morning to check uniform of yr 7s in his house. He was very pleased and agreed. AH then pointed out that he can hardly do that if he's not in his blazer. Problem solved. Could you appoint a class monitor, and make this girl the first one? Jobs include making sure everyone is sitting in the right place, has correct uniform / equipment etc?

Justawaterformeplease Sat 22-Mar-14 14:52:13

I would try to get her onside. So many times through the years I've had this sort of thing and taken it personally, then when I've spoken to them (usually a general "is everything ok?") it's been something totally unconnected and they've been glad of the concern. Getting all draconian and locking them out reinforces the "us v them" mentality.

Finickynotfussy Sat 22-Mar-14 19:18:48

Thanks guys - these different points of view are very helpful.

cansu Mon 24-Mar-14 21:13:26

Ok I have also been dealing with a very challenging group. I have first changed my attitude. I was bracing myself for trouble. This is not ok. It is your classroom and you are in charge. Endeavour to be firm and fair. Do not show any anxiety about the situation. She can dislike you but you are not going to be drawn in. Remain calm and professional. If she is rude, send her out. Log everything. Consider speaking to her one to one and ask her how you can help her. If she is unresponsive, reiterate what you expect and make the consequences clear. If others are joining in deal with them quickly. A phone call home to say you are concerned may well just do the trick. When children realise that you are not afraid to do this they may start to think twice about joining in. Seek some back up. It may well be just emailing head of year, keeping them informed, explaining how you have dealt with it. If necessary get support. I have had head of year involved with those who weren't getting it. Try not to take it personally. I have found things improving since I have adopted a much more breezy take it or leave it approach. They don't like my rules, regretfully they will need to take some time out to reconsider. I also try not to get too cross as they feed on this. Also continue praising and chatting pleasantly with the rest. The nice kids in my class get lots of my attention and praise. This keeps these kids on side. I would also second giving the trouble maker jobs that get her out of the classroom or keep her busy, perhaps pairing her up with a nicer, more congenial character. You can also then catch her being good and thank her for helping you etc etc. you have my sympathy because it is a massive pain in the arse when ou have got plenty of classes to focus on.

Finickynotfussy Tue 25-Mar-14 19:21:32

Thanks cansu - great advice and I have implemented some of it. My colleagues were very helpful once I admitted I/we had a problem.

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