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Help! I have a difficult and challenging Year 1 class!

(10 Posts)
8reasonstohide Sat 23-Jan-16 21:29:38

Not quite sure where to begin!

Sorry! Long one!

I have taken on a Y1 class (part time). They have some 'baggage'.

1) Disrupted FS2 when their teacher left and for the final three months of reception, they did NO writing or evidence of doing any writing. So they are lagging behind.

2) Looked after children, Children who have been looked after but have social, behavioural and emotional issues - a couple with attachment disorders.

3) Children who are the offspring of well-known criminals individuals from the town with disrupted home lives - exposed to events and situations that would be considered abuse, neglect etc.

4) Generally immature - they bicker, name call, hit, kick, punch, push, pull, stamp, scowl, back-chat - you name it, they've done it and not the general stuff you expect from 5 & 6 year olds!

5) Not independent. I expect some degree of independence at Y1 at this stage (Experienced in Y1 and NEVER had a year group like this) - but no matter what work I set them, if an adult isn't with them constantly guiding their learning and questioning them, they will end up arguing, flinging stuff about, getting out of their seat, wrestling on the carpet and basically causing mayhem within their group. I don't mind the 'less able' groups but my middle group and second from top group are notorious.

6) Needy parents. Parents will not allow their child to be the centre of a behavioural issue. They will argue, shout are abusive and some OTT on the emotional front (a few in tears to the HT about their 'little darlings') - difficult in one case because the HT has taken a shine to one little sod child and thus will hear nothing negative about this child or make up excuses about the child's behaviour (apparently, behaviour unlikely to stand out in a leafy surburban school full of middle classes but does in ours!??!)

My HT has suggested a change in the classroom layout but the need for continuous provision, the fact the size of the classroom is the minimum class size and shape of the tables (round) means there is little scope to create areas of the classroom for children to do their work where either they won't be disrupted or they aren't going to disrupt others. There are about 1/3 of the class who are considered disruptive and thus impossible to arrange!

Also my Y1 colleagues plan 'carousel' - round robin - 5 activities throughout the week which is rotated. I hate this. I have found that daily input does not necessarily match all children's objectives/activities but when I questioned this with my colleagues, the said it has been going on for 18 months and during that time SLT have observed (though not the HT) and OFSTED - so in a way, despite my frustrations with it, they have a point! I do believe that having so many activities and resources and very little input into their learning beforehand leads to the challenging behaviour to escalate. Unfortunately I am not in a position to raise this with my HT because she and I have a history of a very bad falling out which involved the Union.

So as you can see, I am finding my job frustrating to say the least.

What does everyone else do if a 5 year old refuses point blank to do their work? Even at break and lunchtime??
How do you get the little buggers to listen??? Even register is painfully long. It take 4 attempts to get them to tidy up - even after a 'Stop, raise your hands' (which most do!) followed by tidy up time instruction!. They are, what my mum would call, a very naughty class.

Don't get me wrong, I like the class, their personalities are great and I love challenge but HATE this sort of challenge. I don't feel like we're getting anywhere and don't feel like we'll get the results that the HT hopes to get either!

TheTroubleWithAngels Sat 23-Jan-16 23:52:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

parrotonmyshoulder Sun 24-Jan-16 21:06:04

Sounds challenging! Good luck. Fantastic advice above from PP.

I'm working with kids with Attachment Disorders at the moment and really working with the idea that they need to learn dependency before they can be
expected to be independent. Focus your adult resources (yourself if possible) on positive relationships with those most challenging children.

Choose your priorities. If you genuinely believe that the behaviour has to happen before the learning, then lower your expectations of 'work' for a week or so and get the relationships and routines right.

However, your relationship with your head sounds difficult, so it may be that going your own way on this is impossible.

Lara2 Sun 24-Jan-16 21:37:46

Lots of praise - catching them doing the right thing, tell them what you want them to do not what you don't want. When they are on the carpet tell,them you are expecting good looking, good listening and good sitting. Do the proximinal praise technique.

jarofcalm Wed 27-Jan-16 22:25:51

Great advice above already. Clear systems and expectations. Is there a behaviour chart with sanctions? Whole class and individual rewards? Praise, praise, praise. You can bet your life lots of them get little of that based on your description. It's a tough year group with the transition, especially if they were disrupted in reception.

FranHastings Thu 28-Jan-16 10:41:25

Singing is great for children like this. Mostly, they can't help but join in and if they're joining in, they can't be getting up to other mischief.

Play games where they can make noise but they have to watch you make a hand gesture like two hands apart in a straight line and say 'aaaaannnnnnnnnd STOP!'. They usually love this.

Whisper "if you can hear me, put your hands on your head, if you can hear me, rub your belly,if you can hear me, stand on one leg'... Eventually the whole class will join in as it's a game. 'now let's tiptoe like mice'. Pretend you can't see them, they're so quiet.

Puppets are great. Puppets that pop up, but are too shy to come out when it's noisy. Puppets that need the children's help.

Give fidgeters jobs to do like sorting out cards. Make them your special helpers. Have a little toy in your pocket for upset children to look after for the day and whisper to.

Draw pictures to accompany instructions on the board or paper. Like stick men representations of what you want them to do. This helps kids who can't remember more than one step of an instruction.

In PE, if they're noisy, make one half of the room sit down and watch the other half. "We're going to watch them do this brilliantly. Who did you see that was great? Who are you going to copy? They were really thinking about what their body was doing because they were quiet. Now your turn! ". Keep doing this. I found it really effective.

Sorry if this is all stuff you do anyway, I don't mean to sound patronising. It's just stuff that worked for me when I had classes just as you describe, in fact I winder if you're in my old school :-). It's exhausting. I feel for you. I just felt like I was on crowd control most days.

8reasonstohide Sun 31-Jan-16 13:57:11

Thank you! Friday was particularly stressful - ALL SLT were out except a curriculum coordinator and one of my little challengers kicked off twice! Luckily a TA who has been working with him on social skills at lunchtime came to help and she was a Godsend!

All fabulous advice above. Can't thank you enough! We have a lot of praise and reward systems in place and I am continuously giving out sticker points for good sitting and listening, raising hands, not shouting out, not answering other children's questions, tidying up, doing the right thing when someone hurts them, finishing their jobs - the list is endless. We also have a reward box too.

There has been some improvements. HT suggested we move to a more 'formal way of teaching' which we are in the process of doing. Whereas 1/3 of the class are not ready for it, they also need structure and a lesson which was more structured and formal (all doing a writing task) 5 groups with 3 supported, actually went very, very well! About 5 children across the classroom didn't do anything - they won't actually write anything unless they have 1:1 next to them telling them/giving support to write the next letter in the word (and I am not exaggerating!). The HT has said to expect hiccups along the way and I have told my colleagues to 'ride the storm' as frustrating as it will be.

My colleagues are now moving away from the carousel activities and within a week's time children will be doing the same activity through differentiation in the lessons. I feel that this will actually help to improve behaviour because the children will know what they are actually doing. Children will be stretched and supported as needed.

Sadly, the class are notoriously known throughout our school as 'the worst class in the school'. Talk of splitting them is rife and how everyone feels sorry for the Y2 teacher who will inherit them. I know I have painted them as a bad class but actually I feel as though they haven't had the guidance needed and with a bit of luck within a few weeks they'll be a different class. I don't think they will ever be 'perfect' in the loose sense of the word. They will always be a class who need time to adjust to change, warning of what is to come and a class who need more support than usual when out of routine.

Only 20 more school weeks to go!

toomuchicecream Sun 31-Jan-16 15:21:18

Last summer I kept being told that the class I was about to inherit in year 1 would need a play based curriculum as there are so many summer born boys and so many social issues/learning needs in the class. I have a good sized classroom and lovely outdoor area, but my predecessor didn't believe in play in year 1(!) so beyond a box of lego and some my little ponies, I don't really have anything to use for child initiated learning. I took a bit of a gamble and decided I'd go with a formal curriculum from September - all of the class doing the same thing at the same time. As many of the activities as possible were/are practical and they were able to play in the afternoons (less so now). For their behaviour it's worked incredibly well. They really responded to being grown up and sitting down at tables to work. It stopped a lot of the sillyness and boys who just wanted to chase each other round and shoot lego guns. So I think that you're doing the right thing in moving away from a carousel. As you say, they will all know exactly what is expected of them at all times, and that has really, really helped my class.

toomuchicecream Sun 31-Jan-16 15:21:23

Last summer I kept being told that the class I was about to inherit in year 1 would need a play based curriculum as there are so many summer born boys and so many social issues/learning needs in the class. I have a good sized classroom and lovely outdoor area, but my predecessor didn't believe in play in year 1(!) so beyond a box of lego and some my little ponies, I don't really have anything to use for child initiated learning. I took a bit of a gamble and decided I'd go with a formal curriculum from September - all of the class doing the same thing at the same time. As many of the activities as possible were/are practical and they were able to play in the afternoons (less so now). For their behaviour it's worked incredibly well. They really responded to being grown up and sitting down at tables to work. It stopped a lot of the sillyness and boys who just wanted to chase each other round and shoot lego guns. So I think that you're doing the right thing in moving away from a carousel. As you say, they will all know exactly what is expected of them at all times, and that has really, really helped my class.

MsColouring Tue 02-Feb-16 23:04:30

Cannot understand why a year 1 class would be operating a carousel system - I thought they went out about 10 years ago!

Some great advice above.

Sometimes children just need to learn to stay at one activity, share with other children without intervention and be at a table without an adult before they can learn to complete a task independently.

Good luck!

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