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Experienced teachers - I need your advice!

(19 Posts)
rosebud5678 Sun 21-May-17 19:50:42

Since September I have been working with some small groups of pupils (secondary) but am not a trained teacher, only a HLTA. My problem is that I simply don't seem to have the 'classroom presence' that most teachers seem to have. I follow the behaviour policy and hand out warnings, keep them in at break etc but just don't feel as if I have a basic level of respect from the pupils I am teaching. It doesn't help that I just don't have one of those loud 'teacher' voices and am naturally quite softly spoken - so what other techniques can I use? Any advice gratefully received!

voobylooby Sun 21-May-17 19:55:54

Just on the teacher thing, some student teachers I've worked with have found it more helpful to focus on lowering their voices rather than making them louder.

Have you spoken to your line manager? The teacher you're working with?

Passthebiscuit Sun 21-May-17 19:57:54

Nothing wrong with a quiet voice OP. Are the pupils use to knowing you as the 'TA' ? Is it relatively new that you are leading the group - if so it may take a while for the dynamics to establish?

SuperPug Sun 21-May-17 20:03:22

I found this very difficult to begin with - I was in a challenging school as well.
Now- I'm fairly short, sharp and to the point if I'm reinforcing behavioural expectations . They know I have their best interests at heart, they like me but they also respect me because I'm consistent and fair. Whoever said this is easy is lying as it took me a while to get there.
Others will disagree but I think it's good for your line manager to say something about respect for you to the students, reinforcing boundaries. She/ he is a "known" quantity to them.
It sounds as cheesy as hell but they have to know you have their best interests at heart. Soeak to them about their behaviour, plans on how to improve. Ask them about what they do outside as school. If they're struggling, offer to help. Sometimes, it can be easy to go straight to the policy without looking at the reasons why work hasn't been done. And if it's just pure laziness, they deserve a detention.
The very very small minority will be impossible to get through to, whatever you do.

SuperPug Sun 21-May-17 20:04:03

Typos! Apologies, quick keyboard typing.

Confutatis Sun 21-May-17 20:05:50

The biggest technique you can have is self belief. Even when things go wrong, still believe in yourself, why you are there and what you are trying to do (and forgive yourself when things go wrong).
I think you will come to appreciate in time that experience is everything. Experience has the loudest voice! But for now, just keep going. It sounds to me like you are already doing a great job.

mumsneedwine Sun 21-May-17 21:15:09

Don't be afraid of silence. Standing and waiting for it can work wonders. Just add any time wasted onto a nice break detention and they v quickly get the point. Try not to raise voice often as otherwise it loses its power. I go low and grumpy and they seem to hate that more.

rosebud5678 Sun 21-May-17 22:52:24

Thanks to everyone who has responded - I am very interested in the effectiveness of a quiet voice. When I'm standing there and they are just ignoring me, are you saying that I should quietly write on the board how many minutes they are losing from their break for example? I feel invisible sometimes and it is deeply frustrating. There is a line manager I could ask to speak to them, but in some ways I think they would then respect me even less! Please keep the suggestions coming - I really value your collective expertise.

rosebud5678 Sun 21-May-17 22:52:38

Thanks to everyone who has responded - I am very interested in the effectiveness of a quiet voice. When I'm standing there and they are just ignoring me, are you saying that I should quietly write on the board how many minutes they are losing from their break for example? I feel invisible sometimes and it is deeply frustrating. There is a line manager I could ask to speak to them, but in some ways I think they would then respect me even less! Please keep the suggestions coming - I really value your collective expertise.

rosebud5678 Sun 21-May-17 22:53:49

No idea why that posted twice...

noblegiraffe Mon 22-May-17 00:39:56

Absolutely get someone else to bollock them, having back-up as a teacher is vitally important.

Have you given them a proper bollocking yourself? It might help if the regular class teacher agrees that you can chuck back any piss-takers into the classroom. Then you can do the whole 'I'm here to give you extra help and support, which you are really lucky to be getting. If you insist on wasting my time then you'll be sent back and someone who is willing to engage will take your place'

voobylooby Mon 22-May-17 05:08:35

In my experience students often enjoy getting a rise out of you, and shouting is part of that..... a quiet voice can be more effective definitely. One of the best teachers I ever worked. With was sbout 5ft2 and very quiet!
I agree being a able to send them back would be useful. If you're going todo minutes on the board make sure you follow through.
When I started teaching. I was shown a way to stand when students were chatting. Face them directly, feet shoulder width apart,hands by your side- non confrontational but confident...

Badbadbunny Mon 22-May-17 09:40:21

One of the best teachers I ever worked. With was sbout 5ft2 and very quiet!

Yes, I agree with that. I knew a 60+ year old history teacher who knew nothing but teaching history and "refused" to retire.

She was tiny and softly spoken. Never ever raised her voice nor got anywhere near being angry. But she had that special attribute of having a "presence" - she just gave out a confident vibe. She was confident in herself, confident in her subject - confident in her teaching. Basically she displayed no sign of any weakness, so the pupils didn't have anything to goad her with.

The very first time she got a new class/form, she told them explicitly what she required from them, repercussions for bad behaviour, not doing homework, etc., and then she stuck to it, no excuses, no inconsistency, no second/third warnings. She never made empty threats. But more importantly, she never showed anyone up or made a big deal of punishments in the class itself - her stock answer to everything was a quiet "see me after class" where she'd say the punishment etc, so she didn't make a big deal out of it and gave nothing for the attention seekers to draw even more attention to themselves!

The pupils knew exactly where they stood. In return, she was probably the kindest, most compassionate teacher I've ever met. Part of her after class "punishment" chat was a kind of "heart to heart" with the pupil, not just punishing for no homework, but asking why it hadn't been done and properly listening for the reason to show a genuine interest and try to offer help/support/advice for future. Same with bad behaviour in lesson, she'd ask why x did that or said that. Often there'd be good reasons for the kids playing up which could be managed better.

By starting as she meant to go on, occasional bad behaviour could be nipped in the bud before it escalated to crowd control problems. She really had "discipline" nailed.

voobylooby Mon 22-May-17 14:16:28

Please make sure you raise it with the teachers you are working with though. I'd definitely want to know if this was happening with students I had asked a TA I work with and I'd hope to be able to offer some kind of advice too.

mumsneedwine Mon 22-May-17 14:50:12

I write detention on the board and add minutes if they are not quiet. And they can earn these back for good behaviour - students know that i will always do what I say. You have to follow through if you threaten punishment (but I would always give a student the chance to redeem themselves i the lesson).

Try and get a coupe of the 'popular' kids onside as they will be surprisingly helpful. And always always find out why a student was behaving badly - usually (not always) there is s reason. Show sympathy and empathy and it's amazing how suddenly they can come on side.
Shouting doesn't work as some will enjoy seeing you lose it. It's much more effective to be calm. But hard !!!!! Ask for help an use your school disciplinary procedures. There is no shame in removing a student so you can teach the others. And good luck

mumsneedwine Mon 22-May-17 14:51:50

Apologies for typos - waiting for exam to end to see how kids found it and I'm more nervous than them !!

Bobbiepin Sat 27-May-17 21:34:23

I find sometimes having other people having a moan at kids undermines your authority - use with caution. The best piece of advice is to communicate with students outside class. Ask them how their weekend was in the corridors, find out their interests and see if you have anything in common. If students feel acknowledged and respected they tend to give respect back. Granted that takes time but for now use tone of voice more than volume and be consistent. Kids love boundaries but will push to see how far they can go, its only natural and nothing personal. Once they find where those boundaries lie they will start to respect them more.

NoTimeToDillyDally Mon 29-May-17 02:36:59

It takes time.
I remember having a voice that didn't carry or have clout (projecting and managing the class was a problem) at first. Time fixed that. Got a bit hoarse at first. Talk from the belly. Use passes for effect and to regain poise and projection. Same for classroom management. Getting those tricky pupils to feel liked and attended to, able to reach personalised goals and a sense of pride in the classroom among their peers helps - difficult behaviour is often a cover-up for learning difficulties, work-related anxiety and low self-esteem. Love them. They need it. Not always easy to do.

NoTimeToDillyDally Mon 29-May-17 02:39:38

Pauses - not 'passes'.

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