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I don't think I've read or could come up with a better summary of year 9, and I agree with you that "oh that's year 9's for you" is pretty lame. In fact to me, it's defeatist SMT-speak for "we haven't a clue". After all, even if there were a behaviour policy, what use would it be if were not enforced?
And as for getting them on task immediately, this is another cop-out. As you say, there is no real teaching, but it's all the rage. Some people call it independent learning. If that were really the case, why would we need teachers?
I'm afraid I can't offer much more than sympathy, but you do have good lessons. In that respect as well, you are not on your own.
I would tell them that you expect more of them. When you set each task/homework say what you expect ie. 'I expect no less than 4 pages of work (with no larger than size 14 font)' or 'I want you to research this in more than 5 sources'. There maybe lots of groans but you maybe surprised how many will up their game in response. For those that don't, give them a warning and say you mean business next time.
I wd be inclined to be more strict rather than less - but I can see this is tricky when others are not joining you in this approach.
I think you need to make it very clear to the class that the kind of bad behaviour they are routinely showing is not acceptable and will be sanctioned from now on. For instance, jeering at another pupil who has been sanctioned will result in a punishment for the jeer-er. They must know they're being obnoxious but they just find it too enjoyable to stop - so you have to take any fun out of it by punishing them, especially if they continue when you have made it clear they musn't.
Getting them on task immediately is effective *if* you make it a very short task and make it link to previous lessons so that they are actually doing something valuable. For instance instead of asking an opening question to introduce the topic / aim - have it on the board and make them write their answers. If they won't settle for this then do a cloze activity using the key words for the lesson or similar. Write up on the board who comes first, second and third to put the emphasis on working hard and concentrating and aim to provoke interest and attention in the topic rather than in misbehaving. I think a very short task like this is almost always worthwhile if it gets them quiet and settled at the start. They sd then find it much easier to let you dominate and do some chalk and talk afterwards on a related topic.
I think you're quite right not to want to talk over pupils but again it is often hard to keep to this when other teachers don't. I wd explain very clearly that *you* need them to be silent when you're addressing the class and go on a bit about why it's important. Then stick to it religiously and refuse to go on talking if they break the rule. If they're doing it on purpose they need escalating punishments.
I have a challenging year 9 class this year who I really disliked at the start - top group, able, but also non-stop chatters, keen to undermine where possible. It was a long long battle but I think I'm there now. Just about! We still have grotty days, but I try and approach it with a sense of humour which has worked. Some of my methods (probably quite unorthodox in places) have included:
- no tolerance - as soon as one of the ringleaders started they were out to my HoD - who is more than willing to cooperate. He then removed them for a lesson and gave them the choice to go back and behave or leave the set for good. They like being top group so that worked for some.
- I have one real tearaway who was very defiant at first. To be honest, I humour her and tolerate some of her eccentricities because she's able and quite keen at heart. Now she sets the (good) standard for the others - and because she's popular, no one wants to hack her off!
- we do the register standing behind chairs which they dislike and so they shut up so they can sit down quicker. Then they copy date, title, objective, and they always have a starter - often a thought-provoking question which we then feedback which they like cause they love the sound of their own voices. Discussion wise, I have a soft toy they have to be holding in order to be allowed to speak during discussion which has worked with them
- lack of work completed, I make them do for homework and then keep them in once it's done to talk to them about how much better they can do etc etc. At heart they're good kids and want to achieve so I now go down the 'I'm so disappointed, because look how well you can do when you try...'
- I laugh. A lot. I also call their bluff when they make rude or facetious comments and turn it back on them. I treat them like adults if they ask vaguely related questions (totally off-topic and I roll my eyes and walk away)
- I've given them some of me. They know the (saddo) films I like and that I'm trying to write a novel.
Basically, I have a lot of banter with them. It wouldn't work for everybody, but I've got about 5 or 6 of them working at level 7 now and they are not a bright year group. And they like the subject and tend to get settled quickly, so something must be working.
No idea if any of this is helpful to you or not.
Yes I agree about the getting no breaks thing - and all the marking as well just means you have *no* time if you are determined to keep on top of everything.
One solution I tried was to *only* give after-school detentions. That means i get my breaks when I need them and they *hate* getting detentions.
In theory are quite within your rights to keep them for 10 mins at the end of each day without notice. However this can lead to problems if they miss a bus or whatever as these days everyone gets a bit hysterical about this sort of thing. From my point of view the more they are incovenienced the better - if they need to catch a bus they'd better be good hadn't they!
But SMT are spineless about such things often.
And of course you don't want to end up with 30 children in your after-school detention. One way round this is to say if they don't do some really long / taxing piece of written work (not one that needs marking) at home that night then they will be in after-school the next night.
I found doing detentions after-school only was generally a good method for me - I just really needed time to myself during the day and at the end the pressure of teaching is off for a bit. But I guess it depends on your school's attitude. I don't think teachers can be forced to do break / lunchtimes tho as it's a break for you as well (unless youre on duty).
Oh my oh my how familiar this sounds.
Just had to make a sympathetic groan.
My Y9 Head of Year says 'give them sweets'.
Year 9's are tricky - and,sadly, that's a fact. I have in the past found that its good to establish routines and stick to your guns as far as work and homework are concerned. Always have a starter ready for when they come in. BUT keep them on their toes by changing something on a regular basis. I learnt this from an Art teacher who regularly changed the configuration of the classroom. A frequent change in either seating or reward/sanction systems can break negative behaviour patterns. Try using raffle tickets as a reward system for just one unit of work. A colleague who worked with a very difficult class had a simple smiley face/sad face system. 3 smileys = a raffle ticket. 3 sads = detention. You can change the criteria for reward/sanction every class if you wish (i.e 1 point for completing 2 pages of written work etc). They are generally a competitive bunch, but be prepared to allow some `working off' of sad faces.
And remember to see the positive! If you really analyse the class behaviour, you will more likely than not see that the vast majority are good kids.
Estellia I should just add that I have nine yr9 classes and teach two subjects.
EstelliaMy HoD is either way too busy, absent or busy elsewhere in the building, so I give detentions myself and follow through to Head of Year
I was told I wouldn't have homework to correct, but it was set by HoDs and I ended up with around 30 hours of correcting.
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