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I recently started supply teaching (secondary MFL) at an average secondary school. I am covering long-term sick leave and work there 3 days a week - will probably be there until July.
The absent teacher has 6 classes, 5 of which appear to be manageable from what I've seen so far (5 days in school). Then there are the bottom set Y9s, who are the worst I have ever had the misfortune to have to try and teach. I am an NQT and I'm just not sure what I can do!!
Apparently the group have had about 4-5 different supply teachers over the year, which clearly hasn't helped matters, and now I come along to a group who really do seem to be impossible to control :-( I've only met them 3 times so far, so hope that you have some advice for establishing myself with such a difficult group so that they will at least sit down and be quiet. None of them are continuing MFL next year, of course, so they just don't see the point in the lessons I think.
In today's lesson, I was told to f off by one student, others screwed up their work and threw it across the classroom, one girl had a lighter and her phone out in class which she refused to hand over to me, the boys ALL refused to sit in their assigned seat, 2 of them knocked tables/chairs over deliberately and towards the end of the lesson a mini fight broke out between about 6 of the boys! They threw pens at each other, swore loudly, banged on the windows, chanted football anthems and complained loudly about how I couldn't teach or control the class.
Perhaps true, but this group is incredibly challenging for me as a) an NQT and b) a supply teacher who they clearly are not going to have any respect for immediately.
So, what can I do??? They refused to listen to other teachers' instructions to sit down etc too, including a member of SLT who was passing. I don't think I'm going to survive till July with this group if I can't get them to comply :-(
squirlywhirlyThey refused to listen to other teachers' instructions to sit down etc too, including a member of SLT who was passing.
Talk to that member of SLT.
If they will not listen to SLT, you've no chance.
Ah, my heart goes out to you. This is one of the hardest positions to be in, make no mistake about it. Not quite so much because of how awful they are (although to be sure this is a major concern) but that other teachers and even SLT seem to be powerless.
This might indicate a school that has terrible behaviour management written through its DNA. If SLT can't have an effect on them, then your chances are minimal, and I would advise pulling the ripcord and bailing, or tough it out in a truce.
But I'm going to assume you have a chance; that the SLT might just have been one that isn't respected; that the F/T teacher who was ignored was also a one-off. If you're goin gto do anything other than baby sit these kids, you're either going to find something that they WANT to do which is educational (which is often pandering to the nth degree, and unless you have charisma like the devil will be nigh impossible) or you;re going to have to make them believe that complying is less hassle than mugging you off.
The latter requires sanctions. It also requires back up from other teachers that they know will be there to make life difficult for them. SO: find ANOTHER teacher/ member of SLT (preferably your line manager) and get them involved. Have them stay in the class until they sit in the right seats. Have them observe a lesson, and jointly, take down all the names of pupils who need a detention, a parental meeting etc. Then, do all of these things, and repeat, repeat, repeat.
Relationships take time and consistency. You may not be able to achieve this in the time you have. On the other hand, it might turn quickly, once they see that you mean business and have back-up. But alone, you are in for a long, lonely fight.
Read more from Tom here on his blog, or follow him.
They didn't like that at all, but it certainly made them behave - showed me that they are perfectly capable of cooperating and actually being pleasant, but just means now I'm dreading what they'll be like on Monday when the SLT guy isn't available to sit in...
Also helped that the boy who told me to f off was in isolation, another took himself voluntarily into another teacher's class (and worked well I've been told), the girl with the lighter/mobile was absent and so were a couple of others!
For what the SLT did to be of any use whatsoever, then whatever else he did, he needed to talk to the class at the end about their need to respect you, and about how, now that he's told them this, he'll consider any further disrespect of you to be disrespect of him.
If he didn't do this but just sat there, then it's interesting to speculate what possible long term/medium term good he can think he's done.
If you can think of a tactful way of pointing this out to him, maybe that'll help.
If he did speak to them, then from now on just be firm but fair, prepare your lessons well, and report to him any pupil who deserves it. Their behaviour will improve dramatically. (I know this from experience: I once had a HT who could actually do the job.)
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