Wheresthecake
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I feel so stuck and would so appreciate some advice. I have 30 really hard kids in my class. They’re honestly so so tough. I’ve had some really nasty comments made to me that really upset me and my mental health is taking a knock now. I can only take so much of “who are you talking to. It better not be me” “watch your mouth” “f*** this I’m going” “you can’t give me a detention or an iso day that’s not fair” when I’m teaching.


It’s mentally exhausting. I’ve been sworn at by this group, laughed at when kids are being vile. Then I’m told I should really smile a bit more or be more friendly but how. How can I do it. I’m struggling to cope here with them. No matter how much I escalate nothing happens. I am at a loss what do I do.
Last edited by Wheresthecake; 2 weeks ago
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tinygirl96
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bluebeetle
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(Original post by Wheresthecake)
I feel so stuck and would so appreciate some advice. I have 30 really hard kids in my class. They’re honestly so so tough. I’ve had some really nasty comments made to me that really upset me and my mental health is taking a knock now. I can only take so much of “who are you talking to. It better not be me” “watch your mouth” “f*** this I’m going” “you can’t give me a detention or an iso day that’s not fair” when I’m teaching.


It’s mentally exhausting. I’ve been sworn at by this group, laughed at when kids are being vile. Then I’m told I should really smile a bit more or be more friendly but how. How can I do it. I’m struggling to cope here with them. No matter how much I escalate nothing happens. I am at a loss what do I do.
Sorry to hear you've been having a hard time. A hard class can really ruin your whole week, even if you only see them a few lessons!

Have you spoken to SLT / Year Leader / Head of Department / somebody higher up to let them know you are struggling? That would be my first step, if you haven't already done so. They may be able to offer some further escalation, or put some students on report or other measures. And certainly, if your mental health is suffering, it shouldn't just be something you have to deal with alone.

Some general tips for behaviour with tough classes:
1) Make sure the lesson plan is very tight, so that things can keep running even with disruptions. So for example, with my really difficult classes, I'll make sure every slide has something they can be doing or I'll always have a worksheet they can be getting on with if I have to pause teaching for a moment to deal with a behaviour incident. I find it also helps to have a clear routine that every single lesson follows.

2) Take some time at the start of one lesson to set up some clear and easy-to-follow rules about behaviour. Make sure they're not vague at all. Like for example "You must not talk when I have asked for silence" - don't allow any leeway or excuses, and make it really clear how this rule always applies, even if just asking their neighbour for a pen or talking to themselves, that way you can come back to it later and say "Well, I told you this would earn XYZ sanction."

3) Obviously trying to be positive is hard, but it does often work. With my difficult classes, I overemphasise the praise - "Excellent start, Sophie, you've got your book open and you're writing the title already, that's a fantastic start to the lesson", just to make it excessively clear what good behaviour looks like.

4) With very tough individuals, I have a lesson 'checklist' laminated which is on their desk. The points are really basic, such as:
- I wrote the title within the first 5 minutes
- I took my coat off without being asked
- I did at least 5 questions from the main task
- I marked all of my work with a green pen
- I glued in all of the worksheets
Realllly basic stuff. And then make it clear that if that checklist isn't completed, they will get a sanction (whether that be a detention or whatever, in line with school behaviour policy obviously).

5) Have set phrases for telling them off, and never elaborate or get into arguments during the lesson. e.g. "I'm giving you a warning now for speaking when I asked everybody to work silently" and if they give any excuse, the response is just "We'll discuss it after the lesson, right now you need to focus on your work" and if they persist in arguing back, then just escalate up the behaviour system as they are causing further disruption.
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Wheresthecake
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Thank you blue beetle. I feel I’ve tried it all and nothing seems to work no matter how hard I try. They’re the one class that make me feel I’m a failure without a doubt. I never let them see it but I’m so tired of it.

Honestly I’ve exhausted all avenues. I told slt and they say I need to let them stay but I feel I’m struggling. I’m really not finding it easy having these horrible spirited kids in my class.

They’ll find it funny when I’m being told to F off and I have to keep raising my voice over them all the time. I just feel I need them to actually look at the grouping because I feel so thrown in at the deep end at the minute and I’ve cried out for support and literally cried too
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bluebeetle
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(Original post by Wheresthecake)
Thank you blue beetle. I feel I’ve tried it all and nothing seems to work no matter how hard I try. They’re the one class that make me feel I’m a failure without a doubt. I never let them see it but I’m so tired of it.

Honestly I’ve exhausted all avenues. I told slt and they say I need to let them stay but I feel I’m struggling. I’m really not finding it easy having these horrible spirited kids in my class.

They’ll find it funny when I’m being told to F off and I have to keep raising my voice over them all the time. I just feel I need them to actually look at the grouping because I feel so thrown in at the deep end at the minute and I’ve cried out for support and literally cried too
It’s really tough when you don’t have SLT backing you up on behaviour issues, as at the end of the day, you are somewhat limited by the school behaviour system! Do you have a system where you can remove students during the lesson for especially disruptive behaviours?

Have you been calling home about incidents of rudeness? It won’t work for all kids - some parents just don’t seem to care -but for some it will. I find it helpful to ask colleagues or Year Leaders how responsive a specific parent is likely to be before phoning (you don’t want to ruin your day more by having a parent get annoyed at you!) In a similar vein, it can be handy to talk to colleagues who taught the class last year and ask what strategies they used.
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Wheresthecake
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I just feel I understand what it says on paper but it’s not been reflected in my lessons at all.

Yep I regularly ring home for some students sometimes it works sometimes doesn’t work
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ThursdaysChild22
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while I appreciate that you feel hurt and upset that these children do not like you and have said unkind things, you need to find a way to move past this and approach the situation from a professional and critical viewpoint. Dismissing the class as “horrible spirited kids” isn’t going to help you. The students will meet both your highest and lowest expectations, so choose to have high expectations and choose to see the best in them and not focus relentlessly on the worst. Analysing why they’re responding to you in this way and what you can do to improve the relationship, your teaching and your application of the behaviour policy will help you move forward. You are the adult in the room. To paraphrase Paul Dix (whose book I recommend reading), when you change everything changes.

You’ve been given feedback that you need to appear more positive in the classroom. This isn’t superficial feedback. How would you feel, if every time you entered the English office your HoD looked at you with a flat, stern expression? Young people are sensitive to these social cues. They are sensitive to the approval of the adults in their lives. You ask “how can I smile?” Well, you just need to do it. You don’t have to feel happy to see them, but you have to pretend that you feel happy because that is a strategy that will improve the relationship with the class and improving the relationship is your responsibility and is a part of your job.

I suggest making a start by printing a copy of your seating plan for the class and annotating what you’ve learned about each student. How well do you actually know them? Who is shy? Who is confident? Who loves their pet and can have a bad mood instantly diverted with a quick mention of this animal? Who is a chatterbox? Who is an avid supporter of x football team? Who always has flawless make-up? Who has a fantastic vocabulary? If you know nothing about your individual students, you’re not working nearly hard enough to build relationships. Then RAG the students’ behaviour. They won’t all be red. We sometimes write off an entire class as rotten when it is just a small handful of students. Which amber and green students have you been neglecting while you focus on the rudeness of the red students? How can you start to repair the relationship with those students? Once the red students see their peers accept you, they might soften a little bit too.
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SarcAndSpark
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(Original post by Wheresthecake)
Thank you blue beetle. I feel I’ve tried it all and nothing seems to work no matter how hard I try. They’re the one class that make me feel I’m a failure without a doubt. I never let them see it but I’m so tired of it.

Honestly I’ve exhausted all avenues. I told slt and they say I need to let them stay but I feel I’m struggling. I’m really not finding it easy having these horrible spirited kids in my class.

They’ll find it funny when I’m being told to F off and I have to keep raising my voice over them all the time. I just feel I need them to actually look at the grouping because I feel so thrown in at the deep end at the minute and I’ve cried out for support and literally cried too
I had a class a bit like this last year, and at this stage of the year I would have said they were awful, and litterally unteachable. You have to persevere, and be consistent every lesson, set the sanctions, do the praise, and it takes AGES but eventually things will click. By Christmas, we were getting somewhere, then lockdown reset us to ground zero, then they were awful for a bit, and then by about May, things were going well. At the end of the year, I missed them, and some of them say they miss me this year!

I know it sounds so hard, but you have to tough it out- you will get there in the end and things will get better. I do think any child who has sworn at you should be removed from that lesson though and get a serious sanction. Do your SLT back you on that?
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