Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is it just me?

Most of the pupils I teach, in most of the classes, are nice kids: they do their best to cooperate; they behave well and they generally work to a good standard, if not always with great enthusiasm.

In one of my Yr 11 classes (age 15/16) I have two likely lads in Jonny and Karl who are both disaffected and totally lacking in any social graces, let alone any concept of the importance of education.

They don't enjoy Religious Studies.

Karl is also number one on the Yr 11 list of behaviour concerns and already has a restricted timetable, only coming to school on Wednesdays and Thursdays and attending a special college placement for the other three days.

Karl has his R.S lessons on Wednesdays and Thursdays.

As a Buddhist might opine: "You must have done something very bad in a previous life to have these two on your timetable."

Over the last two years I have battled with these two, invoking all the tools learnt in my 27 year experience as a teacher and using all the strategies and sanctions available to me in the school's (rather limited) repertoire.

This week a support assistant was deployed in my class and she took Jonny and Karl into another classroom to do some concentrated one to one work with them, freeing me up to work with the other 22. The first half hour was a dream and then these two arrived back in the room without their support assistant who was taking her lunch. (Who thought up that creative piece of timetabling?)

They burst into the class, already invoved some sort of personal contact sport, and I lost track of the number of "Fucks" and "Cunts" that I heard. It seems that while they were in the neighbouring classroom they had managed to be offensive to the teacher who normally teaches in there and he had, understandably, sent them back to me when their support assistant went to lunch.

The next half hour was a nightmare, both for me and the rest of the class, punctuated by whining about having to do the work, offensive comments about other pupils, dreadful language and completely off-the-topic, loud and totally inappropriate conversations. My interventions were met with argument, defiance and self justification: it is my fault for "picking on" them.

Imagine my surprise when a senior member of staff walked into the class looking for another pupil. I took the opportunity to outline the situation and she questioned them about their behaviour. They were argumentative, self justifying and defiant to her.

This pleased me, purely on the basis that Senior Mangament are perceived not to inhabit the real world of the classroom teacher and this regular experience of mine was now hers.

I reasoned that into my second year of this behaviour from these two I had reached the end of the road. I filled in the appropriate negative information slip and stated that I would not accept Karl, as the catayist, back into the class.

Later in the day my colleague collared me on the corridor. She had called both boys to her office and discussed the situation with them. Their feedback on my lessons (she asked for their feedback on my lessons?) was that I "start on them" as soon as they come through the door and I do not make them feel "welcome or valued." The answer, she felt, was that I should be more friendly to them. I should go out of my way to be nice to them.

Problem solved then.

Or as my colleague William said "F****** Hell."