I’m now on Twitter!

I’ve just joined the world of Twitter! I must admit, it’s taking me a little bit of time to grasp the whole concept. But it’s great for finding out the latest changes to education and following some really inspiring people.

If you’re on Twitter give me a follow: Ms PupilReferralUnit @teachingtantrum

I’ll follow you back- once I’ve got the hang of the bloody thing!

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Starting the new year after a good lesson observation!

Jumping woman silhouette

It finally happened. After a dreadful, stressful NQT year. A failed final observation and the morale of a depressed goldfish, I finally got a ‘good’ lesson observation just before we broke up for the Christmas half term. And even now, it feels bloody great.

I think teacher’s morale, outlook on their job and general well being could be improved dramatically by just a few simple positive words of praise and encouragement. I do not understand why SLT members in school feel it is productive to belittle and constantly criticise other teachers in schools, then get confused when said teachers don’t suddenly pull out ‘outstanding’ lessons with the high energy and jazz hands of a West End Performer. Simple fact. You will get more out of teachers if we are shown a appreciation, praise and constructive criticism.

Anyway, back to my lesson observation. The school is way overdue an OFSTED visit. We were due one in April 2014, never happened. We were determined we would be visited in the summer term, like the school behind us. Never happened. ‘It will be in Autumn term’ subject leaders were saying. We thought it would be the third week in September. Never happened. In fact, the call never came at all last term, and at 1.30pm on the last Wednesday of the week we all breathed a sign of relief.

Mangement are feeling the pressure, as unannounced and without, the second to last week of term we were all told that we would be getting observed. Lesson observations were to take place for everyone in the school that week. Either the Headmistress or Deputy head would be observing us. I was nervous to say the least, especially as I still have my own personal stuff going on and had a hospital appointment straight before the observation. But the main reasons for my concern were; One, the headmistress had only ever seen me teach for 15mins during my lesson observation at my interview, two she knew all about my struggles last year and three, she is the person that deals with my appraisal/ performance related pay. I was more than nervous.

However, it went fantastic. It was a writing lesson, which is always difficult with younger children, but there was no major criticism; behaviour was in place, children used talk partners, there was role play to help them with their writing, work was differentiated and I effectively used my TA. To say I felt on cloud 9 was an understatement. I was elated, I felt the weight of my last observation lifting, in the space of 10minutes of feedback I felt my confidence in myself growing. I was happy. I had job satisfaction and even though I’m dreading the alarm going off at 6.30am on Monday, I am looking forward to going back to work. I want to go back. My confidence is returning and I no longer feel like I made a mistake becoming a teacher.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all teachers could just have 10mins a day being praised by their management? What a wonderful, yet unrealistic, thought.

The things that I changed this week to improve behaviour.

Like I said in my previous post- I was bringing in the Trunchbull this week and it definitely seemed to work. I had a terrible lesson observation before Christmas but my observation for this term was two days ago and the first thing she said was ‘excellent behaviour management, you’ve really got them under control now’. I didn’t dare tell her how they were last week. But by changing a few things, there has definitely been an improvement. And I understand that every class/ school/ teacher/ NQT is different, so read over the tips below and tweak them to your own needs and class.

1. No smiling. I’m a naturally smiling person and so this probley had the biggest impact because the children are so used to seeing my smiling. When I started with the serious face on Monday, they knew instantly I meant business. It shows the children that you are not to be messed with and what you say needs to be done. The serious face also sets the ‘tone’, they know now is a time to listen and behave- it’s not laughing and joking time.

2. Names on the board. This was so simple and effective and I wished I had started it earlier. I simply drew a sad face in the corner of the board and when someone wasn’t listening or had not done as I had asked. I would slowly go and get my whiteboard pen and slowly walk over to the board with a disappointed face (the key to this is the ‘acting’ the drama. Dragging out the process.) The slow walk over to the board also got everyone’s attention ‘who’s name am i going to write?’ I then wrote a name on the board and said oh dear, how disappointing. Now when anyone walks into the room they will see your name on the board. You better try and improve your behaviour so I can wipe your name off the board. I would not want Mrs E. (Headmistress) to walk into this class and see you name.’ Don’t shout, but do look cross and disappointed. The best thing about this is that the names on the board don’t mean anything but the children hated seeing thier name and would ask me if I would wipe it off if they did x or z.

3. Set line places. Again, I don’t know why I didn’t do this from September. Lining up and walking through the school was always a problem because children would be pushing in, there would be shouts of ‘Miss, he pushed in!’, then children would end up with thier friends and that would mean laughing and joking walking to assembly and talking throughout. Now they have set line places, all that has been cut out. Some teachers like boy, girl, boy, girl in the line, but by doing set, specific places, you can really take control of the situation and spilt troublesome partners right up by putting them far away from each other and the biggest help for me, was stopping all the fussing when it was lining up time. They just went to thier places, and surprisingly, they remembered their places quicker than me.

4. Refusing to talk over anyone. I knew I had to do something, when i was increasingly finding myself talking over children on the carpet when I was teaching. Some children were blatantly not listening. They were having their own merry time and I just felt like a failing comedian who was slowly loosing his audience at a rowdy working men’s club. They were being disrespectful. But what I have realised is; children will only get away with what you let them. So the zero tolerance approach was brought in. I refused to talk over any noise- that included shuffling chairs. I would stand and wait, then slowly walk over to the board and write a name. Eventually the children knew that they could no longer talk on the carper.

5. The 5 dash rule. I explained to the children that every time I had to wait for them, I would put a ‘dash’ on the white board, if I got to 5 dashes, they were missing their play. They had wasted my time and so I was wasting theirs. It’s quite a harsh one and i only use it as a last resort. The key is to not let them become blasé about it. As the dashes increase, you can see the panic set in if someone is not behaving ‘James! Ssssh! Miss is going to put a dash on the board!’

6. Praise positive behaviour. ‘Wow! Just look how Nina is sitting on the carpet.’ All the children look and then instantly sit propley on the carpet. ‘I love how Ali was the first person to put his pencil down and listen.’ This means you don’t have to address the children who haven’t put thier pen down and bring in a negative atmosphere, because they will instantly know what is expected of them and do the same.

6. The thinking spot. I’m not the biggest fan of this, but it definitely works. But I only use it for a child who really needs to know who is boss in the classroom, not for behaviour that is actually quite low disrupting. It is a small round mat from Ikea, and when a child has been warned repeatedly, I get it out and make them sit on it for 5minutes. I explain that I have to get the Thinking Spot out and how it is from the nursery, but some children are acting like they are still there. They have to sit on it for 5 minutes and think about what they have done. They hate this one as well, because they are separated from the class and they are exposed. Like I said, it shuldn’t be used all the time as I don’t believe in embarrassing children, but sometimes certain behaviours need to be nipped in the bud and children need to know what is and is not acceptable in the class.

7. Get your TA on board. The last thing why I believe last week was so successful is that myself and my TA worked together. I told her what i was doing, she also backed me up, ‘Goodness, you do not want your name on the board.’ She acted disappointed with the children and reinforced all of my expectations- and I felt more confident. As they say, there’s safety in numbers!

Behaviour management is a biggie- OFSTED rate all teachers on it and it makes a difference to how well you feel you are teaching and getting through to your class. Sometimes though, no matter how much you do, you still have a bad day- but take it for what it is, a bad day. Go home, have a glass of wine, a long hot soak and a talk with a loved one and remember, we’re doing the best that we can. Teaching is a difficult, difficult job and we’re still doing it- so we’re stronger than most! 

Behaviour Management- bring in The Trunchbull.

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I have 30 children in my class and sometimes that’s hard to deal with. I have 30 children and 12 of them have very strong personalities. These 12 distract the others in the class and sometimes I find my blood pressure increasing just because it’s taking me 15minutes to do the register. 

Now behaviour hasn’t been bad, it’s just not good, it’s not outstanding and it’s something that has slowly but surely been getting slightly worse. Some of the children have been getting a little bit too comfortable, ‘God, this is boring’, one gifted and talented 6 year old said the other day. Speechless . I would find myself having to repeat instructions 5 times before even half the class were listening. The final straw came last week when an 18yr old first year BA student observed in my class and said at the end of a very ‘shouty’ lesson, ‘aw, do you want a hug?’ She then went on to give me behaviour management tips. I smiled calmly and said ‘thank you for your advice. Don’t hug me.’ My TA then came up to me at the end of the week and said that for the first time since September, she was embarrassed to be with the class. Now this is exactly what I needed to hear. I trust my TA, she is honest and has years of experience, to see her face and hear her say that just made me sit up and listen. She said we had to get on top of behaviour and stop being so soft.

And I have been too soft. I smile a lot, I am cheerful and bubbly. I show an interest in the children and I indulge certain behaviour that i would never tolerate with my own future children, let alone my class. At uni they told us ‘don’t smile until Christmas’ and with hindsight, I realise that this was a tip that should have been followed in my situation. So after many talks with other teachers, advice from a past Head, they all lead to the same conclusion. This week I am going to be Mrs Trunchbull.

Today was day 1 and guess what…. IT WORKED! Behaviour was not outstanding- but it was better than good. I would go so far as to say it was excellent. 

The children came in and I didn’t smile once. I did’t reply to any of their excited chatter about the weekend, (this was very difficult and made me feel bad inside!), I introduced the ‘thinking spot’, names were written on the board and positive behaviour was overly praised. I will be posting exactly what I did that was so successful in another post; but for the first time, in a long time we had a pe lesson in the gym without a word during the warm up. Normally, the children are running around, wild and excited and I have to talk over them. But not today. No, today was perfect and just goes to show that children really do need boundaries, discipline  and structure. Why has it taken me so long?!

NQT 1: Kids 0