Enough: I have a wonderful class: a huge range of personalities, dreams, senses of humour and life experiences. I love spending time with all of them and will be very sad to say farewell to them.
Having said that, they are struggling to get along at the moment due to numerous factors – particularly my group of highly strung, strong minded girls who are holding grudges from many years ago. I have found myself regularly saying, “You won’t get away with this in Secondary school!”
There are historic wrongs which underpin many of the falling outs but I am finding it difficult to deal with – especially when I have parents coming in regularly to say how unhappy they are. How do you tell them that you feel their daughter is as much to blame as the girl who is “bullying” them? How do you deal with cousins who fight and argue at home (“good luck” said mum)?
I am extremely patient – almost too patient according to my excellent TA but I am sorry to say that my patience disappeared this week. I lost control, momentarily, but I lost it. I shouted as loud as I could. There are a number of reasons for this : feeling extremely tired due to lack of sleep; dealing with the same behaviour issues over and over; having a performance management meeting and being informed the Assistant Head position that was internally advertised was no longer available; not getting the Deputy Head job I applied for; impending SATs results; dealing with a fist fight at lunchtime; being the senior member of staff in school for a whole day and ultimately in charge for the first time; and other stuff that I’m probably not even aware of.
After a week of ridiculous falling outs and hours spent dealing with issues, at 2.58 on Wednesday, one of my group burst into tears because someone had looked at her and giggled – I felt my pulse race. I removed all those in question and in my normal calm manner discussed the problem and attempted conflict resolution. When the response was denial, lack of care, continued arguing, admitting what had happened but offering another excuse and genuine defiance – I completely lost myself.
As this was kicking out time, my class and two others were trying to pass as I erupted. Children froze and classroom doors quickly closed. A colleague and his visitor left the neighbouring room to allow me to continue my rant in peace. Another colleague, who had experience some of the falling outs during a number of lunchtimes, joined me and fully supported my position.
Even as I ranted I could feel the guilt building inside me. These pupils, who I have spent hundreds of hours nurturing, supporting, developing and caring for, shrunk before me – Eventually realising that they had taken things too far and the fact that someone had moved a chair away from them 3 years ago may not be worth arguing about anymore.
In the days after my eruption their behaviour has been excellent. I have had pats on the back from colleagues and appreciation from other children/parents. But it doesn’t sit well with me. This is not how a teacher should communicate effectively.
Even though their behaviour has been ridiculous and repetitive over an extended period of time, I am the adult and it is my job to help them understand why what they are doing is not acceptable. I’m not sure my explosion was an effective/appropriate way of doing this – although it has attracted congratulations from colleagues who have experienced the same.
Has anyone else found themselves in a similar situation where personal stuff mixed with the last straw has led to behaviour management which goes against your pedagogy?
Last year was worse – very challenging and in some cases violent. 5 of my class of 26 have been excluded/suspended from their secondary schools. I found myself saying “You won’t get away with that in secondary school!” Having worked in both environments the enforcement of non-negotiables of behaviour in secondary school seem to be expected and respected whereas similar in primary schools is cause for concern/argument.
There certainly seems to be a gulf between what is acceptable in primary and secondary.
Why is this the case? Or am I wrong?
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