Need some words of inspiration to carry on


Seriously that is the only thing I can think of saying after dealing with the primary children I taught today (6 to 8 years). Am not an experienced teacher… this is my 1st time doing this and I am not getting paid. The children were horrible today and I ended up spending half my time seperating various groups of mainly boys who were being totally disruptive.

Seriously dont know why I bother : (

Anyone have some positive thoughts to stop me from being SERIOUSLY tempted just to stop helping out?!

Natasha x

Hi Natasha,

I am sure you will have a wonderful time.

Just remember, if school was cancelled, and your pupils are anything like mine, they will
have become quite excited by it all and with Christmas just around the corner…they are
going to be wanting to jump and down with glee. Try to plan a few calming activites -
English Christmas cards/calendars - with a relevant picture for each month - put ideas
up on board/whiteb board whatever. - they often lack imagination here and need some input.
eg for jULY we always draw the school gates with a big cross on them! \ got 14th JUlY.
|June - church bells - popular month for weddings etc

When we used to take French into UK primary schools we did Vive le Vent - I would supply
bells, tambourines etc, - give them the words written open phonetically on laminated
cards - and we used to have a whale of a time. And we did Douce nuit/belle nuit.

We even did it in front of the parents - not a dry eye in the house (incuding mine!)
Swop it to Jingle Bells and Silent night - try to get a cd of the music.

Just remember to enjoy it and to keep your sense of humour!!!
Merry Christmas

Really REALLY appreciate al the advice given by everyone on here. Will be taking everything onboard.

Luckily school was cancelled last week due to snow so I have had a bit more time to ‘regroup’. Have emailed the teacher and explained the situation and what I plan to do. She didnt appear too shocked as a couple of the other children had mentioned to her about the ‘naughty boys’… she has promised full support so we will just have to wait and see.

I will let you know how I get on in the next lesson on Thursday!


p.s. Google TES (Times educational supplement) and go to the forums, search classroom management. Like this link:

You’ll see you’re not alone and you’ll get lots of ideas - since it’s a very well established forum with lots and lots of people (sorry, SurviveFrance… I’m sure you’ll be the TES of surviving France in time :slight_smile: !!)

Such brilliant advice… I’d do all of this too!!!

Back in the day, we had a ‘class grass’ - one person (different every day) who sat with a list, noting down who was naughty. Often, the class grass would be naughty themselves. They decided on the punishment for the pupil. It was great if entirely politically incorrect. Sitting with a monitor (the class grass) and a score chart really kept them busy and allowed me to go on teaching. Plus, the naughty class grass got to watch all of his peers. Once, a very naughty boy noted 171 transgressions by another boy and he was disgusted because he said afterwards, "Miss, Jamie X was quite good today, and yet he still misbehaved 3 times every second… And I’m usually way worse than that!’

Give them all English names and have a seating plan. Knowing names is key to discipline. Plus it spooks them. In the past, I’ve read them off their exercise books or bags, which has REALLY freaked them out if they haven’t told me who they are.

Easiest and most simple thing is to get them all standing boy-girl-boy-girl in a circle. That way the boys are split up. Stand between the most unruly two. Then do lots of things to get to know their names (or give them English names… like I do!) I’d do lots of games where they’re ‘out’ if they move out of turn. Like if I’ve got a class of thirty, I might write the words for that lesson on big cards, put them all boy/girl standing in a circle. And then, having distributed the cards, I’d do stuff to get them to move about - like get them to wave when you say their word.

Don’t be too harsh on yourself either - primary kids are like little life-sucking insects with the attention span of a wotsit when they’re in class. They fidget, they move, they can’t understand basic ‘hands up’ rules or so on… so lots of concentration games and memory games in circles for vocabulary are great.

The yellow card/red card system is good too - but the fail-safe is whatever you choose, keep doing it. Most teachers who have discipline issues (and there are loads who trained as teachers and have been teaching for years without really getting to grips with the discipline issues) are the ones who haven’t said what they expect, don’t have high expectations and aren’t consistent. I don’t actually use an ‘if… then…’ punishment or reward system, I just expect them to behave. And they do. It was greeted with some rolled eyes when I asked all of my classes to stand up as I entered (secondary, inner city Manchester!) and to say ‘Good morning, Miss’ - but the second week, after three lessons, they all did it without even batting an eyelid. They just knew that’s how it was.

If you’ve got time, Paul Ginnis’s excellent teacher’s toolkit is a worthy investment if you plan on sticking it out (and to be honest, any teacher worth their salt would have their class at the point where visitors can come and take over the class without a fuss; call it respect, call it fear! So, if the kids don’t behave for you when you are there, chances are, they behave the same for their usual teacher. And therefore, I’d not blame you AT ALL if you didn’t!) - sorry to bang on about this book - I’m not his missus or anything!

My top five would be:

  1. Learn names
  2. Seating plan
  3. Short activities with them doing stuff
  4. Master the ‘teacher stare’ and move over right into their space if they’re not behaving
  5. Don’t be afraid to stop and make them sit still or be quiet

It may sound counter-productive to stop entirely and very calmly insist everyone else stops until you’ve got absolute quiet, but 2 minutes wasted is 20 minutes gained. And respect is crucial. The one thing that utterly bugs me, primary or secondary, is kids who a) talk over each other b) talk at the same time as me. And I absolutely, under no circumstance, will continue when I don’t have everyone’s attention on me. I don’t care if they’re looking at me just as long as their mouth is shut when mine is open (or anyone else’s!) If you’ve got a persistent offender, remove them.

Any activity should only ever be their reading age (I’m guessing 6-8) + 2 in length… 8-10 minutes, maximum, including instructions. I know it sounds BONKERS, but group work, pair work and fun stuff actually encourage better behaviour.

Blimey. That’s like a treatise! And Catharine is right. A cattle prod is very useful.

We used to say ‘it’s like herding cats’ and it really, really is… or like that ‘hit the rat’ game where it pops up out of any hole… you hit it once and it pops up somewhere else. I totally sympathise. I’d never let a guest loose on naughty groups until the class were totally docile. Not easy.

Just a little thing to cheer you up and remind you it’s like juggling fire, plaiting fog, herding cats…

Brilliant comments Sandie.

Two things: I forgot to emphasis something Sandie said: tons of variety and not doing the same thing for too long, along with different activities for different types of learners - stuff to look at, stuff to listen to, stuff to get them moving, music, making things, touching and passing things, stuff that relates to them as human beings and their own little worlds.

And the other thing, and this might sound a bit sneaky, but I totally forgot that I’ve just done this book which may well be really helpful to you and I’m not just saying that, but based on what you’ve said, honest!!!

Oh, and you can still win a copy if you leave a comment on the review/interview page you get to if you click the image.

Good luck ~ Sab

hi Natasha.

know how you feel, it is not always easy.

I agree with all of Sab’s comments. Don’t forget they will have the attention span of a flea…so plan

short chunks of activity and move on. A song, a work sheet picking out words of the song, making

poems with the words, making poems with their names. Try, if you can, to ignore the low level

disruption, just keep moving them on, there is nothing kids like more than to take centre stage over

some ‘supposed slight’ or worse unsavoury smells from a windy belly, Just don’t fall for it,make light of it and

keep them moving on…Try to give them time limits for an activity (if they are very young - time is a bit

of fluffy idea, but say things like ‘right we have five minutes for this’ then after two, remind them

'ok three muinutes 'etc. Get out of your seat and move around them. Sometimes putting their names up

as they finish something can work wonders. Even the most disruptive child does n’t want to be last.

Make sure you have got all the basics organised - pencils, sharpeners, paper, enough books and even

seats. Don’t forget to praise them. ~Grit your teeth sometimes and say something positive to the

most unpleasant child - 'oh that is a great drawing, oh what a wonderful accent you have, brilliant

you have written the date so quickly’. (I know, I know…but it does help, honest = even little monsters

like to be praised.) Then introduce treats = Friday afternoon tea Christmas activities whatever.

making Calendars, cooking? Good behaviour stickers. Divide and rule, select children as book monitors,

pencil monitors, suck it and see what works with your children. Don’t be hard on yourself - chidren

can be brilliant one day and you think you have cracked it, the next day they can be monsters.

it is n’t you. A windy day, snow, a fight in the playground - all these things wind them up.

Latch on to their heroes - pop/film etc and build some activities round that.

Don’t know if this helps. As for the cattle prod - oh if only, if only…

Hey, Natasha, don’t get me onto ‘alternative’ methods of kiddy crowd control… I’d probably be in prison by now if any of those ideas got out…!

Yes, I’ve often heard that the yellow and red card system can be made to work well. Good luck, and keep us posted!

Thanks for all the tips… particularly like the idea of a cattle prod Catherine! Really glad to hear its not just me.

Sab - I realy dont know whay I am doing it - think I must be mad!

My plan is to speak to the teacher about this as unless I have her support I am not going to carry on. As of next week I am going to intriduce a ‘card’ system like in sport. If they misbehave badly then they get a yello card. Do it again they get a red card which means being sent to the teacher. Hopefully they will soon get the message!

This is exactly the reason that I refuse to teach kids, especially in a group.
Good luck!

Natasha, when I did this I had the same problem from time to time, I would agonise about it for weeks - it was always the same one or two who stirred the others up. Eventually I would haul out the ones who had started it to their usual teacher who was always horrified and the offender was severely (imo) punished. It tended to put the rest off from mis-behaving (for a few weeks at least) I do think they saw English with me as an easy option - perhaps partly my fault as I wanted them to enjoy it, so would focus on songs/funny stories/drama rather than the more “studious” work they were more used to, so I’m sure it seemed more like an extra recreation to them. I would try discipline from their regular teacher (who won’t want to risk losing you I’m sure)

Good points / tips Sab and don’t beat yourself up about your daughter - 13 is an evil age :slight_smile:

We are mega strict parents but as a result have three lovely kids who you can take anywhere and know that they will behave impeccably. Obviously they are often awful at home but I think that’s normal…

No, it’s driving me nuts too to see the way my daughter is at 13, due, probably to a large extent, to her not having a stable two-parent upbringing till now.

Natasha, I understand what you mean. I’ve taught kids. Some are lovely, and some are awful.

Ground rules help, established right from the word go. Also, it does help if they actually want to be doing whatever it is they are doing with you. Are you alone in the class or is the main/usual teacher there too?

If you are not being paid, then… why are you doing it? Serious question: why?

If it’s to help the kids learn English then that’s what they should be doing, but you need to have sold it to them that not only is it a very good thing to do, it is also great fun (thanks to all the great fun activities you’ve dreamt up and positive atmosphere you’ve created, AND, last but not least, that it’s an HONOUR to have you there! You don’t have to say that exactly, and I don’t know your exact situation, but I don’t do anything with people who don’t want to be there, but I do try to give them reasons to want to be there first and see how it goes. Then, if none of that works I certainly do say ‘Stuff this’.

I’m with Catharine
I ate out at lunch time, nothing special, Moroccan restaurant, but a nice relaxing meal would have been nice.
Two kids going completely barmy, taking full advantage of “Mami”, then the mother came in and I realised why (modern parents). My kids never, and I mean never, ran around or misbehaved in restaurants. I almost said something but thought better of it, but I really was incensed when the boy started kicking the girl quite nastily.
Maybe my upbringing was too strict?

Electric cattle prod? I have long thought Mothercare should make them.

Others may have more constructive advice…