This week has been a particularly tough week with my S2 class. There are 28 pupils in the class and there is a group of 8 pupils who dominate the class with low level poor behaviour and general disruption.
Normally I feel like I can handle this but on Monday it all came to a head. The group of pupils would not settle and it was impossible to start the lesson. Two pupils were sent out of class but the rest were so disruptive. At the end of the lesson I felt exhausted. Reflecting on the lesson my biggest regret was that the other 20 pupils in the class, who are so well behaved, were let down by me. I wasn’t giving them the lesson, the time and attention they deserved.
What to do about this?
Firstly, I contacted home about most of the 8 pupils. Hoping to get parental support to help. I wrote a new seating plan to see if I could find a better arrangement for the class.
The rest of the lessons that week were much better. I went for zero tolerance on poor behaviour and set my expectations to the class very clearly. The structure of the lessons were very traditional – chalk and talk – and the pupils were expected to work on their questions individually.
Were these lessons successful? On some levels YES. I was able to spend lots of time helping and encouraging all my pupils. There was a lot of progress made with their algebra skills and there was a much calmer atmosphere in the class.
Here’s my problem – the lessons were boring and not overly engaging. I don’t like teaching classes this way. I want pupils to have discussions, work together, investigate and enjoy their lessons. But do the pupils learn more when working independently in peace and quiet?
Here’s where I need help – how can I teach the type of lessons I know my pupils need without letting the minority take over? If I can’t figure it out I worry that these pupils, who behave and want to learn, will get discouraged and not enjoy learning maths.
I would appreciate any suggestions or thoughts.