Ask the teacher

When my tall, laid back (read “idle”), 15 year old son comes in from school each day, the conversation generally takes this pattern:-

Me: “How was school today?” 🙂

Him:  “Boring”. 😐

Me: “Do anything interesting?” 🙂

Him: “Nope” 😐 as he disappears into his bedroom to change in preparation for adopting the lounging position in front of the XBox on the sitting room floor.

Me:  “Much homework?” 😉

Him: “Nope”. 😐

End of conversation.   I’m sure I’ve reported on this before – sorry to bore you!

Yesterday, however, was different.  He suddenly launched into a diatribe about one of his classes, a double period, which was disrupted by bad behaviour from a small group of boys.  The whole  class had ended up not doing anything other than copy out of a text book.  Apparently this is a regular event. 

Now, I know my eldest is no angel.  I know he can be irritatingly cheeky when he thinks he can get away with it.  I know he’ll follow the crowd but will generally back off just short of trouble.  I know he’s happy to do the minimum he thinks he needs to get by.  The thing is, generally he does at least do the minimum and is quite conscientious about that.   But it is highly unusual for him to complain about not being able to do any real work in a class.  😯

I know from all the anecdotes and media coverage that it’s common, if not normal, for groups of pupils to disrupt learning in schools everywhere.  Perhaps most readers will sigh and roll their eyes and say “Well what do you think goes on in schools?  We’re not in the 1950s anymore”.  🙄   But I have to say that this is our first experience of this. 

So my question is: what do I do?  Should I just ignore it and hope it goes away? Speak to the teacher?  Speak to the Guidance teacher?  The headteacher?  Advice, please.  😕

10 thoughts on “Ask the teacher

  1. As a teacher myself, I can understand how a disruptive class can result in this sort of activity being set. And to be honest, as a one off response to quite widespread disruption in a class it can be an effective measure (in a time when these are few and far between).

    Clearly if this was required on a very regular basis then other strategies could be attempted to deal with the situation.

    If you feel you need to do something about it, my advice would be to speak to the teacher in question informally. As in any workplace which involves human interaction, the majority of situations can be resolved through a chat. At the very least, I feel that the teacher should be given the opportunity to discuss/explain the matter BEFORE guidance/management get involved.

    If it was me, that’s the approach I would appreciate.

    Good luck!

  2. Hi GPM,
    Had I not read the teacher’s reply above, I would have immediately said to speak to the guidance teacher. In my daughter’s school, that would be the easiest way to deal with the situation you’ve outlined: I’m not sure that there is a way to approach individual teachers other than at parents night.

    I can see where the teacher above is coming from but I would still be inclined to speak to the guidance teacher first. A good guidance teacher will know how to tackle this situation (and it does need attention) and may also be aware of other classes being disrupted, and possibly of other parents’ concerns.

    Last of all, is GP1 happy for you to talk to someone at school?

    Good luck!

  3. Anon – thank you for your input and I’ll follow your advice. I have no desire to dump anyone in it, particularly not when they seemed so on top of the job at the parents’ evening. And although I’m told this happens regularly, there may in fact be nothing in it. My angel could even be one of the perpetrators.

    PM – emoticons can be particularly handy when I’m feeling too lazy to write properly, I find!

    Random Mum – It seems like guidance should be step no. 2 in this case, assuming I can get hold of the teacher in the first place. I can be entirely confident that GP1 will NOT want me to speak to anyone at the school, but he needn’t necessarily know. Although on second thoughts he sometimes reads the blog. Mmm – that’s got me. He never likes me speaking to the school about anything, but sometimes it has to be done. There was some minor bullying in Primary School; we respected his wishes first time around and didn’t speak to the school but when it continued we had to. And it all got sorted out.

  4. Hi there – With a 15 year old girl, there’s nothing I don’t hear about school from the moment she comes in, and this has also happened. Her problem was that she was worried that the teacher was mad at her as well as the dusruptive kids, since everyone was effectively punished.
    I think I e-mailed the teacher asking her what had gone on in the classroom, as my daughter has a tendancy to over-dramatize. This gave the teacher the opportunity to both assure my daughter (through me) that she was not in trouble, and to explain her side of things.
    Unless it’s a really bad situation, where the teacher has been verbally abusive perhaps, it’s usually a good idea to go to him/her first.

  5. AS the mother of a son who – when he was 15 sounded just like yours -I am really interested that your son was willing – and able – to express his frustration with this situation. That he brought it to your attention – and you listened ! – and was capable of articulating how this felt to him and the impact that it had on his relationship with that teacher and class. Does he want you to do something about it? I appreciate from a teacher’s point of view ( and instinctively from a parent’s point of view) it might be preferable to deal with this adult to adult but is there any scope for him doing it himself – in addition or instead?

  6. Well that’s brought you all out of the cupboard, hasn’t it?

    Hello EPM & Jackie – it’s good to get more points of view. I haven’t yet spoken to the teacher but will do so this week, either phone or email. I have asked my son whether he minds me speaking to anyone about it and he’s quite happy about that. I think it’s a good idea of Jackie’s to see if he can do something about it himself as well. If he’s not the only one in the class who’s fed up about it, perhaps they can all tell the boys who are creating trouble that it’s not clever. I don’t know, but I’ll have a chat with him about it.

  7. An update – I was in the school to see someone else the other day so took the opportunity to track down and speak to the teacher. Poor teacher! He/she was, I think, a little taken aback to be collared by a parent on this issue. Anyhow it doesn’t seem to be a major problem and the class composition may well change next year. So we’ll leave things be and see.

    Definitely best to have had the dialogue with the teacher concerned so thank to those of you who gave me that advice. My initial inclination would have been to have spoken to the guidance teacher first.

  8. Did the problem sort itself out? Or did the trouble continue? Or did the end of term come before you could really tell, I wonder?

  9. It seemed to settle down. The new term starts on Monday and there may well be some shuffling of classes as some students will have left, so we’ll see what happens.

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